If your kids love spiders, you’re in luck. Arizona Science Center’s new exhibit, The Art & Science of Arachnids, features three themed cubes that hold 100 live arachnids. The Science Cube discusses arachnids that are not spiders or scorpions, deadly spiders of North America and arachnids in medicine. The Arts Cube illustrates the connection we have with arachnids in film, literature and music. The Culture Cube highlights arachnid folklore and mythology, arachnid conservation and arachnids as food. Visitors can also weave their own spider web, build a predator or prey robot, conduct hands-on experiments in the Spider Lab, learn about silk, try on a Kevlar vest, learn how arachnids grow and more through Jan. 2, 2022. Learn more at azscience.org
The Arizona Science Center’s Dorrance Planetarium is the perfect cool venue to learn about the galaxy all summer. And if you get really inspired by the cosmos, you can travel to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, the University of Arizona’s Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium in Tucson or the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter to gaze at the galaxy at cooler altitudes during its SkyNights Stargazing Program most Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
It may not be too late to sign up for a summer sports camp, a performing arts camp, leadership camp, STEM camp or even an overnight camp. Find a huge variety of camps that fit every interest at raisingarizonakids.com/summer-camps
The Children’s Museum of Phoenix boasts a great arts and crafts area where visitors can turn recycled materials into treasures. Older kids will love Create Makerspace at Arizona Science Center, which offers high-tech workshops on 3D printing, laser cutting and more. As You Wish stores Valleywide host classes for kids of all ages all summer (with in-person or take-home options), and the Michael’s and Home Depot chains both offer online summer craft projects for kids.
5. Creepy Critters
Greater Phoenix city parks and state parks offer nighttime activities for the adventurous every summer. Skyline Regional Park in Buckeye hosts a one-mile Venomous Creatures of Arizona Hike at 6:40 p.m. on Thursday, July 8. Participants learn about snakes, gila monsters, scorpions and more. Lost Dutchman State Park hosts a scorpion hunt at 7:30 p.m. on July 17. Learn about scorpions from a ranger, and then head out into the desert darkness with a black light. Sturdy closed-toed shoes are recommended.
6. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
Disneyland and neighboring theme park Disney California Adventure are finally open to everyone — not just California residents. The state of California strongly recommends that all guests be fully vaccinated or receive a negative COVID-19 test prior to entering the Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. Anyone who is unvaccinated must wear a face covering when indoors. Now visitors need to make park reservations in addition to purchasing tickets. Explore the new Avengers Campus in California Adventure where you can help Spider-Man wrangle Spider-Bots on the new Web Slingers ride. At Disneyland, explore some of the newer Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attractions, including the Millennium Falcon ride and building a custom lightsaber or droid.
7. Family Game Nights
Remember puzzles and board games during the long nights of quarantine? Let’s not forget lower-tech entertainment is great for family bonding and conversation. Break out your Clue or Monopoly board or a deck of cards or learn something new.
8. Great Wolf Lodge
This indoor waterpark resort near Salt River Fields in Scottsdale is the perfect place to enjoy water rides without worrying about little feet getting burned on 120-degree pavement. Overnight stays come with waterpark passes to enjoy the huge water slides and indoor pools as well as free Story Time and Yoga Tails events in the lobby. Day passes are sometimes available, depending on resort occupancy. greatwolf.com/arizona
9. Ice Cream
July is National Ice Cream Month, so what better time to indulge? Branch out and try a scoop somewhere that’s new to you in greater Phoenix. From the nostalgic Sugar Bowl in Old Town Scottsdale and Mary Coyle in Phoenix to the newer Churn and Sweet Republic artisan ice cream shops, there are plenty of cool parlors to keep you taste-testing for the best scoop all summer. Look for specials on National Ice Cream Day, which is always the third Sunday in July.
If you haven’t been back to the movie theater, why not go big and splurge on a giant-screen venue? See the latest summer blockbuster at the Harkins IMAX at Arizona Mills mall. Or check out the Irene P. Flinn Giant Screen Theater — a five-story screen with state-of-the-art sound — at the Arizona Science Center, which typically screens documentaries about wildlife, space, our oceans and other science themes.
11. Knott’s Berry Farm
This is the place to go if you and your kids are seeking serious roller coaster thrills. This summer, the Buena Park, California, theme park is celebrating its 100th anniversary and its roots as a family farm/attraction known for fried-chicken dinners, boysenberries and an Old West Ghost Town. Today, the theme park, waterpark and hotel offers more than 50 rides, stage shows, interactive experiences and family fun featuring Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang. knotts.com
12. Legoland California Resort
This Carlsbad, California, theme park caters to families with kids ages 2-12. It recently opened a whole new land: The Lego Movie World, offering several new rides, including UniKitty’s Disco Drop, Emmet’s Flying Adventure Ride, Benny’s Playship and much more. In all, the park offers more than 60 rides and attractions, a huge multi-level play structure, live entertainment and hands-on activities. In some ride queues, kids can play with Lego bricks while waiting. Legoland will celebrate July 4th with a fireworks display. Families can also stay at one of two on-site Lego-themed hotels that offer separate bunk beds for kids, a treasure hunt, outdoor play areas and nightly entertainment. legoland.com/california
13. Letter writing
When the pandemic hit, Scottsdale entrepreneur Colleen Schwab started ramping up work on a new side venture called Pen Pal Life, which has since evolved into The Random Letter Project. It’s a free and fun opportunity to share your thoughts and get a random person’s thoughts from somewhere around the world delivered back to you. Each month there’s a thought-provoking writing prompt. The Random Letter Project has participants of all ages in nine countries and home addresses are kept confidential.
