Summer in Arizona: Locals share 100 fun ways to survive the 100 … – The Arizona Republic

If it’s June in Phoenix that means it’s hot and likely to get hotter for a while. If you’ve been here for more than five minutes, you know that. But summer in Phoenix has its upside. 
The winter visitors are gone, and so many residents have gone on vacation that doing almost anything fun is easier. Rush hour is shorter, restaurants and clubs are less crowded, water parks and splash pads all around town are open.
So in the spirit of summer fun, we have 100 things to do in the Phoenix metro area. Some are indoors — museums, restaurants, discounted movies — and some are outdoors, like kayaking on Tempe Town Lake and nighttime scorpion hunts.
For even more things to do, go to and
Summer fun: A guide to the best things to do and see this summer in metro Phoenix
Through Aug. 31, the Phoenix Zoo opens at 7 a.m. (6 a.m. for members) and closes at 1 p.m. On Sundays in June and July you can Cruise the Zoo and experience it  from the comfort of your car. There will be no foot traffic on those days. Some of the newer additions to the Phoenix Zoo family include Lilly and Vermouth, two Goeldi’s monkeys, and two bighorn lambs.
Details: 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. $29.95, $19.95 for ages 3-13. 602-286-3800,
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Glendale has reopened its more than 30 rides and attractions. According to the COVID-19 safety protocols on its website, masks are not mandatory but are recommended for unvaccinated individuals. The park has phased out some of its other precautions while “maintaining the highest cleanliness and sanitization standards within all of our attractions and facilities.”
Details: Hours vary; check the online schedule. 4243 W. Pinnacle Peak Road, Glendale. From $29.99. 623-201-2000,
With locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Sky Harbor Airport, as well as being on the shelves at Whole Foods, it’s pretty easy to dig into some Sweet Republic ice cream. The hard part is choosing from 20-plus delicious flavors, from coconut sorbet to salted butter caramel.
Details: Noon-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; noon-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 9160 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, 480-248-6979. 6054 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-535-5990, 410 N. Scottsdale Rd., Tempe, 480-292-8557 Can also be found in Whole Foods Markets, The Phoenician, and at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, in Terminal 4 past security.
Tubes, coolers, friends and weird sunburns. It never gets old. You and your pals can take two cars, park one where you want to get out of the river and drive the other to the entry point south of Stewart Mountain Dam, then retrieve the car by the dam after your float. Or you can ride the Salt River Tubing & Recreation shuttle and skip all that car hopping.
Details: Salt River Tubing & Recreation, 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. daily. 9200 N. Bush Highway, Mesa. $19 per person plus tax; $16 if you bring your own tube. 480-984-3305,
Just outside Benson is Kartchner Caverns State Park, where you can explore beautiful living caves. You’ll see burly stalactites, delicate soda-straw formations and tiny corners of multicolored rock. The tours cover a half-mile and last about 90 minutes.
Details: About 9 miles south of Benson off State Route 90. 520-586-4100,
Although it might sound illogical, the best way to stay cool is by adding chilies to your diet. There’s evidence that hot foods work as culinary air-conditioning. That’s why many of the world’s best spicy dishes come from India, Mexico and Thailand.
Here’s how hot cools: Blood vessels close to the surface of your skin, especially on your face and neck, expand so the blood can throw off heat. This causes your internal temperature to decrease and your skin temperature to rise. Next, you sweat, and as the sweat evaporates, it cools you off.
Open attractions at Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa, subject to change, include the wave pool, Caribbean Water Works, Splash Water Harbor Slides, Master Blaster and Storm Rider. Golfland recommends buying day-specific tickets online in advance. The website says that they “recommend all guests wear a mask.” Guests who are uncomfortable with the safety measures can request a return ticket that is valid through October within an hour of entry.
Details: Open daily from May 28 through July; dates vary August-October. 155 W. Hampton Ave., Mesa. From $33.99 (discounts for age 60 and older and some children; free for infants). 480-834-8319,
Maricopa County Parks throughout the Phoenix metro area offer after-dark mountain-bike rides, scorpion hunts and other family-friendly outings. It’s something different, you’re getting exercise and it’s cooler. And at just $7 a carload, it’s affordable.
Details: See a schedule at
If you want to cool off and learn a new skill this summer, sign up for one of the many classes offered at Tempe Town Lake. Kids and adults can learn rowing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Nighttime Glow Paddle events are offered, too.
Details: Class schedules are at
Donut boats in Tempe: Here’s how to rent them and other boats at Tempe Town Lake
Sitting in the “water room” is a bit like being behind a waterfall at this attraction that’s part public art and part working hydroelectric plant. The site, at a natural 20-foot drop along the Arizona Canal, has been a gathering place since the late 1800s.
Details: Open 24 hours; parking available 5:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Free. G.R. Herberger Park, 56th Street and Indian School Road, Phoenix.
