Ideas for Kid-Friendly 2021 Spring Break Outdoor Adventures

From hiking to treasure hunts to horseback riding, there’s a lot of outdoor fun available for Spring Break during Arizona’s best weather season. We have several fun suggestions in Phoenix, Tucson and Payson.

Be sure to wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes, sunscreen and a hat on these adventures. You may also want to bring binoculars and a camera.

Double Butte Loop at Papago Park, Phoenix

Minutes from Downtown Phoenix, the Double Butte Loop trail is an easy trail in West Papago Park. Park in the West Buttes Park parking lot off Galvin Parkway. The trail circles the park’s popular sandstone buttes, formed anywhere from 6 to 15 million years ago, and offers an excellent overview of the area. The minimal elevation gain makes Double Butte Loop an easy trail for novice hikers as well as families to navigate.

The trail is also very close to a short hike up to one of the most popular lookouts in Phoenix, the Hole in the Rock. The opening formed in the sandstone provides a one-of-a-kind view of the Valley at the end of the trail.

625 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix
2.5 miles, rated easy
About 30 minutes from Cadence

Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve, Phoenix

Nestled in the historic Hedgpeth Hills on the edge of Phoenix, the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve serves as a gateway to Arizona’s archaeology and cultural past.

View more than 1,500 prehistoric petroglyphs created by the Hohokam, Patayan and Archaic people that are etched on some 600 boulders by taking a self-guided quarter-mile trail tour in the 47-acre nature preserve.

You’ll see deer, spirals and hunter petroglyphs along the easy trail. At the visitor center, you’ll find out more history of the petroglyphs. At selected times, rangers offer storybook tales for young kids as well as talks and guided hikes for older children and families.

Along the way, observe desert wildlife ranging from cacti to javelinas, in their natural habitat.

3711 W. Deer Valley Drive, Phoenix
Admission $9 for ages 13 and older, $5 for children ages 7-12
Easy trail, During COVID-19, masks required
About an hour from Cadence

David Yetman Trail, Tucson

Take the David Yetman Trail in Tucson Mountain Park and find the ruins of the Bowen House, about one mile in, built by an East Coast newspaperman who started a ranch there in the 1930s. We like the idea of creating a treasure hunt and hiding the treasure in the stone ruins structure before taking kids on the hike. Have fun!
6475 W. Gates Pass Rd., Tucson Mountain Park, two hours from Cadence
Rated easy to moderate, 5 miles in and back, but ruins are only one mile
Two hours from Cadence

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson

About 10 minutes from Tucson Mountain Park, visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, featuring desert gardens, an aquarium, reptiles, and even a Mountain Woodland exhibit with a mountain lion, mule deer, wolves and a bear. Check the event calendar for specific days that allow behind-the-scenes animal events.
General Admission is $25, ages 3-12 $12.95. Opens at 7:50 a.m.
During COVID-19, masks required at all times
Two hours from Cadence

Water Wheel Falls, Payson

Water Wheel Falls is a beautiful hike in Payson along a creek to a waterfall with a swimming hole. The hike itself is easy, but be prepared for uphill climbing, lots of rocks and crossing the creek a few times (you’ll get wet).
From the intersection of 87 A and 260 (in Payson), take 260 north for 2 miles to Houston Mesa Road. Turn right / north on Houston Mesa Road and continue to 7.75 miles to the Water Wheel Hiking Trailhead, on the right side of the road.
1.6-mile moderate trail
90 minutes from Cadence

Horseback Riding at Kohl’s Ranch, Payson

Have fun riding a gentle horse deep into the lovely forests near Kohl’s Ranch. You’ll see elk and deer as you ride across water areas and up the mountain into the ancient forest. Experience incredible views and easy trails on safe, friendly horses. Ages 12 and under must wear a helmet. Small children can ride a shorter 30-minute ride just around the entrance.

Call ahead to book your appointment at 602.316.3360
202 W. Kohls Lodge Road, Payson
Less than two hours from Cadence

With all these activities located a maximum of two hours from Cadence, you’re sure to have plenty of time to bond and explore with the family during a beautiful time of the year in Arizona.

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