Creating Culture: School’s Out for Summer

Local museums offer cool, cultural fun for kids

Summertime, and the living is easy. That is, until the novelty of activity-free bliss morphs into, “Mom, I’m bored!” And there it is, the familiar seasonal battle cry that turns up the heat for parents.

Warning — it’s time to scramble and find something for the kids to do, pronto! Most of us at Frontdoors understand and may currently be feeling that schools-out-for-summer pressure to keep the littles engaged — preferably with quality activities that fit finicky schedules.  

Lucky for us all, there is a wealth of culturally rich, family-focused venues with fresh summer programming awaiting your arrival this summer, ready to remedy those summertime blues. We have vetted several museums across the Valley, homing in on those that keep kids coming back for more. And bonus, they support the community at the same time.   


The museum’s foam zone activity — a summertime favorite — is a must-try.

Children’s Museum of Phoenix
Located in downtown Phoenix, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix exudes vibrancy at first glance. Housed within the historic Monroe School, the museum consists of hands-on, interactive exhibits for children ages birth to 10, with a focus on learning through play. This formula translates to climbing, sliding, exploring — high-energy activities that burn off energy in the comfort of a safe and cool setting.

Creative monthly themes coupled with signature exhibits results in repeat visits for many. This June, the museum is celebrating “Superheroes” of all kinds. July’s theme is “Back to School,” while “Music & Sound” rounds out the focus in August.

A personal favorite seasonal activity, Bubbleopolis is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Imagine foamy fun, giggles and lots of summer steam releasing as kids safely run amok outside the museum’s entrance beginning May 21. Pro tip: Pack a change of clothes and towel for this interactive and messy activity. A welcomed policy at the Children’s Museum, visitors are permitted to pack a lunch and enjoy it in designated outdoor eating areas of the museum.

Themed summer camps are offered for kids ages 5 to 8 beginning May 30, running 10 weeks straight. And educators, don’t miss out on free admission to the museum for you, plus one in June and July. Learn more at


Kids can imagine their own building project — whether it is a home, office building or school — then create it with activities at the i.d.e.a. Museum.

i.d.e.a. Museum
For all those young builders, art lovers and innovators out there, the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa is not to be missed. New this summer, the museum is debuting an interactive and multisensory mural in its updated atrium area. The remodeled space includes a life-size dinosaur that children can paint and new musical instruments for visitors to explore. Summer Camp at i.d.e.a. takes place July 12 to 16, geared toward ages 6 to 12. The camp focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) with an emphasis on innovation.

The Imagine, Design, Build! exhibition is currently happening and features more than 40 artworks by global artists. The exhibit walks visitors through the process of building construction, inviting guests to act as an architect, designing and building at the museum using the supplied materials. The exhibit takes place through mid-August and is included in the museum’s admission. i.d.e.a. is open six days a week. Admission is $9 per person, and memberships are available. For more information, visit


Guests at MIM can immerse themselves in the musical traditions of other cultures.

Musical Instrument Museum
Known in North Phoenix simply as MIM, the Musical Instrument Museum is an excellent venue to add to your must-visit summer list. With the motto, “Music is the language of the soul,” the museum is singing parents’ tune with an array of dynamic offerings in the 200,000-square-foot museum.

Classes for kids from birth to grade 12 include an impressive mix of leadership and hands-on programs, such as Summer of Science, where kids discover the science of sound with do-it-yourself experiments and lessons about how musical instruments are made and work.

For kids in grades 6 to 12, the Junior Museum Guide program is a unique opportunity to cultivate public speaking and presentation skills. The program consists of four classes where Junior Guides train to lead tours while exploring MIM’s galleries and exhibits.

Music classes for littles incorporate lessons on cultures around the world, while MIM’s Mini Music Makers program invites parents and caregivers to engage with kids during set times on various days.

With a collection of more than 13,000 instruments from more than 200 countries, repeat MIM visits are a given as there is much to explore. That includes tooting your own horn, so to speak, in the popular interactive Experience and Encore Galleries, where guests can play instruments from around the world. 

To learn more, visit

Suddenly, the dog days of summer seem a bit sweeter now that we are collectively armed with a rundown of family-friendly cultural offerings across the Valley. Here’s hoping that familiar summertime battle cry turns into music to your ears in the months ahead.

See you at the museum(s)!

About Zenobia Mertel

Zenobia Mertel is Frontdoors Magazine’s Lifestyle Editor and covers a mix of Arts and Culture topics for the media company. She also works as an on-air host and columnist for Inspired Media 360, focusing on people, places, life and style.

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