Spring Break, Desert Cowgirl-Style

Amy Kraft
Apr 09, 2013
Our choice for a spring break destination was an easy choice this year. My in-laws just moved to Phoenix and we’ve never been there… or anywhere else resembling the desert for that matter. We knew so little about Phoenix, so we had no idea of how much we’d discover. On our first day, we headed to the The Children’s Museum of Phoenix. We’ve been to a ton of children’s museums, and there were features in this museum that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Set in a giant old school building, the best feature is an enormous climbing structure that’s like an homage to recycling. Not only are there area to explore like an old bathtub or car parts, but everywhere you look, upcycled art dangles. It’s big enough for mom and dad to fit in, too, which is great when you don’t want to send your little climbers up on their own. There’s a car wash that you can ride trikes through, an art lab where the kids painted a giant pink rocket, and a hilarious eagle whose fan-blade wings launch little eaglets out of the nest. My favorite, favorite space was a room designed for fort-making. Old doors, headboards, and ladders flanked the room, lined with hooks and other hardware. Huge squares of fabric had ribbons sewn to the sides to slide right onto the hooks on the wall. Clamps and crates rounded out the fort-making tools. What an easy thing to do in a play space! Seriously, I might even try this in our tiny apartment. We also visited the Arizona Science Center, filled with great hands-on exhibits. My kids loved the ball and water play area, but the home building and physics areas were a big hit, too. Olive lifted her own weight with a pulley, laid on a bed on nails, and was treated to a demonstration about air pressure. After Pittsburgh, I thought we’d never find such a kid-friendly museum town. Phoenix definitely gives Pittsburgh a run for its money. For our big tourist destination we went to the Goldfield Ghost Town. We had lunch in the old saloon, took a train ride, and panned for “gold” (really just bits of semiprecious stones). We bought snake toys and dreamcatchers and ate cactus candy like good tourists. You can go into an old mine, too, but do I look crazy to you? I read Hunger Games. I know what happens in mines. The day that Olive was looking forward to the most, though, was the day we went horseback riding at the Spur Cross Ranch. My husband declined to ride, so Olive, my mother-in-law, and I took an hour ride though the desert. Olive is horse obsessed from watching The Saddle Club on Netflix, so the moment she was in the saddle she looked like a confident, experienced rider. After my initial terror over being on an animal so large, I settled in a bit and took in the stunning mountain scenery (while keeping one eye out for rattlesnakes). The rest of our trip was spent in the pool, so it’sbasically kid paradise. We’re looking forward to our next trip out when we hope to make it up to the Grand Canyon.