Looking for amazing family travel adventures for your crew? You should consider Arizona for an inexpensive family vacation packed with adventure. I’m sharing 5 Fun Family Travel Adventures in Arizona You’ll Love including a desert hike, Sedona, Bearizona, Out of Africa, and of course, The Grand Canyon.
This post contains affiliate links. If you were to purchase through the links, I would receive a small advertising commission at no added cost to you. Please see my disclaimer. Thank you:)
We’ve been to Arizona several times on vacation and each time we have gone, we have enjoyed a new family adventure. Arizona has great experiences to offer families who travel to this beautiful (always sunny) state for vacation.
5 Fun Family Travel Adventures in Arizona You’ll Love!
1. Desert Hike in the Superstition Mountain Wilderness
You’ll love this fun family adventure activity! This is a great outdoor activity that will immerse kids (and adults) into a stimulating and unforgettable experience. Go on a desert hike in the Superstition Mountain Wilderness (just east of Phoenix), and the best of all, it’s free!
We live in the Midwest, so it was fun for my boys to simply walk through an Arizona desert and observe how a desert can be more than just sand. The simple difference in the scenery from home made this hike both thrilling and exhilarating. We saw so many cacti and interesting plants, and even a real wild scorpion, which was a total moment of excitement for my boys! He was a tiny little thing, but we didn’t dare try to touch him.
It was exciting and true to the wild west when we saw a group traversing the path on horseback. There was a string of about seven riders.
In places, the terrain was uneven with slanted rock and many small pebbles which made the terrain challenging, but doable. At times, it was hard for our youngest to walk. At the age of five, he could handle the hike, but in certain spots he would slip, so he often needed someone to hold his hand so he wouldn’t slide. My middle son was so sweet and offered to help his little brother by holding his hand on the uneven sloped rocks and ground. A sweet parent moment for me that will be engrained in my brain forever; an image I will cherish always!
There are camping areas in the Superstition Mountain Wilderness as well. This would be a fun adventure also to camp and hike within this beautiful wilderness.
Wherever you are staying in Arizona, check out the local area for a designated hiking area.
Tips for a desert hike:
- bring plenty of water because it will get hot
- assess the terrain to make sure it is appropriate for your family (more on this below)
- go in the morning before it gets too hot
- stay on the path so you don’t get lost, review a map before hiking if there is one
- don’t go too far, remember you have to walk that same distance back, and it will most likely be even hotter being later in the day
- bring a bag lunch
- wear sunscreen
- bring sunglasses
- carry along your cell phone in case of an emergency
- visit the bathroom before you begin your hike
- dress in layers
- bring your camera
- carry binoculars around your neck in case there is something to view in the distance
- wear comfortable shoes like tennis shoes (I actually wore clog style Crocs® on our hike, but I always wear Crocs:)
Assess the Terrain
I can’t stress this enough. Be sure to assess the difficulty of the terrain if considering hiking with young kids. My older two boys (both over 8) could handle the hike on the uneven ground without any problem, in fact, they really loved the adventure. Just be sure you assess the terrain before you go to make sure your kids can handle the difficulty of the path.
I would not have taken kids under the age of five to walk on this hike in the Superstition Wilderness. Or, if you plan to take young kids, plan for just a very short hike just to experience it so you don’t get into trouble with young kids being unable to traverse the path on their own. No one wants to carry kids on this type of path;) A carrier may work for real young kids or babies, but keep in mind the ground is uneven in spots.
2. Stop in the Gorgeous City of Sedona
All the red rock formations around Sedona make it a very beautiful city to visit. Many of the rock formations have a red or orange hue and they make this city stunning and gorgeous. Sedona is a must-see stop if you are near it while in Arizona.
We took a Sedona Trolley Tour around town. The tour guide pointed out rock formations and their names as we drove around Sedona. The kids especially enjoyed the elephant and the Snoopy rock formations. We enjoyed relaxing on the ride while taking in the amazing views while we listened to the guide. It was wonderful to have a local point out all the highlights for us.
Church on a rock was one of our stops.
We made a stop at the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Church on a rock. This church was both amazing to behold and stunning. It was built right into a rock and appears to be emerging from it, tall, mighty, majestic. The builder of this church searched around for the perfect spot to build this church, right next to the rock formation famous for its likeness to Mary holding baby Jesus and the nuns. The Roman Catholic Diocesse of Phoenix and Saint John Vianny Parish welcomes visitors. They do hold prayer services are held every Monday at the church.
Visitors are allowed inside the gorgeous church; it was beautiful inside and it was an honor to be allowed to stand inside its walls.
Back on the trolley, our tour guide also pointed out a beautiful mansion owned by a famous inventor.
