Friday, May 23, 2014

The Big List of Free Things to Do With Kids in Arizona

No matter what your budget is, every parent needs a list of free things to do with kids in their back pocket. We've got you covered. If you know of something around Arizona that is not on the list, share it with us on Facebook or in the comments below. 

Here we go!
ASU Art Museum First Saturdays for Families (Tempe)
For children ages 4 - 12 and their families. Families participate in an art project at the art museum. All materials are provided for free and admission is free. 

Macerich Mall Kids' Clubs (Statewide)
Macerich owns many of the malls around the valley and they all have play areas as well as a fun weekly Kids' Club presentation and activity. Check for the mall closest to you to find out which day of the week Kids' Club is available.

Lakeshore Learning (Ahwatukee and Paradise Valley)
Free crafts for kids every Saturday from 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM. 

Barns and Noble Storytime (Statewide)
Barnes and Noble locations around the valley host events and storytimes for kids just about every Saturday at 11:00 AM. Most locations have storytime once during the week as well, check here for the store nearest you to see their event schedule. 

Changing Hands Bookstore (Tempe) 

  • Every 1st Saturday - Costume Storytime: 10:00 - 11:00 AM
  • Every Thursday - Storytime for Preschoolers: 10:15 - 10:45 AM
  • Every 2nd Thursday ~ Bilingual Storytime (Spanish/English) ~ 10:15 - 10:45 AM
Changing Hands Bookstore (Phoenix)
  • Every 2nd Saturday - Costume Storytime: 10:00 - 11:00 AM
  • Every Thursday - Storytime for Preschoolers: 10:00 - 10:45 AM
Bookmans (Mesa)
  • Every Saturday - Storytime: 10:30 AM
  • Every Wednesday -  Music Time: Singing, instruments, movement and musical activities. For kids five and under. 
  • Check their event calendar for performances and other special events for kids, all free. 
Wee Readers at Westgate Stories, rhymes, finger plays and songs geared for children from newborn to five years old. First come, first served.

Pottery Barn Story Time (Scottsdale)
Pottery Barn at Kierland Commons hosts a weekly story time on Tuesdays from 11:00 - 11:30 AM. Fill up your story time passport and after five visits your child gets a little gift. Pottery Barn also hosts other free or paid events for kids such as tea parties and pajama parties. Check schedule for more information.

Also, check out other book stores near you to see what they offer. Here are a few I found others I found outside of the Valley: UofA Bookstore, and Peregrine Book Co. in Prescott, and other Bookmans locations (Flagstaff, Tucson).

Culture Pass (Valleywide)
Go to your local library and check out a Culture Pass for free admission for two people to
several locations around the valley. Locations include the Phoenix Zoo, AZ Science Center and more. Go here for more information including participating libraries and destinations. You can also check your city library's online book catalog to see if the culture pass you want is available before you head to the library. Just search "culture pass" and check on the availability and it will tell you which branches still have them. 

Kids' Building Workshops (Statewide)

Home Depot Kids' Workshops are held the first Saturday of every month from 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM. They are available first come/first served but you can also preregister. Lowes Build and Grow projects for kids happen about twice a month and you must register to participate. To see schedule and register, go here.

Wildflower Bread Company
Wildflower Kids is every Wednesday from 3:30 PM - 4:00 PM. Kids get free cookies, milk, and activity.

Every first Sunday from 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM Target offers free admission to the Natural History Museum and i.d.e.a. museums in Mesa. Also, there are fun activities for kids at the Mesa Arts Center Contemporary Arts museum. Go here for more info. The Heard Museum in Phoenix is also free every Sunday.  

Target also provides free admission to the Children's Museum of Phoenix every first Friday of the month from 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM.  We went once and it was very crowded, but free is free!

Lego Store Mini Model Build (Chandler and Glendale)
Visit the LEGO Store at Chandler Fashion Center or Arrowhead Town Center on the first Tuesday of every month.  Kids can build a cool mini model and take it home – for free. A new model will be available every month and will be specially themed to that month. Supplies are limited. Event is open to children ages 6 to 14 only. 

Free Trolley Rides (Scottsdale)

Explore Scottsdale on a trolley for free. Check out Scottsdale's public art and walk through downtown, walk around Fashion Square Mall, or visit Scottsdale Artwalk on Thursday nights. The trolley runs later on Thursdays for the artwalk. 

Museums on Us from Bank of America
Phoenix Art Museum and the Tucson Museum of Art are free with your Bank of America credit or debit card the first full weekend of every month. 

Free Art Fridays (Tempe)

The city of Tempe hosts these events approximately once a month. Create art with your family and learn about music and movement.  Every month there is a different project and light refreshments are provided for free.

Cerreta Candy Company Tours (Glendale)

Kids and adults can tour this local company's chocolate factory for free. Generally tours are available at 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM Monday - Friday, but you probably want to confirm before you go. Also, for $10/person kids can decorate their own chocolate pizza. Technically, this activity isn't exactly free because even if you don't buy the chocolate pizza, chances are you aren't going to take kids into a candy store without buying something. 

