With daytime temperatures above 100 degrees for most of the season, visiting Phoenix in the summer may not sound like the best idea. However, there are plenty of great ways to stay cool during even the hottest days of summer in the Valley of the Sun. In fact, many people say that summer is the best time of year to visit Phoenix.
The best way to survive the summer in the Valley of the Sun is to just adapt. Here are some things to do in summer to cope with Phoenix's triple-digit temperatures.
Visit an Indoor Activity Center
Kids can beat the heat—and summer boredom—at a variety of places where they can expend some energy and have a great time indoors. From learning the long game at the Topgolf indoor driving range to playing a round of laser tag at Stratum Laser Tag, you don't have to go outdoors to stay active this summer.
One of the most popular destinations in Phoenix is Amazing Jake's. This indoor, air-conditioned amusement park offers a wide variety of activities including bumper cars, miniature golf, classic arcade games like air hockey and skeet ball, bowling, and a teacup spinning ride for kids.
Get Wet to Cool Off
The best way to cool down on a hot summer afternoon in Phoenix is to head to the water. While the city doesn't have any real beaches, there are some great places and ways you can beat the heat.
One of the most popular ways to cool down in the Valley of the Sun is to go on a tubing adventure down nearby Salt River. Most people in Phoenix choose to tube with Salt River Tubing, which provides floatation devices and transportation further upriver to begin your three-hour floating journey.
Additionally, many of the city's parks have splash parks and spray pads, and a few even have public swimming pools. If you're traveling with kids for the summer, you can enroll them in summer swim lessons, and if you're traveling with dogs, there are even a few parks where dogs can cool off.
The Greater Phoenix area is also home to a number of great water parks including Mesa Golfland SunSplash, Big Surf, and Wet 'n' Wild Phoenix.
Take in Some Air-Conditioned Entertainment
Splashing around is fun, but the time comes when we just need to get out of the sun—especially in the hottest part of the afternoon. Whether you head to one of the city's many museums or catch a movie, there's plenty of entertainment to be found indoors in Phoenix.
Many of the city's museums offer summer programs for kids and special exhibits throughout the season, and some even offer free admission. Popular museums include the Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Musical Instrument Museum, and the Arizona Science Center.
For an activity with a bit more action, take the kids bowling at a local bowling alley like Uptown Alley or for a quick lap around the indoor track at Octane Raceway Indoor Kart Racing. Build and create at the LEGOLAND Discovery Center or learn about nature at the Sea Life Arizona Aquarium or Butterfly Wonderland.
Meanwhile, adults can enjoy drinks and games at the casinos or go shopping at flea markets, swap meets, and thrift stores (some are even open 24 hours). There are also a number of concert or shows coming to the Valley of the Sun in the summer, many of which will be hosted at indoor venues with their air conditioning on full blast.
Limit Outdoor Activities to the Early Morning or Evening
A few summer activities are worth considering even though they are outside. It's probably best to do these either early in the morning or in the evening. Typically, places that offer summertime activities will provide shade or another respite from the sun. To prepare for your day in the sun, first ask yourself if you think the heat might get to you, and be sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and water.
Hiking through the gorgeous landscape in the Valley of the Sun is an excellent way to start or end your day, and many of Maricopa County parks are just a short drive away from downtown Phoenix. The Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, located near Superior, Arizona, is the state's oldest botanical garden and is open daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. from May through September each year. There are also a number of great places to stop along the Apache Trail scenic drive.
On Friday nights throughout the summer, many of the communities in the Valley of the Sun host Art Walks and free concerts. If you're visiting at the beginning of any summer month, be sure to check out First Friday celebrations across the city. Chandler, Scottsdale, and Glendale often host free events on weekends throughout the summer
Check out a Summer Spectator Sport
Phoenix has professional and college sporting events all year long, but summer is the season of baseball, basketball, and soccer—as well as football training camps. Many tickets are reasonably priced, and some are even free.
