Affordable Family Fun in Phoenix

It's that time of year again. As kid's relish the thought of winter break, parents are fretting the Herculean task of keeping their kids occupied for weeks on end. Parents may be looking for cheap alternatives to costly activities - especially after considering the cost of holiday presents, family trips, and near constant feedings. Here are a few fun options for families in Phoenix that are looking to save up around the holidays.

Pollack Tempe Cinemas

Taking the kids to the movies is a classic strategy for parents looking for a brief reprieve. However, it comes at a hefty price tag after taking into account the cost of tickets and concessions. A typical outing for a family of four can easily run north of $50. Rather than heading to the nearest Harkins or AMC take a trip to Pollack Tempe Cinemas. Admission is only $3 and is discounted down to $2 on Tuesdays. The cinema is decked out with life size replicas of famous Hollywood characters and with festive lights around the holidays. The theater shows older movies and kids can catch their favorites on the big screen right before they come out on Redbox.

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

The ubiquitous Phoenix sunshine makes parks a favorite destination among local parents. There are many parks sprinkled throughout the Valley but the best for a full-day excursion is the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. This 30-acre Scottsdale park has playgrounds and museums for kids of all ages. Additionally, kids can ride the Paradise & Pacific Railroad and Arboretum replica trains or the antique Scottsdale Charros Carousel. Rides are $2.00 each and free for kids under two. For lunch, the park is full of picnic tables and vendors selling ice cream treats.

i.d.e.a. Museum

The i.d.e.a. Museum aims to inspire children to experience the world through art, creativity and imagination. This museum features over 20,000 feet of interactive space for kids to develop their creativity in rotating exhibits focused on art, science, engineering, and design. It may sound like a lot of learning for kids during their school break but kids regularly enjoy the imaginative exhibits for hours on end. Admission is $8 per person and free for children under one. The museum also features a lounging area where visitors are encouraged to enjoy lunch brought from home.

Children's Play Area at Scottsdale Fashion Square

Doing some last minute holiday shopping? You don't have to leave the kids at home. Scottsdale Fashion Square has a semi-enclosed play area for kids. The play area is located near Nordstrom on the second-floor of the mall and is surrounded by a gate. The play area features a play ship, castle, and treehouse. Bathrooms are located inside. It's a good place to recharge your batteries or have your spouse watch over the kids while you head to the bakery next door.

CityScape Phoenix

Every year, downtown CityScape does its best impression of Rockefeller Center. The downtown development transforms into a winter wonderland with a large, lit Christmas tree and outdoor ice skating rink. Kids eight and under can skate around for $10 while children 3 and under skate free. Additionally, various events are held throughout the holiday season on the premises. This year, there will be an outdoor screening of Elf and Home Alone free of charge. Check out their website for more information.

John Kuells is an Arizona native and freelance writer. He doesn't have kids yet but his girlfriend works with them and tells him all about their existence. You can find more of his inner musings on his blog.