Hundreds of animals from around the world roam the spacious, natural habitats on Out of Africa Wildlife Park’s 104 acres. Tours of the Wildlife Preserve jaunt past gray wolves and spotted hyenas, while a 30-minute African Bush Safari travels through a 22-acre high-desert-plains habitat where lions and tigers roam the hillside. Caretakers, colorful toys, and brain-tickling games of chess entertain Bengal and Siberian tigers in the Tiger Splash’s 35'x50' pool. Guests eager to interact with the park’s critters can hold anacondas and boas at the Giant Snake Show or tag along with caretakers feeding lions and tigers with 800 pounds of raw food.
Though glimpsed by many people for the first time on an episode of The Amazing Race, the desert acres traversed by Fort McDowell Adventures are steeped in millennia of Yavapai Indian history. Guides lead visitors across the Arizonan foothills on a range of outdoorsy and sometimes anachronistic adventures, such as cattle drives and Segway tours through the Sonoran desert, kayaking adventures on the Verde River, and nature walks with Yavapai Indians. These excursions often end in nighttime wiener roasts, s'mores, and cocktails, a break from the frontier tradition of telling campfire sci-fi stories.
Activities at Fort McDowell Adventures’s four venues further immerse guests in the American Western experience. They gather for Dutch oven–style cowboy cookouts and depart for wilderness excursions from The Stables. At La Puesta del Sol, guests pass through a Spanish mission entrance into a dining hall, saloon, stage, and dance floor, and at Rosa's Ranch, they gather under the stars and around cookout fire pits nestled between rustic wooden ranch buildings. Groups dine at The Boulder House, named on the National Registry of Historic Places, whose rock walls bear evidence of petroglyphs, Native American occupation, and ancient spelunking expeditions.
Go-karts hugging the turns of a winding indoor track. Bowling balls tumbling down glow-in-the-dark lanes. Lasers zipping past black lights and glowing murals. Within Amazing Jake’s more than 90,000-square-foot indoor amusement park, these attractions are just the tip of the iceberg. Elsewhere, cars collide in a bumper arena, intrepid adventurers scale a towering climbing wall, and riders of the mini-coaster scream their teeniest, tiniest screams.
Those are tough to hear inside the arcade, which resounds with the bleeps and blips of more than 150 redemption and video games. While the older kids enjoy all these spoils, younger guests can savor four attractions of their own, including a train ride and carousel. To help visitors reenergize, Amazing Jake’s houses a 100-foot all-you-can-eat buffet stocked with pizza slices, pastas, and salad fixings.
Though the medieval era was undoubtedly exciting, with its jousting matches and knightly errands, King Arthur's castle could have done with a few upgrades?namely, a laser-tag arena. King Ben's Castle at Golfland Sunsplash has modernized its interior to include just that. During games of Lazer Knights, players dart between glowing columns to target enemies on the opposing team, blending science-fiction and fantasy genres into one intense competition.
The castle is also host to a sprawling arcade with more than 200 games. And, instead of a protective moat, its grounds are home to a water park and several family-friendly attractions. Three separate mini-golf courses challenge putters to sink their shots between colorful obstacles, while go-karts vie for first place on the Fastcar Raceway and bumper boats jostle their riders.
During May through September, guests careen down slides in Sunsplash water park, including The Revolution?a nearly seven-story slide that culminates in an open bowl, sending raft riders into dizzying circles. Entire families can board a raft for the three thrilling drops of Thunder Falls, whereas the Lazy River carries swimmers on a lackadaisical journey inside their inner tubes. There's also an enormous wave pool, which recreates the feeling of riding swells on a choppy ocean more authentically than asking someone to shake your bathtub.
The two-day Taste of Cave Creek event gathers more than 25 local restaurants and the region's most renowned chili chefs and salsa makers at Stagecoach Village. Two stages host live music performances, while samples of barbecue, Mexican, Italian, and other unique types of food are served. Judges and guests taste the contestants' chili and salsas during a cook off before their eyes feast on sculptures, paintings, and artisan jewelry at the art exhibits. Throughout the evening, guests can enjoy tastings of tequila and sip on drinks at a wine and craft-beer garden.
Christened Best Family Entertainment Value in AZCentral.com’s Readers' Choice poll, AZ on the Rocks belays beginners and seasoned climbers to higher levels of scaling skill with 14,000 square feet of ascendable terrain. They happily host birthday parties or freestyle-climbing sessions in their air-conditioned climbing facility, which houses 50 top ropes, a cave, 2,800 square feet of bouldering space, and a challenging treehouse course. They also teach classes for adults and children and hold private lessons, which can grant clients access to the repelling platform. Additionally, AZ on the Rocks has a youth-climbing team, team-building programs, and full gym stacked with cardio machines, weight machines, and free weights, which can be accessed via monthly memberships or day passes. At AZ on the Rocks, all participants must sign a waiver, and birthday girls, boys, and belayers may brave indoor peaks for free on their day of special-suit wearing.