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Attractions for Families in the City of Surprise, Arizona

Updated on March 23, 2012
The White Tank Mountains border Surprise to the west.
The White Tank Mountains border Surprise to the west. | Source

Surprise Arizona is a small city on the northwest edge of the Phoenix metropolitan area which has seen phenomenal growth during the last 10 years. Surprise has much to offer families with children and to retirees who relocate to Arizona or to snowbirds: people who make Arizona their winter residence.

Surprise has many high-quality amenities and feels like an upscale community, but the cost of living is extremely affordable. Housing costs are very low, with homes at every price point far below their original values. Food is also very inexpensive, since Surprise is part of the highly-competitive Phoenix grocery market. Grocers such as Safeway, Bashas, Albertsons, Food City, and Fry’s all compete for consumer’s grocery dollars, and Phoenix’s year round growing season means that fresh produce is always cheap and in season. If you are considering a visit to the Phoenix metro area, or even relocating or retiring here, Surprise is an affordable alternative to higher-cost cities in the greater Phoenix area, but is still accessible to all of the cultural offerings of places such as Scottsdale and downtown Phoenix, and even the quaint western town of Wickenburg, 30 miles to the northwest.

Things to Do In Surprise, Arizona

World-Class Tennis

The City of Surprise recently opened a world-class tennis training facility that has hosted tennis pros such as the famous John McEnroe and others in tournament play. You can enjoy tennis as a spectator sport or sign up for some valuable tennis instruction at quite affordable rates through the city.

Enjoy Major-League Baseball Games at Spring Training

Major league baseball teams including the Texas Rangers have their Spring Training in Surprise’s baseball stadium during late winter and early spring months. You can purchase tickets to sit in the stands or even sit in the grass beyond the outfield at prices that are far below the average cost of a major league ball game during Arizona’s spectacular balmy spring weather. Local businesses often get involved in Spring training games and offer discounts and incentives to game spectators.

Visit the World Wildlife Zoo

The World Wildlife Zoo is a high-quality full-scale zoo that contains animal exhibits from around the world, but features animals native to Arizona, Africa, and Australia: all animal habitats that are compatible with Arizona’s climate. The World Wildlife Zoo offers train rides, boat rides, and a sky ride for a small additional fee, as well as food vendors. A family can easily spend a day here, and if you live in the area, it is a good idea to get a membership so you can come back for repeat visits during the fall, winter, and spring months. A children’s playground area is also part of the zoo, so you can visit the animals while they are active in the morning hours, then eat a bite of lunch and play at the park before you return home.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park

Enjoy the petroglyphs left by ancient inhabitants of Surprise and take in the natural wonders of the Sonoran Desert while hiking the many trails of the White Tank Mountain Regional Park. This state park is located west of Surprise near Waddell, Arizona, and is several hundred acres, including more remote areas of the White Tank Mountains. This park has many amenities such as play areas for children, covered picnic pavilions, designated camping areas, and even an off-road trail for dirt biking. Because this park area is natural habitat for scorpions, gila monsters, rattlesnakes, and other venomous creatures, be on the lookout for these animals and do heed the warning signs and stay out of the marked areas.

One of the most popular trails to explore at the White Tank Mountain Regional Park is the Waterfall Trail, so named because at the end of this short trail you will find a seasonal waterfall flowing from a natural cistern. This trail includes petroglyphs that can be easily viewed from the trail, lots of natural scenery, and a short, but interesting climb that offers spectacular views into the Valley of the Sun from a great photographic vantage point.

The Maricopa County Northwest Regional Library

As a new resident of Surprise, you will want to check out the Surprise library, which is part of the Maricopa County Library system. There are actually two libraries in Surprise: the first is part of the city complex on Bullard Street, while the other is located in Old Towne Surprise near El Mirage. Both libraries offer inter-library loan and are connected to several other libraries in the Phoenix Metro area. You can borrow books, audio books, DVDs, music CDs, and even download books and music from the Internet. Internet access is free, but you will need a library card to use the library’s computers to access the Internet.

This library offers a robust selection of programs for people of all ages, a well-stocked children’s area, and a special teen area complete with a teens-only computer area.

Golf Courses

Golfing is an Arizona tradition that you can enjoy while in Surprise, and if you are older than 55, in nearby Sun City, a dedicated retirement community that has many golf courses to choose from. Some of Surprise’s neighborhoods are located on golf-courses, especially Sun City Grand and similar luxury or upscale retirement communities. Or drive north to Wickenburg and enjoy the beautiful golf courses there: either at Rancho De Los Caballeros or at the Wickenburg Country Club.

Play Outside at the Park

If you have young children, you may want to visit one of over 20 parks in the Surprise area. Some of the parks are affiliated with the city, such as the large city park near the library on Bullard Avenue. This park includes two dog parks, a man-made lake stocked with fish for anglers, and a comprehensive children’s play area including a spray mister to help youngsters cool down during hot weather. You can take a walk around the lake and enjoy views of the lake, desert plants, and migrating geese and resident ducks. Or take advantage of tennis courts, volleyball nets, covered pavilions and open-air picnic tables.

Many of the local neighborhoods also have very nice play parks. A few of the parks in Surprise are splash parks. These parks include water-play equipment that spray water but do not include access to a swimming pool. These parks are a great way to cool down in the intense summer heat with very young children.

Marley Park, a neighborhood housing development in Surprise, has its own swimming pool and a splash park for outdoor summer play. If you are visiting the splash park, you will probably want to go in the early evening or early morning. Marley park is a community with a homeowner’s association, and its parks are meant for residents and their guests.

Go Swimming

During hot summer weather, swimming is the only activity that will adequately cool you down outside. Surprise has two city pools: the most well-known one is at its main city recreation campus on Bullard Avenue, and includes two water slides, a lazy river, a shallow children’s play area, and an area for diving and lap swimming. Surprise’s other pool is located near El Mirage in old town Surprise, but is also brand new. This smaller-scale pool also has a slide and children’s play areas. You can bring in your own food and beverages or purchase snacks on sale at the concession area.

You may want to sign up for summer swim lessons in Surprise. These always fill up fast, but you can sign up for lessons at either pool location.

Surprise Area Hotels

Surprise has several affordably-priced hotels, all of them built within the last 10 years. Two hotels, the Holiday Inn Express and the extended-stay hotel xxx are located right by the Tennis and Baseball complexes. If you are coming for a short, sports-related visit, or to scope out the area for a possible relocation, I strongly recommend a stay at either of these very nice hotels.

While you are visiting Surprise, you’ll notice many dining options, especially along Bell Road.

Surprise parks have something to offer everyone.
Surprise parks have something to offer everyone. | Source


Submit a Comment

  • MyMastiffPuppies profile image


    7 years ago

    Great info on a beautiful area outside of Phoenix. We lived in Mesa a few years ago and have actually been to the very park you were talking about on Bullard Avenue, it was great! Thanks for sharing, voted up, useful, awesome and interesting...

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    8 years ago from London, UK

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this area. It is very explicit what vacilities there are. Thank you.

  • wannabwestern profile imageAUTHOR

    Carolyn Augustine 

    8 years ago from Iowa

    Thanks for your input. I am trying to decide how to interpret your comment. I don't believe you are actually suggesting I copied this writing from someone else, but merely stating that it is a bit impersonal for your tastes. I hope this is so. I took the photos in this hub and that is my son on the trike, but I will take your writing advice to heart. Thanks!

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    This is a well presented hub for anyone thinking of visiting "Surprise," but I can't find "You" anywhere in the hub, wannabwestern. As such, it could have come straight out of a guide book and I couldn't vote it "up" for that reason. Bob


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