A hidden gem: Arizona Falls on Arizona Canal has been Phoenix’s gathering spot for 100 years
The day club is the place to be if you’re looking for a Vegas feel. Dance in the shallow pool with other partiers, enjoy a refreshing drink at one of the bars, lounge on a day bed or splurge for a cabana and get access to the VIP bar behind the DJ stand that faces the pool. On Saturdays, head to the day club for Soaked! Saturdays and the Sound Wave pool party series on Sundays. 
Details: Times vary, check the online calendar. Maya Day + Nightclub, 7333 E. Indian Plaza, Scottsdale. Admission varies. 602-810-0736,
When most folks think of the beach, they thinking about heading to California or Mexico to get to the sandy ocean shores. Arizona has beaches of its own, however. Here are three of the top beach destinations in the state.
Arizona best beaches: 12 places to take a swim and play in the sand
Is there a better way to beat the heat than frozen custard? Maybe one or two. But this is a good one. We recommend the Signature Turtle Concrete (the custard and toppings mixed together are so thick you could serve it upside down, hence, concrete): vanilla custard, hot fudge and caramel with pecans, whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Details: Thirteen Phoenix-area locations in Anthem, Gilbert, Maricopa, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, Goodyear, Glendale, Surprise and San Tan Valley.
Arizona Grand Resort & Spa’s 7-acre Oasis water park, which features an eight-story slide and wave pool, is open. Buy day passes at
Cabanas and lounge chairs are sanitized throughout the day, and chairs are spaced 6 feet apart. The resort’s FAQ regarding face masks says they are “highly recommended” indoors and when social distancing cannot be maintained. Employees will be wearing face coverings.
Details: 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Fridays through May 28; 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Monday, May 29-31; 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. June 1-Sept. 6. 8000 Arizona Grand Parkway, Phoenix. From $45 ($40 for ages 3-12). 877-800-4888,
There’s a reason mint tea is popular in desert countries like Morocco and Egypt. The herb creates a cooling sensation. It also helps eliminate toxins from the body, calm the stomach and boost energy. Muddle mint with ice, then add water or iced tea for a refreshing summer drink.
At the confluence of the Salt and Gila rivers, this is a super place to watch birds — great blue herons, screech owls, belted kingfishers, to name just a few — spot javelinas, beavers, Sonoran mud turtles and other mammals and reptiles, and drop a fishing line (you’ll need a fishing license). The state-managed wildlife area is adjacent to Monument Hill, where the U.S. Boundary Commission in 1851 laid out the Arizona Territory’s base line and principal meridian. You can climb the hill to see “Arizona’s point of origin.”
Details: Sunrise-sunset daily. At Avondale Boulevard and Indian Springs Road, just north of ISM Raceway, in Avondale. Free.
You’ll want to make a reservation before venturing into this underground tiki bar, but the wait will be worth it. Not only does UnderTow serve top-quality craft cocktails, it’s also an immersive experience: Lightning flashes outside the “portholes” while you sip your drink, and you may even float through a battlefront with cannon fire ringing through the bar. 
Details: Closed Monday-Wednesday. 4 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Sunday. 3626 E. Indian School Road (inside Century Grand), Phoenix. 602-753-6504,
You know what we’re talking about: the big, frozen slurps of cherry and cola ICEEs that go straight to your brain and send shivers down your spine. If you’re within spitting distance of an am/pm, Circle K, AMC movie theater, Burger King, Sam’s Club, Subway or Target, you’re almost there. No? Then guess what we have for you: an ICEE locator app, which will direct you to the closest machine from anywhere.
Never seen “Game of Thrones”? Always wondered what the fuss over “The Americans” was about? Summer is a great time to catch up on streaming series on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. There is a subscription cost, of course (it varies by service and other options), but you can’t beat the convenience.
Binge-worthy shows: Your guide to must-see TV shows streaming this summer from ‘Ted Lasso’ to ‘Loki’
If you head to Litchfield Park, you can see a sampling of Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park’s 600 species of animals. The park has a baby animal nursery, amusement park rides, big cat exhibits and a kangaroo walkabout. Some new species include a baby leopard, baby warthogs, jackal pups, jaguar cubs and white lion cubs.The park has more than 600 species and 6,000 animals.
Details: 16501 W. Northern Ave., Litchfield Park. $41.50, $23 for ages 3-12. 623-935-9453,
The Phoenix Mercury, one of the original WNBA franchises, play at Phoenix Suns Arena in downtown Phoenix. Down the street at Chase Field, the Arizona Diamondbacks present fireworks spectacular on July 3 and 4.
Eating fruits and vegetables with high water contents will help keep you naturally cool. So, when it’s hot, fill up on carrots, lettuce, kiwi, cucumber, watermelon, peaches, pineapple, celery, peppers, eggplant, radish, cantaloupe and summer squash. Frozen grapes are another quick cool-down.
You’re reading this, so you like to read. Why not spend some time browsing the stacks at this venerable independent bookstore this summer. The stores also provide a steady slate of author talks and signings for adults and teens. At the Phoenix location’s First Draft Book Bar, you can enjoy a cold beer or glass of wine while checking out the books.
