Arizona is a Mecca for those looking to experience a unique blend of culture, cuisine, nature, and nightlife. With countless bars, restaurants, museums, art galleries, shops, theme parks, and golf courses, it’s impossible to be bored in Arizona.
Less than an hour’s drive from downtown Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Mesa is a lesser-known town highly regarded as one of the most livable cities in the country, Surprise, Arizona.
Visitors flock to Surprise for its small-town vibe and plethora of family-friendly activities. With fewer than 150,000 people and its proximity to Scottsdale, Surprise is a hidden gem. After your first visit, you’ll want to keep it a secret too.
So, whether you’re booking a vacation home rental with a round of golf in mind or you want to take the family to catch a spring training baseball game over some hot dogs, there’s plenty to keep you busy in Surprise.
Catch a Game at Surprise Stadium
Surprise Stadium hosts spring training for the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers. It’s also home to the Arizona Fall League’s Surprise Saguaros. This makes it a must-stop spot if you’re looking to catch an off-season game. Diehard fans can even sit on the Michelob Ultra Legends Deck and get access to a private bar and food from local restaurants.
Every angle offers a great view of the players, no matter where you sit. Parking is always free; there’s even an interactive photo booth to encapsulate the day. In addition, the stadium hosts free public events throughout the season, so make sure to check out their calendar for the latest news.
Take a Dip in the Surprise Aquatic Center
After a long day of basking in the Arizona heat, what sounds better than a water park?
The Surprise Aquatic Center is by far the best way to cool off in the summer heat. It’s a family-friendly park fully equipped with water slides, splash pads, diving boards, a wave pool, and a lazy river. There’s always a lifeguard on duty, so parents can get some relaxation in too. Other essential amenities include a snack bar, shower facilities, and restrooms.
Visit the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park
Located inside Litchfield Park, the Wildlife World Zoo allows adults and kids alike to get up close and personal with Arizona’s largest concentration of endangered animals. There are over 600 species to observe, along with daily feedings, a petting zoo, and daily shows.
Within the park is a 100-acre safari with lions, African birds, and many other exotic animals. Visitors can either walk the park or take a guided tram ride that weaves through the exhibits.
When you visit the aquarium, you’ll walk through the longest acrylic tunnel in Arizona, giving you a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of countless sea creatures, and all without getting wet!
Become a Bowling Champion at Uptown Alley
Uptown Alley is a giant bowling alley fully equipped with 40 state-of-the-art lanes, a full-service restaurant, arcade games, laser tag, and a sports theater, all under one roof. With something for everyone, you can easily spend the whole day here.
For adults, there’s a 21+ lounge area, pool tables, daily happy hour, and TVs on every corner, so you never have to miss the game. There’s also blacklight bowling and a virtual reality arena.
Spend the Day at the Surprise Community Park
The popular Surprise Community Park is located right in the heart of downtown Surprise, near the stadium. Adults and kids can enjoy a day outdoors on the playground, enjoy a picnic, play a round of basketball, or even spend the day fishing at the nearby Surprise Lake. Keep in mind that a permit is required to go fishing.
In addition, there’s also a nearby dog park where you can let your four-legged pals socialize. It’s spacious and has two sections separated between big dogs and small dogs. There are also picnic tables and several BBQs to make grilling and relaxing outdoors even easier.
Tee Off at the Granite Falls Golf Club
If there’s one thing Arizona knows how to do, it’s creating fun, state-of-the-art golf courses. The Granite Falls Golf Club, in particular, is one of Surprise’s premier golf courses. It’s located within the Sun City Grand Resort Community. It features two massive courses encompassing nearly 10,000 square feet of greens.
The north course is the more challenging of the two. With multiple tee boxes and undulating hilltops, it’s a fun way to keep players of all skill levels on their toes. The south course also offers multiple tee boxes to play from, though its terrain is slightly less challenging.
Granite Falls also offer a driving range to practice your game, a full-service restaurant, a pro shop, and plenty of beautiful desert scenery to take in between rounds.
Explore the WHAM Community Art Center
When you visit the WHAM Community Art Center, you’ll be able to explore the various art galleries and witness the work of local artists. Many of the pieces are for sale, and a gift shop uses part of the proceeds to create fun art programs for adults and kids alike.
There are also weekly events, including poetry readings, fashion shows, writing clubs, and more. WHAM also offers art classes for all skill levels if you feel like getting your hands dirty.
Visit the White Tank Mountain Regional Park
This one is a bit of a drive, but it’s well worth it if you want a more exclusive view of the Arizona desert landscape. About an hour from Surprise in the nearby community of Waddell, White Tank Mountain Regional Park offers miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. Many of these trails are available year-round and suit a variety of fitness levels.
Here are some fun ways to enjoy a day trip to the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.
Hike the White Tank Waterfall Trail
- Distance: 1.8 miles, out-and-back
- Difficulty: Easy
The White Tank Waterfall Trail is one of the more popular destinations in the park. It begins off of Waterfall Canyon Road as a fully paved road before transitioning into a rocky dirt path. Cacti line the trail as you approach the waterfall and surrounding granite boulders. It’s an enjoyable hike for all skill levels and is welcome for leashed dogs. Keep in mind the waterfall only flows after recent rain, but regardless, the view and easygoing path are reason enough to check it out.
Check Out the Petroglyphs
Visitors can also get a dose of ancient Arizona history by observing the petroglyphs carved into the White Tank Mountains. These petroglyphs are ancient relics left by the native Hohokam and Patayan peoples and were created roughly between 500 BC and 1100 AD.
