Phoenix is the capital of Arizona and is well-known for its warm temperatures all year long. In fact, its nickname is Valley of the Sun. Even though the large city is in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, many things are grown there such as citrus, cotton, alfalfa, and cacti. But that is not all Phoenix has to offer. Just about one mile to the east, you can find the Children’s Museum of Phoenix right next to the Arizona Science Center. And just across from that is the Rossen House Museum at Heritage Square. You can visit all three of those together since they are all right next to each other.
Want to play some games or ride some rides? Approximately three miles to the northwest, the Enchanted Island Amusement Park is a fun place to stop in for a bit. With over a dozen carnival rides, pedal boats, and even a water park to cool off at, the kids will have a blast and so will you. Don’t leave town without seeing the Desert Botanical Garden about 10 miles to the east. This unique garden is much different than any others you have seen because they have six trails that each take you to a specific ecosystem. From the 0.4-mile Sonoran Desert Nature Loop to the 0.3-mile Desert Wildflower Loop, you will see all kinds of beauty here. Bring a camera.
Picacho is a small community in Arizona’s Pinal County an hour down I-10. With a population of only about 500 people, this quaint little town is a peaceful and scenic place to visit on your road trip to Coronado National Forest. Picacho Peak is the major landmark in the town and was named for the 1,500-foot high volcanic mountain. In fact, the main hotspot in Picacho is the Picacho Peak State Park just off of I-10. Full of wildflowers, cacti, and miles of trails, visitors come from all over the country to visit the cozy park. The park is also historic, with artifacts dating back to the 1700s. Your family should definitely stop here for a visit.
Just a short trip down I-10 is Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Farm where you can get up close and personal with these eight-foot birds. Take a tour and you can feed all the animals including the ostriches, deer, goats, and rabbits. The 45-minute tour lets you see some of the best parts of the Sonoran Desert and you won’t have to worry about rattlesnakes while up on the tour bus. They even have a pool called Stingray Bay where you can pet these aquatic beauties. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop for some souvenirs.
Approximately 45 minutes to the south on I-10, the City of Tucson is another large city where you can find all sorts of things to get into. Step into a dusty Trail Dust Town on East Tanque Verde for some carnival rides, shows, food, and shopping. Speaking of food, the city is known for its Sonoran style Mexican food where you can dine on Sonoran hot dogs with bacon, cream, and pinto beans or their world-renowned tacos. Wash it down with some of their tasty tequila or a cold beverage before heading off to get some dessert from one of the ice creameries in town.
For another type of uniqueness, take the family to the Tucson Valley of the Moon on East Allen Road. The kids will love the enchanted storybook land that boasts live theater, activities for everyone, and much more. Be sure not to miss the Reid Park Zoo on South Randolph Way, which has more than 500 animals including a giant tortoise, bears, and giraffes. And of course, they have lions, tigers, and leopards. Rhinos, elephants, and even some zebras can also be seen here. And you can stop for a bite to eat before heading on to your final destination.
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Less than an hour to your final destination, the Coronado National Forest. Although the forest is huge and has over two dozen campgrounds, you should reserve a spot in advance if you plan on camping here. From the tiny Idlewilde Campground in Cave Creek Canyon with nine campsites to the large Lakeview Campground in Canelo Hills that has 65 sites, you should be able to find the perfect spot. After finding your spot, hit the trails for some hiking, biking, or horseback riding. You can also find plenty of water to enjoy some water sports like fishing, boating, and swimming. If you visit during the winter, you can even do some skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling up in the Santa Catalina Ranger area by Mount Lemmon. There is something for everyone to do here all year long.