The Greater Phoenix area is located in the Sonoran Desert. While our winters are relatively mild with an occasional nighttime snow flurry, our summers are long and hot. We might go weeks with high temperatures over 100°F every single day, and it doesn't cool down as much as we'd like at night.
Notwithstanding the summer heat (and snakes and scorpions) many people live here. Phoenix is the sixth most populous city in the country, and the Phoenix metro area, comprised of more than 25 cities and towns, is the 12th most populous metro area (2016) in the country.
We deal with the heat, just like people in the northeast U.S. deal with the snow and ice.
If you don't live here, why would you ever come to visit Phoenix during the summer? Here are ten reasons.
- It isn't as crowded.
While the fall and winter months are when our winter visitors spend their time here — restaurants have long waits, movie theaters have long lines — they leave in April and May to return to lands north. Traffic eases when the snowbirds go home and the kids are out of school. Special note: no nasty emails, please! I love our winter visitors, and there's nothing inherently derogatory about the phrase "snowbird." Our winter visitors spend money here, buy homes and pay taxes here, work and volunteer here. It's just less crowded during the summer.
- Luxury resorts cut their rates.
Some of the most highly acclaimed resorts are in the Phoenix / Scottsdale area. A room that might cost $300 or $400 per night or more in the winter (if available at all) might be $170 in the summer. All the resorts' fancy restaurants are open during the summer. Many of the resorts have great pools (splurge for a cabana to make sure you have your own shade) and luxurious spas. Special summer packages entice both locals and tourists in the summer.
- Golf courses cut their rates.
With about 200 golf courses in the Greater Phoenix area, you won't find a better place to play the game. What? You'd like to play the the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale where the Phoenix Open is held and try to get a hole-in-one at the infamous 16th hole? You can. It's a public course and rates are much more affordable in the summer. The same goes for the other luxury courses around town, where the standard published rate might be $200 per round or more in the winter. Summer specials are everywhere, and the twilight rates are even better. Be aware, though, that people who are not accustomed to the climate here need to take serious precautions when playing golf in the desert heat. You wouldn't be the first person to experience heat exhaustion and give up after a few holes. If that happens, consider a visit to Topgolf for some climate-controlled golf entertainment.
- Air conditioning
Unlike some other cities that are a century older than Phoenix and/or have generally cooler climates, just about everything here is air-conditioned. Sometimes it's too cold! Restaurants with al fresco options often have misters to keep patrons cool. You can always escape the heat, unless you are out hiking in the desert in triple-digit temperatures, which is never advisable.
- Big name bands
The high temperatures don't keep the big name entertainers away. While theatre, ballet, symphony and opera go on hiatus during the summer months, concert venues are keeping busy hosting the hottest performers and bands. Most of the venues are indoors and air-conditioned. There are a couple of amphitheaters, the biggest of which is in West Phoenix. The Ak-Chin Pavilion has a covered area with fans to keep the air moving. Of course, the concerts are in the evening, so even if they are outdoors, it won't be as miserably hot.
- Cool daytime and evening fun
There are more than 60 public swimming pools in Greater Phoenix, all of which have a very affordable admission charge. Splash pads, spray pads and pop-jet fountains are usually free. Yes, they encourage those for toddlers, but I know you want to get in there, too! Of course, you'll find bowling, movies, museums, waterparks, indoor amusements and other entertainment in cool environments. In the evening, there are community concerts, typically free, in a variety of parks. We have several lakes within a reasonable drive from the city, and tubing down the Salt River is a popular cool-down activity. Outdoor attractions like gardens and zoos change their hours to open early in the summer. Why not get to the zoo when it opens, spend a couple of hours, and be back at your hotel by 10 a.m. for a mid-morning nap?! Hot air balloon rides and glider rides are popular in the summer, too. After the sun goes down, on the first Friday of every month, take a walk in Phoenix and visit the art galleris and spaces that open their doors to the public during First Friday.
- You can pack light
When you come to the desert in the summer, all you need is a carry-on! Pack a few pairs of shorts, tee shirts or tank tops, a swimsuit, flip flops or sandals, sneakers, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, moisturizer. Oh, and underwear. You're good to go. If you are going to play golf, you will need shorts that aren't jeans; men will need a collared shirt and women will need an appropriate golf blouse. Staying at a fancy resort? At most restaurants you can wear jeans or shorts and that golf shirt.
- Guy Fieri likes it here
I don't know why, but the Phoenix area seems to have a somewhat disproportionate number of restaurants that have been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (DDD) on the Food Network. Guy Fieri is the host of that show, and it seems he comes to town every year. If you are a DDD fan, you can try them all!
- Sports never takes a vacation
Phoenix loves sports, and summer is no time for a break in the schedule. The Arizona Diamondbacks play their home games at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. Even when it's hot, you needn't worry, because Chase Field has a retractable roof that is closed for hot day games. For evening games, they will usually cool the stadium down during the day and then open the roof at night. Our two championship teams that also compete in downtown Phoenix are the WNBA Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers Arena Football team. Those are fast-paced and fun games to attend! Outdoors in the evenings, the ASU Sun Devil Baseball team plays at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Arizona Rookie League Baseball (part of Minor League Baseball) is where you might see the baseball stars of tomorrow. Phoenix Rising FC (yes, we have pro soccer here!) plays on summer evenings. Sports, sports, sports!
- Day trips to the mountains
Arizona is a state with quite a bit of variation in elevations. Within two or three hours you can be in cooler lands and national forests, wine tasting, enjoying the beauty of Sedona, or driving up to the highest peak in Arizona in Flagstaff. The Grand Canyon will be a busy place in the summer, but it is only a few hours away by car.