Wild west town
Trail Dust Town, Tucson

Family Activities

Old-Time Fun in Arizona

Travel back in time for nostalgic visits to an old-fashioned soda fountain, a family-owned candy company and more.

In today's fast-paced, constantly connected world, it's nice to slow down occasionally and enjoy old-fashioned pleasures. Here are a few places where you can travel back to a simpler time.

Cerreta Candy Company, Glendale

You won't see any Oompa Loompas at Cerreta Candy Company, but you can still have a magical adventure when you take one of the daily tours offered at this family-owned factory. No golden ticket required.

Savor enticing aromas and watch some of the steps of the candy-making process like mixing, heating, cutting and wrapping. Keep an eye out for a replica candy conveyor belt from the famous I Love Lucy episode. At the end of the 30-minute tour, kids can make their own concoction: a milk chocolate pizza covered with assorted sweet toppings.

MacAlpine's Soda Fountain, Phoenix

MacAlpine's began as a pharmacy with a soda fountain counter almost 90 years ago. While the drugstore may be long gone, people still come in for old-fashioned refreshments—and maybe a chance to see Fonzie in a back booth. It feels that authentic.

MacAlpine's serves up a full slate of goodies guaranteed to roll down your bobby socks—malts, sodas, seltzers, egg creams, sundaes and more. If you have the willpower to wait for dessert, you can dig into a hamburger, sandwich or salad beforehand. Adding to the retro charm is the adjoining antique store selling vintage clothing, collectibles and furniture.

Note: MacAlpines's is temporarily closed, but expected to reopen in the fall of 2022.

Trail Dust Town, Tucson

Trail Dust Town was built in 1961 as an outdoor shopping center on the outskirts of Tucson's east side. Over the decades, it evolved into a family entertainment venue as the city grew out to meet it.

Anchored by the popular Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse, there are still several specialty shops to browse along with a narrow gauge railroad on a loop track, an antique carousel, a mini Ferris wheel, a shooting gallery, gold panning, elaborately choreographed stunt shows and plenty more. One of the most recent additions is the Museum of the Horse Soldier, preserving the history of the American military's mounted services.

Sharlot Hall Museum, Prescott

Sharlot Hall Museum (pictured below) gives visitors a chance to stroll through history and even chat with it.

The museum is built around the site of the First Territorial Governor's Mansion, an elegant log cabin that still stands in its original location. Additional historic buildings are set amidst beautifully landscaped grounds.

The museum was founded by the thoroughly modern Sharlot Mabridth Hall, a poet and activist, who became the first woman to hold public office in Arizona when she was appointed as the territorial historian in 1909.

The museum's living history program features staff and volunteers dressed in period garb offering hands-on demonstrations of frontier-life skills and spinning tales of days that suddenly don't seem so long ago.

Old-Time Fun in Arizona
Prescott Folk Arts Festival at Sharlot Hall Museum (Credit: Sharlot Hall Museum)

Delgadillo's Snow Cap, Seligman

The Route 66 icon, Delgadillo's Snow Cap, opened in 1953 and quickly earned a wacky reputation because of owner Juan Delgadillo's interaction with customers. His freewheeling gags—like squirting patrons with mustard that was actually colored string and offering comically undersized and oversized servings—delighted families for decades. Everyone wanted to stop at the Snow Cap and visit with the man known as the "Clown Prince of Route 66."

When Juan passed away in 2004, his kids carried on the traditions. And just because the Delgadillos are quick with a joke doesn't mean they don't know their way around the kitchen. Tacos, burgers, chicken and shakes are all expertly prepared. Now, who's ready for a little time travel?

About the Author

Roger Naylor

Roger Naylor is a travel writer who hates to travel. At least anywhere beyond his beloved Arizona. He specializes in lonely hiking trails, twisting back roads, diners with fresh burgers sizzling on the grill, small towns, ghost towns and pie. He has contributed to Arizona Highways, USA Today and Route 66 Magazine, and he is the author of Boots & Burgers: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers and Arizona Kicks on Route 66. He lives in Cottonwood, Arizona, and can be reached through his website, rogernaylor.com.

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