Glendale, Arizona is more than just a destination, it is home to nationally-recognized festivals, global dining, epic concerts, and desert trails that promise memorable outdoor experiences. Located a short distance from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Glendale has something for everyone. Plan your next family getaway in Glendale, Arizona and make lasting memories for years to come.
When my husband said he was traveling to Glendale for a weeklong conference during the kids’ spring break, I jumped at the opportunity to take some time off from work. Winter seemed to drag on forever in our mountain town, and the prospect of warm weather, great food and lots of activities to keep the kids busy made Glendale the perfect place for a getaway.
Luckily, my husband was able to book us a two-room suite at the Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa, where the conference was being held. This made it convenient for all the activities we had planned. The pool was exactly the oasis our sun-deprived bodies needed. The spacious suite, complete with mini-fridge and microwave, felt spacious, even for our busy family of four. It was an ideal home base for all of our Glendale adventures.
After breakfast and a dip in the pool, we headed to Westgate Entertainment District in search of some fun. My husband would be in meetings all morning, and we wanted to make the most of our day. We quickly stumbled upon As You Wish Pottery Painting Place. If it’s hands-on and involves making a mess, my kids love it, so we dropped in to make some art. The staff was super friendly and helpful, and both my son and daughter made pieces they loved. Since we knew we’d be in town for several days, we were able to leave the mugs so they could be glazed and fired. Both of my kids were giddy at the thought of drinking out of their own hand-painted creations.
Properly paint-splattered, we walked toward Fountain Park, an interactive splash pad. I watched as my little ones hopped from fountain to fountain, soaking themselves and having a great time playing with the other kids. I sent my husband a picture, and, since he was on lunch break, he made the five-minute walk over to Westgate to meet up with us.
After walking back to the hotel together, the kids and I enjoyed an afternoon by the pool. They played and swam, and by the time dinner rolled around we’d all worked up a good appetite. The Renaissance’s Navigator concierge feature helped us find one of our favorite family restaurants nearby—Dave & Buster’s. Done with meetings for the day, my husband joined us, hoisting our daughter onto his shoulders as we walked back toward Westgate in the beautiful glow of twilight. The temperature outside was perfect—not hot, not cold. Once we arrived and placed our order, my daughter and I went full choreographer on Dance Dance Revolution and my son and husband competed to be the SkeeBall champion.
Raising a family? It can be a zoo. We decided to let birds of a feather flock together at Sahuaro Ranch Historic Area. Known for its historic charm, this 17-acre property is famed for its roaming peacocks. They strut; they flaunt; they impressed my children with their magnificent feathers. Built in 1891, this ranch still has fruit orchards, vineyards and a stunning rose garden. The Main House of the Sahuaro Ranch Historic Area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We toured the house, and I enjoyed watching my kids shudder, imagining life before electricity.
My husband had a free afternoon and was able to join us at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park. The largest collection of wild animals and reptiles in Arizona, this part-zoo, part-aquarium, part-safari educates on menageries from Africa to life in the world’s waterways. The kids went on rides, and we placed bets on who could outrun a cheetah, then tried to count the teeth on a Black Tip Reef Shark, and spent time appreciating an endangered, rare white rhinoceros.
After a packed day of animals and rides, we were ready for dinner. We decided to venture out a little to see another part of the city and chose Bottega Pizzeria Ristorante at the Citadel, an authentic Italian restaurant in North Glendale. Bottega had excellent reviews online, and we were excited to try a local favorite. My husband ordered the White Lasagna with béchamel, mushrooms, and Italian cheeses. I ordered the Trofie Salsiccia, homemade pasta with Italian sausage, light tomato cream sauce, rosemary, and Parmigiano Reggiano. Fortunately, they had a kid’s menu and the kids were able to order their favorite pizza. The restaurant was cozy, intimate, and family friendly. The owner visited each table, one by one, offering his guests a warm welcome. That’s a rarity these days and was nice to see. We decided to share one of their Italian dessert sample plates for all of us to enjoy, featuring Tiramisu, Panna Cotta, Torta Nutella and a Cannoli. Our food was amazing and made for a great end to a fun-filled day.
We’d had a very active trip so far, and we were all ready for a little downtime. I’d heard great things about Glendale’s food scene, so in between hanging by the pool, we took turns choosing where we wanted to eat.
My son went first. His pick, Fractured Prune, was the perfect place to start our food-inspired day. Known for offering hot doughnuts, hand dipped and topped to order, we each opted for our own customized treat. We’re talking Strawberry Shortcake (strawberry glaze, graham cracker, and powdered sugar), Trail Mix (banana glaze, nuts, coconut, and jimmies), and Blueberry Hill (blueberry glaze and powdered sugar). There is nothing sweeter than being able to create your own donut.
