15+ Super Fun Things to Do: A Local Activity Guide for 2021

Welcome to our 2021 summer local activities guide! We’re excited to share some new finds with you this year to help make sure your time is well spent this summer. Whatever your age or interests, there’s sure to be something for you in this guide!

Every year, we try to include a range of activities without duplicating the same places named in previous yearly guides. However, there are lots of great places listed in those older guides, too. So, if you want to check them out, you can view them here and here. Just be sure the info has been updated on company websites and, if possible, give them a call before you head out!

And now, without further ado, let’s get a look at these exciting 2021 activities!

Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge

The Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark of Scottsdale opened in October of 2019. This nearly brand new facility offers registered guests unlimited use of the water slides and swimming pools as well as the other free activities listed, such as Story Time in the lobby.

Choose from standard, themed, and premium suites for your best stay at Great Wolf.

These super-sweet deals on tickets let you save up to 50%, too. Just want to stay for the day and skip the suite? Ask about Day Passes.

Get a gander at some of these adventures before you decide -- and you can even plan birthday parties here! Plus...shopping anyone? There are 4 unique shops for everything you might have forgotten and anything you want to take home with you.

Don’t worry about leaving the grounds to get enough to eat, either. There are 9 dining venues available to suit everyone’s tastes, including but not limited to Timbers Tacos, The Campfire Kitchen for breakfast, Buckets Incredible Craveables for burgers, fries, and bucket-size ice cream sundaes, as well as a bonafide Ben & Jerry’s and Dunkin’ Donuts location on-site.

Odysea Aquarium
Odysea Aquarium

OdySea Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the Southwest United States, holding over 2,000,000 gallons of water and covering over 200,000 square feet. There’s a lot to see here (to say the least!), and all of it is family and kid-friendly. Take your time and spend the day observing the newest aquarium in America which was recently voted ‘Kids’ Best Indoor Entertainment’.

This underwater adventure zone is brimming with everything from sharks to sea turtles to penguins to so much more. You won’t want to miss a thing, especially if you’re into the ocean and water-oriented creatures. It almost seems worthwhile to get an Annual Pass, which is said to pay for itself in two days. If not, check out these other great deals and discounts/events.

Wonderspaces: For the artists at heart.
Wonderspaces: For the artists at heart.

Located in the Scottsdale Fashion Square Food Court, Wonderspaces has transformed original immersive artwork from across the globe into a 16,000 square foot series of thirteen unique exhibits. Many are interactive; all are unique and exciting to experience, and they change throughout the year to keep things fresh.

Check out ticket prices here. Discounts are available for seniors, military members, teachers, healthcare workers, children, and students. Tickets must be purchased online in advance of visiting the exhibits.

Be sure to pay attention to the dates and times of your tickets. Guests are welcome to stay as long as they wish during business hours; most tend to stay around 90 minutes.

Take a dip in Marilyn Monroe’s favorite swimming pool at the Phoenix Biltmore.
Phoenix Biltmore

You can look forward to diving into Marilyn’s favorite pool now that the hotel’s renovations have been completed and the official re-opening took place in March 2021!

Originally built in 1929, the Biltmore was designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, joined briefly for consulting by Lloyd Wright himself. Boasting 700 rooms on almost 40 acres, both the Biltmore’s Catalina Pool (the original Catalina was Marilyn Monroe’s favorite) and Paradise Pool have been updated -- including the addition of 15 new cabanas and a triple water slide tower -- in addition to the new spa, fitness venue, lobby bar, and much more.

Aside from Marilyn’s love for the Catalina Pool, the Phoenix Biltmore is also said to be the site where Irving Berlin was inspired to write the Christmas classic White Christmas. Want to visit for a meal, a day, or a longer stay? Check out some of the deals they’re offering for stays in this glamorous space here.

