Arizona is a great place to spend the summer.
Sure, it’s hot. Like, really hot. But there’s still plenty to see and do, including countless ways to beat the heat.
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of our favorite Arizona summer activities. From swimming to wildlife to art, there’s something here for everyone in your group.
If you’re in the Phoenix area and looking for something cool to do indoors, give the OdySea Aquarium a look.
It’s the biggest aquarium in the Southwest US, with top-notch facilities and a whole lot to see (and even touch), from sharks to stingrays. And it sits on the Arizona Boardwalk, where you’ll find dining, shopping, and other attractions, like the Butterfly Wonderland.
For those folks who’d rather go in the water, the Phoenix area has several great water parks to choose from..
But the standout, in our humble opinion, is Golfland Sunsplash. It’s got rides, it’s got slides, it’s got mini golf, and wave pools. Plus, an area just for toddlers.
In short, it’s one of the most exciting places to spend a hot Arizona day.
If you prefer your water sports with a little less, well, velocity, then Canyon Lake might be the spot for you.
Whether you’re an angler, a sailor, or a water skier, this desert oasis has something for everyone. Or just a bring a picnic and relax on the beach. There’s even a steamboat that offers tours and dining.
Canyon Lake is close enough to Phoenix for a day trip, but there’s also a camping ground if you’d rather spend the night under the stars.
Hey, it wouldn’t be a list of Arizona attractions without mentioning the most famous of them all, the Grand Canyon.
And we’re going to let you in on a little secret: the Canyon’s North Rim is only accessible during spring and summer, from mid-May to mid-October. Not only is it much less crowded than the South Rim, it’s over 1,000 feet higher – and that leads to cooler weather, with highs in the mid 70s.
Hike around Flagstaff
Unfortunately, the inside of the Grand Canyon is scorching hot during the summer.
So, if you’re in the mood for some more hiking, we’d recommend heading to Flagstaff. The city is just a 90-minute drive away, and its elevated, mountainous setting make it much cooler than most of the state during this time of year.
That also means it’s a great place for a hike, bike ride, or horseback ride, with several beautiful trails to choose from.
There’s nothing like a dip in cool, crystal clear running water on a hot summer day.
And that’s exactly what you’ll find at Fossil Creek. We’ll admit, it’s a bit of trek. The road there is bumpy and you’ll have to hike for about a mile to reach the waterfall.
But once you get there, you won’t regret it. It’s one of Arizona’s most beautiful swimming holes.
Kartchner Caverns State Park
If you really want to get out of the sun, you could try going underground.
The cave tours at Kartchner Cavern State Park take you deep into the earth for up to an hour. You’ll see giant stalactites and other formations, formed over the course of tens of thousands of years. There’s even some 45,000-year-old bat poop, ahem, “guano”.
The park also has hiking trails above ground, as well as some cozy cabins for rent, if you want to stay the night.
Phoenix Art Museum
Caverns and canyons and creeks are great and all… but how about a little culture?
You’ll find plenty of it at the Phoenix Art Museum, where the current collection includes art from a variety of different places and time periods: classical, contemporary, Western, Latin American, and Asian, to name a few.
The Heard Museum, also in Phoenix, specializes in Native American art and has one of the finest collections in the country.
There are a few great zoos and wildlife parks in Arizona.
What makes Bearizona unique, other than its name, is that you can walk through it or drive through it. And you can do it your own car, air conditioning and all.
Plus, while the variety of wildlife is less than what you’ll find at the Phoenix Zoo, the setting is a little more intimate and up close. But don’t get us wrong, there are still lots of animals to see, including bears, bobcats, bison, badgers, wolves, foxes, reindeer, otters, and more.
Catch a baseball game
Phoenix has a huge sports scene, including teams in all four major professional leagues: NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL.
Their pro baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, plays games all throughout the summer. And their stadium, Chase Field, is right in the heart of downtown Phoenix.
Since most games start in the early evening, it’s a great way to end the day.
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