I am an East Valley native and still dread summer. There comes a point where it’s just too hot to do much of anything outside. Even swimming during the day gets to be a little warm and the pools start to feel like bath water.
Now that I’m a mom, there is even more dread because the thought of being cooped up in the house with my kids scares me. They have so much energy and we can only do so much screen time. I think this summer is going to feel even worse because last summer we didn’t have much of choice other than to stay home (thanks, Covid). We want to get out!
With my kids blossoming out of those toddler and preschool years, we’ve had to find new indoor activities to do. My kids are 19 months apart and different genders, so finding activities for both of them can be challenging.
I’ve put together a list of some of our favorite places to escape to during the hot summer months when you’re just focused on getting out of the house and staying cool.
Indoor fun for Kids 5 and Up
This pick comes from Kira: Does your kid love science? The Arizona Science Center boasts a planetarium, Solarville and T-Rex and “All About Me” exhibits. Even if your kid isn’t into science, they have a ton of activities that are sure to peak their interest.
The American Airlines Flight Experience gives visitors some real-life experience and hands on activities. The kids (and you!) get some flight history and can even buckle up in actual airplane seats.
My 6 year old is an art fanatic. She lives for art projects and asks to visit the Crayola Experience in Chandler often. The minute you walk in the doors you’re surrounded by bold colors and you are immersed into all things Crayola. You can personalize a crayon, sculpt with modeling clay, put your face on a coloring sheet and can even pan for gemstones on your way out.
Our favorite activities were the Drip Art and the Activity Studio. The drip art is fascinating as the crayons melt on to the paper and leave a fun design. In the activity studio, you’re given a bin of supplies and are free to color, paint and really dive into the the fun.
On the way out we stopped at gift shop and were able to do “Pick Your Pack” and filled a tin with a rainbow of Crayola Crayons. Tins range in price based on size!
Parent Hack: My son who is almost 5, didn’t love this place. He is not big into art and just wanted to climb and jump and eventually just leave. Going with my 6.5 year old alone was so much fun for a day date, just us. We really got to focus on the attractions and didn’t feel rushed. Just something to consider if your kids vary in age and interests — it’s definitely more fun for older kids!
What kid doesn’t love building with Legos? My kids are Lego fanatics. Thanks to some famous YouTube Kids stars, they kept asking to go to Legoland, but that’s in California. So, we went to the Legoland Discovery Center in Tempe and it did the trick!
They loved exploring Miniland and seeing the Lego versions of cities and landmarks like the Grand Canyon. My son won’t stop talking about the Lego 4D Cinema that brought some of his favorite Lego characters to life.
*Combo membership also available to include the Sea Life Aquarium that is right next door.
4. Trampoline Parks
If we’re being honest, we’re trying to tire the kids out, right? My kids LOVE trampoline parks and I love how tired they are after. It’s always cool inside and they’re free to jump, rock climb and even play dodgeball.
Our favorite, and most frequented is Altitude Trampoline Park, but there are a few different options around the valley. We love Altitude’s unlimited pass, that allows for a month of unlimited visits for only $25 a month.
Parent hack: They have plenty of seating for parents that offers a full view of the park, so you can sit back and watch them run free.
Having kids old enough to sit through movies is a game changer. Last summer, Harkins did a limited version of their Family Fun Series and we saw the OG Willy Wonka and Coco. My son was 4 at the time and we took a brief intermission for him, but otherwise this was a great way to kill a few hours with the kids.
This year, Harkins (and movies in theaters) is back!! The Family Fun Series has super-discounted tickets ($3-5 a ticket) for kid’s movies. The movies are not new releases, but are definitely kid favorites.
I plan on making this a weekly activity/reward for the kids. It will give them something to look forward to and it will give me some time to sit and relax with some popcorn!
BONUS PICK: Pogo Pass
Can’t decide what you want to try? Get a POGO Pass! One pass for an allotted number of visits to different venues such as the Phoenix Zoo, Fat Cats, various ASU/UA and other Arizona sports home games, rock gyms, jump parks, and other fun attractions! Some venues offer 1-2 visits a year, some offer 1 visit per week or per quarter. This is a great way to explore what’s in your neighborhood and find your new favorites!