Who says it doesn’t snow in the desert? Snowflakes and frozen “lakes” show up around the Valley with surprising frequency this month. Consider it all part of the holiday magic. If you need more than a few tons of frozen H2O, you can always make the drive to Arizona’s ski resorts, which we’ve included here, too. In all, we found 30 ways to revel in the sparkle and (relative) chill outdoors — and that doesn’t include the many indoor ice rinks in metro Phoenix. Don’t forget your mittens!
OUTDOOR ICE RINKS
CitySkate at CityScape
50 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix
602-772-3900 • phxicerink.com
For the seventh year, downtown Phoenix transforms into a wintry paradise with Arizona’s largest ice-skating rink, open now through Sunday, Jan. 8. Skating is $10-$25, including skate rental; free for age 3 and younger. Hours vary. CityScape continues its free outdoor movie nights with “Home Alone II” and “Elf” at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, in Patriots Park near the rink. Pre-movie fun includes an appearance by Santa and giveaways.
Desert Ice Skating Rink
7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale
480-585-4848 • scottsdaleprincess.com
The 6,000 square-foot holiday ice rink, on the grounds of the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort, features rink-side snowfalls during the month long “Christmas at the Princess” celebration. Visitors also can enjoy the holiday Lagoon Lights display, rides, a four-lane Polar Glide slide made of real ice and more. Festival admission is free for overnight hotel guests or for local residents with a $75 purchase at any resort restaurant. Self-parking/festival entry for non-hotel guests $35 per vehicle, and anyone can purchase $5 wristbands for unlimited rides. Skating is $25 including skate rental.
Holiday Ice at the Wigwam
300 E. Wigwam Blvd., Litchfield Park
623-935-3811 • wigwamarizona.com
Take the family on a holiday glide across the ice at the historic Wigwam Resort. Prices, including skate rental, are $8; $5 for age 10 and younger.
Merry Main Street Winter Wonderland Ice Rink
20 E. Main St., Mesa • 480-644-6500 • merrymainst.com
Ice skating at City Plaza in Mesa runs through Sunday, Jan. 1, and costs $10, including skates and an hour of skate time. Parking is free, and Valley Metro light-rail rides between Country Club and Mesa Drive also are free on select weekends.
Skate Westgate Ice Breaker
6751 N. Sunset Blvd., Glendale
623-385-7502 • westgateaz.com
Westgate Entertainment District’s first ice-skating rink is open now through Sunday, Jan. 8. Visits with Santa and free horse-drawn carriage rides run through Christmas, and “snow” falls at 7 and 8 p.m. every night. Skating, including skate rental and two hours of skate time, is $8-$13; free for age 3 and younger.
Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village skating
336 State Route 179, Sedona
928-282-4838 • tlaq.com
All month, this scenic shopping district hosts its Red Rock Fantasy event featuring holiday lights and events. From 3 to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 30-31, the public can skate for free on the outdoor ice rink.
SNOW-PLAY DAYS AND SNOWFALLS
Carefree Christmas Festival
100 Easy St.
480-488-2051 • carefreechristmasfestival.com
The town of Carefree transforms into a winter wonderland with 40 tons of real snow, pictures with Santa and live entertainment from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 9-10, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11. Holiday musicians, carolers and dancers perform all weekend, and shoppers can pick up gifts and food at the holiday market. See fireworks and an electric-light parade on Saturday. Pets can even pose with Santa.
Cyclomesa WinterFest 2016
1910 N. Alta Mesa Drive, Mesa
480-644-2352 • mesaaz.gov
Mesa’s Bike & Pedestrian program hosts this bike-centric holiday event in Alta Mesa Park from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. Kids can play in 10 tons of snow, ride a mechanical snowboard and jump in bounce houses. The event features helmet-safety and concussion-education sessions, food trucks and more. At 5:30 p.m., a guided family-friendly bike ride winds through the Alta Mesa neighborhood past homes brightly decorated for the holidays.
Desert Ridge Marketplace Snowfall
21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix
480-513-7586 • shopdesertridge.com
The outdoor shopping mall at Loop 101 and Tatum Boulvard makes it snow at 7 and 8 p.m. nightly this month, transforming the AMC Fountain and Fireplace into a living snow globe. On Christmas Eve, it will snow hourly from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Desert Ridge Marketplace Snow Day is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14. Play in 40 tons of snow, enjoy crafts, cookies and milk and entertainment.