We didn’t have time to explore more, but there are many hiking trails near Sedona.
We were only there for the day, but I would love to go back and spend more time is this amazing town!
Need a new travel backpack? Read the review of my fave compact travel backpack here!
Versatile Canvas Sling Bag / Urban Travel Backpack, Grey | Wear Over Shoulder or Crossbody for Men & Women, by NeatPack
3. Go on a Family Adventure inside Bearizona
Bearizona is a must-see stop near The Grand Canyon. Visitors actually drive through the enclosures that the animals live in. Visitors remain in their cars as they drive through because the animals are roaming around free in the enclosures. At one point, a bear was walking down the road right in front of our vehicle! This setup makes for awesome pictures!
The workers remained in the little houses near the gates between enclosures and as visitors approached each gate, they would open it and shut it just long enough for the car to go through. It was comforting to see staff nearby when we were near these large and strong animals (especially the bears). It is truly amazing to be so close to the amazing animals like bears, wolves, goats, donkeys, ox, buffalo, and more.
They offer a bus ride with a tour guide as another option for the drive-through area of the park.
There is also a self-guided walking portion at this wildlife park which is more like a traditional zoo with exhibits. The baby bears located in this walking portion of the zoo were my absolute favorite. I love all baby animals, who doesn’t, right! The baby bears were so cute as they were climbing up into the trees.
Bearizona is a unique animal experience and truly worth the stop when near The Grand Canyon. It’s a definite must-see park!
Bearizona is located one hour south of Grand Canyon’s South Rim at 1500 Historic Route 55 in Williams, AZ. Williams is called the gateway to the Grand Canyon.
To read my full review of Bearizona, click here.
4. Get a Taste of Wild Family Adventure at Out of Africa
Out of Africa Wildlife Park is truly a unique and unforgettable experience as well. We were absolutely amazed by some of the amazing things we saw at this wildlife park. It was definitely a family adventure my family loved!
Our favorite experience was the Tiger Splash® show. We were astounded as two tigers and a lion interacted and played with caretakers in a pool where the people were in the enclosure with the animals. We sat in the stands behind fencing that surrounded the pool play area, so we were completely separated from the tigers and lion. The Bengal and Siberian tigers splashed and played with toys just like pet cats! We were thrilled to see them splash and play while they plunged into the pool. It was both entertaining and educational. Everyone squealed with delight as we watched this delightful and spontaneous show! They just play so each show is different.
The tigers were more playful with the caretakers than the lion was which maybe is due to their temperament?
Another awesome activity we enjoyed at Out of Africa was the African Bush Safari bus ride. We rode in an open window bus while a tour guide narrated for us. The bus drove right through the enclosure where the animals were roaming free. We saw giraffes, zebras, antelope, and more. My son even fed a camel a carrot from the tour bus window, which was very exciting indeed!
My boys also enjoyed the Giant Snake Show. The snake was just huge and my boys loved being that close to the big snake. A great experience for those interested, but I stayed back however (snakes are NOT my favorite).
There are many other activities to enjoy at this amazing park, some of them are for an additional cost. Some day my family hopes to return to this amazing park to do more!
This park is located about thirty minutes from Sedona in Campe Verde, Arizona.
Get this for your trip:)
5. Visit The Grand Canyon
No trip to Arizona is complete without making time to view The Grand Canyon. Being known as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, The Grand Canyon does not disappoint! It’s super amazing and it should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. It is so vast and majestic, and a bit scary, to stand in front of it. You will feel tiny when you stand next to it.
I’ll admit, as a mom, I was a little nervous while we were there. My boys tend to think they are invincible, so when they stepped up to the areas without any fence, this mama was very nervous! All it would take is a wrong step or an accidental slip on some pebbles and down they would go. (Ugh!! this makes me cringe and shudder even just thinking about it!! Let’s move on quickly)
Our bus tour guide informed us that every year, there are people who fall into the canyon, so people need to be careful and keep back from the edge, especially little kids. It totally worth going, just be safe:) For toddlers, maybe keep them in the stroller, especially if they are runners!
We have been at The Grand Canyon at different times of the day and it’s amazing to see all the different colors the canyon gives off at various times of the day. It’s beautiful and we’ve been awestruck each time we have gone.
This last time we visited, we took a guided bus tour. This was fun because it brought us to various outlooks so we covered a lot of ground in short amount of time, plus we got all the great tips from our tour guide. We stopped at Hermit’s Rest and saw California condors flying overhead at one point, which was super cool!
Do All These Stops in One Great BIG Family Adventure!