The petroglyphs are available throughout the park, including the Waterfall Trail at “Petroglyph Plaza” and near the entrance to the box canyon that gives the trail its name.
Visit the White Tank Nature Center
If you’re a fan of green architecture, you’ll have a blast touring the White Tank Nature Center. Just about every aspect of the building is made using state-of-the-art green building materials, including the parking lot, which is composed of decomposed, compressed granite that’s entirely natural to the park.
Play a Round at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex
If you’re a fitness lover, one of the joys of visiting Arizona is the plethora of fun outdoor activities. The Surprise Tennis and Racquetball Complex allow players of all ages and skill levels to join together and play a tennis, racquetball, or pickleball round. In addition, the complex is well known for featuring tournaments and hosting up-and-coming professional tennis players.
You can sign up for private lessons even if you’re not a regular tennis player or have always wanted to learn to play pickleball.
Retreat From the Heat at the Digiplex Surprise IMAX
Also known as the AMC Surprise Point 14, this is one of Surprise’s best movie theaters. It’s fully equipped with 3D and jumbo digital screens to show all the latest films. With comfy reclining chairs, movie snacks, and friendly staff, this is a great way to escape the Arizona summer heat for a few hours of carefree entertainment.
Sip on the Local Brews at State 48 Brewery
Surprise is saturated with epic restaurants, bars, and craft breweries. When you’re craving all three, you’ve got to go to State 48 Brewery. Their beers are made in a variety of styles ranging from light lagers to IPAs and dark stouts. The staff is friendly and happy to offer recommendations or pour you a flight so you can taste them all.
As for the food, the menu is upscale pub fare. Classic fish ‘n chips and wood-fired pizzas are balanced with more creative dishes like shrimp ceviche and roasted salmon. They also have plenty of seating for groups big and small and outdoor seating on their covered patio.
Try the Pho at Saigon Kitchen
Surprise knows how to do food, and they have plenty of restaurants to choose from. If you’re craving authentic Vietnamese food served in style, you’re going to love Saigon Kitchen. It may look unassuming from the outside, but it’s surprisingly posh and upscale once you step in.
As for the food, their menu is extensive, but their pho noodle soup is a must-try. In addition, their fresh spring rolls, coconut fried shrimp, and Saigon garlic noodle stir fry are a few other of their signature dishes.
Throw Some Axes at Axescape
If you’ve ever wanted to take your rage out and practice your swing, now’s your chance. Axescape specializes in making axe-throwing fun. First, you’ll get the low down on safely throwing axes when you walk in. Then, after a couple of practice throws, you’re on your own to play a competition with friends, if you dare.
If axe throwing isn’t your style, they also have escape rooms and “gellyball,” an activity akin to paintball where players run from bunker to bunker and hope not to get hit by the low-impact gellyballs.
Go Fishing at Surprise Lake
Just because we’re landlocked doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an afternoon of fishing. Surprise Lake is located within the Surprise Community Park and is the perfect spot to relax and cast your rod for a couple of hours of fishing.
Some of the fish you can catch include catfish, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and white amur. Permits are required to go fishing, but it’s a small price to pay to reel in tonight’s dinner.
Stop by the Justice Brothers Ranch U-Pick
The Justice Brothers Ranch is the longest continually operated citrus orchard in Arizona. Since its inception in 1928, the Justice family has gotten their hands dirty with everything from citrus to cattle, alfalfa, cotton, potatoes, and more.
Today, the Justice Brothers host a U-Pick just 15 minutes from their farm. It began as a college research station to test the viability of growing citrus in Arizona and is currently home to dozens of varieties of pesticide-free fresh citrus. They’ve got everything from navel and valencia oranges, tangerines, tangelos, grapefruit, pomelos, and lemons, to name just a few!
In addition, they also have a pumpkin patch during the fall months and a summer farm stand.
Shop Local at the Nearby Farmer’s Markets
Suppose you’re craving local produce, freshly baked bread, sweet treats, or even handcrafted art and beauty products. In that case, you can’t beat the local farmer’s markets. There are several markets in Surprise alone, but even more nearby if you’re willing to drive a short distance.
Here are two standout farmer’s markets in and nearby Surprise.
Surprise Community Farmers Market & Artisan Craft Show
- Hours: Wednesday, 10.00 am to 2.00 pm
- Address: 17300 N Sun Village Pkwy, Surprise, AZ
Located in the Sun Village Golf Course, this farmer’s market is both indoor and outdoor and features over 70+ vendors. It’s also pet-friendly and features live music.
Smith’s Local Farmers Markets
- Hours: Sunday, 10.00 am to 2.00 pm
- Address: 29701 N Sunrise Point, Peoria, AZ
Located in the Mount Vista Club parking lot around 20 minutes from downtown Surprise, Smith’s features 75+ vendors with everything from local honey, freshly baked bread, food trucks, and more.
Book Your Surprise Getaway Today
If the city of Surprise isn’t on your radar, hopefully, this post has convinced you of all the fun things to do along the outskirts of Phoenix.
Whether traveling with family, solo, looking to break a sweat or relax in luxury, the options are limitless when you stay in Surprise, Arizona.
So, consider this your sign to book your next vacation at one of our travel rentals in Surprise, and get ready to have the vacation you deserve!
Featured Image Credit: commons.wikimedia.org