Stay tuned for next year's post! In the meantime, check out what happened last year.
Summer in Phoenix means hanging out indoors during the day (unless you're poolside) and exploring outdoors in the evening. Thankfully, many of the most-popular indoor attractions throughout Greater Phoenix are open, with social distancing and capacity guidelines in place. And, if you're not quite ready to take the whole family out and about just yet, we also have activities you can experience from the comfort of your own vehicle.
We know what it feels like to be stuck at home, too, and there's a lot to consider ahead of your next outing, so here are some of our favorites to help you decide which experiences make your to-do list.
Things To Do Indoors
Nestled in the Heritage and Science Park, the Arizona Science Center is a unique landmark designed by renowned architect Antoine Predock. The combination of ramps, hallways, galleries and terraces in this 140,000-square-foot building creates an intriguing environment of investigation and discovery. The center invites you to explore four levels of exciting “hands-on” exhibits, a state-of-the-art planetarium and a five-story, giant-screen theater. Please note: Advance ticket reservations are required. Be sure to read the current safety measures before making your reservation.
Summer Events Include:
Pop! The Science of Bubbles | Through January 29, 2023
Hours: Daily from 10:30 a.m.–4 p.m.
600 E. Washington St., Phoenix
Home to one of the most extensive collections of American Indian art in the United States, Heard Museum features some 40,000 fine artworks and cultural artifacts, with a focus on tribes of the Southwest. Explore traditional and contemporary works — from Hopi katsina dolls and Navajo textiles to Navajo and Zuni jewelry and Southwestern ceramics from prehistory to the present — throughout spacious exhibit galleries, a contemporary art gallery, the outdoor sculpture gardens, trading post-style shop and more. Know before you go: museums updates and safety precautions.
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
Explore interactive galleries and immersive exhibits showcasing more than 8,000 instruments from more than 200 world countries across the globe, as well as collectibles from legendary musicians. MIM is holding socially distanced concerts now as well, so check out our concerts calendar. Engage in the sensory nature of music and how it affects our emotions through state-of-the-art, interactive media that takes visitors on a journey to hear the sounds and observe instruments being played in their original contexts. Check out the MIM’s safety precautions here.
Hours: Open daily, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix
Since it opened in 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has become the largest art museum in the southwestern U.S., providing access to visual arts and educational programs in Arizona. In the past 50 years, millions have visited the museum to view the more than 400 national and international exhibitions it has hosted. These are shown alongside Phoenix Art Museum's collection that has grown to over 17,000 objects of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, photography and fashion design.
Summer Events Include:
- Ann Morton: A Violet Protest and the 2019 Friends of Contemporary Art Artists’ Grants Recipients | Through Sept. 5
- Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich | Through Sept. 26
- American Abstraction During the Thirties and Forties | Through June 2, 2022
- Still Life: Ordinary Pleasures | Through Sept. 15, 2022
- You Are in Cowboy Country | Through Feb. 10, 2023
Hours: Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
America’s largest butterfly pavilion entertains, educates and enchants visitors of all ages with the wonders of one of Mother Nature’s most beloved creatures. This state-of-the-art facility includes the conservatory, where 3,000 butterflies fly freely; Butterfly Emergence Gallery; Tropical Waters of the World exhibit, with a stingray and shark observation pool; Honey Bee Extravaganza; Spineless Giants and Rainforest Reptile exhibit; a 3D theater (reduced showtimes); Butterfly Treasures Gift Shop and a Café (limited offerings). Find out how Butterfly Wonderland is keeping guests safe and what to expect on your visit here.
Hours: Sunday through Wednesday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
9500 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale
iFLY, the world’s largest indoor skydiving operation, delivers the dream of flight to adventure seekers of all ages and abilities. Experience the sensation of skydiving in a safe, comfortable and fun environment – without having to jump out of an airplane. With the help of iFLY certified flight instructors, you'll experience the sensation of free fall — creating conditions that allows you to fly on a smooth cushion of air — and check true human flight off the bucket list. Check out the safety procedures here.
Hours: Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m.–7:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.–7 p.m.
9206 E. Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale
Mavrix is an entertainment destination featuring 22 bowling lanes, 85 arcade games, a state-of-the-art laser tag arena, billiards, dozens of 4K televisions, and a 5,000-square-foot restaurant and bar that features a chef-curated menu, local beers and craft cocktails. Check out their safety measures before you go.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 3–11 p.m.; Friday, 3 p.m.–1 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11a.m.– 1 a.m.