Travel plan suggestion for you:
- fly into Phoenix
- go on a desert hike in Superstition Wilderness
- take a roadtrip to The Grand Canyon with stops at Sedona, Bearizona, and Out of Africa
- drive back to Phoenix to fly home:)
We knew we wanted to make it to The Grand Canyon, so we found these awesome fun family adventures in Arizona to do along the way. I highly recommend all of these stops. They were each wonderful, fun, and even educational. I would do them again!
Map out your own family adventure. Rent a vehicle from the airport so you can get your family to all these fun family friendly attractions.
If your family visits any of these locations, I’d love to hear about it! Come back and leave me a comment, I’d enjoy hearing about your experiences:)
I hope you found this post on 5 Fun Family Travel Adventures in Arizona You’ll Love useful in your own family travel plans. Thanks for stopping by, I hope my tips help you with your family travel plans:)
Looking for more Fun Family Adventures in Arizona? Find out about the Top 10 Things to do in Page, AZ.
Have a pet dog? Check out my post for tips for 7 Loving Things to do for Your Dog before Vacation.
This is the camera we own. We orginally purchased it just for family use at home and on vacation, and I’m so glad we bought this DSLR camera because I use it all the time for my blog now. I also bought a 50 mm lense recently for crystal clear up close shots, especially for food:) I’m very happy with this product for personal and professional use.
Canon EOS Rebel T5 Digital SLR Camera Kit with EF-S 18-55mm IS II Lens
Copyright ©2018 Julie Hoag. All Rights Reserved.Follow me on Social Media
This trip looks unbelievable! We need to visit AZ! Sedona looks beautiful and my kids would LOVE seeing all of these great animal attractions!
Julie Hoag says
It was so fun! My kid LOVED all the animal attractions too:) It really is a great state to visit! Thank you:)
That hike looked right up my alley!!! Looks like a great trip!
Julie Hoag says
Yes, it was awesome! Thank you! The hike was wonderful and unique, a memory for my whole family to cherish!
Shannon | Shannie Chic says
I want to do all of these! I guess Arizona needs to go on my vacation list! Thanks for sharing!
Julie Hoag says
Yes, do add it! Arizona is awesome! We’ve always gone in the spring, it gets pretty hot in the summer. I hope you enjoy!!
Kristin Davies says
We LOVE Arizona and often vacation here when we need a break from the Canadian winter. I will be sure to add these to my list for the next trip! Thanks!
Julie Hoag says
I hope you enjoy! I agree, Arizona is awesome, especially when getting away from winter! Being from Minnesota, I totally understand that:) Thanks!
Emily Fata, www.EmulatingEmily.com says
Arizona looks like such a fabulous, beautiful place! I’d love to visit here one day and see all of the amazing things you’ve posted about in the article. 🙂
Julie Hoag says
It’s a great place to visit! I hope you go one day! Thanks:)
Megan Reamsnyder says
These photos look like you had a great time! We are headed to the Grand Canyon in April, getting so excited!
Julie Hoag says
Oh wow! Have a wonderful time!! I know you will and enjoy all the flowers blooming and ripe fruits!!
D at Be you and thrive says
Oh Arizona!!! What a beautiful state. I just love Sedona and the mountains are so special. What an incredibly diverse travel destination!
Julie Hoag says
I totally agree! There are so many options for things to do and see while in Arizona! I loved Sedona too, so beautiful!! Thanks!!
I’d love to visit Arizona one day and do everything on this list!
Julie Hoag says
It’s a great vacation destination! I hope you can go one day!! Thanks!
Kathryn Dickson says
Arizona is on my list of places to see one day! The scorpion seems friendly though, no?!?! hahahaha!
Julie Hoag says
Hmmm..friendly, not so sure, but my boys sure thought he was awesome!! It’s a great state to visit, I hope you make it someday:) Thanks!
Brooklyn Johnson says
I like how you mentioned that one great thing you can do in Arizona is the desert hike in the Superstition Mountain Wilderness. My family is going to Arizona this summer to visit friends, and I want to plan fun things to do, but I don’t know anything about Arizona. I will definitely keep your great tips in mind when trying to figure out fun activities and great sites to see in Arizona for my family.
Julie Hoag says
I hope my tips help you plan a fun time for your family. Arizona is a great place to take a vacation. I hope you enjoy your trip!!! Thanks so much!!
Sharon Hooven says
I took the grandkids to Flagstaff for their Fall break last year. We stopped at Slide Rock State Park in Sedona. The water was freezing but once the kids were numb, they had a blast. While in Flagstaff, we went to Extreme Adventure. They had more fun there than anywhere (Disneyland, Legoland, Universal…..) ever!!! Guess where we’re going again this Fall 😄
Julie Hoag says
That’s so awesome! So wonderful to hear such stories! I hope you have a wonderful time again this fall. Arizona is a great state to visit indeed.