10 Places to See Snow in Metro Phoenix During Winter 2015
Perhaps it's a poorly kept secret, but Phoenicians don't have to simply dream of a white Christmas, they can experience it. Plenty of places offer a chance to play or stroll in the snow, some real and trucked in from destinations statewide, some made on-site.
The Valley of the Sun is a bit spoiled with 60-degree winter seasons, but for snowbirds longing for just a glimpse of life back home or kiddos who can't sit still for a two-hour car ride up north to build snowmen, here are 10 snowy destinations within the metro Phoenix area. From shopping malls to the Science Center and old Spaghetti Western towns, there's no shortage of places to see flakes fall.
Christmas at The Princess
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort offers a packed holiday calendar through Sunday, January 3, at its North Scottsdale location. Light snowfall sets the scene as the resort's Fragrance Garden transforms into the Nativity Garden, complete with a 10-minute, 88-foot light and music show, narrating the Christmas origin story. The grounds have everything covered, from an animated light show to a petting zoo and character appearances plus an ice-skating rink and Christmas carousel, there's bound to be something for even a holiday Scrooge.
Event hours vary through Sunday, January 3, at 7575 East Princess Drive. Admission is $30 for non-hotel guests (includes self-parking). Light shows and rides on the Princess Express Train and/or the Christmas Carousel are complimentary, skating and other events cost extra. Limited tickets available for Breakfast with Santa and Holiday Brunches. Visit scottsdaleprincess.com for a complete list of seasonal events, or call 480-585-4848.
Rawhide's Snowy Christmas
From Thursday, November 26, through Sunday, January 3, Rawhide Western Town in Chandler holds its third annual "Snowy Christmas" event. Done up in holiday decor with thousands of lights, the western winter wonderland debuts at 11 a.m. on Thursday with a number of featured holiday festivities throughout the few weeks. Expect snow on the ground, lights in the trees, and a "Delivery to the SW Pole" Post Office, where the kids can drop off letters to Santa.
Visit the East Valley's most western town at 5700 West Loop Road North from 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays. Admission and parking are free. For details, call 480-502-5600 or visit rawhide.com.
CitySkate at CityScape
It may not be Rockefeller Center, but downtown Phoenix is getting its own outdoor ice skating rink for the sixth year in a row. CitySkate Outdoor Holiday Ice Rink returns Thanksgiving Weekend with a jam-packed grand opening celebration, complete with a tree lighting ceremony by Mayor Greg Stanton. The evening also features a live snowfall, music, and photos with Santa. The rink remains open through Monday, January 11, with varying hours: Open 3 to 11 p.m. on weekends, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. on weekdays. Open Christmas Eve from 11:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Christmas Day from 5 to 11 p.m. Open New Year's Day from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The grand opening event begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 28, within CityScape, between Washington and Jefferson streets. The ice rink is located on Central Avenue, which will remain closed off between Washington and Jefferson streets while CitySkate is open. Weekend general admission is $15 and includes skate rental. Free to watch the tree lighting, play in the snowfall, and partake in festivities. Visit phxicerink.com or call 602-772-3900 for skating tickets.
Snow Much Fun Day at The Children's Museum
Bundle up the kiddos and head to The Children's Museum of Phoenix on Saturday, December 12, for "Snow Much Fun Day." The day's activities begin at 9 a.m. and last until the snow melts — all 20 tons of it. Snow play and activities, like snowball fights, snow angel making, and fort building, are free with purchase of museum admission. Plus, Santa Claus visits throughout the day, from 10:30 to 11 a.m. and 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., respectively.
Museum-goers can also enjoy gingerbread house workshops on Saturdays, (December 5, 12, and 19 — closed December 26) while kids can have breakfast with Santa on Saturdays, December 5 and 12, from 8 to 9 a.m. Visit the museum at 215 North Seventh Street in Downtown Phoenix. Non-member tickets are $11, members and their children are free. Visit childrensmuseumofphoenix.org for event information.
Winter Wonderland Express at Enchanted Island
All-aboard annual this holiday train when the Christmas caboose roll along its Encanto Park track to a snow-filled Enchanted island destination. The island will feature sled riding and even a "Sled Train Ride" pulled over the snow-covered grounds by an ATV. Plus, since it's so close to Christmas, little ones can visit with Santa Claus and share their wish lists at the North Pole — complete with free hot cocoa and candy canes.
