Cheap and creative spring break 'staycation' ideas

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PHOENIX - High prices at the pump have Cathy Newell and her family spending spring break in town this year.

“We didn't do any out of town trips which we would've taken an in-state overnight trip, and this time we're not doing that,” she said.

Instead, they're finding low-cost ways to have fun, and according to AAA of Arizona, she isn't alone.

“You know what's really interesting about gas prices and travel is, consumers will do a lot of things before they cancel their trips all together,” spokesperson Michelle Donati said.

Donati says families are thinking local this spring break, and there are plenty of inexpensive ways to enjoy the time off right here in town.

You may want to consider a Cactus League Baseball game.

You can take your family to see a game at one of 10 fields Valley wide.

It's not just convenient, it's cheap, with ticket prices starting at just $6 each.

It's the first week of the season for most Valley water parks.

You'll find modified hours to accommodate all the spring breakers, and their parent pocketbooks.

An all day, unlimited ride pass at Golfland/Sunsplash, Wet-n-Wild and Castles and Coasters will cost you a little less than $30 at each park.

If you're willing to travel a little north of the Valley, the Verde Canyon Railroad might be a good option.

A real life train takes you on a three-and-a-half hour ride through the sights and sounds of the Verde Valley.

During spring break, each ticket costs $32 so a family of four can make the journey for $128.

Dairy Farms are another way to spend the day during spring break.

To feed and pet an assortment of animals, ticket prices are dirt cheap.

Places like Shamrock Farms and Marley Farms will cost you between three and six bucks.

Cathy Newell and her family are spending about that much on an all-day light rail passes, determined to not let gas prices sabotage spring break.

“We don't want it to stop us from doing family things and having fun on spring break,” she said.

Spring deals being offered at the Phoenician Resort:


Spring Training
• Visit The Phoenician through April 10, 2011, and enjoy:
• 10 percent off best available rate
• Complimentary appetizer at Relish Burger Bistro with a 2011 spring training game ticket stub
•To make a reservation, visit thephoenician.com or call (480) 941-8200 and mention promotion code SETCCCR

SunSational Savings
•Experience the luxurious warmth and exclusivity of Arizona’s premier AAA Five Diamond destination by May 31, 2011, and receive:
• Fourth night free
• $100 food and beverage credit (per stay)
• Complimentary upgrade at check-in, subject to availability
• To make a reservation, visit thephoenician.com, or call (480) 941-8200 and mention promotion code ZS4
* Free night is applied at check¬out. A four-night minimum stay is required.

Just for Kids

Desert Scavenger Hunt: 10 a.m. Children are invited to solve riddles about the desert and learn about plants and animals. Top five participants who solve the most riddles win a poster. Bring water and hats. Families meet at Area 6. $6 per vehicle. Usery Mountain Regional Park, 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa. 480-984-0032. www.maricopa.gov/parks/usery/.
 Little Desert Explorers: 10 a.m. Children 3 to 6 take a 1-mile hike with parents and grandparents as they learn about plants and animals in the desert. Bring water and hats. Meet at Area 6. $6 per vehicle. Usery Mountain Regional Park, 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa. 480-984-0032. www.maricopa.gov/parks/usery/.
All About Bees: Noon. Kids participate in a presentation by a ranger about how important bees are to humans, how they survive and how safe is to be around them. Bring a lunch. After the presentation, the "Bee Movie" is shown. Meet at the Nature Center. $6 per vehicle. Usery Mountain Regional Park, 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa. 480-984-0032. www.maricopa.gov/parks/usery/.
Critter Scene Investigators: 9 a.m. Join Maricopa County park rangers and staff from the Phoenix Zoo on a search to find out what desert animals have crossed your path. For ages 7 to 12. Must be accompanied by a caregiver. Registration required. $12 for kids, $8, $5 Phoenix Zoo or park members. San Tan Mountain Park, 6533 W. Phillips Road, Queen Creek. 602-914-4333, maricopa.gov/parks/santan.

'Star Wars" Mania

2:30 p.m. March 27. Grab your light saber and storm-trooper helmet and head down to Symphony Hall as the Phoenix Symphony performs the music from "Star Wars." Guest conductor Robert Moody boards the Millennium Falcon and takes kids on a musical journey throughout the "Star Wars universe." $10-$18. Symphony Hall, 75 N. Second St., Phoenix.