The Valley of the Sun comes by its name honestly. While we like the bright and sunny weather most of the time, let’s face it: Those seemingly endless triple-digit days of summer can be challenging.
Add kids to the mix who are feeling hot, cranky and bored and you may be feeling as stressed as your outside thermometer.
Here’s some great news: There are many fun and air-conditioned places you can go in metro Phoenix when the mercury spikes. Don’t want to get into a hot car? We’ve got ways for you to cool off at home too.
Before heading out, remember that due to the pandemic, hours may be reduced, capacity may be limited and advance online ticket purchase may be required. Check your destination’s website for mask and distancing policies as well.
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Make ice cream or ice pops
Ice cream and ice pops taste especially delicious when the weather is in the triple digits. To help pass the time with your kiddos on these days, try making your own frozen treats. Simply freeze whatever juice you have on hand in ice pop molds, or use ice cube trays and stick a toothpick into each one as they freeze.
Or, try this easy and fun recipe for Ice Cream in a Bag that uses — no joke — a zip-lock bag and ingredients you probably have on hand. In 15 minutes, you and your family can enjoy a bowl of cold, tasty goodness. Find it at https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a54721/ice-cream-in-a-bag-recipe.
Go out for ice cream
If you aren’t up for making your own ice cream, no worries. Treat the fam to some frosty deliciousness at an ice cream parlor. The Valley is home to options ranging from chains such as Dairy Queen, Baskin-Robbins and Cold Stone Creamery to dozens of locally-owned shops.
Try Googling to see what is close by; you might find a new-to-you gelato shop, mom-and-pop ice cream café or self-serve fro-yo.
Self-care with a cool bath and a book
On super hot days when you are cooped up in the house, give yourself permission for a little break from keeping everyone entertained.
Excuse yourself for a while and run a cool bubble bath. Grab that book you’ve been meaning to get to and slip into the tub for some reading and relaxation. Bonus points if you have a candle to light. You’ll emerge feeling ready to take on whatever the rest of the day brings.
Have an indoor picnic
Yes, the rest of the country is heading out for summertime picnics. Not us. We’d be melting and the food would be too warm. If your kids are asking for a picnic lunch, serve one up on your living room floor.
Crank up the ceiling fan for a breeze, lay out some blankets and munch on picnic classics like sandwiches and chips, takeout fried chicken, macaroni salad and cake or brownies for dessert.
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Rent a movie theater for your group
Movie theaters have always been cool places to hang out during the summer. Did you know you can reserve an auditorium for a private screening? At select Harkins and AMC theaters around the Valley, you can rent an auditorium for up to 20 people and watch a new release or an old favorite. Ask a group of friends and family members to join you and split the cost.
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Lace up your skates
A great way to beat the heat is by ice skating at a local rink. In fact, you might even end up feeling cold and craving hot chocolate.
AZ Ice locations in Arcadia, Gilbert and Peoria are open for public skating this summer. Public skating is still on hold at the Ice Den locations in Chandler and Scottsdale; check the website throughout the summer for updates on reopening.
Another option is to head to Skateland/Great Skate for some roller skating fun in the A/C. Skateland locations are in Mesa and Chandler; Great Skate is in Glendale.
Legoland Discovery Center
Got a Lego fan or two in your house? Enjoy a brick-centric day that includes a dozen fun attractions for all ages at Legoland Discovery Center at the Arizona Mills mall.
Details: Hours vary; check website. 5000 Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe. From $24.99. https://www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/arizona.
Phoenix Art Museum
Museums are open with social distancing protocols in place. On a hot summer day, they are pleasant places to visit while getting the opportunity to see some amazing art. The Phoenix Art Museum features a wide range of exhibitions that change over time; the website has a complete list of what is currently on display and what is coming up. Buy tickets ahead of time online.
Details: Hours vary, check website. 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. $23, $20 for age 65 and older, $18 for college students with ID, $5 for ages 6-17, free for military personnel and age 5 and younger. 602-257-1880, https://phxart.org.
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Be a cool bookworm at Bookmans
For families who love to read and play together, you can’t beat a leisurely exploration of Bookmans. The store, whose official name is Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, is the largest used book retailer based in Arizona. Browse the wide selection of books, CDs, vinyl, instruments, games and more for a summer’s worth of fun.
Details: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. 8034 N. 19th Ave., Phoenix, and 1056 S. Country Club Drive, Mesa. https://bookmans.com.
From bowling and laser tag to billiards, games and tasty eats, there is plenty to do at this family-friendly entertainment center on a hot summer day.
Details: Locations in Avondale, Gilbert and Tempe. Check the website for hours, prices and activities at your desired location. https://www.mainevent.com.
Head to a mall
Now that it’s becoming safer to gather in public, why not head to a mall? You’ll get your steps in by strolling the cool promenades, and you might find something you’d love to take home at one of your family’s favorite stores.
How much will $5 or $10 buy?
Families with kids who are old enough to shop on their own can try this budgeting game: Head to the store of your choice and give everyone the same small amount of money. Then challenge your family members to see who can get the biggest bang for their bucks. Agree to meet at the registers after a certain amount of time and have fun seeing what treasures everyone found.
Bounce over to a trampoline park
It may be too hot to walk around the block, and even the pool water may feel too warm, but you can burn off some energy at an indoor trampoline park like Sky Zone. Buy tickets in advance for the Open Jump and have a blast hopping away with your family. There are a Toddler Zone, Foam Pit and other attractions to enjoy.
Details: Times and admissions vary by day and activity; check website. 4857 E. Greenway Road, Phoenix. 602-493-5867, https://www.skyzone.com/phoenix.
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