Summer Survival: Six Arizona Day Trips with Kids

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This may be hard for you to read, but it’s the truth: I hate summer. With a fiery passion. My kids are bored, I’m annoyed, it’s hot, and it just doesn’t end well! This summer I vow to do things differently: Day Tripping is on the agenda. We have a plan. There are plenty of fun things to do in Arizona. So our plan includes day trips to water parks, ballparks, and museums located in both Tucson and Phoenix. It all adds up to survival of the summertime blues! I hope. Fingers crossed.
Arizona SunThat sun, yo! It’s brutal, and it means that summer has come to Arizona. Photo by Patty Holliday

Things to Do in Arizona

Yes. I know. Gahhhhh!
It’s been, like, 30 seconds since my kids officially got out of school for the summer and I’m complaining. Mom can’t hang, y’all.
You may not understand this feeling. I know many of my mom friends embrace early June like a long lost lover. They celebrate the day they complete the projects; they put away all the backpacks, and summer reading is the only thing on their child’s to-do list. I should be loving all the time spent with these little people, just soaking it all in but…
I. Just. Can’t.

Summertime Blues

I just have to say it. I’m not a fan. I love my kids. But, wow. It’s been rough, y’all. And it’s only been two weeks. Seriously. Who came up with this idea of three months off?
In the summer- in Arizona- for goodness sake!
That should be illegal, right? Momma, uh, I mean, kids need space. My kids need to play. They need to romp and frolic and spend all day outside being creative or working on their free throws so they can get scholarships. Unless I put them all on a graveyard shift schedule, that ain’t happening. It’s just too dang hot here in Arizona in the summertime. It is a zillion degrees outside by 8 am, which means the kids are locked inside all day. With me. I’m not sure the five of us will all make it three months inside this house together. I’m outnumbered. And I don’t like the odds.
I. Just. Can’t.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

But moms can’t do “can’t,” right? I mean, we just can’t, can’t. So I can, and I will make this summer work for all of us. We just need to be a little creative with the space we have to work with and find some fun things to do in Arizona. Staying home all season long is absolutely not the answer. Luckily for all of us, two of my favorite words are Day Trip and we have plenty of options in a 2-hour radius of travel. Day tripping is affordable and fun for everyone, and we all look forward to new adventures.
Load up the Vader Van, kids; we’re heading out!

Day trip ideas and other fun things to do in Arizona in the summer time.

Six Arizona Day Trip Ideas

1. Things to do in Arizona: The International Wildlife Museum in Tucson.

This museum showcases animals from around the globe, with a focus on conservationism. The exhibits consist of taxidermy animals, with some more than 100 years old. The museum promises interactive exhibits with dioramas, videos, and hands-on experiences. Holding animals’ skulls in our hands? Oh yeah- sign us up! We’ve never been to this one, but it sure sounds like a cool place to explore for a couple of hours.

2. Things to do in Arizona: Wet ‘N’ Wild Phoenix.

When the kids need to get out the sillies, and a museum just won’t do, I’m eyeing a nice water park to chill out. Wet‘N’Wild fits the bill for our family: there’s something for everyone. The food is pretty good, in line price-wise with what you’d spend at a fast food restaurant; the shade is plenty, the rides are just scary enough- and we all love the wave pool! Claire and Lucy said this idea was “The BEST. The BEST EVER, Mom!” I just may win summer yet.
wet n wild Claire Lucy TMOM
My girls are big fans of the summer water park visit idea! Photo: Patty Holliday

3. Things to do in Arizona: Hike Mount Lemmon.

Arizona is funny: the higher you go, the cooler it gets. So a day trip for hiking. After we drive to the top, of course. Located in Tucson, it’s an easy 90–minute drive for us. We visited shortly last summer and knew it would be there would be a return trip. Besides the natural beauty and hiking paths, there are other things we can do on the mountain. Like getting our family nerd on at the Mt. Lemmon Sky Center. The SkyNights Star Gazing Program is calling our names!
Seth Mt Lemmon
We traveled to the top of Mt. Lemmon and found it brisk. In July, even. Who knew? Photo: Patty Holliday

4. Things to do in Arizona: Old Tucson Studios.

This is a must do for me. I remember visiting as a child, and I know my kids would get a kick out of this experience. Old Tucson is where many of the western movies were made back in the 50s and 60s, including Gunfight at the OK Corral. The Old West comes alive with mock gunfights, saloon musicals, rides, and games. I may even get them to sit for one of those old-timey portraits; I always wanted to be a saloon girl!

5. Things to do in Arizona: Diamond Backs Baseball.

If you know me at all, you know how much I just love baseball! And if you know me at all, you know that’s a big fat lie. My kids all play ball, so when you are multiplying nine innings by three children by four times a week: well, I get a lot of baseball. I’m pretty much over it. But my kids love it, and they love seeing their heroes play at Chase Field. As a special treat to them, I’ll take one for the (ball) team and hit up a game this summer. Food and water are allowed inside the park, so we can save a few bucks while we are there. But, why would you do that when you have the famous Churro Dog to consume? What’s that, you say? A churro inside a donut, topped with caramel, chocolate and frozen yogurt.
Day Trip Churro Dog
I mean, have you ever seen such a thing of beauty? The Churro Dog at Chase Field. Photo: Patty Holliday

6. Things to do in Arizona: Pima Air and Space Museum.

My kiddos are looking forward to this one. Especially the boys. Pima Air and space Museum is a great place for kids of all ages, toddlers to teens who have an interest in flight. Since my oldest says he plans to be an aerospace engineer, I think we fit the bill here! It offers special events (included in the price of admission) that would be awesome time killers, errr, education moments for my kids. I’m eyeing the Soarin’ Saturday with topics like a LEGO robotics class and a model airplane make and take day.
This list is just a start. It may seem like a lot, but, I did mention we had three long (hot!) months ahead of us, right? Once we’ve worked our way through these travels, we’ll find more.
Or if I’m lucky, we’ll be hitting up the back-to-school supply sales and getting the first-day-of-school items together. Man, I hope I’m lucky…
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About The Author

Patty Holliday is a wife, mother of four, and travel agent specializing in Disney and Universal vacations. She loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty Honda Odyssey takes her. That’s 35 states and counting! With her teen, two tweens and kindergartener, her world is loud, sassy, hilarious as she balances family, work, travel, and fitness. If you need straight talk about mom’ing and traveling, she’s the one to call. She blogs at My No-Guilt Life.

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