Well it finally happened.

Summer got real over the weekend with our first 100 degree day. It's like an annual rite of passage, really.

Those temps aren't going anywhere anytime soon, so we put together a helpful list of indoor places the kids can play.

Let them run around on someone else's air conditioning bill. 

Packrat Playhouse

The Desert Museum's air conditioned 4,000-square-foot indoor exhibit shrinks you down to the size of a packrat so the kiddos can see what it's like to be tiny in the desert. 

The toddler area has an enormous rattlesnake to crawl through, a giant mama scorpion with babies on her back and a Gila-monster slide. The bigger kids can scale a towering prickly pear cactus (with rope netting suspending them high in the air) and scamper down the cholla skeleton slide. And there are tons of tunnels to climb through. 

Where: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Road

Cost: Free with membership or museum admission of $21.95; $8.95 children 3-12

Info: Click here

Roller skating

You might get a little nostalgic taking the kids skating. We sure do. In fact, some of us even join the kids on the rink. Great exercise, fun music and it's exhausting. Win, win, win. Pro tip: Check the calendar for dollar night, tiny tots or family night. 

Lance Ryberg, right, herds children towards the skating rink during his daughter's birthday party at Skate Country on Sunday Nov. 20, 2011. Daughter Jillian Ryberg, 6, foreground leads the way. 

Cost: Prices vary, depending on when you go. Family night is $12 for a family up to six people. Skate rental is $4.

Trampoline park

This is the ultimate energy zapper. They can jump, do an obstacle course, play dodge ball, basketball or climb a rock wall. Of course it depends on which place you go to. There are two trampoline parks to choose from here. Get Air has the obstacle course and AZ Airtime has the rock wall. Pro tip: Check websites for specials and online deals. 

Natalie Dasher, 17, tumbles through her flips on the main trampoline.

Cost: $7 for kids under 46" tall and $12 for everyone else for one hour at Get Air; $8 for ages 6-and-under and $13.50 for 7-and-older for two hours at AZ Air Time.

Pump it up

If the trampoline park isn't your bag, you can play in a warehouse full of giant inflatables. What we love about Pump it Up is that it allows kids to play on the inflatables by age, so you don't have to worry about your toddler getting trampled on by older kids. Plus you get to play free with your child's paid admission. And, it offers sensory jump time. Pro tip: Reserve a spot online and save $1.

Birthday boy Dominic Virginillo, 6, goes up for a basket while his brother C.J., 3, behind him, waits his turn to shoot during the birthday party at Pump It Up of Tucson.

Cost: $9 for open jump time; $7 for Sensory Jump Night

Go to the mall

No matter what part of town you live in, there's a mall nearby. The children's areas are great to let the kids run around, play and make new friends. Take a seat and let the children be free. Also, make sure to check the mall calendars for kid's events. Pro tip: Kid areas are kind of enclosed but not hard to escape, so make sure you're watching. 

Where: Tucson Mall, 4500 N. Oracle Road; Park Place Mall, 5870 E. Broadway; Foothills Mall, 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd.

Cost: Free 

Laser tag and other games

In laser tag, they can run around, yelling while trying to shoot each other's targets with laser guns in a dark, air conditioned space. These places also have arcade games including ski ball and air hockey. 

Michael Alvarez sticks out his head for a breath of air as he takes a break from his laser-tag battle.

Cost: Laser tag is $7.99 per person at Funtasticks and $7.50 per person at Golf N' Stuff. Pro tip: Thursday nights are family nights at Golf N' Stuff. You can get a two-hour unlimited-use wristband for $17 per person. Laser tag at Funtasticks lasts longer and is inside the main building, making it a great option for summer time. 

Learn something

Learning can be fun and it doesn't have to be quiet. The Children's Museum Tucson has lots of hands-on activities and exhibits for the little ones to learn through play. 

Cost: $9 for adults and children. Pro tip: Admission is $3 on Mondays

The Sense of Place exhibit at the Children's Museum Tucson is anchored by a giant saguaro the kids can walk through. 

The Children's Museum Oro Valley is geared more towards toddlers and babies. 

Where: Children's Museum Oro Valley, 11015 N. Oracle Road

Cost: $7; Free for babies 1 year and younger; $2 on the first Tuesday of each month.