Taliesin West
Taliesin West

Speaking of Frank Lloyd Wright, Taliesin West, the winter home and desert laboratory of the renowned architect, is situated at 12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale, Arizona, 85259. Open daily from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, guests can choose their preference of guided tours lasting 45 minutes for $38 or 3 hours for $75. The ‘Guided by Wright’ audio tour is free for members. The building can be rented for events that are not political or religious in nature, and there is a gift store in front full of nifty Frank Lloyd Wright books, decor, and other items. For more information on the facility, check their site here.

The building is not only the main campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the School of Architecture at Taliesin but also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Constructed in 1937, Wright referred to the home as, “a look over the rim of the world.” The creation was inspired by the desert nature around it and maintained almost solely by Wright and his assistants.

Warm weather, cool cacti, sports and… food! Phoenix is known for its tasty vittles, among other things. Come see what’s good for the belly in the Valley of the Sun!
Zagat Restaurant Review of the Mission

Phoenix was named one of the top 30 cities for food in the nation by Travel and Leisure. If visiting the region, be sure not to miss:

Mexican food at the Barrio Cafe

Modern Latin cuisine at The Mission in Scottsdale

Seafood at the Salt Cellar in Phoenix

Homemade gelato at Splurge/The Orchard in Phoenix

There’s also a Native American influence on the food here, with specialties like Fry bread, served regularly at the Fry Bread House.

Other fun dishes to try in the area include the likes of:

The PB&J bacon burger at Rehab Burger Therapy

Floats, shakes, ice cream sammies, and nostalgic candies at CHURN

Tuesday night TV Dinner Nights at Angel’s Trumpet Ale House

As the season goes on, make sure you check on new spots opening up like Clever Ramen, Safe Haven Brewery, and the Garden Bar.

*Also, Arizona Restaurant Week is set to begin May 21st, with menus posted here for future reference.

Speaking of Food – are you tired of the same old thing? Try something unique at the Halo-Halo Kitchen.
Halo-Halo Kitchen

If you’re anywhere near the Halo-Halo Kitchen at 3553 W Dunlap in Phoenix, you may as well show up hungry and start with a meal. Check the daily menus first: Are you visiting on a Monday? Try the Pork Adobo. Tuesday? Veggie Egg Rolls or Fried Bangus Belly looks good. Wednesday? How about some Fried Tilapia or Kare-Kare? In the mood for the all-day breakfast silogs? Try that menu. Lechon? Here’s a peek at that menu. There’s plenty to choose from and some that may need some explaining, so get there early and bring your appetite -- and an open mind!

If you just came for dessert? Go straight for the dessert bar and get some Halo-Halo. The word, meaning ‘mix-mix’, or ‘mix-together’ in Tagalog, means this fresh-tasting Filipino dish stirs and blends shaved ice and evaporated milk into a variety of new flavors--including ingredients like sugar palm fruit, jackfruit, banana, sweet beans, gelatin cubes, and similar items. Served in a nice tall glass, this is a dessert you won’t soon forget! Not in the mood for Halo-Halo? You can also get a fresh avocado shake, boba, Ube (purple yam) ice cream, leche flan, and much more.

Grab some grits at the original Mel’s Diner -- straight outta the 70’s/80’s CBS sitcom, Alice.
Mel's Diner Phoenix

Sit at the counter and order up an old-school breakfast or lunch combo while enjoying the retro-themed diner complete with the original ‘Mel’s Diner’ sign out front and its giant tipping coffee cup. Located at 1747 Grand Avenue in Phoenix, you’ll need to come hungry to this classic establishment. Rumor has it portions are huge and the menu is extensive. Don’t remember the old ‘Alice’ sitcom? Take a peek here to refresh your memory!

Holy Golf Balls! Did you know? There are over 200 golf courses in the Greater Phoenix region!

Excellent golf courses are another thing our area is known for. There’s something for every type of golfer in the Phoenix area, if you take a moment to learn about the 200+ courses available!

For the budget-minded, Trip Savvy recommends courses such as:

Golf Digest suggests their golfers explore: