Arizona is an amazing family travel destination because the state offers many fantastic family experiences, plus the weather is ideal in the spring. My family of five has visited Arizona several times in the month of March and the weather has been perfect. The sun was always shining with warm temperatures in the eighties and lower nineties, without the blaring extreme hot temperatures that happen there in the summer. In March, the flowers were blooming and the gardens and fruit trees were producing. The combined aromas of the orange, lemon, tangelo, and grapefruit trees made the scent of the air so lovely.
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Phoenix and the Phoenix Zoo
We spent several days in the Phoenix area and the weather was ideal. Sitting outside in the evening was so pleasant with temperatures never lower than in the seventies. During the day, the temperature often did reach the nineties but it was a dry heat so it wasn’t uncomfortable for us.
While in Phoenix, we visited the Phoenix Zoo. Our family enjoyed the layout of the zoo especially the giant open area where animals of different species were housed. We were members of our local zoo at the time, so we could get into the Phoenix Zoo for 50% off the admission price by showing our membership card due to reciprocity across zoos. Often these programs also offer a discount for any guests visiting the zoo with you as well.
Travel Tip: Check your local zoo membership (museum memberships too) to read their reciprocity agreement before you travel to see if you will be able to get into the zoo (or museum) at a discounted rate.
Superstition Mountain Wilderness Desert Hike
Another fun family adventure in Arizona was the day we visited the Superstition Mountain wilderness area for a desert hike. The terrain was difficult for our six-year-old and he kept slipping on the uneven path, but our older two boys traversed the desert path easily. I enjoyed seeing my middle son help my youngest by holding his hand and assisting him over rough terrain. A moment that makes a mom smile!
My boys loved it when we spotted a tiny scorpion, but no one dared to get too close. We enjoyed the beautiful natural desert views of rock, cactus, a rocky dry river bed, and desert plants along our hike. It was fun to see a train of horse back riders traversed the path ahead of us. At noon, we snacked on our picnic lunch under a formation of trees that made a natural cave. It was a great day of family fun.
Old West Mining Town
We visited an old west mining town as well during our time in Phoenix. My boys loved the mining cave tour and the panning for gold activity. The mining cave tour went underground and illustrated how the cave would have looked years ago functioning as a mining cave. The tour was led by a tour guide. By far the favorite activity was the panning for gold. Each person could purchase a pan filled with water, sand, rocks, and tiny flecks of gold. The activity involved swirling the pan in the sunlight and searching for rocks and gold. We loaded the tiny pieces into a little vial to take home as a souvenir.
The staff also put on a mock old west gun fight which the boys loved to watch. The mining town also had many souvenir shops and restaurants.
Our Of Africa Wildlife Park
Another of our favorite places to visit in Arizona was the Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde. This family fun animal experience was unique and truly amazing. This wildlife park offered a jaw-dropping Tiger Splash show where the staff went into an enclosure with tigers to do amazing tricks with the tigers. We were thrilled to see tigers jump, catch toys and balls, and amaze us with all they had been trained to do. The Giant Snake Show was fun also because the kids were permitted to go right up to the giant albino snake and touch it.
The African Bush Safari bus trek was truly fantastic. We rode in an open window bus through the animal habitat where the animals roamed free. The staff gave us food to feed the animals. My son was able to feed a camel through the bus window. An unforgettable thrill for a child to hand-feed a camel! This wildlife park is a must visit attraction in Arizona located about fifteen minutes from central Phoenix, and thirty minutes from Sedona.
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The Road Trip
After a couple of days in the warmth of Phoenix, we began a road trip with our end destination being the Grand Canyon. As we drove into the mountains of Arizona the temperature began to drop and we shed our shorts and short sleeve shirts for pants and long sleeve shirts. My boys thought it was crazy to wear shorts one day in ninety-degree weather, and pants the next day while still being in the same state. The temperature dropped to the point where we needed jackets and even hats at the Grand Canyon.
Travel Tip: Pack clothes for warm and cold weather if your travel plans include the mountainous area of the Grand Canyon in the spring.