Details: Tempe: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. 6428 S. McClintock Drive, 480-730-0205. Phoenix: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. 300 W. Camelback Road, 602-274-0067. Most talks are free; signings usually require book purchase.
Your neighborhood public library isn’t just books on shelves. You can also borrow music, movies and e-books. There are reading clubs for adults and story times for little kids. And there are activities galore to keep your teens busy all summer. Here are just a few websites to bookmark and visit often:
Vovomeena uses a Japanese cold-brew coffee machine to create a high-powered coffee that it calls Mornin’ Moonshine. Served over ice, it’s available as straight black coffee or as an infusion. Choose among five infused flavors, including orange peel/ginger.
Details: 6:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 7:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. 1515 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix. 602-252-2541,
Test your strength, balance and dexterity at an indoor rock climbing gym, where admission and equipment rental is usually less than $30 and includes gear.
Details: Try ClimbMax Climbing Gym or Phoenix Rock Gym in Tempe, Ape Index in Peoria or AZ on the Rocks in Scottsdale.
Visit dozens of galleries in the Scottsdale Arts District, where members of the Scottsdale Gallery Association have been hosting art walks for more than 40 years. Art ranges from the expected Western traditional to up-to-the-moment contemporary, and the scene is mellow: typically older patrons with a glass of wine in hand.
Details: 7-9 p.m. Thursdays. Along Main Street and Marshall Way, Scottsdale.
Tubing is the best-known way to chill in the Salt, but it’s not the only way. Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch, nestled below the towering Bulldog Cliffs just beneath the dam that forms Saguaro Lake, offers two unguided kayaking trips: one about two hours, the other nearly five. Either way, you get a shuttle ride back to the ranch. Paddlers must be at least 12, and no experience is necessary. If you’d rather go by inner tube, the ranch rents those, too. And if you want to make a night of it, the ranch, established in 1930, has 20 cabins to rent.
Details: The two-hour trip costs $47-52 and is offered daily. Reserve online. 480-984-2194,
Climb into the pines to test your ability at this elaborate above-ground obstacle course. Aerial challenges include cable bridges, zip lines, swings, ladders and Tarzan-style ropes designed for visitors of a variety of ages and abilities. The highest point is about 60 feet. Bridges wobble, cables sag, swings carry you to a rope net or platform. You first must complete the training course, which is about 4 feet off the ground. After that, there are separate courses for adults and kids.
Details: Fort Tuthill County Park, 3 miles south of Flagstaff off Interstate 17. $27-$55. 888-259-0125,
The theory is that when you eat really hot food — like, make you sweat hot — the outside air won’t feel so bad. OK, so it’s just a theory, but the food is really tasty whatever the case. But don’t be fooled, even the salsa is blazing.
Details: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays at 1044 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix. 602-528-3535. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays at 8646 S. Central Ave., Phoenix. 602-243-9113.
More food choices: When I lived in Tucson, these 5 metro Phoenix restaurants and markets were worth the drive
You may have tried shaved ice before, but Snoh Ice Shavery specializes in BoaBing or “shaved snow.” It’s even finer than the ice treats you might have had before and comes in various flavors and topping options from Oreos, mango and caramel, to lychee fruit, boba pearls and condensed milk. Not sure what to order? Go for one of the pre-set combos such as the Coco Loco made with coconut snoh and topped with pineapple, coconut flakes and caramel. 
Details: Snoh Ice Shavery, 914 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix. 801 N. Second St., Phoenix. 602-888-4063,
Not only can you go on the twisty water slide, you can surf the waves generated at the indoor pool — and never worry about sunburn. Pool capacity will be 125 people per session.
Details: Wave sessions 12:30-2:30 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. daily. 6111 S. All-America Way, Tempe. $5 for age 13 and older; $4 for ages 2-12, 480-350-5201,
Invite friends and family over for a watermelon party. Spread a large clean piece of plastic on the grass, then throw watermelons onto it to split them open. Everyone gets to enjoy the treat.
Does smashing watermelons seem wasteful? How about eating them instead? Throw a summer party with old-fashioned games, including three-legged races, horseshoes and sack races. And don’t forget the melons, chilled and sliced.
The indoor bounce-house playground offers parties and open jump. Attractions include inflatable bounce houses with slides and obstacle courses that will keep kids busy for hours. Check the online calendar for when open jumping is available. Socks are required.
Details: Three locations: 14131 N. Rio Vista Blvd., Peoria, 623-572-0090; 9378 E. Bahia Drive, Scottsdale, 480-425-7867; 1325 W. Auto Drive, Tempe., 420-940-7867. From $8.50 per child.
This Phoenix company has been introducing young children to the magic of theater and puppetry since 1983. Here are this summer’s shows: “Rumpelstiltskin” (Through June 27), “Goldilocks” (June 30-July 11), “My Pet Dinosaur” (July 14-25) and “The Princess, The Unicorn and The Smelly Foot Troll” (July 28-Aug. 15).
