We all know that carving out time for family bonding is essential. Luckily, having fun doesn’t have to break the bank! So put down the remote and step away from the cell phone…if playing hard and saving big are both on your to-do list, these boredom busters are a guaranteed good time for everyone.
#1: HIKE THE HOLE
Welcome to the urban outdoors! Phoenix’s Hole-in-the-Rock is actually part of Papago Park, which includes the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Gardens. Only minutes from downtown, this short trail is an easy hike for everyone in your family and delivers sweeping vistas of the Valley. The iconic red sandstone butte has been a popular picnic destination since Phoenix’s early years, and it’s a quick, fun hike perfect for novice trailblazers and kids alike.
Where? 625 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix
How much? Free
#2: CARB OUT ON COOKIES
“Live Simply…Love Deeply…Eat Cookies!”—this is the motto of Glendale’s own Coyote Oaties, a delightfully hedonistic oatmeal cookie shop offering treats in the $2 range. If that seems steep for the price of a single cookie, consider that these gourmet beauties are free of preservatives, white sugar and flour, and trans fat—and the cookies, which come in flavors like dark chocolate cashew and white chocolate macadamia, are about the size of your fist! Walk it off in the quaintness of Glendale’s 100-year-old historic district and you’ll be satisfied indeed.
Where? 7005 N 58th Ave, Glendale
How much? About $2.25 per cookie
#3: TAKE THE TROLLEY
Forget San Francisco—Scottsdale offers a free trolley tour every 2nd Saturday from its historic Old Adobe Mission. The 45-minute loop introduces visitors to Scottsdale hot spots ranging from the retro vibe of the Hotel Valley Ho to the ritzy Fifth Avenue Shops. Now-fashionable Scottsdale still calls itself “The West’s Most Western Town,” and BMWs yield the right of way to horses here. Where else could you find such an improbably perfect ambiance? Reservations are mandatory: book your tour at 480-634-6850 today.
Where? 3817 N Brown Ave, Scottsdale
How much? Free
#4: RIDE THE RAILS
Also in Scottsdale, the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is open 363 days a year to provide its visitors with train-filled fun. 2 six-ticket books at $10 a pop can get a family of five on the vintage carousel, the steam train and in the historic park, which includes an old Arizona mining town engine and a 20s Pullman car used by Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower. If that’s a little heavy on the history for your kids, let them run around on the park’s two playgrounds or marvel at the world in miniature in the free model railroad museum.
Where? 7301 E Indian Bend Rd, Scottsdale
How much? Park is free; for rides and some museums, $10 per book of six tickets
#5: SAVOR SOME CITRUS
Orange blossoms are the signature scent of a Valley spring—and nowhere are you better poised to take in the delights of the season that at Mesa’s Orange Patch. Samples are always available! Think of it like a big farmer’s market with candy, nuts and the freshest citrus around: grapefruits, lemons, tangerines and of course oranges with that old-fashioned farm stand appeal. While many of the original Valley groves are now freeways, The Orange Patch recalls the glory days when citrus (along with copper, climate, cattle and cotton) was one of the staple 5 C’s of the Arizona economy.
Where? 2600 E Lehi Rd, Mesa
How much? Varies