Last June when Mr. Misadventures rolled up into the Phoenix area in our RV we were met with a temperature of 119 degrees. We managed to survive our first half-summer and as we stare down the season again I’ve got a little more experience and a lot more information. I thought I would be nice and share! Here are my top picks for what to do in Phoenix in the summertime.
Like any other major city, and Phoenix is the 5th largest city in the United States, there are plenty of world-class, and air-conditioned, museums to check out during the hottest time of day.
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There are many to choose from, here are my picks:
Phoenix Art Museum (1625 N. Central Avenue)
Heard Museum (2301 N. Central Avenue)
Arizona Science Center (600 E Washington St)
Musical Instrument Museum (4725 E Mayo Blvd) only one of its kind in the world.
Mr. Misadventures and I like to hike and we are also early birds so getting up in the morning hours to hit the trail is not a hardship for us. Hiking in the summer is not about doing epic trails but rather shorter hikes that allow you to enjoy being outside while ensuring you are back at the trailhead before it gets too hot. You really shouldn’t start any later than 6 a.m., bring lots of water (and the other 6 items you should pack for a trip to Phoenix) and tell someone where you’ll be.
South Mountain Trails (several locations on 19th and Central Ave) 0.5-3 miles, easy to difficult
North Mountain & Shaw Butte Trails (several locations on N 7th Street) 1-4 miles, easy to moderate
Phoenix Sonoran Preserve Apache Wash Loop (1600 E. Sonoran Desert Dr.) has several trails 0.5-5 miles, easy to difficult
Phoenix Sonoran Preserve Desert Hills Trailhead (705 W. Carefree Hwy.) has 2 trails 6 and 7 miles, moderate to difficult
Phoenix Sonoran Preserve Desert Vista Trailhead (1900 W. Desert Vista Tr.) has several trails 1-4 miles, easy to difficult
A few folks have told us about night hiking, and if you look at the trail hours on some of the trails listed above you see that some stay open until 11 PM, but I have not personally done this, and I’m not so sure it is my thing. It can still be 90 degrees until way past midnight and also, I’m hard-pressed to stay up past 10! But if you are interested in trying this out, there are some newbie trails like Alta Trail and the Holbert Trail in the South Mountain (listed above) and the Apache Vista Loop Trail in the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve (also listed above). Sometimes the rangers will do guided hikes as well.
Once you get your nighttime hiking skills under your belt check out: Cave Creek Regional Park, Estrella Mountain Regional Park, Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, Usery Mountain Regional Park, and the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.
Resorts (and their pools!)
Summer is low season for hotels in Phoenix. That means you can score some excellent deals at many of the area’s finest resorts. And if you are an Arizona resident you can get even deeper discounts for your very own staycation. The resorts boast many pools (when I had a 36-hour staycation at the Fairmont Princess in January I found all 6 of theirs!) and pool activities including temporary beaches, movie nights, etc. along with exceptional dining and spa experiences. I’m a big fan of off-season experiences and I think this is a great opportunity to stay at a luxury resort on the cheap.
Resorts I KNOW I have summer deals:
The Camby (2401 E Camelback Rd)
Copperwynd Resort & Club (13225 N Eagle Ridge Dr, Scottsdale)
JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa (5350 E Marriott Dr)
The Phoenician (6000 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale)
Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort (7677 North 16th Street)
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort (5700 E McDonald Dr, Paradise Valley) on my personal bucket list
Westin Kierland Resort & Spa (6902 East Greenway Parkway, Scottsdale
This is JUST to name a few, seriously every hotel and resort in town has summer deals! Since this post isn’t supposed to be about hotels, I’m moving on!
If pool parties are more your style (they’re not mine) than head to:
The OH Pool at the Valley Ho Hotel (6850 E Main St, Scottsdale) it’s open to the public every day but Saturday
Maya Day & Nightclub (7333 East Indian Plaza, Scottsdale) a Vegas-style party pool
The Release pool party which is 21 and up at the Talking Stick Resort (9800 Talking Stick Way)
Nighttime Visit Taliesin West
I’ve visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous home, Taliesin West, in the winter and absolutely loved it. I can tell you for a fact that you do not want to visit it in the summer, too many windows, BUT I just learned they do evening tours which I think would be just awesome and it is something I am going to be doing this summer. With its location high up on the hillside, it is supposed to be really great for sunset. The Night Lights Tours is offered 3 times on Friday evenings at 6, 6:30, and 7. It’s 2 hours so you are also supposed to see a great view of the stars on the last tour. (I could not find any information about the tour on their website, so use the link I provided.)
There’s nothing I like better when it is super hot outside than an ice-cold beer. And in Phoenix, the local favorite is Four Peaks Brewing Company. You can visit, tour, and sip their beer (for free) at their original brewery (and one of the best bars in Phoenix) in Tempe (1340 E 8th St). The tour lasts an hour and you can learn all their brewing secrets, try new flavors they have on tap, and stay to eat and enjoy more if their exceptional on-tap craft beers.
So you know that statement there’s nothing better on a super hot day than an ice-cold beer?” Well, maybe there is a close second. As you can imagine living in the desert with year-round temperatures that range from mildly warm to fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk, ice cream is a big deal around here and there is a huge variety of choice. From old-timey spots doing classic sundaes and shakes with primo ingredients, to those that lean more scientific with nitro-infused inventions to hipster cool popsicles and weird shapes and serving preparations.
Last week I wrote a whole post on this topic!
Get on the Water
I’m not the beach-going kind of gal, convenient as I now live in the desert. When it’s hot outside makes sense that water would be a good solution – I’m just always hesitant because water plus sun equals sunburn to me, so make sure if you partake in any of the following that you wear a hat and a ton of sunscreen!
Here are some of my recommendations for water activities in the Phoenix area.
Boating and swimming on Lake Pleasant (41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Rd., Morristown)
Enjoy a morning of tubing down the Salt River (9200 N Bush Hwy, Mesa)
Paddleboat on Tempe Town Lake (Rio Salado Pkwy, Tempe)
Water parks like Big Surf Waterpark (1500 North McClintock)
There are also tons of things to do within a 1-4 hour drive – check out my list of 60+ best day trips from Phoenix!
If you want my FULL Phoenix and Tucson Travel Planner with day trips and things to do in Phoenix and Tucson, it is available for $4.99.
How about you? Do you have a recommendation for things to do in Phoenix in the summer? Do you live in the desert (or hot locale) have a survival tip? Do share!
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