Details: 302 W. Latham St., Phoenix. $8 for kids, $12 for adults. 602-262-2050,
Swimmers can try two water slides, diving boards and a vortex whirlpool at this state-of-the-art facility. Sand volleyball, a beach-entry pool, swimming and diving lessons and water aerobics are available. Teen Glow Night is July 12, and dive-in movies are on Aug. 16 and Sept. 14. Check out the food truck daily in July.
Details: Check the website for dates and hours. $2.50, $1.50 for age 17 and younger. Cash or check only. 1091 W. Southern Ave., Apache Junction. 480-983-2181,
If you have yet to experience this downtown Phoenix music venue, you should check it out. And you don’t even have to venture in to see a show (live music is still on pause for a while anyway). The main bar doesn’t have a cover charge, and as it cools off in the evening, you can hang out on the patio like it’s a proper major city.
Details: 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix. 602-716-2222,
Paletas are Mexican ice pops, and Betty’s are made from scratch in Chandler, using fruit, herbs and cream. Flavors, which change seasonally, include arroz con leche (rice-pudding dessert made with freshly ground canela), sandia (watermelon with fresh mint), pineapple with chile, strawberries and cream, and chocolate.
Details: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. 96 W. Boston St., Chandler. 425 S. Mill Ave., Tempe. 480-779-8080,
Ice-skating rinks in the desert might seem a little silly until it gets to be 100 degrees outside, and then they seem very, very smart. The three AZ Ice arenas around the Valley have a variety of public-skating times. You can rent skates, and they’ll even teach you to tie them properly.
Details: 3853 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix. 2305 E. Knox Road, Gilbert. 15829 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria. Check the website for admission and skate-rental fees.
Seriously, leave Phoenix. A day, a weekend, whatever. There are so many options within driving distance. Like the mountains? Flagstaff, sure, but you can also get to Durango, Colorado, in less than a day. If nothing but the beach will do, you can have your toes in the sand in San Diego, Los Angeles or Puerto Peñasco by happy hour.
Why do kids get to have all the fun playing in the water fountains in the center of Tempe Marketplace, soaked from head to toe, not caring if it’s 101 or 111 degrees out. The grownups usually stand off to the side, holding shopping bags or the kids’ shoes. Why be that grownup? Don’t dress for the movie theater or the bookstore or the restaurants; dress for the water fountain: shorts, T-shirt, flip-flops. Then enjoy. Just don’t leave your cellphone in your back pocket.
Details: Tempe Marketplace, Loop 202 and McClintock Drive.
An indoor butterfly exhibit allows visitors to talk with dozens of types of butterflies, learn about how they live and watch them hatch out of their cocoons. Kids will love when a butterfly lands on them. The indoor atrium that houses the live butterflies is magical, if sometimes a little intimidating, because of the sheer number of butterflies flitting about the space.
Details: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. $24.95, $17.95 for ages 2-12, free age 2 and younger. 9500 E. Via de Ventura, Salt River Reservation. 480-800-3000,
Sonora Cinemas shows mainstream films either dubbed in Spanish or with English subtitles, along with Spanish-language features. It’s a great way to work on your Spanish and discover some films that otherwise don’t get much exposure in the Phoenix market. 
Details: 7611 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix. $7-$10.75. 888-588-2463,
Learn about the science behind bubbles, be immersed in a 360-degree planetarium experience about the constellations visible this time of year and explore the digital communication technology we use today.  According to the center’s website, “All guests 2 years of age and older are required to wear an appropriate face mask. Masks must be worn properly, covering the nose and mouth and secured under the chin, during your visit.”
To allow for social distancing, the venue is operating at limited capacity; timed ticket reservations are required.
Details: 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Daily. $19.95, $14.95 for ages 3-17. Additional charges for special exhibits, the planetarium and IMAX showings. 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix. 602-716-2000,
While away the hours while soaking up the air-conditioning in an independent record store. Just start at A and work your way toward Z, and you’ll be shocked at the number of records you forgot you meant to buy. And while you’re doing that, the store is playing music, which means you could stumble across a whole new favorite band just by being there.
Details: Stinkweeds, 12 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix. Zia Record Exchange at 1850 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix.
If your kids think museums are stuffy, they might warm up to this in-the-mall gallery that gathers immersive and interactive art projects from around the world. The LA company’s first show here is “Point of View,” featuring kid-friendly installations such as “Body Paint,” which allows them to add splashes of color to a big-screen design by waving their arms, and “Transition,” a 9-minute virtual-reality boat ride through a surreal seascape featuring flying fish, fantastical architecture and a friendly dog.
Details: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, noon-10 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Scottsdale Fashion Square, 7014 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale. $15-$24; free for children under 3.
There are 27 city-park lakes around the Valley where you can fish from the shore. You’ll need a license (children younger than 10 can fish for free) and you can get one online, at Arizona Game and Fish offices, or at such dealers as Cabela’s, Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Check the website for what’s biting and where, the kind of bait that fish like and catch-and-release rules.
Details: 602-942-3000,
At the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch, you will find 10 pools, 45 waterfalls and a three-story high-speed water slide. For day passes, go to ResortPass.
