As a parent or caregiver, you’re always on the lookout for fun and educational activities for your family to take part in. You’ve really chosen a great place to raise your kids because the Peoria, Arizona, area is chock full of engaging museums and parks. Check out these six educational destinations in and around Peoria and Greater Phoenix that everyone in your family is sure to enjoy.

Steele Indian School Park

Located in Phoenix, the Steele Indian School Park is an educational destination that was once the site of the Phoenix Indian School, a boarding school where Native American children were housed and taught to be more American. The school was closed in 1990, and shortly thereafter, a non-profit group moved to turn the leftover buildings and property into a Native American cultural site and gathering place. Another goal of the park is to educate the public on Arizona’s history of government-run, Native American boarding schools and honor the students who attended during the school’s 99 years of operation.

While there are plans to keep transforming the buildings into meeting places and community spaces for Native American groups, you and your family can still tour the visitor center and check out the exhibits there that cover the history of the school and of boarding schools like the Phoenix Indian School in America. This is a terrific opportunity to introduce your children to the diverse history of the Peoria area.

Arizona Science Center

If your children love all things science, then the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix is the place to go with your family. Here you can learn about space travel and engineering, human biology and physiology, physics, animal science, and much more through interactive exhibits, special art installations, and immersive films. 

Head into the Dorrance Planetarium to see the stars, planets, and solar system up close. This area also hosts art shows where you can view science-themed video and graphic art presentations in a full 360 degrees. Don’t miss a show at the Irene P. Flinn giant-screen theater. Here, you get to watch incredible documentaries on different facets of science, including films on climate change, the ocean, or the rainforest.

In addition to these special features, your family can also play around at permanent exhibits like All About Me, a journey through the human body and how it operates, and the Flight Zone where you can use your engineering skills and design your own planes and helicopters as well as few actual photos and artifacts of real-life aircraft. Explore virtual and augmented reality in the My Digital World exhibit, and take a ride on the SkyCycle. Previous special rotating exhibits include an astronaut training experience, an exploration of arachnids, and a lesson in bubbles.

Great Arizona Puppet Theater

Combine the art form of puppets with entertaining stories and educational lessons, and you get the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix. Your children will love seeing classic stories and unique new ones come to life. The puppets are adorable, and the settings are gorgeous, hand-painted pieces that change as the story goes on. And in some shows, you can actually see the puppeteer operating the characters, which can add an interesting layer for older children and parents.

Your family can catch a show Wednesday through Sunday, with your choice between a morning and afternoon show. Before you head out to the theater, though, be sure to review the activity or study guides online so you and your kiddos can take part in the interactive sections of the show and make the most of this fun experience.

OdySea Aquarium

Children look through the glass at fish in an aquarium in Peoria, Arizona

Aquarium” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by bizmac

In nearby Scottsdale is the OdySea Aquarium, an educational journey through each body of water on the planet and a fun introduction to many of the creatures that call these waterways home. 

This enormous facility has many unique exhibits. Board the Voyager to hear a narrated adventure and watch the ocean life behind giant viewing windows. Explore the rivers of the world to see dozens of diverse fish populations, watch the otters do underwater aerobics over in Otter Banks, travel beneath the ocean on an escalator, and meet some penguins. OdySea Aquarium also has four different touch tanks: one where you can meet a Russian sturgeon, two where you pet stingrays, and another where you get to see sea stars and other creatures up close.

Make sure to head to Kids’ Cove for some hands-on activities to put those newly learned facts about the planet’s water-loving creatures to good use. Make a masterpiece on the giant Light Bright, draw your underwater habitats, and splash around at the water table.

Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs

Located within the OdySea campus is Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs, an interactive and hands-on museum dedicated to all things dinos. This indoor educational center has more than 80 animatronic dinosaurs of more than a dozen species that are so life-like, it’s almost like they stepped right out of the Jurassic era. Pangaea’s exhibits are full of interactive activities that inspire kids’ creative sides and teach them about the previous inhabitants of Earth. 

Some of those awesome activities include fossil hunting and excavating, dinosaur drawing, and dinosaur building, where children can create their own dino! In between all of these fun activities, you get to meet dinosaurs like the triceratops, stegosaurus, parasaurolophus, the T-rex, and the velociraptor.

Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari

This educational destination in nearby Litchfield Park has a little bit of everything that an animal lover would be head over heels to see. Wildlife World has the state’s largest collection of endangered and exotic animals, which is over 600 different species. 

In the zoo area, your family can meet kangaroos, rhinos, tigers, lions, reptiles of all kinds, and many other mammal species. In the aquarium, you’ll find sea lions, unique fish and amphibians from all over the world, and water-based predators, including sharks and a super rare white alligator. Head to Dragon World for all things reptiles, and go to the safari to see cheetahs, baboons, ostriches, and more. At Crème de la Crème of Peoria, we know how important it is to make learning a fun experience. That’s why our classroom rotation and curriculum include engaging activities like theater, cooking, movement and exercise, music, games, and more. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your child thrive.