A visit to Phoenix with teens is a blast! Nicknamed “The Valley of the Sun,” Phoenix is a desert oasis with endless opportunities for fun. Come in the summer for festivals, concerts, long days, and sparkling nights. If you want to enjoy the city’s milder weather from November to March, spend time at spring training baseball, hiking in the parks, or lounging by the pool.
Teens will have a great time exploring downtown Phoenix with museums, shops, restaurants, and parks. The larger Phoenix area is the best place to find extreme sports, water sports, hiking, scenic tours, and more.
Phoenix offers points of interest for all kinds of families with teens. Use this list to help plan your trip!
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What to do in Phoenix with Teens
1. Head out on a hike
There are some beautiful outdoor spaces in Phoenix to explore with teens. There are all levels of trails in the area for everyone from the novice to experienced hikers. You’re also just 4-hours south of the Grand Canyon if you want to check off a National Park and hiking.
The Hole in One at Papago Park is an easy half-mile trail where you can check out fascinating rock formations. For a bit of local history and culture, hike Tempe Butte (aka “A” Mountain) next to Arizona State University. It’s a moderate hike that’s less than a mile long, but it’s steep.
Camelback Mountain is a popular day hike but it is difficult. If you plan to tackle it, be sure to bring plenty of water and go slow. It’s very strenuous, even for the best athletes.
South Mountain Park just south of the city offers dozens of trails for various skill levels.
2. Try rock climbing
Some of the best places for both indoor and outdoor rock climbing with young adults are in Phoenix! There are a handful of indoor rock climbing gyms in the area, like AZ on the Rocks. They’re perfect for first-timers who need instruction, but are also great for experienced climbers!
Rappel Arizona offers several outdoor rock climbing packages for groups in the larger Phoenix area. Choose from different types of rock climbing and work with educated guides. Explore petroglyphs or do a yoga and climbing combo!
3. Kayak on Tempe Town Lake
Tempe Town Lake is a man-made lake created on what used to be the Salt River running through Tempe. The lake and Beach Park host a variety of events throughout the year and there are 7 miles of scenic walking and biking trails that go along the water.
Why not kayak on the lake and take in all the views of downtown Tempe? There are multiple types of watercraft available to rent at Beach Park.
4. Float down the river with Salt River Tubing
Another way to have fun on Salt River is to go tubing! Head to Salt River Tubing in north Mesa where the river is the perfect conditions for a cool float.
Rent tubes and other essentials from the tubing company before you head out. You decide if you want to float to all four points along the route, or as little as one. Each point equals another hour of tubing fun.
5. Experience off-roading with ATV tours
For thrill-seekers, consider going on an ATV tour! Take single-rider ATVs or Tomcar UTVs that allow for a family of 4 to ride together. Your guide will provide you with goggles, helmets, and gloves before taking you on a day trek into areas around the Phoenix area.
Some tours go deep into the Sonoran Desert while others focus on exploring slot canyons or the Agua Fria River. Expert guides will give you interesting facts and the history of the area while you enjoy stunning mountain views and desert flora.
6. Go for a round of golf
The avid golfer in your family will love the opportunities to tee off in Phoenix. There are dozens of public and private golf clubs throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area. Nestled at the foot of Arizona’s desert mountains is a breathtaking landscape of luxury country club resorts and lush green courses.
Enjoy scenic views while you golf at clubs open to the public, like We-Ko-Pa Golf Club or Troon North Golf Club. Have a good time with a day pass or stay at the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort as well. Both clubs have restaurants that the public can visit, as well as shops and practice facilities.
7. Head to the waterparks
It’s no surprise that the Phoenix area has a ton of water parks for cooling down when the temperature gets hot! Check out Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa. There is a great activity center for younger teens, with bumper boats, a wave pool, slides, and more. When you’re ready to dry off they also have land activities like mini-golf, laser tag, and bumper cars!
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Glendale is solely a Six Flags water park but with all the thrill you’d expect from the franchise. Enjoy a variety of funnel slides, water coasters, and racers. Relax in a few wave pools and lagoons, or cool off in the lazy river.
