4-Day Phoenix Itinerary For Families

A young boy with a red cap on backwards sits on a stone fence with a desert view behind him while exploring Pinnacle Peak Park.
Photo Courtesy: Kasia Michalik

Families in search of outdoor adventures will adore this 4-Day Phoenix itinerary! Between gorgeous desert scenery, plenty of outdoor hiking and biking trails, and indoor activities for little ones to enjoy, this city in Arizona truly has it all. Best explored between September and May, the warm weather makes it a year-round destination. Plus, families can use Phoenix as a home base for exploring other places in Arizona, like Scottsdale or Prescott. This itinerary includes things to do with kids, plus where to stay and other tips for visiting Phoenix with kids. Use our suggestions to mix and match and plan your own family vacation to Phoenix! 

Day 1: Downtown Phoenix, Children’s Museum, Heritage Square

A young girl wearing a mask waters plants in the outside exhibit at the Children's Museum Phoenix.
Photo Courtesy: Children’s Museum Phoenix

Start your Phoenix itinerary for families by exploring downtown! Phoenix has a great bike lane system, so getting around is fun and easy. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery is a popular breakfast and brunch spot with classic pancakes, eggs, and other yummy menu items that kids will love.

Then, you can visit The Children’s Museum of Phoenix. This three-story fun zone has a noodle forest, plus more than 15,000 square feet of new outdoor space. From building to climbing, kids will use their imagination and work up a sweat. They can play in the sandpit, paint a rock, or water and harvest what is currently in the garden to develop various developmental skills. 

Afternoon Activity: Arizona Science Center

A large T-Rex skeleton featured at the Arizona Science Center, one of the best places to visit on a Phoenix itinerary for families.
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Science Center

For lunch, grab a quick slice from Pizzeria Bianco, one of the most famous pizza spots in the city. Then, another great spot for kids to visit downtown is the Arizona Science Center. Located in Heritage and Science Park in downtown Phoenix, this kid-friendly center comprises four levels dedicated to more than 300 hands-on exhibits. Each exhibit is broken down into independent sections exploring the human body, weather, transposition, computers, and more. Kids can even step into a hurricane, tornado, or wildfire simulation! 

Evening Activity: Heritage Square & Science Park

The vibrantly colored Urban Cookies Bakeshop and sign on a brilliantly sunny day.
Photo Courtesy: Urban Cookies Bakeshop

If you still have some time after the museums, you can walk through Heritage Square & Science Park, which has shops and restaurants. Grab dinner here or visit The Old Spaghetti Factory in the historic Roosevelt neighborhood. It’s a family-friendly spot for classic Italian comfort food, from pasta to meatballs. Plus, there’s a specific kids’ multi-course meal! 

For dessert, check out Urban Cookies Phoenix, which has traditional flavors and fun rotating ones kids will love like Cherry Churro and Chocolate Salted Caramel! 

Day 2: Phoenix Zoo, Papago Park, Desert Botanical Garden

A dad stands near his young daughter as she rides a statue of an African animal at the Phoenix zoo.
Photo Courtesy: Kasia Michalik

Fuel up for the day at Matt’s Big Breakfast, which has hearty egg dishes, pancakes, and anything else you could want for an energizing breakfast. Then, you can visit the Phoenix Zoo, located in Papago Park. 

This sanctuary showcases over 3,000 animals, several of which are endangered. Start by riding a camel or a giraffe and snap a few pictures. Then, visit the Enchanted Forest and climb up to the treehouse for an aerial view of the zoo! There are many native animals to learn about too, like the cuddly Black-Footed Ferret and the adorable Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. Families can even chat with a real conservationist to brainstorm ways to help the animals. Plus, there are splash pads in the summer to cool down! 

Afternoon Activity: Papago Park

Three kids, holding hands, walk along a hiking path at Papgo Park in Phoenix.
Photo Courtesy: Kasia Michalik

For lunch, bring a picnic to Papago Park to enjoy the scenery. This is also a great spot for both hiking and biking on your Phoenix itinerary for families. Families who want a simple hike can check out the Hole in the Rock Trail, which is only 0.3 miles long and great for all skill levels. For a longer hike in Papago Park, take the 2.3-mile Papago Park Butte Loop. 

Optional Activity: Desert Botanical Garden

Cacti and wildflowers at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona. It's one of the best places to visit on a Phoenix itinerary for families.
Photo Courtesy: Desert Botanical Gardens

If you have extra time, you can also visit the Desert Botanical Garden on your Phoenix itinerary for families. Kids will be fascinated by the unique shapes and vibrant colors of the cacti, succulents, and desert wildflowers. They can learn about desert ecosystems, the importance of conservation, and the adaptations that plants have made to survive in arid environments. 

Evening Activity: Roosevelt Row

In the evening, drive back toward downtown Phoenix and the historic Roosevelt neighborhood. Here, you’ll find Roosevelt Row, a walkable arts district filled with galleries, cute shops, and restaurants. Explore the galleries and shops, then grab dinner at Taco Chelo, which has a lively ambiance and cocktails for parents. Or, Ingo’s Tasty Food, an American spot with sandwiches, burgers, and more. 

