Phoenix with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day
8:00AM: Breakfast at Over Easy
4031 North 40th Street
Hours: Mon-Fri 6:30AM-11:30AM, Sat-Sun 6:30AM-12:30PM
10:00 AM: Hands-on fun at the Arizona Science Center
After breakfast, visit the Arizona Science Center in downtown and add some educational fun to your Phoenix family vacation. Tweens, and even parents, will enjoy the more than 300 hands-on exhibits spread across five large galleries. You won't find a bored kid in sight! Check out the daily planetarium shows for a thrilling trip across the galaxies, or see what's playing on the big screen at the IMAX theatre. This attraction is definitely not to be missed if you are traveling to Phoenix with tweens, although there is plenty here for youngsters, older teenagers and parents to enjoy.
600 East Washington Street
General admission $12 adults, $10 child 3-17 (IMAX and Planetarium not included in general admission)
Hours: Daily 10AM-5PM (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)
12:00PM: Lunch at Alice Cooperstown
Skip the typical fast food chains and try something unique during your family vacation. Phoenix native and long-time resident Alice Cooper serves as the inspiration for the rock 'n' roll atmosphere of this restaurant, where the food is served by a waiter bedecked in the classic face-paint of the shock rocker (known as "Alice Eyes" makeup). The menu is full of sandwiches, half-pound burgers, pasta, and diner classics like meatloaf and tuna casserole. If you want to impress the kids with a gastronomical feat, order the renowned Big Unit Hot Dog, named after former Arizona Diamondbacks star pitcher Randy Johnson and recently featured on the Travel Channel's "Man vs. Food" show. The Big Unit is a full pound of hot dog meat (22 inches long) on a baguette roll, and at $12.99 it's likely to be the most expensive hot dog you've ever enjoyed. For the more sensible eaters in your group, vegetarian and low-carb selections are also available. What the menu lacks in culinary adventurousness is made up by the fun and kitschy surroundings. The place is surprisingly calm when there's not a baseball or basketball game next door, so don't hesitate to swing open the doors if things seem a bit too quiet in there. And for those worried about the rock 'n' roll atmosphere, the restaurant is surprisingly wholesome and family-friendly.
Downtown, corner of 1st Street and Jackson Street
101 E. Jackson St.
Hours: Mon-Thu 11AM-8:30PM, Fri 11AM-9:30PM, Sat noon-9:30PM, Sun noon-4PM
2:00PM: Old West Ambience and Sweet Snacking in Old Town Scottsdale
You probably won't see many cowboys or cattle wranglers practicing their roping and riding skills on the streets of downtown Scottsdale these days. But you will get an eyeful of Old West memorabilia, fancy cowgirl boutiques and artist galleries as you stroll down the well-manicured streets. Time your trip right and you might see a performance on the Scottsdale Mall. Check out Scottsdale Downtown for the latest information on special events. The Scottsdale Trolley, running free daily between downtown points of interest, offers a fun way to explore the area and give your feet a rest.
One place you can't miss is The Sugar Bowl, located at 4005 North Scottsdale Road in downtown Scottsdale, (480) 946-0051, $-$$. It's a classic ice cream parlor in operation since 1958. This pretty-in-pink shop doesn't simply serve up bowls of ice cream--you can also order sandwiches, soups, burgers, and salads if you need a late-afternoon pick-me-up. You can't leave without trying one of their cones or sundaes. Highly recommended is the Gosh-Awful-Gooey Banana Split ($5.75), featuring Turkish coffee ice cream covered in marshmallow sauce, raspberry sorbet, and caramel sauce. You can walk it off later! Don't leave without inspecting the art on the walls, where you'll be pleasantly surprised by original drawings of the popular Family Circle comic strip (cartoonist Bil Keane was a regular at the Sugar Bowl).
5:00PM: Dinner at Macayo's Mexican Kitchen
The downtown Phoenix location of this regional chain made the local news when President Barack Obama and family stopped here for dinner after a visit to the Grand Canyon. Ask the waiter to put you in the Obama booth and your family will surely enjoy sitting where the President sat. Start your meal with Macayo's Famous Cheese Crisp and move on to the Fajitas de Macayo plate, featuring sizzling strips of chicken, steak, or shrimp with just enough kick of salsa to make you weep a little. Even picky eaters can find something on this menu--burger and fries are available for those with less than adventurous palates.
4001 N. Central Avenue
Hours: Sun-Thu 10:30AM-11PM, Fri-Sat 10:30AM-midnight
7:00PM: Sunset Hike at South Mountain Park
You can't leave town without seeing a real desert sunset. The best spot is South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in the country with over 16,000 acres of preserved space just south of downtown. Drive the one lane road up to Dobbin's Lookout Point for a dazzling panoramic view of the valley. This is a great way to get a few family photos and walk off some of those extra calories. And with over 10 different hiking trails, it's one of the best things to do in Phoenix to make sure your tweens have exhausted their energy and will be ready for bed! You'll find lots of teenagers and families up here, as well as a vendor or two of Native American crafts on busier weekends. Most trails close at 11PM. Drive south on Central Avenue and follow the signs. See the City of Phoenix website for maps and trail guides.
- Overview:Phoenix Travel Guide