Glendale Winter Wonderland Weekend
Between 58th and Glendale avenues
623-930-2299 • glendaleaz.com
This is the 24th year for Glendale Glitters, Arizona’s largest free holiday-light display, where more than 1 million holiday lights illuminate the downtown. Festivities include live entertainment, a petting zoo, crafts and face-painting and visits with Santa. From 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 9-10, kids can play in the snow during Winter Wonderland Weekend. Glendale Glitters continues from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly through Monday, Jan. 9.
Goodyear Ballpark Home Plate for the Holidays
1933 S. Ballpark Way
623-882-3120 • goodyearbp.com
The city celebrates the holiday season with a tree-lighting ceremony, snow activities and a visit from Santa from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Goodyear Ballpark. Choirs from local elementary schools will perform, and arts-and-crafts vendors will sell Christmas items. Reindeer games and kids snow-play activities will be set up around 40 tons of snow. Admission is free; nominal fees for concessions and activities.
Joy to the Herd at Shamrock Farms
40034 W. Clayton Road, Stanfield
602-477-2462 • shamrockfarms.net
The dairy farm transforms its Welcome Barn area into a winter wonderland from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3-4. Play in real snow, go sledding, make holiday crafts and take a guided farm tour. Reservations and prepayment required: $12; free for age 2 and younger.
Litchfield Park’s Christmas in the Park Town Center
623-935-9040 • litchfield-park.org
Play in 12 tons of real snow and see Santa Claus from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. The free family event includes live holiday music and performances, a hometown parade, pictures with Santa, craft booths and food.
Peoria Old Town Holiday Festival
Peoria and Grand avenues
623-773-7133 • peoriaaz.gov
See Santa Claus and play in 20 tons of snow in Old Town from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2. The free festival includes a kids zone, live entertainment, competing choirs, a crafters market and food vendors.
Polar Slide at the Phoenix Zoo
455 N. Galvin Parkway
602-273-1341 • phoenixzoo.org
The zoo offers its annual 200-foot snow-tubing ride during the day through Monday, Jan. 16, and during its evening ZooLights festivities, through Sunday, Jan. 8. Polar Slide tubing is $3 per ride in addition to zoo admission: $24.95; $14.95 for ages 3-13; free for age 2 and younger. Kids must be at least 4 years old and 38 inches tall for the polar slide. On Saturday, Dec. 31, kids can play in 20 tons of snow during Noon Year’s Eve — the zoo’s kid-friendly New Year’s Eve bash from 9 a.m. to noon featuring snowball targets, dancing, games and more.
Rawhide’s Snowy Christmas
5700 W. North Loop Road, Gila River Reservation
480-502-5600 • rawhide.com
Snow will fall at 7 and 8:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 6:15 and 7:15 p.m. Sundays through Friday, Dec. 23, at this Western theme park west of Chandler. Santa visits every weekend for photos, or kids can drop off their letters to Santa while parents shop and take in holiday-light displays.
Schnepf Farms Winter Wonderland
24810 S. Rittenhouse Road, Queen Creek
480-987-3100 • schnepffarms.com
Go ice skating during the Schnepf Farms Winter Wonderland starting Thursday, Dec. 1. Take a musical train ride through holiday lights, go on a hayride to feed live deer, or roast marshmallows and sip hot chocolate around a bonfire. Santa will visit on Saturday, Dec. 10, when the farm will have 30 tons of snow to play in. $15 for sledding and snow play; $10 for ice skating (including skates); $5 train and hayrides.
Snow Day at Mother Nature’s Farm
1663 E. Baseline Road, Gilbert
480-892-5874 • mothernaturesfarm.com
Spend a snowy day at the farm from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. Play on a snow hill, plus all the regular kids activities — hayrides, a bounce house and petting zoo. Families also can pick out a Christmas tree or cut one down. $10 for kids; $3 for adults.
Snow Much Fun Day at Children’s Museum of Phoenix
215 N. Seventh St.
602-253-0501 • childrensmuseumofphoenix.org
Run, jump and play in 20 tons of snow in the Children’s Museum’s parking lot Saturday, Dec. 13. Visits with Santa begin at 10 a.m. Kids can also jump in a bounce house or play inflatable hockey. Snow Much Fun Day events are included in the $11 museum admission. Enjoy breakfast with Santa or build a gingerbread house at additional costs.
Snow Week at Arizona Science Center
600 E. Washington St., Phoenix
602-716-2000 • azscience.org
During Snow Week, the Science Center covers the grassy hill near the entrance with 60 tons of real snow. From Monday, Dec. 26, through Monday, Jan. 1, enjoy snow play, snow-related science demonstrations and kid-friendly activities at Heritage and Science Park. Science Center admission is $18; $13 for ages 3-17.
