Winter Break in Arizona: 14 Ideas for Family Fun
Winter in Arizona means sunshine and activities that appeal to all ages. Hiking and golfing, bike rides and mine tours, holiday celebrations or rejuvenating at the spa – these are just some of the highlights that Arizona offers families and multigenerational visitors.
Take it Easy (or Keep Busy!) at an All-inclusive Dude Ranch
Tucson’s Tanque Verde Ranch give adults plenty of downtime in between traditional ranch activities such as horseback riding and roping with the resort’s full-service spa, while kids can participate in archery, clay modeling and candle making, or visit the on-site Nature Center.
Founded in 1948, Rancho De Los Caballeros in Wickenburg offers something for everyone – venture out on an ATV tour or an all-day trail ride, then end the evening with a Southwest-style cookout. Golfing and spa services are also available for the leisurely inclined.
At Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch in Yucca, several adventurous offerings keep all ages occupied: OHV trips, goldmine tours, barrel racing, archery, World War II relic hunting, wildlife viewing and, of course, horseback riding among the Joshua Trees. At night, unwind around the fire under a starlight sky.
Discover more about Arizona’s dude ranches with our behind-the-scenes video.
Make Epic Memories at Holiday-themed Events
Starting mid-November through January 2, Christmas at the Princess in Scottsdale features six million lights over 65 acres. Families can skate the 6,000-square-foot ice rink, slide down the ice luge and view the city from the top of the Ferris wheel. For adults, there’s the romantic “Chateau Champagne” experience around a fire pit with a seafood tower and plenty of bubbles.
November to January, during Prescott’s Christmas City celebrations, families can listen to live music as they ride in festive Clydesdale horse-drawn carriages around the downtown courthouse, adults can sip on mulled wine and those sticking around until December 31 can celebrate with a Whiskey Row “Boot Drop” and fireworks.
Folks of all ages can experience The Magical Christmas Journey on the Verde Canyon Railway in Clarkdale. Highlights include a visit with Santa, whimsical decor, hot cocoa and seasonal drink specialities, plus a nature lesson during the ride about the flight of the bald eagle.
Dating back to 1999, The Great Pinecone Drop has been a beloved tradition in Flagstaff. It’s Arizona’s version of New York City’s Times Square countdown. On December 31, soak up the crowd’s revelry and fireworks just after a giant pinecone drops; the fun goes down at noon, 10 p.m. and midnight.
Indulge in Laid-back Luxury at a Resort
Swimming all winter long is possible at Great Wolf Lodge in Scottsdale. The enormous indoor water park resort complete with lodging and dining lets kids splash and play while adults look forward to a nightly wine down featuring cheese boards and vino (perfect for when the “cubs” are asleep).
The Catalina Mountains provide the backdrop for Tucson’s Westin La Paloma where adults can golf on the 27-hole course, play tennis or stretch it out with a pilates class. Spa services are available, too. And don’t worry about the kids – there is a supervised children’s club with outdoor activities and arts and crafts.
Phoenix’s JW Marriott Desert Ridge is a one-stop shop for pickleball, tennis, outdoor fitness classes, golf, bike rentals, even a Vacation Planner who can help you make the most of your stay. After you get your exercise in, hit the spa for a facial, then take the little ones to the children’s pool to play or the kids’ club for hang-time.
Let Someone Else Do the Planning on a Guided Tour
An underground Queen Mine Tour in Bisbee takes you 1,500 feet below ground level – and back in time – to explore how copper was mined in the 1800s. Visitors don miners’ gear such as hard hats and lamps for the journey, where you’ll learn about mining history and techniques.
With Scottsdale Greenbelt Bike Tours, riders of all ages can rent an e-bike for a guide-led trip along a tree-lined greenbelt. The paved path winds through Scottsdale, along Tempe Town Lake and past the red rocks of Papago Park, with the 20-mile ride highlighting the desert’s natural beauty and the region’s local history.
Choose your own adventure at Across Arizona Tours. The company offers one-day or multi-day trips to some of Arizona’s most popular destinations: Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Tombstone, Monument Valley, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest and more. Load the family up in Across Arizona’s luxury vans; all tours depart from locations throughout metro Phoenix.
Tucson Bike Tours guides you through three tour options: a fascinating peek at Tucson’s rich history through its historic districts; a mural tour featuring 35 murals by local artists; or a taco tour of notable Tucson restaurants. Tour lengths range from 7-10 miles, and you can rent bicycles from Tucson Bike Tours.