As the temperature dips across the state, adventure is everywhere! Opportunities to get out and make memories are plentiful. Snow is a welcome sight at Arizona’s own Snowbowl and Sunrise Ski Resorts. Night after night of spectacular sunsets are scheduled to serve as backdrop to many of the Valley’s trails or scheduled open-air festivals. Expecting company? Consider these five activities.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
This park is worth the trip! Located in the heart of Scottsdale, it’s one of the most unique parks of its kind in the country. During the holiday season it is well-known for its train ride on the Paradise & Pacific Railroad through a winter wonderland of lights and displays. Take a ride on a carousel or visit the park’s one-of-a-kind Model Railroad Building. Caroling happens December 4th-6th from 7-9pm. Santa will also be at the park at scheduled times in the historic Maricopa Depot during the holiday season. Check with the park for more information.
Entering the park is free; however, train tickets can be purchased in advance or during the park’s normal hours of operation, beginning November 1st.
Location: 7301 E. Indian Bend Rd., Scottsdale
Contact Information: 480-312-2312
Price: Free to enter. $5 for train and $2 for carousel
Take a Hike!
While the weather is cooler, why not explore a new trail? So many of them are family friendly and offer spectacular views. Here are just 3:
- Merkle Loop Trail at Usery Mountain Regional Park ($7 one-time entrance fee or buy $25 pass for 5 visits). Easy hike. Wheelchair accessible.
- Hieroglyphic Trail in Superstition Wilderness (free parking). Moderate hike.
- Sunrise Peak in McDowell Sonoran Preserve (free parking). Moderate hike.
Local Events Near You
Nearly each East Valley city has something to offer families on a budget. For example, Downtown Mesa offers a Christmas Market with over 20 vendors and live concerts Fridays and Saturdays from 5-9pm until December 22nd. The city website lists many events during the holidays, including the 2nd annual Polar Express. It will be running two weekends this year, December 7th-8th and December 15th-16th from 6 to 10pm at the Mesa Drive Park and Ride. Ride on the public transit is spectacular with stories, sweets and even Santa! Trains run every half hour with rides lasting 20 minutes. The event is free, and no reservations are required, but come early as it does get busy. Visit www.themesachristmasmarket.com or www.themesapolarexpress.com for more information.
East Valley Cake Decorating Supply
Planning a cookie exchange or activity with the grandkids? When it comes to cookie cutters, this store is sure to have something you’re looking for. Visit their website to see their selection! www.evcds.com
Location: 2820 E. Broadway Rd, Mesa
Contact Information: 480-395-6961
Outdoor Ice Skating
Looking for an outdoor ice rink near you? Here are three to stay cool this winter!
- City Skate in Downtown Phoenix (1 E. Washington St, Phoenix)
- The Ice Rink in City Plaza (20 E. Main St, Mesa)
- Skate Westgate (6751 N. Sunset Blvd, Glendale)
Visit individual rink websites for times and fees.