Tempe Marketplace Snowfall
2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway
480-966-9338 • tempemarketplace.com
The District Stage at Tempe Marketplace hosts free snowfalls at 7 and 8 p.m. nightly in December — and hourly from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The stage also hosts live entertainment all month. From noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, get a free digital photo with Santa Claus and enjoy holiday-themed music, dancing, games and prizes.
Winter Wonderland Express at Enchanted Island Amusement Park
1202 W. Encanto Blvd., Phoenix
602-254-1200 • enchantedisland.com
Enjoy 25 tons of snow, free sledding and snow play during this annual celebration from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 17-18. Enchanted Island’s C.P. Huntington train transforms into a holiday express. Kids get free hot cocoa and candy canes before visiting with Santa to get their picture taken inside a giant snow globe. Admission to the train ride and all-day snow play is $6.
SKIING, SLEDDING, SNOWSHOEING
Arizona Nordic Village
16848 U.S. 180, Flagstaff
928-220-0550 • arizonanordicvillage.com
Enjoy more than 30 miles of ski and snowshoe trails suited for all skill levels at this Coconino County snow-play destination. Bring your own equipment or rent it from the village for a nominal fee. Lessons are available and dogs are welcome. You can even rent a cabin or yurt for your stay. This area does not have a sledding area, but Crowley Pit Snow Play area is a mile away. Day passes are $5-$20.
Arizona Snow Bowl
San Francisco Peaks, north of Flagstaff
928-779-1951 • arizonasnowbowl.com
Located just north of Flagstaff at 9,500 feet above sea level, Arizona Snow Bowl offers 40 trails across 777 acres for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. Seven ski lifts — including a new high-speed lift — will have you flying down the trails faster than ever. Lodging, lessons and equipment rentals are available. Lift tickets: $69-$79; $59-$69 for ages 13-17; $49 for ages 8-12 and seniors; free for age 7 and younger. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Elk Ridge Ski and Outdoor Recreation
2467 S. Perkinsville Road, Williams
928-814-5038 • elkridgeski.com
Explore 11 trails across 37 skiable acres, two surface lifts and a more than 8,000-foot summit that makes Elk Ridge an ideal Arizona snow-play destination. Bring your own skis and snowboards or rent them at the lodge. The center also offers lessons and equipment packages. Elk Ridge offers all-day tubing; no personal discs or sleds are permitted. Lift tickets $20-$40.
Mount Lemmon Ski Valley
10300 Ski Run Road, Mount Lemmon
520-576-1321 • skithelemmon.com
The 22 ski trails scattered across 200 snow-covered acres can accommodate all skill levels. Three ski lifts will quickly bring you to the top of Mount Lemmon’s 9,000-foot summit for more downhill fun. This site rents skis and snowboards; it also offers lessons for $25 to $75 per session. Lift tickets $15-$40.
Oak Hill Snow Play Area
10 miles east of Williams on Route 66
928-635-1418 (Williams Visitor Center)
Two snow-tubing areas (600 and 400 feet) are featured at this snow playground in Coconino County. The area also features a 900-foot ski run that’s perfect for beginners, but there is no ski lift or tow. The area is equipped with a warming shelter with firepit and picnic tables at the bottom of the hill. Please note: Only rubberized tubes are permitted. Metal, wood and hard-plastic sleds are prohibited. Snow play is free.
Snowy Sleigh Rides at Windmill Ranch
12325 I-17 North, Exit 328 (Frontage Road), Flagstaff
928-451-6743 • potagoldadventures.com
Take a step back in time for an old-fashioned, holiday sleigh ride through Coconino National Forest. Windmill Ranch offers private, horse-drawn carriage rides for groups up to 12. The hourlong trip takes takes you on a winter adventure to a special campground where guides build a fire and serve hot cocoa. $150 to $590 depending on group size.
Sunrise Park Resort
White Mountains, 12 miles west of Greer
855-735-7669 • sunriseskipark.com
Three snow-covered mountains, each at least 10,700 feet above sea level, offer 65 runs for skiers and snowboarders. Sunrise Park Resort also contains an expansive terrain park featuring wood and metal rails, boxes and jumps. Ten chair lifts serve up to 16,000 skiers and snowboarders per hour. After a day of hitting the slopes, soak in the indoor hot tubs of the Sunrise Hotel and Summit Restaurant. Call for prices.
Wing Mountain Snow Play Area
Forest Service Road 222B, U.S. 180, just north of Flagstaff
602-923-3555 • snowplayaz.com
This maintained snow-play area has fully paved and plowed access roads and parking lot, portable restrooms and a concession stand selling food and hot beverages. You can purchase a plastic sled onsite for $20; $30 for two. Only soft items are allowed; snowboards and fiberglass, metal or wooden sleds are prohibited. $15 per vehicle.