Being originally from Florida and now living in Mesa, I’ve never had to navigate snow days and cold weather that coops kids up inside, but it has to be exactly the same feeling for parents as summer here— where we all may lose our minds quite easily if we are all stuck indoors for one more day.
If you’re newish to the Valley (or just didn’t grow up here going to these spots in the summer yourself), I’m here to help you with some inspiration for what memberships are worth it, by age group, to affordably keep your sanity this summer.
Admissions prices can add up quickly and break the bank. If you think you might visit a place more than once, the odds are that getting an annual membership to that venue makes more financial sense, even if it’s only for the summer.
Read on for what our contributors agree are the best investments for summer memberships by age.
Indoor Fun for Kids Under 4
This pick comes from Amy: This is more than a once-a-week parent/child music class studio, and this is where the value of their membership is really seen: these classes empower parents with tips and knowledge of how to play with your child at home with transferable ideas from class for each age/stage of children.
Also included in your membership are parents night out weekend date night programming where the owners of The Musik Box host a three-hour, themed evening of fun and play (and feed them pizza) while you can go out to dinner, go shopping solo, or whatever you want.
Although they operate yearround, the summer is a helpful time to try something new for just a month or two to see how your child responds to the classes. (Mention East Valley Moms for $20 off your first month!).
Mom tip: Get to know Stephanie, the owner of the studio who was featured in our mompreneur series not too long ago!
This pick comes from Cara: When my kids were younger, we lived here in the summers. Funny story: The day before my second child was born (in June) I had taken my oldest to the i.d.e.a. Museum to burn off some energy and get us out of the house.
This Downtown Mesa gem is full of sensory play and development, creative thinking, and educational, hands-on art for even the youngest of tots.
They have an area called Artville which is geared for crawlers and toddlers. It’s designed as an interactive town built to cultivate exploration and imaginative play by encouraging social-emotional and language development.
Since they’ve reopened after COVID, they provide individual baskets with materials for spaces that used to have shared toys. Once kids finish, parents place those materials in “Yuck Buckets” for cleaning.
Mom tip: All visitors (adults and children) are required to wear socks while present to help maintain the cleanliness of Artville. They do sell socks if you forget, but who wants to buy gift shop socks.
This pick comes from Ashley: The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is an awesome option to beat the heat! With tons of opportunities to get messy, have fun, and LEARN, the museum is every young child’s dream come true. Everything is hands on and made with the little ones in mind so you don’t have to stress about them breaking anything!
It’s still an educational museum, where your little ones can learn about the world around them by being creative and playing! For myself as a mom, I love that my kids could run and burn energy. With plenty of open spaces to run around and plenty of hands on activities for all kinds of age groups.
Tip: I would definitely suggest bringing a change of clothes in case they have the bubble foam or any of the water activities open. My kids got messy in their bubble area and then played in their fun sand pit, when we got to the car, I wished I would’ve brought a change of clothes for them!
Okay, this is my (Megan!) pick: This was our lifesaver during last year’s COVID summer, and with a two-year-old, I’ll say it’s totally worth the drive to Scottsdale.
It’s right off the 101 and Via de Ventura, so getting there is under 30 minutes from most parts of the East Valley since it’s all freeway.
A truly great aquarium with sharks, penguins, turtles, otters, sea lions and a rotating observatory. The floor-to-ceiling windows invite toddlers to engage with the 30,000+ marine animals at their own pace without needing to be lifted to view each exhibit, which will be even better for me this summer than it was last summer since I’m pregnant now!
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!