Favorite Valley Family Holiday Activities


With December in full swing we thought it was time to poll YOU, our incredible readers, and see what some of your favorite Valley area Holiday Activities are.

The list below is a compilation of all of your Facebook comments (and a few of my personal favorites that I threw in for good measure).

Favorite Valley Holiday Activities

  • Polar Express or The North Pole Experience {Northern Arizona} :: The holiday season comes to life when your train departs the Depot in Williams, AZ (Polar Express) or Flagstaff (The North Pole Experience) for a journey through the dark and quiet wilderness for a special visit to the “North Pole.” Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while listening to the magical story.
  • Bass Pro Shop’s Santa’s Wonderland :: Enjoy a free photo with Santa and Holiday Kids Crafts and Activities
  • McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park :: They decorate the train route in Christmas decorations and lights and make it feel like the Polar Express
  • Zoolights at the Phoenix Zoo :: Each year the Phoenix Zoo puts up an amazing holiday display of lights for about six weeks during the holiday season.
  • Mesa Temple Christmas Lights Display :: This year marks the 33rd Season of the Mesa Arizona Temple Gardens Christmas Light Celebration. This spectacular annual display, provided by volunteers, is free of charge each evening of the holiday season.
  • Winter Wonder :: A Christmas Production at Scottsdale Bible Church. This year’s production will be an arts extravaganza featuring spirited music, both children and adult choirs, diverse forms of dance, captivating media, creative staging design, familiar carols, grand choral and orchestral renditions and the pageantry of Christ’s birth. Dates: December 7th, 8th and 9th. Winter Wonder is a free event.
  • Breakfast with Santa at the Anthem Outlets :: For $5 enjoy a limited seating breakfast with Santa! He has lots of fun treats planned for children of all ages including a delicious pancakes, story-time , a discounted keepsake photo and more! Date: December 8th.
  • Glendale Glitters :: The holiday magic continues in downtown Glendale Friday and Saturday evenings, Nov. 30 – Dec.15, from 6-10 p.m. each night, with 1.5 million dazzling lights, free admission and fun for the whole family.
  • Ice blocking! :: Buy an ice block, grab a towel and head to a grassy area with a good hill. Push ice block to the top of hill, place towel on top, slide down. Repeat, and enjoy ‘sledding’ Arizona style. {Note: doesn’t this sound awesome?!}
  • Winterfest at Scottsdale Bible Church :: This free festival will be jam-packed with family fun including a two snow slides and two play hills (one set for big kids and one for our smaller friends), multiple bouncies, awesome holiday crafts, a super-fun scavenger hunt, cards for troops station, a petting zoo with many furry animals, tons of carnival games with prizes, delicious hot chocolate and hot cider, live music, incredible door prizes and more! Date: December 13th
  • Follow the Star at Chaparral Christian Church :: A guided outdoor presentation of the Nativity. Dates: December 7th, 8th and 9th.
  • Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Gardens :: Each night of Luminaria, the Garden comes to life with the soft glow from more than 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags and thousands of white twinkle lights. As you walk the paths with a warm cup of cider, the sounds of handbells ringing and Dickens Carolers singing remind you of what the season is all about. See website for dates.
  • Celebration of Christmas at Phoenix First Assembly :: Phoenix First presents one of America’s largest Christmas musicals. In this year’s show snow globes come to life in a toy store while entertaining the audience with aerials, live circus animals, Rockettes, popular dance numbers and a special feature looking back on the music and dance of the 1940’s. The story culminates with a live nativity, flying angels, and a 30 piece orchestra that fills the auditorium. See website for dates.
  • The Nutcracker Ballet :: A holiday celebration to share! Dancing toys, mischievous mice, waltzing flowers and sparkling snowflakes dance to Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous score performed by The Phoenix Symphony.
  • Ice Skating in the Desert at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess :: The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is putting extra icing on the holidays with its new Desert Ice Holiday Rink  located at the picturesque Cactus Garden, beginning November 27, 2012 – January 6, 2013.  The 5,400 square foot rink, made with real ice, is open daily to the public.  The price is $15 for adults, $10 for children 12 years and under and $5 for skate rental.  A portion of the skating proceeds will benefit the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
  • Gingerbread House display at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge  :: Enter a world of pure imagination! Visit the Amazing Chocolate and Candy Wonderland that the world-class JW Marriott pastry team has created!
  • Rent a Trolley & Look at Lights with Friends and/or Family :: This year a group of us are renting a trolley for 3 hours in the evening to travel around the Valley sipping hot chocolate, singing Christmas carols and looking at all of the lights.
  • Teddy Bear Tea at The Ritz-Carlton :: Teddy Bear Tea continues to be a memorable experience for all generations; adults enjoy a traditional afternoon tea while the children nibble on kid-friendly sandwiches followed by teddy bear treats. Children should also look forward to a visit from Ted E. Bear and story time with Jeffrey as well as being able to select a teddy bear of their choice from The Ritz-Carlton Collection.

What did we forget?  Comment below with any additional holiday activities that you and your family love participating in during this wonderful season!  


  1. Thank you so much for this post!!!! I am moving back to Scottsdale with my family next week after living in Chicago for 11 years. I cannot wait to treat my husband and two little boys to a wonderful Christmas Arizona-style! (Also, a shout out to Sarah Powers for introducing me to this amazing blog!)

  2. What a great list! No better time to go ice skating than the holiday season. Also, december Cardinal’s game can be a fun family experience, but this year it may leave you in a less than festive mood.


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