12 Things To Do With Family In Glendale, Arizona

Last Updated on February 9, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Known as “The Gateway to Adventure”, Glendale, Arizona offers visitors endless opportunities for family fun under the sunny skies. Located just minutes from downtown Phoenix, this lively suburb attracted early settlers seeking wide-open spaces and has grown into a thriving city with sports, nature, culture and dining for all ages.

When planning your next family vacation or weekend road trip from surrounding cities like Tucson or Flagstaff, Glendale hits the sweet spot between big city excitement and outdoor affordability. To help you make the most of your family time in Glendale, here are 12 top things to do with kids of all ages.

Explore the Outdoors at White Tank Mountain Regional Park


Spanning over 29,000 acres just west of Glendale, White Tank Mountain Regional Park immerses families in the rugged beauty of the Sonoran Desert. The park’s distinctive white granite mountain ranges with iron-rich quartz provide a striking backdrop for outdoor adventures.

With nearly 51 miles of hiking trails, there are paths for every fitness level. Easy nature walks take in petroglyphs, desert wildlife sightings and seasonal wildflowers. Extended trail networks challenge avid hikers with rocky terrain and elevation changes. Families also enjoy picnicking, geo-caching, bird watching from one of the vista points, and attending ranger-led talks or events.

The park offers bike rentals as an alternate way to explore over 20+ miles of bike paths. Mountain biking trails range from gentle loops to technical single-tracks for teens and parents. Admission to White Tank Mountain Regional Park costs $7 per vehicle during peak season (October-April) or $6 in summer months.

Meet Favorite Animals at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park


For animal lovers of any age, Wildlife World Zoo provides thrilling up-close encounters in zoo habitat exhibits or safari-style drive-through adventure. As one of Arizona’s largest collections of exotic animals, this 100-acre Glendale attraction allows families to observe over 600 species from around the globe.

In air-conditioned buildings, get eye-level with sand cats in the petting zoo, giant tortoises, tropical birds, bees in a hive and a butterfly garden. Hop aboard the Safari Train for a guided ride through expansive lion, tiger, bear and zebra habitats on a real working ranch.

Splash and play at Dragon World featuring Komodo dragons and a touch pool. Thrill seekers can hand-feed a giraffe from an elevated deck in the African exhibit or get within a cage surrounding sharks and stingrays at Stingray Bay. General admission starts at $34.95 per person.

Cheer on the Home Teams


No visit to Glendale is complete without taking in a sporting event at one of the city’s two major sports facilities. The State Farm Stadium is home turf for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, hosts college bowl games and the Super Bowl in 2023. Families can get passes for a behind-the-scenes stadium tour on non-event days.

Meanwhile, hockey fans flock to Gila River Arena where the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes skate against rivals during the regular season and playoffs. Score discounted tickets for weekday games or special “Kids Free” matchups to introduce your family to the fast-paced action. The arena’s team shop stocks plenty of branded souvenirs so everyone goes home with team spirit.

Learn Local History at Sahuaro Ranch Park


For a living history experience, Sahuaro Ranch Park transports families back to the late 19th century with 17 preserved historic buildings. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this fully-functioning ranch founded in 1886 now serves as an agricultural museum depicting what early settler life was like in the Arizona Territory.

Families can tour replica homes like the 1890s adobe Main House, the 1910 Glendale Train Depot, the 1913 Guest House and the Farm Blacksmith Shop. Costumed staff and volunteers demonstrate heritage skills like blacksmithing, quilting, spinning wool, soap making and churning butter. Special event days might feature pony rides, wagon rides, demonstrations of early 20th century kitchens or seasonal crafts. Basic admission is free with donations encouraged.

Play Mini Golf at Adobe Dam Family Golf Center


Fun for the whole family can be found at Adobe Dam Family Golf Center alongside the Aqua Fria River in Glendale. This entertainment venue features three creative 18-hole mini golf courses packed with lighting effects, water features and mechanical gimmicks designed for players of all ages.

Kids love letting their imaginations run wild on Neverland themed with a pirate ship, ticking crocodile and Tinker Bell magic at every twist and turn. Grownups tend to favor the tougher, tournament-style Blue Streak course while families come together to traverse the multilevel volcanoes and tropical features of Aloha Falls. When you work up an appetite, refuel on casual entrees like wings, burgers and salads at Adobe Bar & Grill.

Splash Down Water Slides at Rose Mofford Sports Complex


Cool off even the hottest Arizona summer days at Rose Mofford Sports Complex aquatic center. Conveniently located by the Peoria Sports Complex for spring baseball fans, this family water park makes a fun pre-game or full day outing.

