How to survive an Arizona summer

By Wiley Larsen on May 1, 2019

If you are new to Arizona, you are probably sick and tired of people asking you “have you experienced a summer yet?” It’s even kind of intimidating the way they ask it… like, “a” summer. It’s a thing. And if you like to do anything outside during the summer, it can actually be kind of depressing.

My advice is that the best way to get through the summer in Phoenix is to plan some fun and exciting activities to keep you distracted. Here’s a short list of sites to see and things to do to keep your mind off the oppressive heat.

  1. The Grand Canyon – If you are doing a stint in Arizona as a postdoc you really need to go see the Grand Canyon. Be advised, there will be crowds and lots of people there, but summer is a great time to visit. Temperatures will not be as hot as in Phoenix, but it is still summertime in the desert, so plan accordingly. Comfortable shoes for walking/hiking and bring plenty of water. If you plan to do an overnight trip, make sure to make reservations ahead of time.
  2. Bisbee – Bisbee is one of my family’s favorite places to visit. It’s about a 4 hour drive to the southeast, near the US-Mexico border. Bisbee is an old mining town, now catering to tourists, and is full of art gallaries, coffee shops, bars and shops. It is a bit of a drive, so grab an Airbnb and overnight it.
  3. Sedona – Slide Rock – Oak Creek Canyon Sedona is an easy day trip if you are feeling spontaneous and just need something to do on a Saturday or Sunday. For about $20 per car, you can hike through Slide Rock State Park and slip and slide around on the rocks as a way to cool off. Sedona is full of touristy shops and restaurants and Oak Creek Canyon is a great place to hang out, go fishing, or just sit in the creek in a lawn chair with a glass of wine or a cold beer.
  4. Lake Powel – Horseshoe Bend – Antelope Canyon This is another Airbnb trip that requires a little planning ahead. But you don’t have to rent a houseboat to enjoy the beautiful sights and activities of Page, Arizona. You should definitely take the short hike to the iconic Horseshoe Bend, check out Antelope Canyon, and do the dam tour at Glen Canyon Dam. All of these areas do require separate fees, so do your homework because the costs can add up.
  5. Tubing Salt River – A great way to stay cool just outside of Phoenix is Salt River Tubing. For around $20, you can rent a tube and hitch a ride up to the launch point for 3 hours of lazy river riding. Bring a cooler with your favorite beverages and some snacks. And DO NOT forget the waterproof sunscreen or you will burn to a crisp. Enjoy some beautiful scenery and sit back and watch the weirdness that the river brings out.
  6. Hit a resort pool party Lots of the resorts in and around Scottsdale are looking for ways to bring in the locals during the summer, so it’s not unheard of to get some really good deals on a “stay-cation” right here in the Valley of the Sun. Usually for less than $100 a night, you can stay at an amazing resort and get access to the pools and amenities just like a VIP. Many of the hotels will bring in concerts or DJ’s to their pool areas on Saturday or Sunday afternoons to complete the party atmosphere. If you plan to stay around Phoenix for the July 4th holiday, this is a great option, as many of the resorts will provide fireworks.
  7. Vegas, Baby If it’s 115° in Phoenix, its probably only 110° in Las Vegas. Vegas can be a ton of fun, especially in a large group. You don’t have to be a gambler to enjoy the hotels, pools, shopping and shows on the Strip in LV. If you’re on a budget, you can usually save a little money by staying at the less trendy casinos, like the Luxor or the Flamingo, or stay off the Strip at the Silverton or the Plaza on Fremont Street.

So there you go. Get to Googling! Have fun, stay safe, and get out and see this amazing state this summer. Happy road-tripping!