Thanks to Lake Pleasant Cruises and the crew of The Phoenix for having us onboard!
Coming from the East Coast, lakes and ocean is a big thing. Which lake is best, which beach is best? Which is least crowded? All very important questions to someone who loves to swim. We hadn’t been out to Lake Pleasant before we were invited to take the boat tour, so it was a very new experience!
There’s a few entrances to get into Lake Pleasant. The one for Marina and boat tour is off of 87th Ave, but GPS will get you to the right location of 8709 W Harbor Blvd. Peoria.
The entrance looks very marine like-which definitely reminded me of the east coast beaches. You do have to pay the $6 per car entry fee (different if you have a commercial vehicle or a boat, etc, check here for entry requirements) in addition to the price of the cruise.
If you turn right at the end of the entrance street (after paying) there will be a parking lot after the small firestation on the right. This is the about the closes parking you will get, as closer to the docs is permit only (there are a few spaces on the hill and there are spaces on these dirt areas for scuba practice.) There is also a dirt lot to the left, but the shuttle to the doc takes off from the parking lot to your right.
You can see a small blue spot right near the “ant” of N Pleasant Drive, that is the tent that you want to stand under to get a shuttle to the Marina. The Shuttles are golf carts, which are part of the admission to the park (please tip your driver).
So, back to the shuttles and parking-we didn’t really know how far it was from the parking lot to the marina and I had my google map out and said “Let’s walk! We can do it”. We did, and it was ok, buuuut, it is a very steep hill going down. And, there are very steep hills going down to the water to the water. Rocky steep hills. If you decide to walk, you will take N Pleasant Drive to 87th Ave Down to W Harbor Blvd. There is other parking, if you look on Google Maps, but there was a sign that said for tag holders only.
This picture doesn’t really show the “intensity of the steepness of the hill” but I’d say here was a good 20-30 foot drop. I have kids who don’t always listen as well as I would like (don’t you ?) and I was a bit concerned about this. I held on Dimple’s hand pretty intensely here. There is also a ramp that you walk on (that the golf cart shuttles also drive on) to get you out to the pier. I was happy to get to the ramp until I noticed there were big openings that a toddler could easily pop out of and down a hill into the water. When the golf carts went by as we were walking we had to stand in single file until they went by, which also meant death grip on my child. By the time we got to the bottom of the hill we were pretty sweaty and we hadn’t brought our waters, but luckily we found that there was a little shop next to Dillon’s that had drinks (phew!). On the way up the steep, steep hill we took the shuttle. I put Giggles on my lap and Scott (my husband, had Dimples on his). If you can put a small kid on your lap its probably safer for them and a few more people can scoot on the shuttle!
The door underneath the clock (and next to the ice) is a small shop that has souveneirs, snacks and most importantly Powerade! Phew..It wasn’t really well marked and pretty dark in there, but know that it is available if you decide to walk down the long street and not have water for your poor thirsty children!
Behind the golf cart are offices, where you can by tickets, rent different equipment and the reason I hustled down the hill-the bathrooms. I think where the golf cart is parked is the unofficial official shuttle waiting line. That’s where we stalked it and climbed aboard.
Towards Dillon’s and the convenience/Souveneir shop was a nice covered area with comfortable seats to wait for the boat to board if you are ridiculously early like us. It was far enough away from the water that we could loosen the death grips on the kids.
The kids loved looking at the boats, and of course, they tried sitting on one of these. Dimples kept calling this one “BANANA” (watched Minions a few times!)
The Boat Entrance! It’s a fairly good sized boat for about 150 people. The trip we were one had about 35 so we were able to go upstairs or downstairs. The Captain and the office crew highly recommended us staying downstairs and inside while we waited for everyone to board (it is air conditioned downstairs!).
The downstairs is extremely cleaned and very nice in temperature. With long tables, the kids made themselves at home. Snacks on board were a few different types of candy bars, crackers, popcorn, goldfish a few different kinds of juice, water, beer, soda and wine. Lake Pleasant Cruises does do meals on some of their trips, the daily cruise does not offer that. If you take a look at their schedule, you can see what they have to offer!
And yes, there are bathrooms on board! I was surprised at how big they were. But, there is just one men’s and one women’s, so plan your bathroom break accordingly!
I sneaked off a for a few minutes to check out the second deck to take a few pictures while there was no one there. The stairs going up and down were a bit steep, so be careful with the littles if you venture on top. There is a small uncovered deck on the first deck that is at the front of the boat that you can hang out if you want to be outside but do not want to go upstairs. There were also a lot of great seating options upstairs and, of course it was covered. We went out midday so the sun was pretty much right overhead, but sunscreen is still a good option. The railings were sturdy, but , of course be careful of little ones who want to try and climb.
Speaking of little ones on boats, anyone under the age of 12 is required to wear a life jacket at all times. They are provided by the ships crew. I think Dimples makes the life jacket look good, personally. A safety precaution that is a good one.
When they are just a few children on board, Captain Forrest Packebush let the kids steer the ship! They were SO excited. The captain was extremely knowledgeable about the area, the history and some fun facts and trivia as well. He did a great job giving us information (although, our children were also giving us information so we didn’t hear it all). Munchie got up first to steer the ship, and Giggles exclaimed “I NEED to the lookout”. The Captain gave her pair of binoculars to use and she did a great job navigating. Dimples spun the wheel around and around, and I being a bit horrified, the Captain showed me he has two controllers that he has that overrides the wheel. Phew! Otherwise, I’m pretty sure all of the passengers would have needed life vests! The kids even received a certificate for saying they “steered the ship” (paraphrasing!) . That was definitely a highlight of their day!
We also got to see some wild burros (donkeys) while we were on board. Luckily, this was the time we were at the bottom deck and the front of the boat just by chance.
After our boat ride, we had to catch (haha pun intended) a meal at Dillon’s too! The staff was very kind with our kids, and there were lots of kids and even an area for kids to play a big game of checkers!
We had an awesome time on the cruise-and my kids really loved going upstairs and downstairs and checking everything out. The crew was fantastic with the kids and the boat was extremely clean. I did ask the staff a few questions that I think are imperative.
- What if Lake Pleasant closes because of being at max capacity? Scorpion Bay entrance, the entrance listed on the Maricopa site, is the one that closes. There hasn’t been a time where Pleasant Harbor Marina was closed. If you use that entrance, you should be fine.
- Accessibility for those in wheelchairs or need special services? Yes, they can be accommodated by the shuttle and helped on board. Unfortunately, the top deck will not be an option for those with mobility issues, but there is the front part of the ship that is open air the is accessible.
- Food-Dillon’s Restaurant is located right on the water at Pleasant Harbor Marina, as well as boat rentals, jet skis, paddle boards and more!
- As of August 2016, 0-4 are free for day cruises, 5-12 are reduced price and there is a military discount as well (but please confirm with Lake Pleasant Cruises-some cruises are excluded!)
8708 W Harbor Blvd -Our GPS gave us this address at the parking lot I described above