They’re open again! Until 2020, local libraries never failed to provide cool summer havens for Arizona kids and families. Get out of the heat and let your kids pick out their idea of the perfect summer read at your local library (opening times vary, so check online in advance). If you’re able, try visiting several different library branches and compare the book and activity offerings and even the architecture. Don’t forget that Kids Café at select Phoenix Public Library locations provides free meals courtesy of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance for ages 18 and younger Monday-Saturday while supplies last.
15. Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns have made it to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993. This historic playoff run has Suns fans on the edge of their seats. If we Rally the Valley, there just may be a championship parade on a super hot day in downtown Phoenix this month! And nobody will care for one second about the weather. Go Suns!
Explore the world of robotics through art and hands-on activities at the i.d.e.a. Museum’s new Robo Art exhibition featuring artwork from around the globe and exploring the importance of imagination in designing automated machines. Activities include a Robot Zoo, Be the Bot, Racing Robots, The Robot Code, My Dream Robot, Build-a-Bot, and a coding board game. Robo Art is on display July 1- Jan. 2, 2022 at the i.d.e.a. Museum, 150 W. Pepper Place in downtown Mesa. Hours TBA. $9 for ages 1 and up, free for babies 11 months and younger. 480-644-2468 or ideamuseum.org
17. Roller skating
Great Skate in Glendale and Skateland in both Mesa and Chandler (all are part of unitedskates.com) have all reopened to offer air-conditioned summer fun for all ages. All rinks host Affordable Family Fun Nights with $5 admission and $4.50 skate rentals. Check websites for schedules and specials.
18. STEM fun
The Musical Instrument Museum launched the Summer of Science — a collection of videos for children ages 5-14 that explore the science of sound through virtual tours of MIM’s galleries and DIY experiments that kids can do at home. $3 per video or $15 for the series.
19. Subscription boxes
There’s something about getting a package in the mail — especially when one arrives every month. Subscription boxes for kids such as Little Passports offer lots of at-home fun with an educational bonus. The Little Passports World Edition ($24-$28 per month) introduces kids ages 6-10 to countries around the world. The first box comes with a mini suitcase and a world map, and each month kids get to hear about the adventures of Sam and Sofia who can go anywhere on their magical red scooter. In addition to a craft and activity book, each package comes with stickers for a passport, suitcase and map. Ages 7-12 can graduate to the USA edition or jump to one of many STEM-themed boxes. Other subscription boxes for kids include kiwico.com, literatibookclub.com and sensorytheraplaybox.com
20. The Social Dilemma
The documentary “The Social Dilemma,” streaming on Netflix, powerfully illustrates the impact of social media — technology specifically designed to steal our attention and nothing more. As a result, extremism is encouraged, fact and truth are blurred or outright ignored, and ultimately democracy is at risk. Use The Center for Humane Technology’s guide to discuss the film.
21. Top Golf
Here’s how to enjoy golf when it’s triple digits in the desert: Topgolf in Scottsdale, Glendale and Gilbert offers climate-controlled, reserved hitting bays for groups up to six players, plus a full bar and menu. Pricing is bay rental per hour, not per person, and there are lots of summer discounts, plus half-price Tuesdays.
22. Universal Studios Hollywood
All visitors can finally return to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood and throw back a butterbeer. Try out the new ride The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash, grab a giant Lard Lad Donut in the Simpson’s Springfield or escape the clutches of a T-rex in Jurassic World: The Ride. universalstudioshollywood.com
If you’re eligible (age 12 and up) but haven’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, step up to get your shot and do your part to stop the spread. It’s also a great opportunity to explore the science behind vaccines with kids and discuss the long history of how vaccines helped cure polio, stop measles and more. Find kid-friendly resources at healthychildren.org — the website from the American Academy of Pediatrics — or explore YouTube videos for kids about the development of vaccines at brainpop.com
See artwork from around the world in a casual and safe gathering at Scottsdale Fashion Square. Wonderspaces is currently featuring 13 immersive, interactive, and conversation-provoking works of art in a socially-distanced environment. New artworks rotate every few months. $24; $15 for ages 12 and younger. Noon to 8:45 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Sunday. Scottsdale Fashion Square, 7014 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale.
If you’re lucky, you could hear a lion roar while you’re in mid-air on Out of Africa Wildlife Park’s Predator Zip Line. The park features about 40 exotic big cats including lions, tigers, leopards, jaguar and cougars, plus free-roaming giraffes, antelopes, zebras, ostriches, water buffalo and more. Admission is $10 on your birthday month and otherwise ranges from $24-$39. Prices vary on the add-on zip-lining options at the park, 3505 W. SR-260 in Camp Verde, 928-567-2840. Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course also offers zip-lining and obstacle courses for kids (ages 7 and up) and adults for $27-$55. It’s located at Fort Tuthill County Park in Flagstaff. Call or text 888-259-0125 with questions.
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