8. Explore the Desert Botanical Garden
The expansive Papago Park in Scottsdale features several popular local attractions, including the Desert Botanical Garden. You’ll love the visual appeal of over 50,000 different desert plants spread over 140 acres of park.
Enjoy the vibrant colors and natural geometric shapes of the plants among fun rotating art installations hosted by the park. If you come in the spring or fall, make sure to visit the Butterfly Pavilion. During the holidays don’t miss Las Noches de Luminarias, which lights up the park at night. It’s quite a sight to see!
9. Learn about architecture at Taliesin West
You can take a tour of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and desert studio, Taliesin West. Built in 1937, Wright oversaw and designed every inch of the estate.
You don’t have to appreciate architecture to enjoy the beauty of Taliesin West. Made of local materials, Wright used local rock and wood, and even the cement is made with desert sand.
Taliesin West regularly hosts events like dinner theater. If you plan a visit there are guided tours, audio tours, or the option for self-guided tours as well.
10. See the desert from above with a hot air balloon ride
A hot air balloon ride is something everyone can enjoy! There’s nothing like seeing a sunrise or sunset from the sky in a hot air balloon. Most air balloon rides take 3 to 4 hours. Guides usually offer refreshments and water. Wear layers you can remove and don’t forget your camera!
11. Get them engaged at the Musical Instrument Museum
Kids of all ages love a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum. Stroll through exhibits featuring instruments from all over the world and through the centuries. The museum often hosts talks by big names in the world of music, as well as performances by local artists.
12. Learn about Arizona’s Indigenous People at the Heard Museum
The Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix has been promoting American Indian art for almost 100 years. Indigenous culture has always been an important part of Phoenix since the city sits on the ancestral land of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
There are several excellent exhibits at the museum, with our favorite being the beadwork. It’s amazing to see the unique talents and creativity of indigenous artists. Be sure to stop at the Museum Shop after your tour where you’ll find unique traditional souvenirs.
13. Try all of the hands-on activities at the Arizona Science Center
The Arizona Science Center is in the heart of downtown and it is one of my favorite places to explore in the Valley. Plan on spending 2 to 3 hours here when you’re visiting Phoenix with teens! There are hundreds of interactive, hands-on exhibits across 4 levels.
Besides the exhibits, there is staff positioned throughout the science center. They orchestrate demonstrations, science labs, and more. Also, don’t forget to see what science-themed movie is playing in the IMAX theater!
TIP: When you’re finished at the Arizona Science Center, walk over to Pizzeria Bianco for some delicious wood-fired pizza.
14. Explore Butterfly Wonderland
Butterfly Wonderland is part of the large Arizona Boardwalk entertainment hub in Scottsdale. You can visit the indoor rainforest ecosystem year-round and learn about the thousands of butterflies that live there.
There are also bees, reptiles, birds, and more to see in the habitat. Watch a 3D movie about migrating Monarch butterflies or attend a special event workshop. For those who want to extend their experience, there’s an OdySea aquarium and Laser & Mirror Maze in the same center.
15. Get interactive at Velocity VR
If you’re a fan of virtual reality games, you have to check out Velocity VR in Scottsdale! You and your group of up to 8 people can play a 30-minute game in a large warehouse-like setting. Laser tag, but with VR headsets!
Basically, you pay $45 per person for a 45-minute session that includes a mission briefing. Sometimes they have 2-for-1 deals. Velocity VR asks that you book groups 1-week in advance.
16. Work together at an Escape Game
Get out of the desert heat and have fun in an escape room with the family! They’re a great way to mix things up and practice family teamwork. Work together to find clues in fun, elaborately themed rooms.
17. Get a workout with axe throwing
LumberjAxes in Tempe is a fun, safe way to burn off some energy. Walk in with a group of 5 or fewer or book a group session to throw axes. After you get instructions, you get to play a handful of rounds of axe-throwing games.
Anyone who can throw an axe can participate. Food and drinks are available on-site, as well as alcohol. After 9:30 pm, guests must be 21 and above.
