9 Places to See Snow in Metro Phoenix During Winter 2016
No need to dream about a white Christmas this year.
Courtesy of Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
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 an island in the middle of the desert, 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 1, at its North Scottsdale location — where it started looking a lot like Christmas during the seventh annual tree lighting ceremony on Tuesday, November 22. 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 1, at 7575 East Princess Drive. Admission is $35 for non-hotel guests (includes self-parking; $55 for valet parking). Light shows are complimentary, while rides on the Princess Express Train and/or the Christmas Carousel are part of a $10 ride/attraction wristband package. Sessions on the desert ice skating rink are $20 per person, and skate rental is available for $5. 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.
CitySkate at CityScape
It may not be Rockefeller Center, but downtown Phoenix is getting its own outdoor ice skating rink for the seventh year in a row. CitySkate Holiday Ice Rink returned Thanksgiving weekend with a jam-packed grand opening celebration, complete with a lighting ceremony for the rink’s 36-foot tree, art installations care of Artlink Phoenix and local artists, and a hot chocolate bar. The rink remains open through Sunday, January 8, and unlike last year, skate time will be broken up into different sessions per day with varying hours as follow: Open 5 to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays, and 3 to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Open Christmas Eve until 6 p.m. and Christmas Day from 5 to 11 p.m.
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. Express skating passes are available for $25, online only. Free to watch the tree lighting, play in the snowfall, and partake in festivities. Visit phxicerink.com or call 602-550-9561 for skating info.
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 10, 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 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Museum-goers can also enjoy gingerbread house workshops from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays (December 3 and 10 — closed December 24); RSVP required. And little ones can have Breakfast with St. Nick on Saturdays December 3 and 10, from 8 to 9 a.m. Visit the museum at 215 North Seventh Street in downtown Phoenix. Nonmember tickets are $11; members and their children are free. There is an additional cost for Breakfast with Santa. Visit childrensmuseumofphoenix.org for event information.
Winter Wonderland Express at Enchanted Island
All aboard this annual holiday train when the Christmas caboose rolls along its Encanto Park track to a snow-filled Enchanted Island destination. The island will feature an Instagram-ready human-sized snow globe to pose with, 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 features 25 tons of snow and runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 17, and Sunday, December 18, at Enchanted Island Amusement Park at Encanto Park, 1202 West Encanto Boulevard. Train rides cost five tickets (unlimited ride wristbands are available). Tickets are $1.25 per ride or $20 for 20 tickets; other discounts available. Santa comes down from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both days and visits are free; the light show runs from 4:30 to 7 p.m. each day. Call 602-254-1200 or visit enchantedisland.com/special-events for details.
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