Details: 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. 7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Road, Scottsdale. From $45 ($20 for children). 480-444-1234,
Join a naturalist at Red Rock State Park for a hike. You’ll learn about Oak Creek, animal and plant life, geology and the history and archaeology of the area. See the website for a schedule. Full-moon hikes take place July 16 and Aug. 14. Hikes typically last 90 minutes to 2 ½ hours. Keep in mind that no pets are allowed in the park.
Details: 9 a.m. daily. 4050 Red Rock Loop Road, off Arizona 89A. $7 for age 14 or older; $4 for ages 7-13; free for age 6 or younger. 928-282-6907,
Founded in 1977, this museum is a classic place for families to explore the history and culture of the Southwest. There are more than 60,000 objects of natural history, anthropology, history and art. Kids will find lots to do, from learning about dinosaurs to panning for gold to watching a flash flood flow over a three-story mountain inside the museum.
Details: See website for timed entry and discount ticket prices. On July 1, normal hours and ticket prices resume. Normal hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, 1-5 p.m. Sundays. 53 N. Macdonald, Mesa. $12, $8 for students 13 and older with ID, $7 for ages 3-12, free for kids 2 and under. 480-644-2230,
This recreation center in Glendale offers two giant slides, a zero-depth leisure pool with spray features, an aquatic playground and a lazy river. A diving well and two diving boards are also on site. Water aerobics, lap swimming, pool rentals, private and group swim lessons and special events can be found online.
Details: 5:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, closed  Sundays. $3-$6 for residents, $4-$8 for non-residents. 5600 W. Union Hills Drive. 623-930-4600,
USA Skateland has three indoor skating rinks around the Valley where kids, teens and families can keep cool and have fun. Roll around on regular or in-line skates to music, play arcade games and snack on pizza and soda. There are family events, teen skates and themed sessions throughout the summer.
Details: 7 E. Southern Ave., Mesa, 480-833-7775. 10054 N. 43rd Ave., Glendale, 623-842-1181. 1101 W. Ray Road, Chandler, 480-917-9444.
Party with a putter at TopGolf, where you and your friends can enjoy a few beverages, listen to tunes from a DJ and try to outscore each others’ golf drives, all in the comfort of your mister-cooled golfing bay.
Details: 1689 S. SanTan Village Parkway, Gilbert, 480-240-1282. 9500 E. Talking Stick Way Salt River Reservation near Scottsdale, 480-240-2402. 6101 N. 99th Ave., Glendale, AZ, 623-218-2243
People hype New Year’s Day as the time to start exercising, but that was mid-winter — who cared? Now’s the time to find your fit self. For low prices and lengthy opening hours, check out Planet Fitness, Youfit or EOS Fitness.
The Rock runs in partnership with Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock and Genesis Church. The center offers a place for kids interested in music, collaboration, dance and training. The Rock offers music lessons for such instruments as bass, guitar and drums, as well as vocal and dance classes. A new location is opening in Mesa soon. 
Details: 2-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. Free. 13625 N. 32nd St., Phoenix. 602-522-9200,
The powerful and the less so have mingled at the Coach House for generations. The longtime Scottsdale watering hole is informal, fun and a great antidote to the usual Scottsdale scene. And yes, the beer is icy cold.
Details: 6 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. 7011 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale. 480-990-3433,
An air-conditioned movie theater is a go-to choice for the summer, and so is a cold beer. So why not combine the two at the FilmBar, a hip hangout in downtown Phoenix. Offerings range from contemporary art films to nostalgic fare, such as “Carrie” and “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.” 
Details: 815 N. Second St., Phoenix. 602-595-9187, /
With enough shade trees to make you forget you’re in the desert, House of Tricks has long been one of the Valley’s best spots for patio dining. The contemporary American menu, with items such as grilled salmon ($29) and maple-peach glazed duck breast ($29), can be a bit on the spendy side, so consider stopping by just for desserts, such as peach cobbler for $10.
Details: 114 E. Seventh St., Tempe. 480-968-1114,
Inside Arizona Mills is an aquarium with 30 displays and more than 5,000 ocean creatures, including clown fish, sea turtles, sharks, jellyfish, rays, octopus and seahorses. The biggest attraction is the awe-inspiring 360-degree ocean tunnel. All that water and the fact that it’s indoors make this a great place to hide out when temps soar beyond 100. Get tickets online ahead of time for best price and shorter wait times.
Details: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Interstate 10 and Baseline Road, Tempe. $14.99. 877-526-3960,
With 20 rides and attractions plus several 18-hole miniature golf courses and an arcade, Castles N Coasters can keep kids occupied for most of the day. Attractions include a two-loop roller coaster, go karts, bumper boats, free fall and miniature Ferris wheel.
Masks are not required.
Details: 9445 N. Metro Parkway East, Phoenix. From $40 for unlimited thrill rides. 602-997-7575,
Octane Raceway on the Salt River Reservation near Scottsdale offers high-speed kart racing, virtual reality simulators, an arcade and mini bowling. According to the venue’s website, “all racers must be at least 54 (inches) tall and ready to race with closed toe shoes.” Face masks are required.