Lunch was next on the itinerary, and I chose Opa Life Greek Café in Westgate. Their Feta Berry salad with spring greens, fresh berries, and candied walnuts tossed with feta cheese and strawberry dressing was the perfect counterbalance to our heavy breakfast, and the kids loved their sandwiches. Bonus: it was Wednesday, and kids eat free on Wednesday!
My daughter picked our afternoon treat spot, Cerreta Candy Company. We took a tour and learned how candy is made, and then made our own chocolate pizza. My kids were in heaven, of course. We picked up some treats at the shop for my husband, including English Toffee and Cerreta’s signature French Mint chocolates—best when shared.
For dinner, my husband took us back to Westgate for a feast at Kabuki Japanese Restaurant. We shared several rolls of sushi, including their house special, the Kabuki Roll, a spicy crunch roll topped with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, spicy albacore, spicy tuna, and snow crab. While the kids made funny faces at our seafood feast, they enjoyed the Sesame Chicken and Beef Yakisoba from the kid’s menu. The dishes were just different enough from what we ate at home to seem exciting, but they were also familiar enough to keep everyone happy.
Westgate at night was alive with energy. Live music, young couples and families like ours walked, stopping to play and snap pictures. We took it all in, happy to know that our trip wasn’t over yet.
We were falling in love with Glendale, and we decided to spend a day exploring one of its most distinctive districts—Catlin Court. When we arrived, we were immediately transported back to a simpler time. This shopping district, located in downtown Glendale, is filled with historic bungalow-style homes—fashionable in the 1920s and charming today. We wandered under wrap-around porches into homes that now serve as restaurants and one-of-a-kind boutiques.
Just blocks away, Old Towne, Glendale’s original historic shopping district, has streets lined with unique shops, toy stores and restaurants. Haus Murphy’s, a local favorite, serves traditional Bavarian dishes such as bratwurst, schnitzel and other fantastic interpretations of some of our family’s favorite dishes. My husband met us there for dinner. We talked about the family’s German heritage while sharing a Bauernplatte, a platter that includes a German bratwurst, big beefy bratwurst (with notes of paprika and garlic), Kassler Kotelett (smoked and steamed pork chops), meatloaf, pork schnitzel, sauerkraut, red cabbage, spätzle and German fried potatoes. The fantastic sampler of German favorites was accentuated by a lively performance from the Haus Oompah Band.
After dinner, we walked to Papa Ed’s Ice Cream. My husband and I were intrigued by the Honey Lavender ice cream — creamy vanilla infused with honey and lavender buds, an instant classic in my book. My son and daughter went for the Monster Cookies—sweet, creamy vanilla with pieces of Oreos, chocolate chip and vanilla wafer cookies.
We started the last day of our trip with an electric bike ride, courtesy of Pedego Electric Bikes. My husband and I each got tandem bikes so the kids could join. Starting on the Skunk Creek Trail, we cruised around under blue skies enjoying the flora and fauna of the desert.
That afternoon, while my husband and kids splashed around in the pool, I stole away for a Swedish massage at Spa Botanica at the Renaissance Hotel & Spa. Slipping into a comfy robe, a hot cup of tea in my hand, I let myself fully unwind. Completely relaxed, I was carried away by the purest of aromas and essential oils. I couldn’t believe that five days had passed by so quickly, and I wished we had a few more days in town to explore. We’d just have to come back.
But until then, we enjoyed our last night in town, grateful for the incredible time we’d had and the memories we’d made. We capped off our trip with one last visit to Westgate. WaterDance Plaza was ablaze with colorful lights, and fountains of water launched into the air alongside a live band. We stopped to pick up the kids’ mugs from As You Wish Pottery and decided to eat on the patio at Saddle Ranch Chop House. We shared a Monster Platter filled with Baby Back Ribs, Onion Rings, Mini Cheeseburgers, Crispy Chicken Strips and Sweet Potato Fries. Later, the kids begged us to order the Roast Your Own S’mores Platter for dessert. We were seated near the outdoor campfire pits where the kids had fun roasting their marshmallows and dipping them in caramel and chocolate sauce. As my husband and I toasted the trip with a couple of cold beers, the kids joined in and held up their new mugs (generously filled with soda by our accommodating server). Seeing the smiles on everyone’s face, I knew this vacation to Glendale would be a getaway we’d always remember.