For baseball, watch Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball games throughout the summer; alternatively, catch a game of Arizona Rookie League baseball for a cheaper price. For basketball, you'll want to grab your seats for a Phoenix Mercury game, and for soccer, be sure to check the schedule for when the Phoenix Rising Football Club will be playing at their sports complex between Tempe and Scottsdale.
Go out of Town
Unfortunately, Phoenix's location in a sprawling valley makes it especially susceptible to high temperatures, but there are several great places you can escape the heat within a two-hour drive of Phoenix. Generally, the temperatures here are around 10 to 20 degrees cooler, but some nearby destinations are worth facing the Arizona heat.
If you can't go out of town but still need to get away from the heat in the Valley of the Sun, check into one of the many resorts in Phoenix and Scottsdale that have waterpark features or places to cool down.
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess offers a sandy beach at its outdoor pool as well as a number of restaurants, entertainment options, and even a spa. Meanwhile, the Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix is designed for romance and offers many lush, secluded areas for you and your special someone to escape from the heat of the Valley.
Celebrate a Summer Holiday
From May through September, you just can't hide at home in the air conditioning and wait for the temperatures to drop. There are some special days that require your attention including Mother's Day, Father's Day, and the Fourth of July.
Starting off with Cinco de Mayo, which is celebrated with Mexican food, music, and dancing, the summer is packed with holidays and annual events. Soon after, the city celebrates Memorial Day with a number of parades, pool parties, and even a historical observation at the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park.
To close out the summer, communities across the Valley of the Sun host picnics, concerts, and other special events to celebrate Labor Day.
Phoenix-area residents need to find ways to adapt to everyday living when the temperatures soar. Whether it be shopping, driving, or taking care of pets, it's essential to take safety precautions in the summer.
When temperatures outside are over 100 degrees (and often over 110), you'll want to be extra cautious to avoid heat exhaustion and to keep yourself from having a heat stroke. Also, make sure to protect your skin when you spend any amount of time in the blazing sun. Wearing sunscreen is necessary no matter where you are in the Valley of the Sun—including in the shade or on cloudy days. Avoiding overexposure to the intense sunlight of the summer is also important to help prevent skin cancer.
When hiking the trails, keep an eye out for wildlife that could be dangerous or hazardous to your health. Beware of rattlesnakes and scorpions, and make sure you're aware of any warnings of mosquitos carrying the West Nile Virus before you go.
Not everything green dies in the Phoenix heat. Cacti and roses bloom, vegetables grow, and desert flora flourish. As a result, residents of Pheonix need to know a few things about maintaining their yards and gardens during the summer.
Many neighborhoods in Phoenix have strict watering regulations to make sure there's no shortage of water during the summer drought, but there are a number of easy desert plants that bloom in summer without much water.
When it comes to maintaining your greenery in the Phoenix summer, make sure to keep tabs which flowers, trees, and grasses grow best each month.
Conserve Energy and Save Water
Although Phoenix residents might not use a lot of heat or water in the winter, energy consumption in the summer soars. It is important to conserve—for both the planet and your wallet.
If you're moving to Phoenix, make sure you invest in (or rent) an energy efficient home and sign up for a Time Advantage utility plan that balances out the costs of electricity and water over the year by estimating annual usage.
Also, be sure to follow water conservation tips when you're visiting. Don't leave the water running while washing dishes, brushing your teeth, or shaving, and make sure you keep your showers as brief as possible.
Although the heat of the desert can wear you down, it's really the duration of the summer season that takes its toll on Phoenix residents and visitors alike. Summertime in the Valley of the Sun lasts about five months—sometimes longer.
Average monthly temperatures in Phoenix throughout the summer stay above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and only drop to an average of 74 degrees at night. Fortunately, the city doesn't experience much humidity at all this season, and people describe the summer temperatures in Phoenix as a dry heat, which makes it feel less hot than in more oppressively muggy destinations like Florida in the late summer.
However, summer in Phoenix also means it's the Arizona monsoon season—which happens from June 15 to September 30 each year. During the season, humidity levels increase and a number of wind storms, dust storms, and periods of heavy desert rains are likely to occur.