In our Urban Playground series, downtown Phoenix parent, Leslie Pico, shares her insights and tips for raising small children in the heart of our big city.

On any given weekday morning, stepping into the elevator of my building means being surrounded by single professionals, well-heeled childless couples, empty nesters and college students. Its industrial architecture, proximity to corporate offices, university campuses, and downtown nightlife and events makes it an attractive dwelling.


Photo: Leslie Pico.

My partner David thought the same in 2010. As a young professional he bought into the building on the 10th floor. When we decided to move in together, the decision of “your place or mine” came easy. We both knew downtown is where we wanted to be. I brought my two daughters, aged five and seven, along with me.

Living in a high-rise condo with two small children never occurred to either of us as a bad idea. Our 1600 square foot residence includes the same rooms you would have found in my former suburban home: three bedrooms; a modern kitchen; a family living room, and two and a half baths. But, with its exposed ductwork, skyline view and doorman, the residence would never be mistaken for a house in Chandler.

Photo: Leslie Pico

Photo: Leslie Pico

We’re close to restaurants, work, and an infinite number of cultural resources. We are within walking distance of the Arizona Science Center, The Children’s Museum of Phoenix and just a couple miles from the Burton Barr Central Library. Only minutes away are always great events in Hance Park, the Irish Cultural Center and Japanese Friendship Garden.

Downtown Phoenix is full of resources that not only keep children stimulated, but help them grow. One of our favorite places is The Children’s Museum of Phoenix. If you’re a working parent it can be difficult to have everything you need to engage in hands on activities with your kids at home at any given moment, so why not let the somewhere like the Children’s Museum handle the fuss and mess for you? With monthly events like Art StART Primary; Brain Time for Preschoolers; and September’s “SepSTEAMber,” integrating art with the sciences, technology, engineering, and math, there is no shortage of activities to keep downtown kids and parents content.

A vibrant downtown core like the one downtown Phoenix has evolved to stimulates and encourages a child’s curiosity, encourages acceptance of all and exposes them to the economics valuable for future interdisciplinary skill development.

In this series, I’ll explore the ways, both obvious and unexpected, in which our city is truly like an urban playground for kids. I look forward to sharing my experiences and tips with other downtown or prospective downtown parents – everything from where you can buy cough medicine at 5 p.m. on a Sunday when you don’t want to get in the car, to what restaurants you can bring the kids to without getting the stink-eye from the hipster or professional crowd.