22 great indoor spots for Phoenix area kids to stay cool this summer
It’s too hot to play outside in the summer in Phoenix. So, we need options.
And we’re in luck, because options abound in the Valley, from arcades to jump parks to full-fledged indoor amusement parks. Some places are free or nearly so, while other spots might be reserved for special occasions. Either way, there’s plenty to choose from for any age group and just about any interest.
Here are our picks:
This multilevel indoor playground for kids of all ages includes several play areas, an arcade and a 35-foot slide (children younger than 5 must have supervision). Let the kids explore all the tunnels and mole holes in the 25-foot oak tree. Children 17 and younger must be accompanied by an adult at the 20,000-square-foot play center. Socks are required to play. Birthday-party packages are available.
Pump It Up
This indoor inflatable playground, a national chain based in Tempe, is bound to leave even Energizer Bunny-type kids worn out. Socks and a signed waiver of liability are required for play. Birthday-party packages are available. Select locations offer structured preschool play-time sessions in addition to open bounce, corporate team building and art classes.
Amazing Jake’s Food & Fun
This indoor “fun factory” has a rock wall, go-karts, laser tag, bowling, mini golf and kiddie rides. Call or go online for more details; there are height and weight restrictions, and varied pricing. Bring your appetite, because a buffet purchase is required for entry.
Children’s Museum of Phoenix
This hands-on play factory — aimed at kids 10 or younger — offers three levels of educational fun and an awe-inspiring climbing maze. Located in the historical Monroe School building — its alumni include painter Jackson Pollock — this place celebrates play in a way that’s fun for kids and adults. There’s a tricycle car wash, a room for fort-building and an art studio with free crafts and a castle to paint. There’s also a special playroom for ages 3 and under, a pool-noodle “forest,” a nook with cozy round reading spots, and even a kids grocery store, pizza cafe and car-racing corner. It’s nearly impossible to try every activity in just one trip, so each visit feels new.
Arizona Science Center
An ever-changing exhibit gallery keeps everyone engaged, while kids get a chance to explore with their hands at 300 “touchable” exhibits. On display now through Sept. 5 is World of Giant Insects, including a giant desert locust, a Chinese praying mantis and a squishy lime swallowtail caterpillar up to 120 times larger than life. The planetarium and IMAX theater are an additional charge.
Along with plenty of kid-friendly exhibits, little ones can enjoy a hands-on play area. Several summer classes for ages 2 to 10 are offered; advance registration is required and participants younger than 6 must attend with a parent or caregiver.
Arizona Museum of Natural History
The kids may call the former Mesa Southwest Museum “the dinosaur museum,” but there’s a lot more to dig here than dino bones. Pan for gold, experience a brief stay in an old-time jail cell or check out a monsoon-like downpour.
Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting
Get awestruck at firefighting history. There are 130 wheeled pieces, from hand- and horse-drawn apparatus to more modern engines, to marvel at as well as myriad other objects (such as thousands of arm patches from around the world). There’s also a hands-on children’s exhibit.
Pueblo Grande Museum
Quite a bit of this National Historic Landmark is outside, but there’s also an indoor component. Learn more about the ancient Hohokam people and see a little bit of what they left behind so long ago — part of a prehistoric platform mound and a ball court.
Learn about the history of Chandler, from the impact that the ancient Hohokam had on this region to the city’s founding father and how its pioneers lived. Call for information on summer workshops for ages 5 to 11. Explore exhibits of Chandler’s art and history at the pueblo-revival McCullough-Price House.
Jambo! Indoor Amusement Parks
A children’s entertainment center offers several amusement-park-style rides, including a mini roller coaster, bumper cars, spinning cups, safari train and carousel. Jambo! also has dozens of non-violent video games and a soft play area. Check the website for coupons. Birthday-party packages are available.
Arizona Capitol Museum
Bet there’s stuff you don’t know about Arizona, and here’s the place you can learn it — and view a portion of the battleship USS Arizona. This four-floor museum features over 20 exhibition areas, and the 45-minute tours visit one of the legislative chambers.
Tempe History Museum
The museum underwent an extensive renovation and now features a look at Tempe’s college influence and how the community came to be. When you get home, visit the museum’s online exhibits, which explore football’s long-standing presence in Tempe and the city’s architectural heritage.
Challenger Space Center
The museum is packed with cool space exhibits and memorabilia, including a landing-gear tire for space shuttle Discovery. Special activities let kids become crew members on a simulated space mission and allow for evening stargazing.
Laser Quest Phoenix
Think of this sport as paintball without the paint. Players go on “missions,” use code names and attempt to score as many points as possible in this high-tech update of hide-and-seek. Recommended for ages 7 and older. Teens enjoy this stuff (as do many of their parents). Birthday-party packages are available.
If you feel the need for speed, race over to Octane Raceway (formerly F1 Race Factory) in Scottsdale. The indoor racetrack offers your kids a safe place to speed on a 1/3 mile track.
Mesa Historical Museum
Everything you wanted to know about Mesa — and then some — is here. Come see “Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience” exhibit.
Arcadia Ice Arena
There are public skate sessions, as well as skating and hockey lessons. Call for more information on summer skate day camps and private lessons. Public sessions are held daily, but check the online calendar, which is updated every day, or call for more information. Some night sessions are available.
Bring your kids to Jump Street, an indoor wall-to-wall trampoline park with two locations in the Valley. One trampoline court is reserved for smaller kids, two others for bigger kids.
At Skateland in Mesa, you can relive the roller-skating-party days of your youth while teaching your little ones how to roll on four wheels or in-line skates. If the kids are really struggling, ask for a balance walker. Check the website for coupons and event announcements.
Dave & Buster’s
Here’s a way for parents and kids to win. Dave & Buster’s at Tempe Marketplace caters to both, offering a huge arcade inside a full restaurant and bar. Parents can relax, enjoy Wi-Fi and a cocktail while kids play nearby on an array of reward-based games. You can feed everybody, too; the full menu offers snacks to meals.
Ice Den Scottsdale
Everyone can have a fun time in the always-cool Ice Den in Scottsdale. Between daily public skate events, birthday parties, figure skating practice and shows, and house hockey games, there’s something for anyone taking refuge from the summer sun.