This list is from experience! So, here it is, the Inside List: 5 Must-do Secrets for every parent in the Valley:
Speaking from a mother’s standpoint, and a mother who has rightfully become a valley local, it’s easy to overlook the hidden gems that lie right at your doorstep. If you’ve lived in AZ awhile, or even your whole life and suddenly, when you become a parent, you realize the only hot-spots you know are (or were) the clubs and bars of Old Town, Scottsdale. If that sounds a lot like you, we have you covered. And if you’re a parent and new to the Valley, you’re going to have a giant head start! Here, mom and dad, is the insider’s go-to-guide of your new “hot spots!” (Not to mention, great topicality for ice-breakers when you start going to play-dates, soccer games, t-ball games…you get the idea…)
#1) Private Tour of Diamondback Stadium at Chase Field
It’s not as hard as it sounds, you not have to be a VIP to get a private tour of the Diamondback Stadium at Chase Field. I’ll tell you what you do, then you have to do it! If you contact Chase Field’s sales department and tell them you’re interested in a tour and/or you are thinking about purchasing season tickets, they will contact you back and give you a tour! My tour-guide/sales-guy was very friendly, fun, patient with my kids and there was absolutely no pressure. It was actually very informative and not a bad idea to purchase season tickets if you plan on going a lot. My son’s favorite seats (right behind the bull-pen) just weren’t available at that time.
It’s pretty amazing (even if you’re not a baseball lover) to go to the empty stadium and see all the behind-the-scenes that only baseball team members usually get to see. The dugout and everything is open to explore and for your kids it’s mind-blowing just STAY OFF THE GRASS! They take that VERY seriously. If you don’t reach out for a tour, keep this in mind: when you purchase tickets for a Diamondback baseball game, your contact info (of course) gets entered into their system, so await that phone call. Don’t hang up on them if they call. They’re probably going to offer you a tour, and it’s worth it, so don’t turn them down!
This next Arizona must do is a little out of the way (3 hours give-or-take), but again, it’s a “must-do!”
I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m going to assume that most children only imagine what it would be like to encounter a bear in real life without the distance and protection you get at a zoo. At Bearizona that all comes to life. It’s in Williams, Arizona and you actually drive through the forest as slow as you can with only your car to protect you. And the way I assume we imagine bears is that, if they want to, they could jump on your car or rock your car, especially if they’re hungry and want your picnic basket!
Bearizona is full of wildlife: bears, wolfs, bison, lynx, mountain-goats and more. The drive-through wildlife park isn’t strictly drive-through, it has a place to get out and stretch, rock climb, grab souvenirs, food and to touch the not-so-scary animals. We had a mountain-goat that had definitely developed a taste for baby formula!
#3) The Phoenix Children’s Museum
I’ve always though museums were over-rated, but this place is awesome. It took me six years to bring my kids here, but once I did I knew that it had to be a “must-do” for everyone with kids. The museum is hands on, interactive play for your young ones from crawlers to fourth-graders. There’s larger than life food, markets with check-out counters, tree houses, forts, kid “car-washes.” You name it, they have it and your kid can go through it, send things through it, play with it, climb on it or build it. Vacuum tubes throughout the play palace teach your child about pneumatic’s and cause and effect. The ginormous 3-story-high play structure encourage your little ones to turn their fear of getting lost into courage to explore. This really is a kid’s wild dream in reality. It reminded me of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory without all the chocolate…
#4) McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Or “The Train Park,” as locals call it is a gem.Once you go, you will always go, especially if you live in metro-phoenix. When my kids are bored and want to play, it’s our go-to-spot. The Train Park is in Scottsdale, right at Indian Bend Road Road and Scottsdale Road. Here there’s a play-ground, a mimic wild-west jail house to climb all over, plenty of room to run around, have birthday parties, a train to ride, carousel, miniature Model Railroad, train museum, shop and more.
#5) Bedrock City
Another one that’s in Williams, AZ. I’m not going to lie, it’s a little creepy at first, but it’s totally captivating. My daughter had no clue who the Flintstones were when we went there, but she knows now! This real-life Bedrock is an exact replica of the old cartoon family’s town. Everything that’s in the show is here and looks completely the same. There’s even a giant Dino to slide down! It’s sort-of a ghost town, at least it was when we went. Entrance into Bedrock costs $5 per person and after that, you’re free to explore. They even have a little “peddle” train to take you around the town! If you go, say “hi” to the lonely little goat. You’ll know him when you see him.