Desert Botanical Garden

Get into the garden for free every second Tuesday of the month, from 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM.

Bass Pro (Mesa)
Free kids' activities every Tuesday night from 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM. There are several activities such as coloring, laser arcade, fish feeding and archery practice.

Cabela's (Gilbert)
Kids can watch the live fish-feeding every Saturday at noon. The curator of the aquarium actually dives into the tank and hand-feeds the fish and turtles. Then, take a walk through the store to see all of the animals on display.

Outdoor Movies in the Park (seasonal) 
You have two options: 
  • Kiwanis Park in Tempe hosts movies on Fridays in the fall and spring. Bring blankets and a picnic dinner. Each movie begins at dusk (approximately 6:00 PM). 
  • Biltmore Fashion Park Movies in the Park caters to an older crowd, but is worth a look. Movies begin at 7:30 PM and go from Oct - Dec. 
Fridays in the Park (Phoenix)
Head to Civic Space Park in downtown Phoenix on 2nd & 4th Fridays from 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM. Event includes games, a food truck, vendors, and live performances. 

Adobe Mountain Desert Railroad Park (Glendale)
Free Sunday Train Rides at Maricopa Live Steamers from September through May. Rides go from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM on Sundays. Check website for exact dates. 23280 N 43rd Ave in Glendale.

Smaland at IKEA

Visit IKEA and let your kiddo play for free at Smaland for up to an hour. Kids must be potty trained and 37'' to 54'' tall. Become an IKEA family member (free) and get an additional 30 minutes of childcare each visit. On Tuesdays, kids meals are FREE. How's that for a cheap outing?

City Parks
In the summer of 2010 I partnered with Kaboom as a Park-A-Day challenger. My boys and I visited 50 parks in our city in about two months. We loved discovering a new park every day and it was totally free. The simple activity of going to a park can be more exciting when you travel a little farther and visit one you have never been to before. Here are a few suggestions if you are looking for some of the best parks in Arizona: Encanto (Phoenix), Fountain Park (Fountain Hills), Riverview (Mesa), Freestone (Gilbert), Tumbleweed Park (Chandler), Rio Vista (Peoria), Saguaro Ranch (Glendale) and Kiwanis (Tempe).


Of course, don't forget about your local library. There are lots of libraries around the state that offer plenty of fun things to do for free. I would list them all, but they are so specific to your neighborhood you'd better look at your local library calendar yourself.

Arcosanti Architecture Tour (Meyer)

Give your kids an introduction into some amazing architecture melded with ecology at Arcosanti in Meyer, AZ or Cosanti in Paradise Valley. Visits are free and probably best for mature and/or older kids.

There are lots of free hiking spots all over the state, and those with entrance fees are quite cheap. Here is our list of 16 Kid-Friendly (and Pet-Friendly) Hiking Spots in the Phoenix Area.


Kids 10 and under can fish for free in Arizona. Go here for more information.

Wells Fargo Museum (Phoenix)

This is a free museum about Wells Fargo. Sounds boring, but it's free, so it is on the list! Actually, the old stagecoaches look pretty cool. If you've been, tell us about it, will ya?

Free Outdoor Concerts

There are several art centers and outdoor shopping centers around the Valley that host free concerts. 


Kids Bowl Free
Register and get two free games of bowling every day during the summer. Standard rates for renting shoes still apply. Check here for participating bowling centers and here for AMF's free bowling program.

Splash Pads
This is an obvious one in the warmer months. Don't forget to try a new one every now and then to add a little more fun to your outing. Riverview Park in Mesa is brand new and  might be the coolest park in the state but it is also going to be quite busy this summer. The Splash Pad at Fountain Park in Fountain Hills is fun too and is worth a drive if you're looking for something nice but not too crowded.

Other FREE things for kids:

Birthday Freebies List from I Heart AZ

This post contains affiliate links. This is how we finance our blog, so thank you for clicking on our links! If you are looking for something fun to do, check out these great deal sites:

GROUPON, Living Social, and Goldstar. Thanks!

Disclaimer: We have done our best to provide accurate and up-to-date information. However, it is a good idea to check before you go to make sure event details have not changed and offers are still valid.

Do you have anything fun to do with your kids that is free? Do you have any additional information about something included on this list? Share in the comments or on our facebook page


  1. Yay!! Can't wait to read more posts :)

  2. WONDERFUL ~ I LOVE THE <3 AZ Blog!! You are amazing ladies!!

  3. Almost over, but check out Kiwanis free family movies in the park on Fridays in May.

  4. Thanks for the kind comments! And thanks Julianne, that is a fun activity, we've gone a couple of times. Keep sharing, we appreciate it!


Hi there! Comments, ideas for things to do, and other insight appreciated.

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