Best of Our Valley 2019: Kids

By Melissa Larsen

Best Birthday Party Spot: Rachel’s Young at Art Studio

Since 2016, Rachel’s Young at Art Studio has been a Scottsdale favorite for art classes, day camps and birthday parties for early childhood. The popular birthday parties can be tailored to any theme, with face painting and cupcake decorating being offered as add-ons, says owner Rachel Ober. In addition to parties, the art studio offers Mommy and Me classes, after-school art classes for elementary-aged children and a variety of sensory classes, among other options for budding artists. rachelsyoungatart.com.

Rachel’s Young at Art Studio

Best Holiday Experience for Children: North Pole Experience

This beloved holiday experience just celebrated 10 years locally. Throughout the winter season, kiddos and their families hop aboard Santa’s Magic Trolley at the Little America Hotel in Flagstaff and get transported through the Magic Portal to Santa’s Grand Workshop in the North Pole. There, visitors spend time in the famous Toy Hall of Fame to help the elves build toys and visit Mrs. Claus’ Bakery for her signature hot cocoa and tasty treats, all before paying a special visit to Santa himself. northpoleexperience.com.

North Pole Experience

Best Kid-Friendly Hotel: The Wigwam

The Wigwam prides itself in delivering experiences that guests of all ages can enjoy. The Tower Pool is a lovely spot where kids and their families can soak up the sun and enjoy the 25-ft. tower with two twisting water slides or the splash pad. During the summer, guests can join the resort team every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for Camp Wigwam activities, like water relay races, duck races down the water slide, poolside obstacle courses, movies at the pool and more. wigwamarizona.com.

Best Kid’s Clothing Store: Cheeky Chic Baby & Kids Boutique

Scottsdale Quarter’s Cheeky Chic Baby & Kids Boutique is a Valley favorite for on-trend fashions for babies and kids up to size 14. Owner Geri Damone says she is working to expand the boutique’s tween collection and is adding a teen section to the store later this year. cheekychicbb.com.

Cheeky Chic Baby & Kids Boutique

Best Kid’s Entertainment Indoors: Kajukenbo Arizona

Gilbert’s Kajukenbo Arizona offers traditional martial arts training for the entire family, with classes starting at age 5. In addition to age-appropriate self-defense and increased awareness, the classes also help children gain a greater attention span and improve listening and basic motor skills—all while the participants have fun. Want to get in on the action? On June 1, Sept. 7 and Dec. 7, Kajukenbo Arizona offers Self Defense Saturday classes, which are free to the public with RSVP by phone or e-mail. kajuaz.com.

Kajukenbo Arizona 

Best Kid’s Restaurant and Most Entertaining Dinner Spot for Kids: Pita Jungle

There’s nothing better to parents than when their kids eat a healthy meal—without complaining. That is always the case at Pita Jungle where the littlest diners, aged 12 and under, can feast on a design-your-own plate of yumminess, with the likes of hummus with pita, chicken, steamed veggies, seasonal fruit and much more. pitajungle.com.

Best Master-Plan Community for Children: DC Ranch

Thanks to its variety of holiday events, like Eggstravaganza, Cookies with Mrs. Claus and Spooky Carnival, fun-filled tween nights and kid-friendly theater productions, DC Ranch in Scottsdale is an adored community for Valley families. To the delight of community kiddos, the newly reconstructed playground at Desert Camp Community Center was recently opened. There are also swimming pools, a splash pad, numerous parks and basketball courts for children to enjoy. dcranch.com.

DC Ranch 

Best Nanny Agency: The Nanny Joynt

The Nanny Joynt was founded by mom-of-two Trisha Pfeiffer in 2011 and has since helped thousands of families and nannies find their perfect matches. The Phoenix-based service offers full- and part-time nanny placements as well as household managers, newborn care specialists, temporary/date-night nannies and much more. nannyjoynt.com.

Best Pediatric Dentist Office: Desert Ridge Pediatric Dentistry

Dr. Lidieth Libby heads up the talented team at Desert Ridge Pediatric Dentistry. Their goal is to provide the highest quality pediatric dental care—plus, a dose a fun via the outer space-themed office!—while treating patients with respect. Desert Ridge Pediatric Dentistry is located on Phoenix’s High Street. azkidsdds.com.

Best Private or Charter School: Chandler Preparatory Academy

Chandler Preparatory Academy is committed to cultivating the hearts and minds of students in grades 6 to 12 through the pursuit of truth, goodness and beauty. The academy offers a well-rounded liberal arts curriculum in a vibrant culture, prepping students for success in college, leadership in their chosen career and a life filled with purpose. chandlerprep.greatheartsacademies.org.

Chandler Preparatory Academy

Best Splash Pad: SanTan Village

Toddlers to grade schoolers are welcomed to join in the sun-soaked fun on the SanTan Village splash pad from May to early October. Located between Dillard’s and the Disney Store, the splash pad is covered with UV-protective sails, is cleaned several times a day and utilizes a sanitized recirculated water system. The mall splash pad even hosts a free monthly kid’s club to more than 200 little ones on the second Friday of every month from 10 to 11 a.m. with music, dancing, food samples, giveaways and more. shopsantanvillage.com.

SanTan Village 

Best Summer Day Camp: Cactus Day Camp

Cactus Day Camp: where traditional day camping comes to the desert. The Paradise Valley-based camp offers full-day programs five days a week for two, four, six or eight weeks for kids ages 3 to 13. Safety is Cactus Day Camp’s No. 1 priority, while it also aims to foster friendships, fun and a healthy lifestyle. Boredom isn’t an option as each day is filled with more than 20 activities, like swimming, archery and climbing. cactusdaycamp.com.

Cactus Day Camp 

Fast Faves

Best Academic Tutoring Service: Pimentel Academic Services, pimentelacademicservices.com.

Best Children’s Hospital: Phoenix Children’s Hospital, phoenixchildrens.org.

Best Kid’s Entertainment: Outdoors: McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, therailroadpark.com.

Best Overnight Summer Camp: Camp Maripai, girlscoutsaz.org.

Best Pediatrician: Dr. Katherine Lichtsinn, scottsdalechildrensgroup.com.

Best Place for Kid’s Haircuts: tie between Cool Cuts 4 Kids, coolcuts4kids.com and Snip-Its, snipits.com.

Best Private High School: Brophy College Preparatory, brophyprep.org.

Best Toy Store: Build-A-Bear Workshop, buildabear.com.

Best Water Park: Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Phoenix (formerly Wet ‘n’ Wild), wetnwildphoenix.com.

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