The ring of mountains that shape the Valley have been designated as desert mountain preserves, complete with trails and picnic areas. The largest of these is South Mountain Park, and its 16,500 acres make it the largest city park in the world.

At the other end of the Valley, you’ll see one of the most dramatic mountains in the Valley — Squaw Peak. A winding 1.2-mile trail here provides aerobic exercise for the hiking crowd. Another Greater Phoenix landmark you can hike is striking Camelback Mountain, taking its name from its resemblance to a sleeping camel.

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The Arizona Science Center provides a hands-on environment where families can not only learn about science, but have fun at the same time. Kids can ooh and ahh at a state-of-the-art planetarium or the extraordinarily vivid films at the Irene P. Flinn Theater.

The Desert Botanical Garden is just the place to encounter cacti and succulents, while around the corner is the popular 125-acre Phoenix Zoo. The zoo’s naturalistic setting features over 300 species of animals. Animal lovers will also enjoy the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park. With more than 1,400 animals on display, the exhibits delight and hold the interest of children of all ages. Out of Africa Wildlife Park offers a unique opportunity to interact with some of the world’s biggest cats and other large mammals, as well as a number of exotic reptiles and birds.

With the nearby desert lakes just a short drive away, lots of people load up the car and head for a day of boating, water skiing, swimming and fishing. s you move from the desert into Arizona’s High Country, you’ll find charming small towns and the beautiful White Mountains. Towns like Heber, Overgaard, Snowflake, and St. Johns are scattered like lovely jewels across the alpine countryside.

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