Details: 9119 E. Talking Stick Way, on the Salt River Reservation near Scottsdale. From $22 for one race, plus a $7 annual racing membership. 602-302-7223,
Desert Botanical Garden is allowing nighttime explorers to seek out the desert’s night-blooming plants and nocturnal animals every Saturday night this summer.
Guests should bring their own flashlights. There also will be a nighttime farmers market with live performances. Reservations are required, and masks must be worn indoors and when social distancing is not possible outside.
Details: 7-9 p.m. Saturdays, June 5-Sept. 4. 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. $14.95, $9.95 for children. 480-941-1225,
Bowling, arcade games, movies and glow golf all under one roof? The kids will be occupied all day. Bowl on one of the 20 lanes with food service at each lane. Arcade games are half price on Wednesdays and earn bonus cash when buying $20, $50 or $100 worth of arcade tickets. Test golfing skills at the nine-hole pirate-themed glowing mini golf course for $4 per person per round. End the night with a movie. Tickets cost $6.50-$12.50.
Details: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight. Friday, 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday, 20660 E. Riggs Rd., Queen Creek, 480-841-6044. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. 4321 E. Baseline Road, Gilbert. 480-498-3325, 5846 E Longbow Pkwy., Mesa, 480-498-3323. Bowling $9-16 per person, see website for details,
The museum’s first traveling exhibit, “Very Eric Carle: A Very Hungry, Quiet, Lonely, Clumsy, Busy Exhibit,” is now on show. Weekly summer camps are scheduled through July 30.
The museum is open daily through Sept. 6. After that, it will be closed on Mondays. It’s operating at limited capacity with social distancing and mask requirements for unvaccinated visitors age 3 and older.
Details: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. 215 N. Seventh St., Phoenix. $14.95, $13.95 for those over 62, free for infants under 1 year old. 602-253-0501,
Regular ice cubes melt too quickly, diluting the best cocktails into a watery mess. Buy a tray that creates 2-inch-square cubes, which melt slower and keep your drink cooler for longer. Better yet, get an ice-ball maker. A giant sphere of ice just looks so much classier. They’re available at Amazon, mass retailers and specialty stores.
Looking to be transported to the Jurassic period? Or perhaps the family could use an oceanic adventure with sharks, otters and sea lions. 
Arizona Boardwalk on the Salt River Reservation near Scottsdale is home to several  family-friendly entertainment venues, shops and eateries, including:
Details: 9500 E. Via de Ventura, on the Salt River Reservation near Scottsdale.
Yes, you read that right: Play golf. Metro Phoenix is home to some of the best courses in the country, if not the world. Trouble is, for half the year they’re outside the price range of anyone who isn’t a pro (or a 1-percenter). But if you’re willing to put up with the heat (and drink a lot of water), there are great discounts available during summer. Because, you know, no one wants to play in the heat. But with hydration, it’s really not that bad. Your slice, on the other hand …
No one wants to fire up the oven when it feels like an oven outside. So fire up the grill instead. The food tastes better, it’s less mess in the house and you don’t have to stand outside the entire time it’s cooking. Go inside, have a cool drink while the chicken, ribs and veggies char to perfection. Here are two good sites for inspiration: and
Bowling is out of the sun and in the air-conditioning. It’s fun and lets you move without breaking a sweat. We recommend Let It Roll Bowl because it has a good vibe, it’s independently owned and it includes King Pin 300 Pizza & Grill, which sells specialty pies, ice cream and milkshakes.
Details: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays, 11:30-10 Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday. 8925 N. 12th St., Phoenix. 602-944-4401,
Take a 30-minute guided tour through this family-owned candy factory, and get a behind-the-scenes look at how candy is made and wrapped. The tours are free, but for $12.50, guests can build their own chocolate pizza afterward.
Details: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. 5345 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale. Free. 623-930-9000,
This 110-acre oasis in Gilbert is a great place to watch wildlife (especially birds), catch and release fish, learn a few things and just kick back. The lake and seven ponds are for groundwater recharge and recreation. Horses are allowed on some trails, bikes are allowed on trails and sidewalks and leashed dogs can accompany walkers in all pedestrian areas.
Details: Dawn to dusk daily; the fishing lake is open until 10 p.m. 2757 E. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert. 480-503-6200,
Lustre, the poolside bar at the Hotel Palomar in downtown Phoenix, has lots of action this summer.  There are DJs on Saturday nights and live music on Sunday afternoons. Cabanas and day beds are available to rent.
Details: 2 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix. 480-478-1765,
Give yourself a strategic advantage by purchasing a water-balloon pump, which fills the balloons quickly. They’re $10 to $15 at mass retailers and party-supply stores. Most come with balloons.
You’re already sweating, so might as well make the most of it. Walk down Saddlebag Trail in downtown Scottsdale and drop into any of the popular clubs and bars, such as Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row. If you’re in downtown Phoenix, head to Monarch Theatre. DJs from across the world come to perform at the large nightclub, which has ample room to dance. The club’s long-running sister property next door, Bar Smith, features entertainment downstairs and on its rooftop bar.
