One of our favorite places to visit while in Phoenix was the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. Our friends and family jokingly said that it is our second home, that is how much we loved it. My daughter still talks about it to this day. After more trips than I can even count I know I can give a pretty well-rounded review, so let’s do this!
Children’s Museum of Phoenix
Let’s start with the first impression you’ll get, the parking lot. My advice is to get there early, the parking is free but limited. If you cannot get there early then aim for lunchtime when the first wave of visitors leaves for naps.
The building is a former elementary school with a rich history but has a bit of an industrial feel to the interior as well. The interior is bright, colorful, clean, and has a modern edge from the industrial elements. The museum is quite proud of its building’s original purpose and has a section of their website dedicated to it.
Play and learning areas
The building has three levels of assorted activities and learning areas. Each one has plenty of room for all to learn and play without every feeling overcrowded except for on peak field trips days.
Dominating the first level and reaching up to the third level is a large structure designed for climbing and exploring made of mixed metals and materials. Its official name is the Schuff-Perini Climber but many people call it a tree house or the climber. Adults, you’ll get a workout! p.s. no bags, food/drink, or large handheld cameras are allowed on the climber.
Besides the climber, the first floor contains the gift shop, conveniently hidden behind the check-in counter so you can avoid it. Additionally, a play area with changing activities primarily geared towards construction and creative thinking skills.
The second floor has classrooms for the multitude of programs that they offer for families, educators, and the community at large. Additionally, the second floor houses Building Big which is an area for building forts and climbing, the car wash filled with tricycles and other riding toys, and an area for face painting. And the all-important eating area I’ll discuss later.
This floor is jam-packed with awesomeness! There is a pit-stop area with racecars made with roller skate wheels, a pool-noodle forest, a grocery store, a kitchen, and a room filled with mazes and pathways for various sized balls to weave their way through to the delight of all. Additionally, a quiet reading area with cozy nooks for when you just need a little break from the action and an area for those that are three-and-under to play and explore without fear of getting squished.
Our personal favorite on the third floor is the art studio! Adults and children of all ages can be free to enjoy the structured and guided activities as well as the more imaginative thing-a-ma-jig area that reuses materials that would be typically thrown away or recycled. I will freely say that my car is littered with arts and crafts that I created in the art studio.
The outside play area consists of a small replica of a baseball field, a garden with a knowledgeable staffer, and a structure called Let’s Move that is similar to a snack in design. Typically, you’ll find chalk, hula hoops, and jump ropes to round out the activities. Also, a good number of outdoor picnic tables, many with shade, are scattered about the area.
You are welcome to bring your own food. Eating is only allowed in the second-floor cafe area or outside. The onsite foodservice is outsourced but very friendly, the prices are reasonable, and the portions are very fair.
Go! Have fun, both the adults and the children. It is not an all-day activity for the older kids so plan to do morning or afternoon. And there is frequently a Groupon so be sure to check it out to save some money! Also, wear comfy clothes!
Be sure to check out some of our reviews other toddlers and small child-friendly travel destinations such as things to do in New Orleans or the SC Upstate’s gem, the Spartanburg Children’s Museum. Join The Busy Llama community and tell us what you think or suggest some new places for us to visit.