One of the best ways to spend time with the family is to take road trips – whether for the weekend or for a full week. Not only are road trips a great way for your kids to see things they wouldn’t normally read about in textbooks in school, it gives them a chance to learn how to get along.
Being cooped up in a small space, for a long distance, for an extended period of time is the best type of learning experience you could ever give them.
I’d love to say we have driven our kids from coast to coast, but we haven’t… ;) We have, however, made several trips from Arizona to Minnesota and back, over a dozen trips to California, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas.. the list could go on and on.
There is nothing I love more than taking off on a lazy weekend in the truck and going to see something new – whether it be up in Williams, Yuma, Sonoita, or even Willcox – there are things to be seen ALL over this beautiful state. Not just that, there are also experiences to be had.
Every time someone has to use the bathroom, it always seems to be after we have just visited the last rest stop for 50 miles… and therefore gives us new hope that all these trials and tests will eventually lead to a greater level of patience as we try to raise 5 beautiful kids.
Because it’s definitely a challenging experience when your child has to go #1 OR #2 and you are NOWHERE near a rest stop, town, bathroom or friendly roadside area.
Over the last few years, we have managed to visit some of the most amazing and unique attractions in Arizona on our travels. There are many more we need to make it to, but these were some of the most favorited by our family.
Bedrock City is a Flintstones-themed amusement park and RV park at the corner of Arizona State Route 64 and U.S. Route 180 near the Grand Canyon in Arizona, United States.
The once popular attraction is now a not so heavily traveled theme park, diner, and camping location. Admission is just $5.00.
The ONLY megaton Missile Silo from the Cold War that is open to the public, the museum is located on Duval Mine Road in Green Valley – a very low-key area perfect for a missile silo. The titan was the largest nuclear missile silo in the U.S. until it was decommissioned in 1982 by Ronald Reagan.
The missile had one W53 warhead with a yield of 9 Megatons (9,000 kilotons).
Inside, you can see a closeup of a missile used for training exercises (the original was moved when the silo became a museum). You can also see the control room and living quarters.
The museum is located at 1580 Duval Mine Road in Sahuarita.
Best to call ahead to find out when the next tour is going – although they do regular tours, the missile silo gets very busy, and once a tour is booked, there is a few hour wait until the next one – if you have kids, it can be challenging to wait for a long period of time because the museum is rather small. If you find yourself having to wait for the next tour, it’s best to leave and come back – there are a few fast food restaurants in the area (but they get busy in the winter with the snowbirds).
Painted Propane Tanks, Sonoita, AZ
If you ever come back from Nogales back to Phoenix, or take a day trip down to Sierra Vista, this is a wonderful place to stop just to show the kids.
Several propane tanks have been painted into shapes like a hot dog, locomotive, and more – to find them, you’ll need to start at the intersection of HWY 82 & 83, and then go east on 83 until you hit Los Encinos Road.
If you are up in the area of Joseph City, this is a must stop for the family.
You HAVE to sit on the rabbit ;)
Explore Route 66 and take this detour off of 1-40 to visit this tourist shop full of souvenirs, and take the opportunity to snap photos of everyone sitting on the jackrabbit. .. which is iconized by a ton of billboards that lead you to not want to miss the opportunity to stop.
This is the world’s largest instrument that is dedicated to studying theholds a 110′ tall tower and 200′ long diagonal shaft – and was completed in 1962. The main instrument behind the Telescope is a heliostat, which tracks the sun through the sky and focuses its light down the diagonal shaft. Not only is it the world’s largest telescope it is sensitive enough to observe bright stars at night.
Visit by driving 56 miles southwest of Tucson on SR 86 – located on the Tohono O’Odham Reservation (90 minutes from Tucson).
This is a must stop on Route 66… our kids though this place was pretty comical – our oldest refused to eat at first, but came around with time. The cafe is famous for its char-broiled burgers, buffalo burgers and steaks, and unique food. Definitely an interesting place, and a place you need to stop at if you are on the way back from the Grand Canyon.
This cave is located in the Coconino National Forest in Flagstaff – it’s MASSIVE. You can walk inside and have dozens of feet overhead. The cave is close to the surface above ground, too – the cave is open year round but the dirt roads might be difficult in winter months or when the weather is rainy/wet.
The cave is 0.75 mile – the longest in Arizona. Discovered in 1915, it was formed 650,000 and 700,000 years ago when lava erupted from a volcanic vent in (nearby) Hart Prairie. While people can tour, dogs are not recommended in the cave.
Take the kids to see a working, open-pit mine – the ONLY open pit mine in Arizona open for tours without reservations. Mine tours are conducted Saturdays only – with the exception of major holidays. Mine tours are conducted at 9:30am, 11:00am, 12:30pm, 2:00pm, 3:30pm.
On your tour, you’ll see how copper ore is mined in the open-pit and then at the center you can see how it is processed in the mill to extract the copper minerals.
The mine tour begins at the Mineral Discovery Center. There you can purchase tickets for the tour and become familiar with the copper mining process in our exhibit center and video theater. There is no admission charge for the Mineral Discovery Center exhibits, Discovery Theater, or gift shop.
Our kids loved this mine ~ we made it a road trip one weekend when we needed to get out of the house, and we surprised them by staying in a hotel with a pool for the night. You would have thought we had gotten them a trip to Disney – they were SO excited.