You’ve probably heard of a “staycation” – a vacation within driving distance of your home that doesn’t require a hotel stay. Whether you’re short on vacation days, trying to build up your savings account, or simply don’t want the hassle of flying or staying in a hotel with young children, an Arizona day trip can give you the change of pace you’ve been dreaming about.
If you’re tired of the hot Arizona summer and need a change of scenery, it may be time to plan your staycation. Here are a few of my family’s favorite Arizona day trips:
- Tonto Natural Bridge & Waterfall – Though the hike is steep and strenuous, it’s worth the breathtaking views at the bottom! Check out their website for trail closures, weather predictions, and more information before you leave home.
- Rock Springs Cafe – Pie. Enough said. If you like pie, it’s worth the drive.
- Out of Africa Wildlife Park – Camp Verde can be pretty hot in the summer, but there probably won’t be a crowd. If you get there early and head straight to the safari ride, the weather isn’t too bad. Plan to pack lots of water and sunscreen. My family likes to go here and take advantage of their birthday special during one of our birthday months.
- Sedona – Check the weather before you leave home if you’re hoping to hike – summer days can reach the mid-90’s. A lot of families enjoy Slide Rock during the summer – be careful though, my family now calls it “slippery rock.” If you’d rather stay inside, head downtown where there’s tons of shopping and dining. You can’t beat the views.
- Bearizona Wildlife Park – Whether you drive your own car or ride their bus, it’s pretty spectacular to see bears and other animals in their natural habitats. They also have lots of exhibits you can walk through and shows throughout the day. Check out their website to see the daily schedule before you leave home. The average temperature in the summer is in the 80s.
- Grand Canyon Skywalk & Trails – People travel from around the world to see the Grand Canyon. If you’re looking to make your day trip extra special, consider checking out the Skywalk and surrounding area, including Native American dancers and a traditional Native American village.
- Tombstone – Although it reaches the 90s in the peak of the summer, Tombstone is worth the visit. If it gets too hot, you can always stop at the local ice cream shop downtown. Plus, imagine how Wyatt Earp felt without air conditioning or a car! If you’re looking for an old Western town, you’ve found it here.
If you’d rather stay in the valley, here are a few indoor activities that are so fun you’ll feel like you’re on vacation:
- Lego Discovery Center – The first time my family visited, we really did feel like we were on vacation. They have two rides, a 4D movie, Miniland, a climbing play area, and tons of free build areas. Take some of the fun home and buy a souvenir in the gift shop, conveniently located on your way out. For just a few more dollars, you can add on a visit to Sea Life Aquarium. Round out your Arizona day trip with a super themed meal at Rain Forest Cafe.
- OdySea Aquarium – Whether your kids are interested in fish or sharks or sloths, there’s something for everyone at OdySea. Highlights include the OdySea Voyager, touch pools, and so much more. My daughter would play for hours in their Kid’s Cove which includes a giant Light Bright, animated coloring station, interactive water table, and floor projector gaming area.
- Butterfly Wonderland – While this is the largest butterfly gallery in the country, it offers so much more than just butterflies. You could spend most of the day here by watching their 3D movie, feeding koi fish, and searching for caterpillars and butterflies. After that, enjoy some rainforest reptiles and even feed the sharks and stingrays! Depending on the day you visit, they may even have story time for your preschooler.
What’s your family’s favorite Arizona day trip?