What are some fun activities in Phoenix for a 2-year old?
April 8, 2014 1:39 AM   Subscribe

I will be in Scottsdale with my 2.5 year old for 5 days, and I'm interested in toddler-friendly things to do. Although we will be staying in Scottsdale, we are willing to drive around.

Things we have already seen:
  • Children's museum
  • Musical instrument museum
  • IKEA
  • Phoenix Zoo
Any suggestions appreciated! If you know of anything fun to do in the greater Phoenix area that a toddler would also enjoy, I would love to hear about it. We have nothing but time, and need lots of activities to fill up the schedule.
posted by Maximian to Travel & Transportation around Phoenix, AZ (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd double check that MIM doesn't have some new exhibit that seems worthwhile. When I was out that way I went to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. They have a neat glass exhibit with Chihuly pieces sort of tucked around there. Nice outside walking around, not good if the weather is too beastly hot. Phoenix Public Library often has some neat programming and it's a big interesting looking library if you happen to be in downtown Phoenix for some reason.
posted by jessamyn at 5:32 AM on April 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Many's the hour I've spent in the main branch of the public library.

I'd do Big Surf, if you're there after opening day on May 5.

Encanto Park is lovely and tree laden. You can take a picnic and dine al fresco, go on a paddle boat, play in the playground.

Head on out to Cosanti, a wind bell foundry that supports Arcosanti. It's beautiful, interesting, artistic and I loved going when I was a kid. My Mom and Mr. Soleri used to sit and chat by the fountain.

The Heard Indian Museum might be something interesting (hard to say really)

If you're into skating, you can go to the Ice Den.

MacDonald's Ranch has horses and a petting zoo.

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park has a little train to ride and things to do.

I was there for the opening of Rawhide, apparently, it's still there. Cheesy entertainment. Kind of a goof.

Have fun!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:51 AM on April 8, 2014

Butterfly Wonderland
posted by Sassyfras at 7:22 AM on April 8, 2014

Right now, the Botanical Garden has a small seasonal butterfly pavilion for just a couple dollars in addition to your regular admission, and I think it's free for toddlers, so I think jessamyn's suggestion is awesome. If it's not too hot that day (this time of year, 90 is "not too hot" by our standards), this is a great time of year to visit there. We've got all of our spring plants blooming, and it's just about time for cacti to start blooming too.

I'd also second the Railroad Park in Scottsdale. It's great for little kids. If your little one is old enough to have fun riding around the park on a small train, this would be a fun visit.

Another good park to visit is Chaparral Park, or any of the other parks along the greenbelt on Hayden Rd. near old town Scottsdale. This time of year there are still tons of migratory ducks and geese that are crowding the park's lakes. If it's not too hot, that can make for a nice walk.

The city of Tempe has a nice indoor wave pool that is now open on the weekends at Kiwanis Park. It's not too expensive, I think just $6-8, and if it's not too crowded, it can be a blast for little kids to sit in the shallow end and have the waves wash over them. Check out pictures beforehand though because they're some pretty decent sized waves.

Is your toddler an ice cream fan? Then Sweet Republic would be a fun small trip in Scottsdale. It's a little place that makes artisan ice cream and it's delicious.

The only thing I can think of out in the West Valley would be a candy company. If your toddler is old enough to like watching cool machines where candy is being made, there's a small candy and chocolate factory out in Glendale called Cerreta. The whole place smells like chocolate and mint and almonds and it's heavenly. They will give you a short tour and they often have small activities for little kids. Their website is totally broken, but if you give them a call, they're friendly people who will let you know what kinds of activities they have going on. They only run their machinery during certain times of day, too, so that's when you'd want to visit for a tour. It would be a pretty big drive from Scottsdale though!

One last warning... with little kids in Phoenix, I find that one of the most important ways to keep them happy and fend off crankiness is to stay out of the heat. And even though it's only April, it's kicking into gear here. This week it's going to hit the high 90s, which in my experience with little ones in Phoenix is where the crankiness starts to kick in. If you're coming next week or later in the month, though, you might get some nicer days that are down in the 80s and that are more manageable.

This is still a great time of year to visit, especially now that the spring training crowds are gone and the snowbirds are starting to filter back north. The weather is still pretty good but things are much less crowded in Scottsdale. Hope you enjoy your visit!
posted by Old Man McKay at 7:46 AM on April 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Everyone here has already mentioned my favorite places, except for Hole in the Rock - If your toddler would like the idea of mountain climbing, Hole in the Rock at Papago Park is a just-walk-right-up easy climb. Papago Park is right near the zoo and the Botanical Gardens. There are picnic tables and other trails which are just desert walking without any actual climbing, but my kids loved the idea of waving to Grandma (who stayed on the ground) from the big hole in the mountain. It only took 15 minutes or so to climb up.

The other thing I haven't seen mentioned here is the AZ Science Center. Toddler seems a bit young, but oh man, there are lots of buttons to push and lights/noises flashing.
posted by CathyG at 11:11 AM on April 8, 2014

Seconding the railroad park.
posted by Dansaman at 1:09 PM on April 8, 2014

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