Families and Kids

Summer Family Fun in Tempe, AZ

The school year is coming to a close and that means summertime is just moments away. Those lazy days of summer can quickly turn into complaints of boredom from your kids — but not in Tempe. We have plenty of summer family fun ideas in Tempe to entertain you and your family from now until school starts all over again.

Kiwanis Wave Pool

I grew up in Arizona and when I think of summer time, I think of swimming pools. Tempe is home to what might be the ultimate swimming pool: the Kiwanis Wave Pool. Tickets are inexpensive, $7 for adults and $5 for kids from 2-12, and for a few extra dollars you can rent tubes for the water slides or just to use to float in the water. And, you can skip the sunscreen – this watery fun is completely indoors. Check the Kiwanis Wave Pool website for hours of operation.

Splash pads

Going along with the water theme, Tempe has a couple of splash pads that kids and parents will both love.

One popular place to play is the splash pad is at Tempe Marketplace. It is surrounded by umbrella-shaded tables and chairs, so parents can relax with a yogurt or coffee while the kids have the time of their lives. The pop up fountains and lights at nighttime are a lot of fun. And, you can make a day out of it by planning a shopping trip or meal before or after the splashy fun. It is open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tempe Marketplace is also a great spot on Friday and Saturday nights when they host free live music at two stages in “The District.”

And scheduled to open summer 2018 is a brand new splash playground at Kiwanis Park. This will be a perfect addition to the many offering at Kiwanis Park including an indoor wave pool, batting cages, boat rentals and more.

Big Surf Waterpark

America’s original wave pool opens again for the summer season on May 5, 2018.  Big Surf has lots of activities to choose from – for little kids and those seeking more than a little adrenaline rush. There are calm play areas just for toddlers and food and beverage options on site. The waves at their “Waikiki Beach” come every three minutes and they even offer surf lessons. Visit the Big Surf website for hours of operation, special offers and more details.

SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium

I love going to SEA LIFE at Arizona Mills with my family. It is such a great escape from the hectic pace of everyday life. More than 5,000 sea creatures call it home, from sting rays to sharks to clownfish.

LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Arizona

I also love to accompany my kids at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Arizona, located across from SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium.  Who can resist the bins containing thousands of  brightly colored little bricks, ready to be transformed into colorful creations? There are also rides, a 4D Cinema, LEGO City Play Zone,  a café with kid-friendly food, a LEGO friends area and a DUPLO Farm for the smallest kids. The new Dino Explorer experience is a JURASSIC-sized adventure  featuring a wide range of Dino activities and playful learning where kids can discover exotic LEGO creatures, hunt for rare Dino eggs, explore hidden lands and build their own dinosaurs!

Purchase tickets to both SEA LIFE and LEGOLAND® Discovery Center on line at https://arizona.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/tickets/.

Since SEA LIFE and LEGOLAND® Discovery Center are at Arizona Mills, be sure to save some time for shopping after your visit.

Phoenix Zoo Prowl & Play and early hours

The Phoenix Zoo has really evolved over the years. They add more and more fun features all the time. They have several play areas with water – one near Monkey Village and another near the lake and carousel. The Phoenix Zoo hosts “Prowl & Play” during a few summer evenings, June 9 and August 4, 2018. During these fun summer nights, you can go to the zoo after regular hours and participate in games, activities for kids, train rides and more fun. And, starting June 1, the zoo opens at 7 a.m. so you can have a breakfast picnic and see some of their magnificent animals before the heat sets in.

Flashlight Tours at Desert Botanical Garden

This summer, visit Desert Botanical Garden for their Flashlight Tours, Saturday nights from May 26 – September 1, 2018,  7 – 9:30 p.m.  The temperatures at the Garden are pleasant after the sun goes down and seeing it by flashlight gives you a whole new appreciation for the wonders of the desert. There are discovery stations along the trails where kids can see plants, animals and experience the sights and sounds of the desert at night. Flashlight Tours are included with Garden membership or with paid Garden admission.

Family Art Exhibition at the TCA

The Gallery at the TCA (Tempe Center for the Arts) always has a family-friendly art exhibition during the summer.  This summer’s exhibition DRAW is a feast for eyes and the imagination. DRAW celebrates the arts and sciences behind the tradition of drawing. For many people working in creative fields such as visual art, fashion design and architecture,  drawing is an important part of the creative process. This exhibition and accompanying programs for all ages explore a wide variety of creative media, styles and techniques that incorporate drawing. Some of the highlights include:

  • Meeting local artists working in specially designed summer art studios inside the Gallery;
  • Viewing  a wide range of art drawings from traditional portraits to drawings made by a robot;
  • Creating your own unique drawings on site with traditional and non-traditional art materials and tools;
  • Participating in free artist-led workshops all summer long. All ages welcome.


There are so many museums in and around Tempe and summer is the perfect time to visit. See an impressive collection of fire equipment from 1725 to the 20th century at the Hall of Flame Fire Museum. Learn about the history of our great state at the Arizona Historical Society Museum. Explore a 1,500 year old archaeological site left by the Hohokam people at Pueblo Grande Museum. During the months of June and July, Pueblo Grande Museum offers children’s summer camps and reading programs on various topics See their website for details. Immerse yourself in the wonders of science at the Arizona Science Center or use your imagination to play at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Enjoy your summer everyone! For more ideas, check out the Tempe Tourism Office website or call us at 800-283-6734.

Written Michael Martin