There are wonderful things to do with kids in the Phoenix area. Sometimes, though, the budget may be an issue. Here are some free activities for children that will make everyone happy.
15 Free and Cheap Things to Do with Kids
- Go fishing at Kiwanis Park in Tempe. With 125 acres and a huge recreation center, there's always plenty to do there.
- Take your kids to the library. All of the area libraries have storytimes for the younger kids, and programs and events for the older ones. Get on mailing lists for nearby libraries, so you can get the events calendars in the mail or by email. These aren't just book discussion programs anymore—the libraries in Arizona are very creative.
- There are places where you and the kids can take a behind-the-scenes tour, and some of them, like the Stuffington Bear Factory and Cerreta Candy Company, are free.
- Got skates or a skateboard? The valley has several skate parks. Novice skaters can watch the more experienced ones practice.
- I don't believe a week goes by in this town without some community having a free festival or outdoor concert. Bring juice boxes, water, and snacks.
- There are more than 400 animals on display at Cabela's in Glendale. Some were real animals that were stuffed, and some are original creations. All are very lifelike, from the tiny mouse to the huge elephant. Sure, it's primarily a hunting and fishing store but the exhibits are great.
- Have your kids ever seen petroglyphs? Take a hike at Waterfall Trail in the West Valley. If you want something that's more challenging for the bigger kids, try climbing Piestewa Peak? It's fun, pretty and healthy! Not necessarily a summer activity, though. Bring water and light snacks.
- The City of Tempe offers a monthly arts activity for preschoolers and their parents called Free Art Friday. It's free, whether you live in Tempe or not! Home Depot has monthly classes for kids that allow them to build something. They get to wear an apron, learn how to use tools, get free materials, and leave with a masterpiece. On the First Saturday of every month (except July), kids and their families can get artsy/craftsy at First Saturday for Families at the ASU Art Museum in Tempe. Lakeshore Learning Store also offers free project/craft classes for kids.
- Take the kids swimming. There are community swimming pools all around the valley. Most charge a very nominal fee. If your kids don't swim yet, many of the area parks now have splash pads or splash playgrounds during the summer.
- Museums aren't (always) boring! Here's a list of museums that offer free admission in the Phoenix area. The adults will enjoy these, too.
- Put the bikes in the back of the SUV and drive to a beautiful park, like South Mountain, and go for a family bike ride. If it is too hot for that, just go for a scenic car ride.
- Are the kids old enough to sit in the car for awhile? A drive on the Apache Trail is scary and a lot of fun.
- The City of Phoenix and other cities and towns in the Greater Phoenix area often hold free summer sports clinics for kids, like golf and tennis. Check your city's recreation department and sign them up!
- Arrowhead Mall in Glendale, Chandler Fashion Center in Chandler, and others have indoor play areas for the little ones. The kids love it! At Superstition Springs Mall in Mesa, there's a carousel that kids (and adults) can ride for a nominal charge. The Westcor Malls all have a Kids Club that meets regularly for both fun and entertainment.
- On those warm summer evenings, take the kids to see Minor League Baseball games. The Arizona Rookie League plays in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Glendale, Goodyear, Peoria and Surprise. There's no charge to watch!
- Every month there are many community activities. Some are fun, some are educational, some are artsy, some are even for adults, and some are free.
- Some free special events only happen once or twice a year. Here's a list of free annual festivals and events.