This is the first installment in a Five Part Serial regarding fun things to do with kids in Phoenix by Phoenix.org staff writer Karla Lant.
Part I: The Great Outdoors
I’m the mother of a three year old and a fourth generation native to Phoenix. Despite the feeling certain Dog Days each year might give you, I can tell you from experience that Phoenix is a wonderful place to enjoy outdoor fun with your kids. It’s not easy to choose my favorites, but I’m taking a stab at it!
Tempe Town Lake and Beach Park
For a wonderful day out with your family in a centrally-located spot with plenty of things to do you can’t beat Tempe Town Lake and Beach Park. Tempe Town Lake is located right off the 202 Freeway at the Priest or Scottsdale Road exits. Created via a radical engineering project, Tempe Town Lake and Beach Park is essentially a man-made lake with a variety of recreational opportunities surrounding it. Large paved paths around the lake offer ideal places to walk, run, bicycle, skate, wheel a stroller or even walk your dog. The paths are open from 5:00am to midnight daily. Don’t be surprised when you see roller derby chicks right alongside soccer moms with strollers and preppy concert-goers when you visit; the paths are large and well-made and the area features many special events that bring in all sorts of people.
Special activities at Tempe Town Lake include segway tours along the paved paths, sand volleyball courts on the shore of the lake, and the Tempe Beach Park’s splash playground. At the splash playground your kids can learn about water conservation, ride a toy whale, and, of course, get wet. You can even fish in the lake or go boating. You will see everything from paddle boats to people rowing crew on Tempe Town Lake and you can rent kayaks, row boats and even stand up paddle boards to use on the lake. There are rowing classes for your teens to take and your younger children will be thrilled to ride along with you.
When you’re through at the park or ready for a break, head on down the street to Mill Avenue and Old Town Tempe for your choice of casual fare to upscale dining, and choose from your favorite national standbys and local eateries that rival any big chain. Old Town Tempe has more restaurant choices in its small area than any other restaurant row in town.
Tempe Town Lake and Beach Park right next to Mill Avenue is perfect for you and your kids. There’s something of the urban outdoors for everyone here.
Tempe Town Lake and Beach Park information: http://www.tempe.gov/index.aspx?page=1193
Boat Rentals at Tempe Town Lake: http://boats4rent.com/tempe-town-lake/
Mill Avenue information: http://www.millavenue.com/
Encanto Park and Enchanted Island
Encanto Park is located in central Phoenix and is one of the best places to bring your children, either as a family or in large groups for parties and other activities. This green spot in a brown city has been an old standby for years, but many of us here in Phoenix don’t know how much the park has to offer.
Your small children will love tottering around the lagoon and feeding the ducks as much as they’ll want to conquer the playground equipment. Kids of all ages will be excited to try their hands at fishing and hiking along the nature trails. When the weather heats up you’ll love the public pool at Encanto, and this park is wonderful for grilling and picnicking. The park also features municipal golf courses that allow you to introduce your kids to the sport in an affordable way.
Your kids will beg to come back to Enchanted Island in the center of Encanto Park once they visit. According to their website, Forbes Magazine named Enchanted Island one of the Top 12 Best City Parks in America, and this is no surprise. This haven for kids 10 and under boasts an old-fashioned carousel, bumper boats, kiddie cars and a train that takes kids for an adventure on the rails. There are other rides too, such as red baron style airplanes, a “dragon wagon” and even a parachute ride. (Some of these have height restrictions so if your child is young and/or small, plan ahead and check the website.)
Enchanted Island also hosts private parties and special events. Look for an autumn Harvest Festival there with pony and hay rides and get up to $5 admission taken off for canned food donations. You’ll love the Winter Wonderland Express at Enchanted Island too, and the Easter Egg Hunt there is one of the biggest in the State.
Encanto Park and Enchanted Island will be one of your favorites too!