Info: Click here

Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium

The kids will have fun while learning about the earth, science and space at Flandrau with hands-on exhibits and games. There's also a planetarium where you can see a variety of shows.

Phoenix Graykeenan, 8, on a field trip with his third-grade class from Fulton Elementary School in Chandler.

Where: Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium, 1601 E. University Blvd. 

Cost: $16 for adults; $12 for kids 4-17 and free for children 3 and under (includes one show, exhibits and mineral museum). Single item pricing is available on request.

Info: Go here

Listen to stories and dance

Reason 4,576 why we love the Pima County Public Library: Storytime.

There's baby time, storytime for toddlers, storytime for families, Spanish storytime and more. And it's not just sitting still listening. Storytimes are interactive and include singing, activities and even crafts. 

These are great events for kids and parents to connect with others in the community and they're always free. 

Emma Bogle, 4.5 months, gets a welcome hello visit from a stuffed bear during Babytime at the Kirk-Bear Canyon Library, 8959 E. Tanque Verde Road, on Wednesday, May 7, 2014

There are too many to list here, so we'll just give you this handy link to all of the storytimes at libraries all around Tucson. 

While you're exploring, check out other events at the library. There are all kinds of free opportunities for kids of all ages to get out and learn something, create something and just hang out with other kids.

Recreation Centers

The City of Tucson has opened up 13 of its recreation centers for children ages 17 and under to use for free this summer. They'll be able to play billiards, indoor basketball, exercise and more. 

Find a list of centers here.


There are LOTS of places to go bowling. Five of them participate in the Kids Bowl Free Program, where kids can get two free games of bowling every day all summer. You have to sign up though. Do that here. You can play with the kids or just take advantage of the excellent people-watching opportunity.

Cost: Free for two games if you're registered for Kids Bowl Free.


You can also check out Bedroxx Bowling. It has bowling, pool tables, arcade games and food. 

Mondays are Family Movie Night, where you can get two hours of bowling with shoe rental, a 12-inch pizza, popcorn and free showing of a selected movie for $25 for a family of four. It's $30 for a family of six. 

Indoor Mini-Golf

Play miniature golf indoors at Glow Zone Mini Golf. Not only is it inside, but it's also dark and cool inside. The course includes 30 holes of extreme black light fun. There are also virtual reality rides. 

Where: Glow Zone Mini Golf, 2619 N. Stone Ave.

Cost: $10 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under to play golf

Info: Go here

Family Playtime

Enjoy playing together at an indoor playground. Playformance is an indoor parkour and play-based fitness program that helps kids build character and strength through play. There are colorful tumbling mats, obstacles and more. The facility has several programs to choose from, including Family Play, which is from 9-10 a.m. or 10-11 a.m. every Saturday. There's free coffee involved. P.S. They also have Nerf battles this summer!

Playformance offers a day camp on Veterans Day for kids in Kinder through 8th grade. 

Cost: $18/hour per child and one caregiver or you can get a 5-hour Play Pass for $65, which is good for 10 hours of open play. Adults are free. 


Bookmans has a bunch of free kids events during the summer and throughout the year from storytime to crafts to movie nights to gaming. Check out the event calendar to plan your visit. 

Imaginative play

Our Play Place is an interactive indoor children's play and party space designed to encourage a young child's sense of independence, exploration and creativity. There are structures, slides, play houses, activity boards and a craft area. 

Children can pretend they're building a house on the "construction site" at Our Play Place.

Where: Our Play Place, 3951 W. Costco Drive

Cost: $10 per child; sibling discount of $3 off each additional child. Parents and caregivers are free to play.

Info: Click here

Pizza and games

We'd bet that most kids love pizza and playing games. Although these places are super loud, they offer kids the chance to hang out, make some noise and maybe win some prizes. Pro tip: We like the fact that Chuck E. Cheese won't let your children out with anybody whose stamp doesn't match theirs. Also, games are only one token there. Pro tip 2: We like that Peter Piper has beer.

Katie Bellisario helps her son three-year-old Liam with the dolphin ride Tuesday at the newest Peter Piper Pizza, 4731 W. Ina Road.

Where: Chuck E. Cheese, 6125 E. Speedway. There are several Peter Piper Pizza locations around town. Click here for the one nearest you.

Cost: Click here for Chuck E. Cheese's coupons. Click here for Peter Piper Pizza deals.

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Angela Pittenger | This Is Tucson