Our first stop along the road trip was in the beautiful red rock cloaked city of Sedona. We rode a trolley for a full tour of the city and rock formations. The tour guide pointed out well-known rock formations like the two nuns and baby Jesus, the elephant, and Snoopy lying on his back. The trolley tour included the famous and stunning Chapel of the Holy Cross church built on a rock. This location was chosen to build the beautiful church due to the natural rock formation that looks like Mary holding baby Jesus with two nuns nearby. The church was open for visitors to walk inside as well. It truly was a stunning structure to behold with the giant windows and how it is built into the rock itself. The red color of the rock in Sedona delivers a breathtaking view in every direction of sight. We did not embark on hiking in Sedona, but there are many amazing and gorgeous trails to explore. It is a very beautiful and serene city.
Williams, the Gateway to the Grand Canyon
As we drove further up the mountains towards the Grand Canyon the temperature dropped even further and my kids were surprised to see snow in Arizona. We stopped and spent the night in the city of Williams on the infamous Route 66. We ate dinner at a fun diner with a back to the fifties theme in Williams. The city of Williams is called the gateway to the Grand Canyon.
Before we left Williams to hit the majestic Grand Canyon, we paid a visit to Bearizona. This was an amazing experience to view animals in a more natural habitat while slowly driving directly through their enclosures. The pine forest drive went on for three miles. This layout allowed visitors to view animals up close in their natural habitats. The enclosures for each type of animal were surrounded by tall wire fencing with an automated gate run by staff. As a car was driven through one enclosure towards the next enclosure’s gate, the gate was opened by staff to the next animal enclosure. Each car moved along from enclosure to enclosure in this highly staff controlled way.
In the safety of our car, we were literally only a few feet away from wolves, bears, goats, deer, donkeys, bison, and buffalo. We even followed a bear walking down the road in front of our vehicle. My boys got a big kick out of following a real bear walking down the road. It was amazing to see the beautiful animals up close as we drove by mere feet away from the animals, without a fence between our vehicle and them. There is also a walk through traditional zoo portion as well where we enjoyed watching baby bears climbing up a tree and playing with each other. They were so adorable!
The Grand Canyon
The next day we drove to the amazing and wondrous Grand Canyon on the south rim. I found it spiritual yet daunting to stand on the edge of the giant canyon. I was utterly awestruck viewing the reality of the depth and width of this natural canyon. No words can illustrate its beauty, massiveness, and ever changing appearance as the sun changes its colors throughout the day. Each location along the canyon gave us different beautiful colors and shapes of the canyon rock. This deep mammoth beauty is both scary and gorgeous at the same time.
As a mom, I was afraid when my invincible feeling children walked right up that giant’s edge. I held my breath a few times when my oldest son went right up to the edge. I wouldn’t let our youngest get too close because he can be careless with where he walks. Plus there were little loose rocks near the edge and I feared someone would slip on them and fall in. There are rails in some places, but not everywhere along the edge. I was a bit of a nervous mama while we were there (ok, a lot nervous!), but it truly is a must see as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
We also rode a guided bus tour of the south rim where we were fortunate to view the canyon from several lookout points including the Hermit’s Rest Lookout. There was an old building at the lookout where food and souvenirs are sold, and the curved stone wall fireplace inside was gorgeous. We were super lucky to see some giant California condors flying overhead on our tour.
The other stop we made was at the Desert View lookout at the Grand Canyon National Park. There is a gorgeous stone structure people can go inside and explore. This stop was oozing with loads of great history to investigate.
Back to Phoenix again
After our Grand Canyon visit, we drove back to the Phoenix area to once again enjoy the warmth of a ninety-degree day and flower scented air before flying home.
I highly recommend Arizona as a terrific place for family travel because there are many different types of family fun and sights to enjoy there together. Arizona is beautiful state and highly variable in its terrain and climate. The beauty and scenery changes depending on where you are in the state. We enjoyed the warmth of the desert area and the refreshing cool mountain air all in one trip. The beauty of Arizona is rich and diverse indeed. My family would love to visit Arizona again in the future, I know your family would love to vacation there too!
I hope you’ve found my travel post helpful. Let me know how your trip went if your family vacations there, I’d love to hear about it!
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