You've asked for some activities for this week and we have found several ideas for you.
If you are wanting to tour around looking at Christmas lights this season, you should check out this holiday lights map from AZ Central. Or, check out our two favorite neighborhoods to see lights in Mesa, listed in this post from last year. And don't forget the LDS Temple Christmas Lights for a nice evening at one of Mesa's landmarks, or head to Mill for lights in downtown Tempe, including a free holiday concert on Thursday night.
Free 4 x 6 photo with Santa, crafts and activities throughout the store. And they have a carousel for kids to ride for free! We went last week and the kids enjoyed "snowball" fights, playing with the toy train and car, coloring, free samples of fudge, candy canes...but I think the carousel beat out Santa for the favorite. (Santa was nice, but he didn't talk much.) Check here for times and a schedule.
Every year, members of this organization for model train enthusiasts open their backyards to the public for viewing. If you want to brave the crowds to see a truly incredible display, go to the Palo Verde and Southwestern Railroad display. His display gets better every year. If you'd like something a little less crazy, check out one of the other homes for their nice displays. This is a great activity for the whole family. Bring a few dollars if you'd like to donate to the organization.
If you want to do something outdoors (if the rain clears), visit our favorite local spots: Usery Park, Lost Dutchman State Park, the Riparian Preserve, or drive just a little farther to see the lights of the city from the top of South Mountain. Many of these places also have events for children or adults if you search their pages.
We just happened to choose that dust storm day in November for our drive to South Mountain, but it was still worth it.
This is a fun family outing, but be warned--it is super crowded. People show up before the park opens to stand in line to ride the train. We had several adults when we went so we were able to send a couple to play with the kids and ride the carousel while the rest waited in line for the train ride. Holiday lights train rides go until Dec 23rd, then from the 24th - 30th from 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM. Santa will be there through Dec 23rd. Train and carousel rides are $2 each, children under 3 are free with a paying adult. We called the park and they said it's less busy on school nights -- except rainy days like today when they don't run the train. She also said they sometimes start the train a little early (6:15 maybe), and after 8/8:30 is also a good time for shorter lines.
Here are a few other ideas for outings this holiday season:
Spirit of Christmas dance performance at Chandler Center for the Arts this Saturday and Sunday
Holiday Break Activities
For next week, the City of Mesa has some free activities to entertain your kids while they are on break from school. They are held from 10:00 AM - 12:00 NOON on December 21st - 23rd at Candlelight Park, and December 27th - 29th at Falcon Park. Go here for details of the activities each day. Sounds like some great (and free!) fun for winter break.
Or, after Christmas go Swim with Santa at the indoor, heated pool at Kiwanis Park in Tempe from December 26th - 28th.