By Jill “MamaBug” Frier
As parents and caregivers, we are constantly looking for opportunities to help our children grow and learn in creative, innovative ways. This is especially true these days while kids are largely stuck at home during the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fostering a love of art, creativity, and scientific exploration is a great way to keep your youngsters thinking and growing mentally, socially, intellectually, and emotionally. No matter how you encourage your children to express themselves and their interests, the act of creating and learning will help your child grow and develop.
Fortunately for us, Arizona is home to some of the most unique sights to see and places to visit in the world. Most of the local museums are temporarily closed, but if you want to get the kids out of the house for a while and do something fun and educational, we found a few local venues that are open to the public right now. Be sure to call ahead or check them out online before you go, but these businesses are currently welcoming visitors, so put on your masks and give them your support.
Founded in 1929, the Heard is internationally recognized for the superior quality of its collections, world-class exhibitions, educational programming, and unrivaled festivals. The museum has one of the largest and most outstanding collections of American Indian artwork in the country. It includes historic, cultural, and fine art collections of more than 3,600 pieces, and extensive documentation of the development of the American Indian Fine Art Movement, starting in the 20th century.
The Heard is dedicated to the advancement of American Indian art. The museum presents stories of American Indian people from a first-person perspective and exhibits that showcase the beauty and vitality of traditional and contemporary Native American art. The Heard Museum is a Phoenix treasure that provides visitors with a unique perspective of our cultural heritage in the Southwest. It’s a one-of-a-kind attraction and a must-see museum, welcoming visitors in difficult times to share in its wonders.
Desert Caballeros Western Museum
Known as “Arizona’s Most Western Museum,” the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg is a state-of-the-art museum open to visitors year-round. The museum is less than an hour from most North Phoenix locations and displays a collection of more than 400 works of art about the American West by artists such as Frederick Remington, Charles Russell, and Joe Beeler. It also showcases historical exhibits depicting turn-of-the-century Wickenburg, and has special features for kids, like the “Out on the Ranch” exhibit. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, the Desert Caballeros Western Museum is definitely worth visiting and a great day trip to get the family out and about while still keeping cool indoors during the summer.
The state of the art OdySea Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the Southwest. It boasts two million gallons of water, 60 exhibits, and over 30,000 sea creatures, not to mention one of the best shark-watching restrooms in the Valley. It is best to buy your tickets online in advance, to check hours, get discounts, and avoid waiting in long lines. OdySea is worth the visit and a great place to get the kids out of the house and escape the heat.
Each of these attractions provides you with an opportunity to have a change of scenery, while staying cool and continuing to encourage your kids’ interest in art, culture, science, and history unique to our area. If you’re low on funds, see if you can check out a Culture Pass at your local library for free admission for two at participating arts and cultural institutions (available first come, first served). Also, be sure to check Ladybug’s Blog at ladybugsblog.com for a more ideas for great places to get your kids out of the house to enjoy world-class arts and culture in the Valley of the Sun.