You voted for more than 4,000 nominees in nearly 400 categories (equaling 1.5 million-plus views at AZFoothills.com). Now, it is time to get to know your Best of Our Valley 2014 winners. From your favorite restaurants and resorts to your choice schools and shops, Arizona Foothills Magazine presents Best of Our Valley 2014.
With the Valley being home to some of the best activities, doctors, schools and entertainment for kids, no other city is quite like it when it comes to raising a family. Here are your best kid’s activities and hotspots in Phoenix.
Story by Lindsey Clinkingbeard
BEST PRIVATE HIGH SCHOOL – XAVIER COLLEGE PREPARATORY
Xavier College Preparatory has built an outstanding record of academic excellence, innovation, leadership development, athletics and community service. In 2013, Xavier was recognized for the third time as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education for its academic and overall excellence. Xavier is a Roman Catholic high school that strives to prepare young women with the knowledge, skills and integrity to meet the challenges of a changing global society in a positive and productive manner. www.xcp.org.
BEST KID-FRIENDLY HOTEL – THE WESTIN KIERLAND RESORT AND SPA
The award-winning fun team at The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa heads up an innovative family program that offers the most exciting family- friendly experience in Arizona. The FUN team is responsible for creating activities and programs that appeal to both parents and children alike. Programs include Kierland Kampfires, visits from the Phoenix Zoo, poolside activities, Arizona-theme arts and crafts, scavenger hunts and much more. Most importantly, the Scottsdale resort offers a chance for families to engage in exciting activities together. www.kierlandresort.com.
BEST CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL – PHOENIX CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) has been providing hope and healing for children since it was founded in 1983. Now one of the largest children’s hospitals in the country, PCH has nearly 1,000 pediatric specialists to provide care to your child across more than 70 pediatric subspecialties, offering the most comprehensive care available in the state. In each doctor, nurse, staff member and volunteer, you’ll see their dedication to children and keeping them well. www.phoenixchildrens.org.
BEST SUMMER DAY CAMP AND BEST KID’S ENTERTAINMENT: INDOORS – LDVINCI ART STUDIO
A summer filled with painting, dance, music and theater? LDVinci Art Studio offers that and more during its summer camp. Kids ages 5 to 13 are endlessly entertained with programs that include morning, afternoon or full-day sessions. Little ones will have a blast channeling their inner Da Vinci, while parents are worry-free with professional instructors. Book your child’s reservation beginning in April. www.ldvinci.net.
BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY SPOT – GREAT PLAY CHILDREN’S GYM
Chandler’s Great Play Children’s Gym offers fun, active parties for kids ages 1 to 10. Great Play works hard to make your child’s birthday party a memorable event. Your child will be the star of the show, from the moment guests arrive in the Interactive Arena and see the 100-sq.-ft. photo greeting on the projected scoreboards. Customize the party theme based on your child’s interests, from games to sports. www.greatplay.com.
BEST KID’S CLOTHING STORE – CARTER’S
Carter’s has grown to become the leading brand for children’s clothing, gifts and accessories, decked in colorful prints, cute characters and thoughtful details (like those anti-scratch Handi-Cuff mitten sleeves) for stylish tots. Convenient shopping options include in-store and online. www.carters.com.
BEST KID’S RESTAURANT – BARRO’S PIZZA
Barro’s Pizza is a family-owned and -operated pizzeria for wings, salads, deli-style sandwiches, pasta and, of course, pizza. Your favorite lunch or dinner options are available for dine-in, take-out and delivery. Barro’s Pizza is also a venue for birthday, youth sport and other kid-friendly parties. With a defined presence in the Arizona community, Barro’s Pizza is a strong supporter of education, high school sports and children’s nutrition. www.barrospizza.com.
BEST WATER PARK – BIG SURF WATERPARK
Opening in 1969, and home to America’s original wave pool, Big Surf has become one of the largest water parks in Arizona. Featuring more than a dozen rides for kids of all ages, Big Surf is a popular entertainer during the hot Arizona summer. The water park’s wave pools like Waikiki Beach Wave Pool, and other features like Bora Bora Bay Kid’s Zone, Otter Slides, Hurricane Slides, The Black Hole and the Tornado Twisters, will keep guests entertained and refreshed the entire day. All tropical beach lovers won’t want to miss this hot venue that will cool you off this summer. www.bigsurffun.com.
BEST MASTER-PLANNED COMMUNITY FOR CHILDREN – ESTRELLA BY NEWLAND COMMUNITIES
Over the past 20 years, more than 4,000 families have come to call Goodyear’s Estrella home. You will find an engaging and family-friendly community life that’s rich in tradition with annual events, monthly socials and weekly club gatherings. The framed picturesque Sierra Estrella Mountains and Sonoran Desert make the backdrop for the Starpointe Residents Club, the Golf Club of Estrella, the Mountain Ranch Marketplace, and the miles of trails and parks made perfect for families. www.estrella.com.
