The sprawling Superstition Mountain Range has been inhabited for more than 9,000 years, but its landscape has remained the same until relatively recently. In the 19th century American settlers moved in, driven by rumors of a bountiful gold mine. The Lost Dutchman Mine spawned a range of new settlements alongside existing American Indian sites here. Though the mine's inhabitants?and the cowboy hats they wore?are long gone, their story lives on at the Superstition Mountain Museum, a 12.5-acre interactive outdoor museum and nature walk dedicated to preserving the area's history. Full-scale recreations of 19th-century buildings include a stage-coach shop, barber shop, 20-stamp gold ore crusher, and the church-turned-film museum Elvis Memorial Chapel. Each building transports visitors back in time with the help of exhibits featuring authentic artifacts and documents such as ancient rock samples that reveal local geology, or art and household items depicting American Indian life.
The dunes aren’t going to ride themselves. That’s why GoFast Rental puts off-roaders behind the wheels of buggies such as the RZR XP 4 900 EPS that seats up to four. For those trundling dirt paths, they offer similar buggies as well as quads. With dirt and sand covered, the only thing left is the wet stuff. To crest waves, they slip patrons into V-drive wakeboarding boats and jet skis.
Though the calendar maintains that it's still the 21st century, the experienced cowfolk at MD Ranch take visitors back to the Wild West with horsemanship and equestrian knowledge that's been perfected across the centuries. Joining them is a herd of well-trained horses, who itch to take riders on vigorous romps across the Sonoran Desert landscapes of San Tan Mountain Regional Park. The only outfitters in the mountains, the ranch's seasoned guides lead experienced or first-time riders along desert trails, trotting past stately cacti on all-day and sunset excursions or galloping in search of far-off coyote choruses during intense ranch rides. The herd contains a wide range of horse personalities–from horses that are safe for even the most inexperienced riders to those with enough go for seasoned cowboys. On-site trainers work with steeds and riders alike, teaching students of all ages the techniques of English and Western riding as well as basic horsemanship and equine care skills.
Charming Pony Parties elevates children?s birthday celebrations to fairy-tale status by inviting a few very special guests?ponies. Ponies are hand-led by staffers to let both the children and the ponies enjoy the open air. Whether the party is held at a park, at home, or on the center?s spacious ranch, the ponies dress for the occasion by donning unicorn horns, flowers, and colored hair spray, making it easy to match any princess, pirate, cowboy, or knight theme a child desires. Meanwhile, extras such as bounce castles and snow-cone machines, and events like the barn party, castle party, and the upcoming pirate ship party, add even more excitement.
Named as a top indoor place for kids in Arizona by AZCentral.com, BounceU in Gilbert surrounds sock-clad kids with an arena of giant, colorful inflatables. Within the supervised fun house, young ones get their cardio up by navigating air-filled obstacle courses and slipping down plush slides. On the gigantic Spider Mountain, climbers hone the skills needed to one day scale the greatest inflatable of them all, Mount Everest. The vertical climbing wall challenges children's skills, and a foam-ball shooting range and 20-foot slide provide extra enjoyment. A private party room also makes the springy stadium an ideal venue for birthday parties, field trips, and fundraisers.
It's hard not to be impressed by FlipSide. It's a family gaming center and bowling alley, so one would expect it to be hectic and sticky with the spills and stains often left in rambunctious children's wake. But in fact, it's impeccable. The brand-new digs have gleaming wood floors, modern furniture, and industrial open ceilings.
As you settle into one of the plush banquettes at the end of a bowling lane, FlipSide becomes even more impressive once you realize what else the space is clean of. There's no stale smoke lingering in the air or puddles of stale beer on the tables; there's no gruff banter coming from the tipsy league players a few lanes down. That's because FlipSide is truly a family place?they don't serve alcohol, and the lanes are exclusively for open bowling. As families toss colorful balls down the 28 AMF-standard lanes, projection screens above the pins let Mom and Dad check the score of the football game while they're teaching the kids how to pick up a spare and get a salon-quality blowout using the lane's hand dryer.
Elsewhere, kids and parents can strategize attack plans in the two-floor laser-tag arena, battle each other in nearly 60 arcade games, and send each other spinning in collisions of bumper car crash pods with 360-degree range of motion. Parents will also appreciate high-end touches such as a billiards area.
Fueling the activities is the Roundtrip Cafe, where an experienced kitchen staff serve up brick-oven pizzas, sirloin burgers, and even rib eye steak. Families can gather and enjoy a meal that's far more satisfying than the hunk of cheese at the center of FlipSide's laser maze.