Looking for cheap things to do in Phoenix, Arizona? The Valley of the Sun has many low costs, even free, family-oriented things to do all year long. There are many community activities and events throughout the greater metro area happening all the time. You’ll find a variety of sporting events, educational events, fun-filled kid events, cultural events for lovers of art, history or music, and much more. There is always something special going on in Phoenix—be sure to check the full calendar of upcoming happenings online at your local libraries, city or town hall, community centers, local newspapers, etc. Inside or out, there are always plenty of fun and rewarding things to do in Phoenix for the whole family. Here’s a shortlist of suggestions for you to choose from:
The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Operated by the city of Scottsdale’s Parks & Recreation Department, the 30-acre park is one of the most unique parks of its kind in the entire country—and its located in the heart of Scottsdale. Take a ride on the Paradise & Pacific Railroad and the 1950-vintage Allan Herschell carousel. Visit a variety of shops and museums, play on our one-of-a-kind playgrounds or play areas, or just relax in the grass under a tree in Scottsdale’s most beautiful park. There is no admission fee to visit the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. However, tickets to ride the train and carousel are $3.00 each, with children two and under riding free. Admittance to the Scottsdale Railroad Museum costs $2.00 and children under the age of 12 accompanied with an adult get in free!
The Local Library
Libraries are always fun to browse and explore. In Phoenix, all of the area libraries offer scheduled storytime for the younger kids as well as programs and events for older ones, including classes such as computer coding and college prep. You can also take your preschoolers to a kindergarten boot camp and watch your young readers practice by reading stories to dogs. On those hot summer afternoons, the nearest library is a great place to escape to chill in air-conditioned comfort and read.
Splash pads and splash parks are a wildly popular way for the kids to cool off and have fun. These days they are popping up all over the metro Phoenix area. It’s no wonder with the long, hot months of summer they are one of the most requested amenities of the various Parks and Recreation Departments around the Valley of the Sun. There are also public swimming pools throughout the city that cost around $2. Some of these pools also feature waves and slides for added fun.
The Scottsdale Art Walk
Art lovers take note. More than 100 art galleries in downtown Scottsdale open their doors every Thursday night for Scottsdale Art Walk. For the past 30 years, art lovers and the curiously-minded have strolled along the streets of Scottsdale Thursday evenings to appreciate some of the finest art in the country. Thanksgiving is the only Thursday of the year that the event is not held.
The Animal Display at Cabela’s
You can enjoy a quasi-safari at the Cabela’s in Glendale. The outdoor recreational outfitter and merchandise store maintain a museum-worthy educational display with more than 400 animals. Signs provide context about the lifelike creatures, from a tiny mouse to a huge elephant. A tank contains live fish native to Arizona, including the state fish and several endangered species. Cabela’s also offers periodic free seminars on hunting and fishing topics.
Another great way to escape the midday sun is to explore the area museums, many of which offer free admission. Children thrill at the opportunity to go inside a real train at the Arizona Railway Museum at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler, or get their “hands-on” the interactive exhibits at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, or the art activities at the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa. Depending on their interests, older children may enjoy exploring the landscape of the desert southwest through a variety of art, natural history, and science museums.
Drive Historic Apache Trail
A drive on the historic Apache Trail offers jaw-dropping views of canyons, geologic formations, and desert flora and fauna. The old stagecoach trail, approximately half remains unpaved, runs 50 miles from Apache Junction to Theodore Roosevelt Lake right through the Superstition Mountains. Looking for a short excursion? Head for Tortilla Flat for lunch, though there are only six inhabitants in the town with just six inhabitants, there is an Old West saloon serving up sarsaparilla and a country store with prickly pear gelato located about 18 miles northeast of Apache Junction. Continue on to the lake for even more breathtaking views and places for a picnic.
Minor League Baseball Games
What better place to spend time with the family then taking in a baseball game. The Arizona League has a 56-game season that begins in mid-June and goes until late August or early September. Teams can be found in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Glendale, Goodyear, Peoria, and Surprise. Games start at 7 p.m. nightly. You can watch recent draft picks from high school and college teams make their professional debuts or sometimes players from Major League teams rehabbing from injuries. The best part is there is no admission charged. However, there are no concessions sold either (you can bring your own water, food, and snacks).