Day 3: OdySea Aquarium, Phoenix Sonoran Desert Preserve

A young boy's hand reaches into a touch tank and a school of tiny fish at SeaWorld San Diego.
Photo Courtesy: Emily Kapic

Head north to the Scottsdale area on the third day of your Phoenix itinerary for families. You can grab breakfast at Butters Pancake & Cafe, a cozy spot with pancakes, omelets, and creative breakfast sandwiches. Then, you’ll be near the OdySea Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the Southwest! 

With more than 6,000 animals to spot, families will learn about seahorses, sea lions, penguins, and even sloths! Kids can spend hours chasing and touching stingrays at the Stingray Shores Exhibit. They also have an exhibit with starfish and anemones at the Touch Pools. 

Afternoon Activity: Phoenix Mountains Preserve

A young boy wearing a helment poses with his bicycle on a trail at Dreamy Draw Loop, one of the best places to visit on a Phoenix itinerary for families.
Photo Courtesy: Kasia Michalik

For lunch, you can grab something quick near the aquarium – like from Rusty Taco – or bring something with you to eat during your afternoon of hiking. Nearby, families can check out the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, which is home to the Dreamy Draw Loop Trail. 

Although this 3.7-mile loop is heavily trafficked, it’s still worth exploring for its beautiful wildflowers and desert landscape. It has some elevation, which could get trickier for younger kids, but those who have hiked before should be fine. There are also a lot of side trails you can branch off into off the main loop. Watch out for wildlife along the way! 

Additional Hiking/Biking In Phoenix For Families

A young girl wearing a blue helmet holds onto her handle bars while stradeling her bike on a trail at McDowell, near Phoenix.
Photo Courtesy: Kasia Michalik

For families with extra energy that afternoon to hike more on their itinerary, there are plenty of options in the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas! In Pinnacle Peak Park, The North Scottsdale Trail is maintained extremely well, making it easy for beginners or adults carrying kids. In addition, you will find cute storytelling signs sharing the tale of the tortoise and hare. It’s an in-and-out route that’s only 1.75 miles one way. It does have some climbing, but it is manageable.

McDowell Mountain Regional Park also has over 20 trails to explore on foot or bike with kids. Some, like the McDowell Mountain North Trail or the Wagner Loop Trail, are flat, easy, and as short as two miles. At Brown’s Ranch, The Upper Ranch and Brown’s Ranch Road Trail is a relatively easy hike 4-mile for most of the way up.

Evening Activity: Sunset Hike

In the evening, catch a gorgeous sunset at the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve. Families can explore the trails winding through the desert scenery, featuring towering saguaro cacti, rugged mountains, and colorful wildflowers. The Desert Hills Trailhead has some easy hikes nearby, including the 1.4-mile Cactus Wren Trail. Kids will love spotting desert wildlife such as jackrabbits, quail, and lizards along the way. Be sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and a camera to capture the stunning sunset views! 

Day 4: Day Trip From Phoenix

Three kids climb and pose on large steps outside of the City Hall Town Square in Prescotta, Arizona. This is one of the best places to visit on a Phoenix itinerary for families.
Photo Courtesy: Kasia Michalik

To mix up your Phoenix itinerary for families, take a day trip! Phoenix’s location in Arizona puts you near other places worth visiting as a family. Of course, there’s nearby Tempe and Scottsdale, which are easily accessible and house many of the attractions on this list. 

Beyond that, families may enjoy visiting Prescott. It’s 90 minutes away from Phoenix and is a particularly great spot to visit during the summer since it’s often ten to twenty degrees cooler here. You’ll find lots of lakes to explore surrounded by beautiful greenery, like Lynx, Watson, and Wilson. Kids will love swimming, playing, and spotting local wildlife. At night, families can spend time in Prescott’s historic town square which is full of evening entertainment, shops, and restaurants. We recommend eating at Raven Cafe or Bill’s Pizza, then stopping at Frozen Frannie’s for dessert!

Where To Stay In Phoenix With Kids

An aerial shot of the outdoor pool at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix Airport, one of the best places to stay on a Phoenix itinerary for families.
Photo Courtesy: Radisson Hotel Phoenix Airport

If you’re searching for family-friendly accommodations in Phoenix for your itinerary, you’ll be pleased to know the city offers plenty of options for families. Nearby Old Town Scottsdale and the Odysea Aquarium, families can stay at Great Wolf Lodge Water Park. It has a great pool and kids will love the water park located directly inside the resort! The Arizona Grand Resort & Spa also has a water slide on-site. The Hilton Phoenix Resort At the Peak is another great option, known for its proximity to Old Town Scottsdale, lazy river, and miniature golf. Check out our options for the 8 Best Hotels In Phoenix For Families

Happy Travels! 

A dad and his three kids hike along a desert trail.
Photo Courtesy: Kasia Michalik

We hope you liked this 4-Day Phoenix Itinerary For Families! From museums to hiking and appreciating the great outdoors, this Arizona city has a ton to offer families. Enjoy your next family vacation to Phoenix! 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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