Details: Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, 4420 N. Saddlebag Trail, Scottsdale, 480-945-4200, Monarch Theatre, 122 E. Washington St., Phoenix, 602-456-1991,
The best way to do that is to indulge in island food and cocktails. Hula’s Modern Tiki is a contemporary twist on 1950s and ’60s tiki bars, with hip decor, such tropical cocktails as the Dr. Funk and Pink Bikini Martini and island-inspired cuisine. You’ll forget where you are at any of this bar — until you step outside again.
Details: Hula’s Modern Tiki, 5114 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602-265-8454; Hula’s Scottsdale, 7213 E. First Ave., 480-970-4852.
Our favorite underground bar in Phoenix is the Rokerij. Esquire magazine included it in the Very Dark Bar category as part of its 2010 “Best Bars in America” series. The main restaurant is upstairs, but walk downstairs and you’ll be greeted with a cellarlike, windowless bar and a cozy atmosphere. It’s so cool that you probably won’t even notice the fireplace, which is lit year round.
Details: 6335 N. 16th St., Phoenix. 602-287-8900,
This indoor trampoline park offers connected and angled trampolines so kids can actually bounce off the walls. Sky Zone also offers skyrobics, an aerobic trampoline class, and dodgeball leagues.
Details: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. $20 for 90 minutes, $22 for two hours, an hour, $30 for all day. A required pair of reusable Sky Socks is $4.50. 9040 W. Larkspur Drive, Peoria. 623-979-4000; 4857 E. Greenway Road, Phoenix, 602-493-5867; 3636 W. Southern Ave. Phoenix, 602-704-3404,
Room rates plunge when temperatures soar, so this is the time of year to treat yourself to a staycation at a swanky Phoenix or Scottsdale resort where in-season travelers pay $400 or more per night. Lounge by the pool, enjoy a city or mountain view and cool off in someone else’s a/c.
Staycation deals: Arizona staycation 2021: Will the hotel deals be hot this summer? Here’s what we know
Have a beer, grill your own grub if you want, listen to live music and play ping-pong, sand volleyball and horseshoes at the Monastery in east Mesa. The comfy duds you’re wearing to keep cool are just fine here.
Details: 2 p.m.-11 Wednesday, 2 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday, Noon-8 p.m., Sunday. 4810 E. McKellips Road. 480-474-4477,
Sweet Basil Cooking school can teach you all kinds of things, from creating a Hawaiian-style feast to making the most of your Instant Pot to prepping light and easy summer dinners. There are classes for couples and teens, too.
Details: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays. 10749 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. 480-596-5628,
Whether it’s fishing at Lake Pleasant near Morristown or water skiing on Canyon Lake near Apache Junction, there are plenty of recreational water activities at the state’s many lakes and reservoirs. And they’re a lot closer than driving to the beach.
Details: Lake Pleasant Regional Park, 41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Road, Morristown. 928-501-1710, Canyon Lake, 16802 State Route 88, Tortilla Flat. 480-288-9233,
The flimsy fold-up windshield shades don’t cut it — we need heavy-duty heat shields here. The best ones are fairly thick, accordion-style and highly reflective on one side. Such brands as Covercraft, Dash Designs and Intro-Tech start at $35 to $60. While you’re at it, get a cover for the steering wheel and you’re ready to go.
The Hilton Phoenix Resort at the Peak’s water park, which is open year-round, has expanded hours over the summer.
In addition to its North and South Pointe pools, the resort is home to the River Ranch Water Park, which has a lazy river and water slide. For day passes, go to ResortPass.
Details: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. 7677 N. 16th St., Phoenix. From $40 ($20 for children). 602-997-2626,
You can get mimosas, wine and beer here, but a sweltering summer afternoon is the perfect time to sample a Luci’s Quencher, a frozen hot chocolate or a freshly brewed iced tea. Smoothies are half-price after 5 p.m. The menu includes sandwiches, wraps, salads and breakfast items, and you can kill an hour browsing the specialty cheeses, foodstuffs and kitschy products on the shelves. Don’t miss the display of cheeky refrigerator magnets at the colorfully tiled counter.
Details: 6 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. 1590 E. Bethany Home Road, Phoenix. 602-773-1339,
Create a new family tradition by making one morning each week “movie day” at a Harkins Theatre location this summer. Summer Movie Fun is designed for kids 12 or younger and features screenings of movies rated G or PG. See a different family movie each week through July 22 for $3 for Harkins Awards Members or $5 for non members.
The museum is ranked nationally as a top destination for families, and it’s easy to hear why. The museum offers interactive exhibits that allow kids to play, hear and experience music in new ways. Kids will love wearing headphones, walking through exhibits and hearing world music. They’ll also like the Experience Gallery, where they can try instruments and make their own music.
