So, What Fun things are there to do in Tucson when it is Hot Hot in the Summer? Read on.
Summer is here. The thermometer says so. The snowbirds have left for cooler regions, shops have closed up for the off season or downsized, and we who live here year ’round search for entertaining things to do, especially with the kids, that won’t result in heat stroke.
Here is a list of fun things you and your family can do to cool off or stay cool. No surprise that most involve water, air conditioning, or higher elevation.
1. Museums. They offer much to learn and appreciate about our art, history, and cultural heritage. And it’s cool in there. Tucson & the rest of Baja Arizona have many excellent museums. See our Museum page for ideas.
2. Sabino Canyon
Cool off in Sabino Creek. Hike in the early morning or late afternoon. There are several interesting trails here for hikers of all abilities. See the map at the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center also has many fine exhibits about the Canyon.
Note: the creek may not have much water in it during our dry summer months. But come the monsoons, the water will rise. Just be cautious of heavy rains in the mountains above and the resulting possibility of flash floods. Very dangerous!
Get an introduction to this natural treasure from our original video here. No restaurant at Sabino Canyon. Bring lots of water and a picnic.
3. Roper Lake
Go fishing, camping and swimming at Roper Lake State Park near Safford. Visit the official Website here. Rent a cabin if you like air conditioning.
4. Patagonia Lake
Take a boat out on Patagonia Lake State Park and do a little fishing for the dinner table. Available for rent are canoes and row boats at the marina. Or, with certain restrictions (no cruise ships or submarines), you can bring your own boat. For more information visit the website here.
Near Patagonia there are many things to do. For instance, there are ghost towns not too far away, such as Duquesne, Kentucky Camp, and Washington Camp.
And the wineries of Sonoita and Elgin are fairly close. Canelo Hills Vineyards is having a Summer Wine Festival over Memorial Day Weekend.
But whatever else you do around Patagonia, do dine at our favorite pizza parlor, the famous Velvet Elvis.
5. Parker Canyon Lake
Rent a row boat or kayak at Parker Canyon Lake. At 5400′ elevation, it’s a lot cooler up here than on the desert floor. See our review here. For more information visit the Parker Canyon Lake website here.
6. Public Pools
Go for a swim at the Y or one of the Tucson Parks and Recreation pools around town. For a Map, locations and hours visit the official Tucson Parks and Rec Website here.
In Marana has the Wade Mclean-Marana High School Pool. Check it out here. Our grandchildren went last year. It was uncrowded and they had a blast. Most pools open Memorial Day Weekend.
Take in a matinee at one of the many modern movie theaters in town. Click here for a list of theaters.
8. The Loft
Enjoy a cult classic or documentary film at The Loft. Visit the Loft Website for a complete schedule.
9. Fox Theater
See a movie classic or a live performance at the Fox. There are some movie matinee’s this summer. Visit The Fox Website for a calendar.
10. Rialto Theater
The Historic Rialto Theater has plenty of summer offerings for the young and young-at-heart.
11. Mt. Lemmon
There is plenty to do in the cool heights of Mt. Lemmon. Camping, hiking, and of course stargazing through a large telescope at the Sky Center at the top. View the article about our visit to the Sky Center here. Make a reservation.
View our Mt. Lemmon video. Then take the scenic drive up the mountain for some chili and pie at the Iron Door or try out the new Sawmill restaurant in Summerhaven. Let us know what you think.
Take the kids to the Breakers Water Park. Open Memorial Day weekend and daily through July, except Mondays. See the whole schedule here.
14. Desert Museum
Visit the Desert Museum after the sundown for Summer Saturday Evenings. Check the schedule of events here.
15. Earth Camp
Find camps for kids here at the Desert Museum’s Earth Camp page. There are 2 overnights for Middle school scheduled in June and an extended camp for high school students in late June, early July.
16. Titan Missile Museum
The Titan II Missile Museum tour will warm you up then drop you into the cool underground silo where the mightly missile still stands at attention.
Discover the fascinating local history of the Cold War, check out our video here. Then visit the official website here for Special Tours, including Moonlight Madness tour, the Top to Bottom tour of all 8 levels and an overnight stay.
It’s a trek for a day, but a tour of the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum and Copper Queen Mine will keep you cool. And at 5500 ft. elevation, the Bisbee’s great out-of-doors is considerably cooler than Tucson’s . For a taste of the adventures before you head out, see our page on Bisbee.
And if you’re going to stay overnight, which we recommend, check out the Calumet & Arizona Guest House in our Dining and Lodging Reviews section.
18.0. Kitt Peak – Daytime
Head up to Kitt Peak for a daytime picnic. Bring your own food. There is no restaurant here. At 7,000 ft elevation, temperatures on Kitt Peak are typically 15-20 cooler than the valley floor. Day tour information can be found here including a 10 am tour of the solar telescope. The Day use area closes at 4 pm, but if you have tickets and are so inclined you can …
18.5. Kitt Peak – Nighttime
… remain at Kitt Peak for a cool evening of astronomical wonders during their Night Observation Program. See our video on Kitt Peak, then visit the website here for more information. There are Youth Group overnights available as well.
19. Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon is great for a hike, a picnic and serious bird watching. Who knows, you may even see an elusive Coatimundi (aka Ringtail) like this one we photographed at Bonita Canyon in the Chiricahuas last April.
20. Chiricahua Mountains
Roughly two hours east of Tucson, the Chiricahua Mountains are one of our favorite places in Baja Arizona. This was once home to Chief Cochise and his band of Chiricahua Apaches.
On the west side of the mountains is Chiricahua National Monument with its camping and picnicking area along Bonita Creek and, at the top, the strangely beautiful place named “Wonderland of Rocks”. Great hiking here! And at 7,000 ft. elevation, relatively cool in the summer. If you go, be sure to get a tour of Faraway Ranch. Tour schedules are at the Visitor Center.
21. Ramsey Canyon
Ramsey Canyon Preserve is near Sierra Vista. It is owned by the Nature Conservancy. Near the top of the canyon use to be a mining camp. You can still see the remnants. On the way is one of the finest hikes in all of Baja Arizona.
This is a beautiful, cool forested area with a year ’round stream and amazing plant & wildlife diversity, including 15 species of hummingbirds and dozens of other bird species, such as the rare elegant trogon. Here you will also find bears, deer, and other wild critters. Bring your camera.
OK. I said 25, and so far we only have 21. I promise to find 4 more cool things to do in or near Tucson in the summer months, but I need your help.
What is your favorite thing to do to beat the heat? Suggestions are welcome. Contact Southern Arizona Guide or just send us an email at: email@example.com.