If you are in Phoenix and looking for a great place to take your kids where they can run free and touch everything they see, the Arizona Science Center in downtown is the place for you! I visited the center today with my daughter and aged 10 and my infant that is 1 along with my Aunt K and Uncle M and their 1 year old also. I was worried at first that the babies wouldn't have anything to do and that they would be seriously bored, but it turned out to be just the opposite. With over 300 exhibits, an IMAX theater, and a planetarium there is definitely something for kids of all ages and those that are just a big kid at heart like.
One of the newest attractions is the SkyCycle. It's a bike that has a large counter weight below it and the bike balances on a cable. You ride this bike suspended about 15 feet in the air along the cable for an incredible physics lesson. My 10 year old did it and loved every minute of it, but beware there is an extra fee of $3 for members and $5 for non-members for this exhibit.
A free exhibit that you do not want to miss up on the third level is Forces of Nature. It is a platform that you stand on that shows a video every few minutes and it discusses forces found in nature such as earth quakes and lightening. The exhibit is totally interactive with a moving floor, real rain, heat waves and tornadoes!
In addition to the regular exhibits the center features special event exhibits that change regularly. Currently the feature exhibit is Lego Castel Adventure. There are costumes the kids can borrow while they enjoy the Lego Castle, slide and hands on building tables. There are also displays of detailed castles, gardens, and life size statues of armor and a dragon! This is a great place for the bigger kids but there is little for the smaller kids to do in this area. Runs until September 7, 2009.
The next exhibit that the center will feature is Robots The Interactive Exhibit based on the 20th Century Fox movie. The exhibit is all about robotics and shows what a world totally inhabited by mechanical beings might be like. Runs September 27, 2009 to February 14, 2010.
My overall impression of the center was very positive and there isn't much to say that is a negative. The elevator nearest to the SkyCycle is very slow, so you'll want to use the one at the other end of the hall which just happens to be right at the main entrance to the center anyway. Admission to the center is $12 for adults and $10 for kids 3-17 and for seniors. There is an additional fee for both the IMAX and the planetarium and they average about $8 per person. I did not visit the IMAX or the planetarium but Aunt K and Uncle M have and they tell me it’s fantastic and definitely worth a visit. There is a small cafe to get a snack at but I would skip it and enjoy one of the many other restaurants in downtown Phoenix for a much better meal and at a better price.
I need to come up with a cute rating system for the places that we visit, but since I haven't done that yet I'll just tell you that its a great place and definitely worth your trip!