Details: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix. $20; $15 for ages 13-19; $10 for ages 4-12; free for age 3 or younger. 480-478-6000,
The indoor water park, which is maintained at 84 degrees year-round, offers a four-person high-speed raft ride, a lazy river and tandem tube rides.
According to the resort’s website: “Guests are required to wear a face covering in all public areas of the resort except while dining, visiting outdoor areas where a physical distance of six feet is maintainable, or when actively enjoying the water park attractions.”
Details: 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m. daily. 7333 N. Pima Road, on the Salt River Reservation near Scottsdale. 888-962-9653,
Is it a wine bar? Is it a store? It’s both. Brix Wines combines retail and bar, keeping prices by the bottle down and creating an atmosphere for casual conversation. The market also offers gourmet snacks and chocolates. In addition, Brix offers temperature-controlled private lockers so wine enthusiasts can keep their stash comfortable.
Details: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 37636 N. Tom Darlington Road, Carefree. 480-595-2749,
This former mining hub at the base of the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction was founded in 1892. Keep cool on a 25-minute tour of mine shaft as the guide talks about the good ol’ days before the gold played out. The town includes a museum, LuLu’s Bordello, a church, livery stables, a reptile exhibit and a mystery shack where objects seemingly defy gravity. Panning for gold, a shooting gallery and rides on a zip line, train or horseback are among the activities, and gunfights are held on Saturdays and Sundays. A steak house and saloon offers chow and cold drinks.
Details: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Prices for attractions vary. 4650 N. Mammoth Mine Road, Apache Junction. 480-983-0333,
If you haven’t played a board game since Candyland, know that they’re a lot more sophisticated and fun these days. Plus, pick one with a chilly theme and you can at least think about cooler climes. We love Hey! That’s My Fish, in which a player tries to keep penguins alive on ice floes; it’s more cutthroat than it sounds. If you’re playing with kids, there’s always the (c)old favorite, Don’t Break the Ice.
Want to splash all day without the expense of a commercial water park? Consider a public pool. Many city pools have water features where your kids can cool off at a fraction of the cost. Here are a few options. Check your city’s website to see what it offers.
What to wear: Phoenix-area public pools’ dress codes
Head to your local public library to borrow a Culture Pass, which gives free admission for two people to one of 14 area museums and attractions, including the Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona Science Center and Arcosanti, the utopian community in Cordes Junction created by the late architect Paolo Soleri. The pass is also good for the Desert Botanical Garden and Pueblo Grande Museum.
Sun Devil Liquors in downtown Mesa has a cool cellar hidden downstairs with cozy seating and an inviting vibe. Owned by the Eccles family, the cellar is open 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 9 a.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays; noon-9 p.m. Sundays. Drop in for wine tastings and live music Thursdays, and beer tastings on Fridays. Upstairs, open daily, is where thousands of bottles of wine can be found.
Details: 235 N. Country Club Drive, Mesa. 480-834-5050.
You can look at it as paying to paint pre-made pottery or as having something to do in a mellow, air-conditioned room for hours on end, but either way, pottery painting is a popular summer activity. As You Wish supplies the ceramics, and you get to park at a table and create a masterpiece. Pro tip: The less you try to make it look perfect, the better it probably will look.
Details: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. Locations in Phoenix, Chandler, Glendale, Tempe and Mesa.
Witness North American wildlife in a natural environment from the safety of your vehicle on this drive-through adventure. It’s best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the bison, bighorn sheep, goats, wolves and bear cubs are moving around. A walk-through Fort Bearizona experience includes smaller animals and babies, a petting zoo and a mine-shaft exhibit with cave dwellers and nocturnal creatures.
Details: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. 1500 E. Route 66, Williams. $20-$35, free for 3 and younger. 928-635-2289,
No cuisine is more light and refreshing than Japanese sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish) and sushi (bite-size delicacies made with vinegared rice, but not always with raw fish). And thanks to the modern wonders of airplanes and refrigeration, you can enjoy both of them safely even in the middle of a desert summer.
For a top-quality, fairly traditional fish feast, try Hana Japanese Eatery (602-973-1238, or Hiro Sushi (480-314-4215).
Head to Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff and ride a chairlift to the top of an extinct volcano about 11,500 feet above sea level. Hint: You’ll probably need a jacket. While you take in the breathtaking views of northern Arizona and beyond, a Forest Service ranger can tell you about the flora and fauna below.
Details: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. From Flagstaff, drive 7 miles northwest on U.S. 180 to Snowbowl Road. Turn right and go 7 miles to the lodge. $15-$24; free age 5 and younger. 928-779-1951,
Return to your childhood roots and turn your backyard into a low-cost water park — provided you have a patch of grass and not just desert landscaping. Slip ‘n’ Slide has an array of products, well beyond the single yellow strip most of us recall. Find them at big-box stores and online.
Pop some corn, grab a blanket and feast your eyes on wintry landscapes and snow-capped mountains. Might we suggest Russell Crowe’s hockey comedy “Mystery, Alaska.” It’s about a small town in Alaska that lives and breathes hockey. You may get jealous: They can ice skate on their sidewalks instead of frying eggs on them.


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