The 25-meter competition pool features 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards, lap lanes, water basketball hoops and a beach-like wading pool. Two water slides – one enclosed tube and one open – twist and turn for thrilling drops into a landing pool. Pack a picnic or grab grub from the on-site snack bar to refuel between swimming sessions. Daily admission starts at $4 for kids or $6 for adults.

Tour the Future at Arizona Science Center


Ignite your child’s inner inventor, engineer or astronaut with 300+ hands-on exhibits at Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix – just 15 minutes north of Glendale. Perfect for kids aged 3 to 13, interactive displays allow inquisitive minds to launch model rockets, turn waste into clean energy, extract DNA, control real robots and bring creative ideas to life.

specialty programming like weekend Gender Spectrum workshops or Sensory Morning explore STEM topics for neurodiverse learners. Planetarium shows, laser music nights and 3D movies on Arizona’s unique landscapes might just inspire new family adventures. General admission runs $20 per person.

Nosh on Family Friendly Fare


From quick bites to elevated dining, Glendale’s family-friendly food scene offers global flavors to match kids’ tastes and parents’ preferences. Housed in a historic Santa Fe railcar, Slo-Bern Restaurant kills cravings for chili dogs, patty melts, shakes and sides since the 1950s. For Lebanese spice, Jasmin Mediterranean Cuisine serves generous portions of chicken shawarma, falafel, hummus, gyros and more.

Modern takes on classic cuisine shine at lunch, brunch or dinner hot spots like Arrowhead Grill or Haus Murphy’s German Restaurant & Pub. And no family mealtime is complete without piping hot pizza fresh from the brick ovens at Uncle Bear’s or Bill Johnson’s Big Apple Pizza. Save room for the iconic original chimichangas from Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen too!

Play All Day at Great Arizona Puppet Theater


Since opening in 1989, the Great Arizona Puppet Theater keeps young audiences captivated through colorful sets, playful scripts and skillfully operated marionettes. This intimate 78-seat black box theater located in downtown Phoenix runs puppet productions year-round with shows ideal for ages 2 and up. Creative takes on classic tales like Goldilocks, The Three Little Pigs or Jack and the Beanstalk teach timeless lessons. Song and dance revues celebrate cultural heritage for Dia de Los Muertos, Chinese New Year lanterns or Hawaiian hula.

Before or after the one hour performances, let kids try operating sample puppets in the lobby or pose for silly photos alongside full mascot puppets of Dev the Desert Tortoise, Lucky the Dog or others. Ticket prices usually run $12 per person making this an affordable family activity any time you’re visiting the Valley.

Take Batting Practice at Big League Dreams Sports Park


With fields designed as mini replicas of iconic Major League ballparks, Big League Dreams models the ultimate baseball fan experience right in suburban West Phoenix. Its six regulation-size fields with pro-style dugouts, digital scoreboards and concessions draw regional travel ball tournaments as well as public batting cage and game rentals. Family members can take turns hitting, pitching and fielding on the manicured grass under stadium lights.

The complex’s onsite clubhouse bar & grill overlooks the diamonds through floor-to-ceiling glass making it easy to refuel kids on burgers, tenders or pizza without missing any plays. Prices vary by rental times and packages to fit different budgets. So whether your crew aims for sport scholarships or just casual fun, hours fly by developing cherished memories together at Big League Dreams.

Wind Through Canal Trails on Pedal Boats


Glendale sits alongside two key canals supplying needed desert irrigation all facilitated by the Salt River Project. Families can traverse both the Arizona Canal and grand canal on shaded trails perfect for walking, jogging or bicycling any time of year. But for a unique onboard perspective, rent a pedal boat by the hour and take your time floating through emerald green waters watching ducks, herons, turtles and other wildlife along the banks.

Colorful options at Arizona Pedal Boats in nearby Tempe include giant 10-person surreys, single kayaks and traditional 4-person pedal boats so the whole family can venture out together. Pack a small cooler with snacks and beverages to sip as you drift lazily downstream soaking up beautiful desert scenery and each other’s company. Rates start around $20 per boat for an hour. Advance reservations recommended especially for weekends or holidays.

Conclusion


With no shortage of attractions ranging from outdoor adventure and professional sports to heritage museums, performing arts and casual eateries, Glendale provides the best of suburban convenience just outside the Phoenix hub. Local parks, aquatic centers, mini golf and batting cages mean easy entertainment across ages and interests any time of year at family-friendly prices.

Favorite national chain stores and restaurants mingle effortlessly with historic architecture and independent businesses to keep visitors engaged day and night. Whenever your family’s travels take you to the Valley of the Sun, save a day discovering why Glendale lives up to its “Gateway to Adventure” legacy built by generations before.

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