9139 E. Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale
Take a journey back in time, and experience an evening of chivalry, revelry, sport and pageantry inside a magnificent 11th century-style castle. Queen Maria Isabella welcomes you to dine with her and her royal court. Always a generous host, she has commanded her royal chefs to cook her favorite meal just for you. Feast on a sumptuous four-course banquet, while medieval Spain comes to life before your eyes. Cheer on your brave knight in a spectacular tournament performance — including majestic horses, authentic jousting and a live sword fight — and may the best knight win. Limited guest capacity will ensure you're a sword's length away from others at all times, and advance purchase is recommended. Take a look at the castle's reopening plan and guest guidelines here.
Hours: Most shows take place at 4 or 7 p.m. on selects dates (castle opens 75 minutes prior to showtime).
9051 E. Via De Ventura, Scottsdale
If you have a need for speed, Octane Raceway is home to the only full-time indoor/outdoor track in the U.S. So, prepare to put your pedal to the metal and reach 45+ mph on the kart track. But pump the breaks for Velocity VR, mini-bowling, arcade and Brickyard Bar & Grill. Before you're off to the races, learn about their latest safety guidelines.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 3–10 p.m.; Friday, 3 p.m.–12 a.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.–12 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
9119 E. Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale
As the largest aquarium in Arizona, OdySea is home to more than 2 million gallons of water — featuring 370 species — and 65 exhibits, including the world’s only Russian Sturgeon touch exhibit, two stingray touch exhibits and a tide touch pool (some touch exhibits may be closed temporarily). This family friendly, under-the-sea experience also includes interactive activities: SeaTREK underwater walking adventure, walk-about Animal Ambassadors and Q&A sessions with animal care specialists. And don't miss Pip, Polly, and the rest of the African black-footed penguin squad at Penguin Point.
Advance online reservations (30-minute time slots) are strongly recommended. Find our what else the aquarium is doing to provide a safe environment here. OdySea Aquarium is located at Arizona Boardwalk, which is also home to Pangea: Land of the Dinosaurs and more.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.–7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
9500 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale
This evolving art show features extraordinary installations from around the world in a casual and safe, 16,000-square foot venue. Wonderspaces partners with artists to deliver experiences to new audiences through touring shows, including the 13 immersive, interactive and conversation-provoking works currently on display in a socially-distanced environment. You'll want to have your camera/phone ready for the one-of-a-kind photo ops throughout these current exhibits. Please note: Individual artwork rotates in every few months, creating an ever-evolving, year-round show. Check out Wonderspaces health and cleanliness protocols here.
Hours: Advance tickets are for entry at a specific date and time. Visitors are welcome to stay as long as they please during operating hours (the average time spent at the show is 90 minutes).
7014 E. Camelback Road, #584, Scottsdale
Dozens of hands-on creative activities and a full day of fun awaits your entire family in Chandler, just a short drive away from Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa. Bigger, brighter and bolder than ever, the colorful adventures of Crayola Experience help kids (and adults) explore art and technology, express their creativity and experience color in a whole new way. Check up on the safety measures here.
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
111 W. Chandler Blvd., Ste. 2154, Chandler
LEGOLAND® Discovery Center is where families with children ages 3 to 10 can enjoy a world of creativity, color and building fun in the ultimate indoor LEGO playground. With features that include global and local landmarks made from over a million LEGO bricks in MINILAND® to fun and exciting LEGO themed rides: Kingdom Quest and Merlin's Apprentice. Watch as your favorite LEGO characters come to life in the 4D Cinema. Then get hands-on with the thousands of LEGO bricks in themed build-and-play areas where kids' imaginations can run wild with endless possibilities.
Hours: Monday, Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Ste. 135, Tempe
Discover thousands of amazing creatures and walk through the 360-degree ocean tunnel. SEA LIFE Arizona is built for kids with child-level viewing bubbles and an interactive scavenger hunt.
Hours: Monday through Friday and Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Ste. 145, Tempe
Things To Do Outdoors
Stroll the winding paths of this 140-acre venue that showcases the world's finest collection of arid plants — from towering saguaros to delicate blooms — from deserts of the world, all in one unique, outdoor setting. The garden has more than 50,000 desert plants on display throughout five thematic trails that illustrate such topics as conservation, desert living, desert wildflowers and plants and people of the Sonoran Desert. Please note: Advance ticket reservations for the garden is required. Be sure to read the current safety measures before making your reservation.