18. Get hearts pumping with go-kart racing
If you’ve never gone kart racing, don’t miss your chance when you visit Phoenix with teens. Both K1 Speed Racing and Octane Raceway feature fully indoor air-conditioned tracks, electric karts, concessions, and more.
Octane also features Velocity VR (see above), an impressive arcade, axe throwing, and a bar and grill. You won’t find an outdoor track, but you won’t miss it with the twists and turns on the indoor tracks at both locations!
19. Cheer out an Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Game
Baseball lovers will want to check out the Arizona Diamondbacks when they play at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. The stadium has a domed top that keeps out the heat, meaning you can comfortably watch a home game!
They also have spring training in March at the Salt River Field stadium in Scottsdale. You can watch them compete there with other big names in the MLB, like the Mets and Astros.
20. Have animal encounters at the Phoenix Zoo
Papago Park is also where you’ll find the highly-rated Phoenix Zoo. This 125-acre park is great for all ages. There are four main exhibits, with animals from the tropics, the continent of Africa, and Arizona, and a large children’s area with a petting zoo.
The Phoenix Zoo would make for a great day trip with lots of walking. Sit down and enjoy animal presentations by knowledgeable staff, or book a variety of tours around the park. You can also refresh at several cafés and snack bars scattered across the park.
21. Explore Old Town Scottsdale
Old Town Scottsdale is just one part of the charming city of Scottsdale that you’ll want to visit. Since its days as a dusty cowboy town, Old Town Scottsdale has maintained its charm with breathtaking murals by local artists, elegant restaurants, and fun tourist shops. Head to the Sugar Bowl ice cream parlor for a sweet treat.
Learn about the days of cowboys and local native American tribes at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. If you’re visiting Phoenix with teens, there’s a good chance there’s a viable option for entertainment for every family member!
22. Get spooked on a ghost tour
As it turns out, Phoenix is a really old city that is very haunted! If your teen gets excited by all things scary, be sure to take a Phoenix ghost tour. You’ll be picked up by a very knowledgeable and entertaining guide.
During the tour, you’ll see a variety of haunted buildings in the Phoenix area, including a hotel and an old Victorian mansion! Hear true ghost stories about assassinations and double homicides.
23. Check out one place for all-around fun: Mavrix
Mavrix has everything teenagers could want: an arcade, bowling, laser tag, and more. There’s also a restaurant that serves food and beverages.
24. Go shopping
If you want to do some shopping while you’re in Phoenix with teens, you have plenty of options. Head to Old Town Scottsdale to shop at Scottsdale Fashion Square, a large, high-end luxury shopping mall. Biltmore Fashion Park is another high-end shopping mall with restaurants.
The Desert Ridge Marketplace is yet another option, but more casual. Go here if you prefer open-air malls with more middle-range stores, a theater, and plenty of places to grab a bite to eat or iced coffee.
25. Experience Arizona cuisine
Old Town Scottsdale is also home to Arizona Food Tours. Claiming the title of “Longest Running in Arizona,” it’s a great way to have fun in Phoenix with teens. With a group of 4 or more ages 12 years or older, take a food tour of Old Town and the greater Phoenix area.
You’ll stop at a handful of specialty food shops, restaurants, and other food venues. The 3-hour walking tour is a fun way to have a full meal. Learn about what makes Phoenix unique in a completely original way of telling the story!
Enjoy Fun Things to do in Phoenix with Teenagers
If you love the outdoors, the sun, and culture, Phoenix might be the best fit for your fun-seeking family! When you’re visiting Phoenix with teens, you won’t run out of things to do. Enjoy the fantastic desert landscape while you take in all that the city has to offer!
Book Your Flights
You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.
If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.
Book Your Accommodation
We regularly use Hotels.com and Expedia.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.
If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.
Book Your Transportation
For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service.
Book Your Tours and Travel Photos
We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages.
If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Tiqets is another place to purchase tickets for attractions.
Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours.
One of our favorite things to do annually is take photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threat or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master to find the best policy for your group.