BEST PRIVATE OR CHARTER SCHOOL – CHANDLER PREPARATORY ACADEMY
Chandler Preparatory Academy is a state charter school dedicated to providing a comprehensive liberal arts education. Offering the best in a college preparatory school with a dynamic and rigorous curriculum, Chandler Prep sets a new standard when it comes to education. As a member of the prestigious Great Heart Academies, the school believes in the student’s innate potential to exceed and create a profound life, summarized by their Latin motto: verum, pulchrum and bonum (truth, beauty and goodness). www.chandlerprep.org.
BEST NANNY AGENCY – CARING NANNIES
At Caring Nannies, the goal is to create trusted and cherished relationships between families and nannies or caregivers. As one of the largest and most respected household staffing agencies in Phoenix, their hands-on process shows their commitment to finding the best suitor to your and your child’s specific needs and desires. www.acaringnanny.com.
BEST OVERNIGHT SUMMER CAMP – CAMP SKY – Y
Camp Sky-Y has been building friendships and making memories for more than 70 years, as campers ages 7 to 16 learn new skills and grow as individuals in a beautiful natural environment in the Arizona pines. Since the 1920’s, the YMCA camp has embraced values like caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. Many programs are available for campers to choose from, like archery, arts and crafts, ceramics, paintball, rock climbing, canoeing, swimming and sport activities like basketball, volleyball and other field games. Staffed with a full- time team with 50-plus years of experience, Camp Sky-Y is perfect for campers to make new friends and participate in exciting activities. www.azycamps.org.
BEST PEDIATRICIAN IN SCOTTSDALE – DR. ARTURO GONZALEZ
Dr. Arturo Gonzalez is a practicing pediatrician in Scottsdale who has been serving Arizona children since 1993. Dr. Gonzalez earned his degree from the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara before completing his residency in the New York University Medical Program at St. Vincent’s Medical Center, where he was chief resident. The doctor has been involved with the Arizona American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization supporting child health programs. Dr. Gonzalez is working at Scottsdale Children’s Group and has been recognized as one of the top pediatricians in both Arizona and on a national level. www.scottsdalechildrensgroup.com.
MOST ENTERTAINING DINNER SPOT FOR KIDS – RUSTLER’S ROOSTE
Founded in 1971, this family-owned and -operated restaurant is one of the Valley’s brightest beacons of the cowboy western experience. Rustler’s Rooste is created as an entirely different world from the second you walk in the doors and are transported to an old mine shaft that leads to the Mountaintop Saloon. Features like the indoor waterfall and the “Tin” Slide make this restaurant a unique dining experience. With live country western bands, a strolling magician and food of the finest steaks, ribs, chicken and more, kids will come hungry and be entertained all evening. www.rustlersrooste.com.
BEST PLACE TO DINE WITH KIDS WITHOUT CRAYONS – PITA JUNGLE
Pita Jungle is a locally owned restaurant that offers Mediterranean-inspired dishes made from scratch. The “Art of Eating Healthy” is the motto here, as Pita Jungle offers healthy foods with delicious vegan and vegetarian options. The restaurant promotes good eating habits for the entire family, with an affordable menu for everyone. Kids can select healthier options from four different food groups in order to create their own delicious meal. www.pitajungle.com.
BEST TOY STORE – THE DOLL HOUSE & TOY STORE
This family-owned toy store in Scottsdale offers plenty for both boys and girls to play, learn and grow. Educational and developmental toys, puzzles, dolls and much more stock the shelves. The doll- house, furniture and accessory collections are carefully selected and offer a wide variety of styles handcrafted by artists. As a bonus, when your child receives an A on a report card, bring it in to receive 10 percent off a toy of their choice. www.azdollhouse.com.
FIFTH ANNUAL BEST OF OUR VALLEY – BEST PLACE FOR KID’S HAIRCUTS – COMB-A-CABANA
The Valley’s premier children’s hair salon will dazzle your kiddos with its fun décor and entertainment to keep them so busy, they won’t even know they’re getting a haircut. Family-owned Comb-a-Cabana has unique car chairs and a large selection of movies and video games at each station to ensure a comfortable and relaxing visit. The wonderful team of stylists work well with special needs children to make sure they receive the love and care they need. www.combacabana.com.
BEST KID’S ENTERTAINMENT: OUTDOORS – SUPERSTITION FARM
THE LOCAL, FAMILY-OWNED DAIRY FARM is perfect for children of any age to visit. Tots get to experience everything from seeing where their milk comes from to taking a hayride to see those animals that go “moo!” The small petting zoo for kids is just one of the things Superstition Farm offers for their horsing-around birthday parties. The Farm also has a unique gift shop and boutique where fresh milk, cheese, butter and ice cream are available to take home. www.superstitionfarm.com.
BEST ACADEMIC TUTORING SERVICE – PIMENTEL ACADEMIC SERVICES
PIMENTEL ACADEMIC SERVICES offers subject-matter tutoring to students of all ages, from elementary school to adult students, from well-educated instructors. Services are on an individual or small group basis and cover a wide range of subject tutoring; study and organizational skills; exam preparations for AP courses, SAT, ACT and GRE; and academic writing support. www.pimentelacademicservices.com.