Summer Events Include:
Ballet Arizona at Desert Botanical Garden | Through June 5
Dog Days at the Garden | Through June 26
Flashlight Nights | June 5 - Sept. 4
Hours: Open daily, 7 a.m.–8 p.m.
1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix
Tucked away on the edge of downtown sits a 3.5-acre oasis. Named Ro Ho En — Ro is Japanese for heron, Ho means Phoenix bird, and En is garden. The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix is a joint project of the City of Phoenix and our Sister City Himeji, Japan.
Part of the garden’s vision is to provide a place of beauty and tranquility as an escape from the everyday pressures of life, for meditation and relaxation and to enrich and restore the body, mind and spirit. Stroll the grounds on a self-guided tour. Check out the unique landscaping, waterfalls, Koi ponds and tea house (closed until further notice). Please note: the garden is not accepting tour requests at this time. Before your visit, please refer to the garden’s guidelines here.
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 5–8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m.–12 p.m. and 5–8 p.m.
1125 N. Third Ave., Phoenix
Featuring over 3,000 animals, including Bornean orangutans, Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers, Komodo dragons, Masai giraffes and many more, the Phoenix Zoo has been a Phoenix mainstay since 1962. Alongside animals, there are outdoor cafés, shops, lush gardens, water landscapes and exciting up-close animal encounters like Stingray Bay, Giraffe Encounter and Monkey Village. Due to the summer heat, the zoo opens and closes at earlier hours. Before you go, check out their safety procedures.
Summer Events Include:
Cruise the Zoo | June 7 - August 10
Hours: Open daily, 7 a.m.–2 p.m.
455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix
Pueblo Grande Museum is an archaeological site once inhabited by the Hohokam culture, just east of downtown Phoenix, next to Sky Harbor International Airport. It's a National Historic Landmark and Phoenix Point of Pride accessible by the Sky Train and the Valley Metro Rail. Part of the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department since 1929, it's the largest preserved archaeological site in Phoenix. Though the indoor galleries are closed, there is a fully accessible 2/3 mile trail that takes you through a prehistoric Hohokam archaeological site with a platform mound, ball court, and replicated houses. Before you visit, see the museum's safety precautions here.
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m.–4:45 p.m.
4619 E. Washington St., Phoenix
Sunset Summer Nights at Royal Palms
Through August 27
Munch on tapas and watch some of Greater Phoenix's best local groups perform on select nights at the luxurious Royal Palms. Experiences include a Latin night, reggae night, and more.
5200 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
Summer Fridays at Scottsdale Quarter
June 4 - August 20
Spend your Friday mornings having fun under the sun and splashing around at Scottsdale Quarter with a DJ, snow cones by Tropical Sno, and some fun water toys out by the splash pad every Friday morning at 10 a.m. The first 100 kids will also get free toys to take home.
15059 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Summer Sweat Series at Scottsdale Quarter
June 6 - August 22
Head to Scottsdale Quarter for a series of free outdoor fitness classes in The Quad all summer long. In addition to free classes, participants will receive exclusive discounts from Scottsdale Quarter tenants and a chance to enter to win raffles from Kendra Scott and The NOW Massage.
15059 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Home to Arizona's largest collection of exotic animals with 600 different species, visitors can feed giraffes, parrots and stingrays, see wildlife on the Log Flume ride, African Safari Train, Australian Boat Ride, Wildlife Skyride, or exotic Merry-Go-Round.
Hours: Open daily, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. (zoo) and 9 a.m.–7 p.m. (aquarium)
16501 W. Northern Ave., Litchfield Park
Open since 1929, Boyce Thompson Arboretum is one the best spots to explore desert plants. About an hour outside of Phoenix, it is the oldest and largest botanical garden in the state, with more than 2,600 species of plants from across the world. Read about their health and safety updates here.
Hours: Open daily, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
37615 E. Arboretum Way, Superior
Open your mind to awe and wonder under the famously dark skies of Flagstaff, Arizona, the world's first International Dark Sky City. Look up from anywhere in the city to see more stars than you can count. For the best views, head to Mars Hill and the grounds of 125-year-old Lowell Observatory. This is where Pluto was discovered in 1930, an event you can relive during one of the observatory's many guided tours. On clear nights, gaze at the moon, planets or deep-sky objects through the giant Clark refractor, built in 1896. Lowell is currently in a phased reopening, so there are some limitations. Check them out here.
