How kid-friendly is your city? I give my hometown of Tucson, AZ a 5 (out of ten).
Clean, spacious parks with safe playground equipment are few and far between. Restaurants that offer deals for kids are not especially easy to find. Downtown Tucson is anything but a bustling, cheerful place for children.
That said, there are definitely diamonds in the rough here.
Since we’ll be driving out of Tucson in about a week and a half, I thought I’d share our favorite spots:
1. Sabino Canyon – 7Falls Put on your tennis shoes, slather on sunscreen, wear a hat [trust me on the hat], pack a lunch, and bring plenty of water. This 4-8 mile hike (depending on where you start) is worth your while. The best part? There is a waterfall at the end with plenty of water for swimming and splashing.
2. Mt. Lemmon – Certainly, a stay in Tucson isn’t complete without a visit up ol’ Lem. In about 1 hour, you’ll enjoy a 20-degree temperature drop (refreshing in the summer). The little town of Summerhaven is a great place to stop for lunch and a warm cookie.
3. Brandi Fenton Memorial Park – Brandi Fenton offers the traditional amenities of a nice park – green grass to run around in and several playground options (that are safe for the youngest of visitors). What really sets it apart, however, is the free splashpark. Designed with kids 6 and under in mind, the small concrete area has spraying fountains and buckets that pour from overhead.
4. Udall Park – Grab a soccer ball, a few baseball mitts, or a picnic basket…and enjoy this expansive park, equipped with athletic fields. Our favorite part? The winding outdoor track. My 4-year-old and I like going on “runs” around it.
5. Little Anthony’s Diner – The food at this 50’s parlor isn’t anything to speak of, but the environment is colorful and casual. We always order the same thing – a medium pizza and a mint chocolate chip milkshake (split 3 ways).
6. Claim Jumper Restaurant – This chain is a little on the expensive side, but it offers a great atmosphere for kids – fast seating, good food, and enough noise to drown out YOUR kids’ noise (ahem). Our favorite thing is that you can request a “baby plate” for your little ones (3 and under?)…and the waiter will bring out a plate of applesauce, cheese sticks, and turkey strips.
7. Cienega Creek – This secluded place of beauty is ideal for a picnic or a leisurely day hike. The overhanging trees and bubbling creek offers an oasis from the blistering sunshine.
Most travel guides list the Reid Park Zoo as a must-see in Tucson, but I’m not a huge fan (it’s small and I always get so disheartened when I see the massive polar bear sitting forlornly in 90-degree temperatures).
Also – you’ll notice that most of my recommendations are slanted toward the east side of Tucson. I’d love to hear from my NW/Marana friends.
How would you rate your city on the “kid-friendliness” spectrum? If you live in Tucson, what would you add to my list?