The Winter Wonderland Express runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 19, and Sunday, December 20, at Enchanted Island Amusement Park at Encanto Park, 1202 West Encanto Boulevard. Train rides cost four tickets (unlimited ride wristbands are available). Santa comes to down from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days and visits are free. Call 602-254-1200 or visit enchantedisland.com/special-events for details.
Snow Week at Arizona Science Center
By now one should know that snow isn't a sparkly phenomena, but rather an atmospheric occurrence. For those interested in learning more — and for others who just want to play in it — the Arizona Science Center offers Snow Week, an opportunity to learn the science behind snow and how to make the perfect snowball. (Sort of.) The seven-day event takes over Heritage and Science Park with nearly 30 tons of ice, snow, sculptures, and even gingerbread houses. Snow Week 2015 also features demonstrations like "Snowing Ping Pong Balls" and others in conjunction with the ongoing exhibition, "Dinosaurs in Motion."
The grassy knolls of Heritage and Science Park turn which from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily starting Saturday, December 26, through Friday, January 1, at Arizona Science Center, 600 East Washington Street. Snow play is free, museum admission is $18 with discounts available for members, children, and seniors. Call 602-716-2000 or visit azscience.org for more information.
ZooLights and Noon Year's Eve at Phoenix Zoo
The Phoenix Zoo's Zoo Lights has become a holiday tradition for snowbirds and year-round Phoenicians alike. More than 300,000 visitors attend the winter event each year, which boasts hundreds of displays made of LED lights and new 3-D experiences. Snow is saved for Thursday, December 31, though, when Noon Year's Eve takes over the grounds. From 9 a.m. to noon grown-ups and little ones can throw snowball fights and play in the flakes before toasting to 2016 with cider at 12 p.m. (Activities are included with admission into the zoo.)
Zoo Lights is on display from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. nightly starting Monday, November 23 and ending Sunday, January 10, at the Phoenix Zoo, 455 North Galvin Parkway. General admission is $18; member discounts are available. Call 602-286-3800 or visit phoenixzoo.org for tickets.
Shop in the snow when it falls nightly (at 7 and 8 p.m.) at Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale.
Your Neighborhood Outdoor Mall
Retail destinations Tempe Marketplace, Desert Ridge Marketplace, and Westgate each feature a similar snow experience during the shopping days of December. Snowfall takes place nightly along with other winter-centric events.
In the North Phoenix-North Scottsdale area, Desert Ridge Marketplace (between Deer Valley Road and Tatum Boulevard near the Loop 101) offers an eight-minute holiday snowfall beginning at 6 p.m. on Monday, November 23, and ending Thursday, December 31, near the AMC Fountain and Fireplace. Snowfall is at 7 and 8 p.m. except for Christmas Eve, when fluffy flakes descend every hour on the hour from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Sounds like a beautiful setting to do some last-minute holiday shopping. Other holiday events include story time and a coat drive. Head to shopdesertridge.com/holiday for more.
Glendale residents can enjoy "Snow What Fun" at Westgate Entertainment District, near the Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue. The first snowfall is at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 24, followed by an early Santa arrival and tree lighting. Nightly snowfalls continue at 7 and 8 p.m. through Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24. Holiday-themed events include Black Friday with the Arizona Coyotes, free carriage rides, and a menorah lighting with Chabad West Valley on Sunday, December 13. For a complete list of winter activities, see westgateaz.com/holiday.
At Tempe Marketplace, off McClintock Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, festivities begin with the lighting of a 60-foot Christmas tree and outdoor ice skating in front of the District Stage, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25. At 7 p.m., snow will "magically" fall from the sky, signaling the beginning of a flake-filled holiday shopping season — just in time for Black Friday. With the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, snow will continue to "fall" at 7 and 8 p.m. every night near the stage through New Year's Eve, Thursday, December 31. Outdoor skating is available for free in the District Plaza from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, November 27, and Saturday, November 28, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, November 29. For details, visit tempemarketplace.com/holiday.
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