Hours: Wednesday through Monday, 6–8:30 p.m.
1400 W. Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff
Nestled against the beautiful Mingus Mountains in the Verde Valley sits a wildlife park entirely different than any typical zoo or animal park. Here, you'll experience the splendor of the animal kingdom closer than you ever thought possible, blending the spirit of Africa with the harmony of nature. Whether it's the exciting shows like Tiger Splash and Predator Feed, or an immersive safari tour that will have you surrounded by free-roaming African plains animals, or whether it's a hands-on, close encounter with the wiliest critters, there's something for everyone here.
Hours: Open daily, 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
3505 W. State Route 260, Camp Verde
Whether you're in the mood to explore the Sonoran Desert on an ATV, mountain bike, segway, or horse, you'll find what you're looking for. There are plenty of tour guides to show you the most beautiful areas in our state — including some of the spots with cooler temps.
No matter where you're looking to go, there is definitely going to be a campground nearby. Maricopa County is home to six regional park campgrounds. Additionally, Arizona offers six national forests, 31 state parks and more than 12 million acres of public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for your next overnight in nature. So whip out the tents, get the chocolates, marshmallows and graham crackers for s'mores, and check out our picks for the best places to camp near Phoenix.
Experience the cool desert nights under the stars during a guided moonlight hike in Phoenix. Enjoy wildlife, the beautiful landscape and star gazing — and avoid the heat!
Up, up and away! Check one off the bucket list with as you soar over the Sonoran Desert in the basket of a hot air balloon with Hot Air Expeditions or Rainbow Ryders. This gentle ride offers a bird’s-eye view of coyote and jackrabbit paths, and looks out over the mountains that surround the city from breathtaking heights. Check each operator's cleaning practices/procedures and seasonal coupons via the links above.
Hours: Sunrise flights available year-round; sunset flights available November through February/March.
Locations vary by operator.
Nothing beats a day out on the water during the summer. There are several tour operators and rental spots, including Arizona Rafting, Arizona's Salt River Tubing & Recreation, AZ Boat Rentals and Tours, REI Co-Op Experiences, and Riverbound Sports Paddle Co.
Local farmers markets remain key players in Phoenix's farm-to-table movement. Thanks to year-round sunshine and growing seasons, residents and visitors can shop for farm-fresh goods any time of year. And, just in time for fall, we’re highlighting the best farmers markets in Phoenix for safely picking up local fruits and veggies, bread, coffee beans, cheeses, treats, and a wide variety of other locally made products.
Hours: Most markets operate on Saturday mornings (with a few exceptions).
Miss the Chase Field vibes? You can go catch the Diamondbacks play in downtown Phoenix all summer long. Even though the experience is not back to full pre-pandemic levels, the Arizona Diamondbacks team have made everything as safe and comfortable for you as possible with limited capacity and social distancing protocols. But not to worry — you can still get all the classic baseball snacks (and then some). Diehards know the summer heat hits different in Chase Field, thanks to the retractable roof, and for those lucky few, access to the Chase Field pool.
401 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix
Phoenix's soccer franchise has a brand spanking new field to play on in Wild Horse Pass. The season lasts all summer long, and the matches are played in the evening, so no need to worry about finding a shady spot. The season will start with 50% capacity to ensure the safety of Phoenix Rising fans.
Wild Horse Pass Stadium
19615 S. 48th St., Chandler
This summer marks the WNBA's 25th season and, as one of the league's original eight franchises, the Phoenix Mercury invite you to celebrate with them as they return to their newly renovated home court after a season in the "wubble." Join Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith on their quest for the franchise's fourth championship.
201 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix
Things To Do By Vehicle
If you're up for a drive on the wild side, and maybe some cooler temps among the Ponderosa pines, Bearizona is where it's at. About 170 miles north of Phoenix, this wildlife park invites guests to observe North American animals — including Black bears, elk, wolves, bison — in their natural environment along a scenic, 3-mile drive. Visitors are also welcome to stroll along winding forest walkways for an up-close look at the antics of bobcats, bear cubs, javelinas and more at Fort Bearizona. The park's COVID-19 updates can be viewed here.
Hours: Open daily, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.
1500 E. Route 66, Williams
These intra-city road trips allow you to travel from point A to point Beautiful, and you don't ever have to leave your air-conditioned car. Some of the best scenic drives in Arizona are right here, including Dobbins Lookout, the Apache Trail and Wrigley Mansion.