14 Fun Things to Do in Phoenix This Summer

These are the most fun activities, tours, farmers markets, events, and more to make the most of the season.

If you’re brave enough to stay in Phoenix during the summer, you deserve to have some fun. You’ve survived 115-degree temperatures, destructive rainstorms, and abandonment by your family and friends as they escaped to nearby beaches. While it might be hot, don’t despair, because a summer in Phoenix also means great deals at Valley hotels, swimming pools (everywhere!), crisp cold air conditioning and empty restaurants. So, take advantage with these cool things to do around the Valley.

Boat Rentals of America
Boat Rentals of America

Boat down Tempe Town Lake

Tempe
Keep (relatively!) cool by cruising down the scenic Tempe Town Lake. All kinds of boats are available for rent—but we like the electric donut boat that seats up to 10 people with a table in the middle perfect for sharing snacks. If you want to challenge yourself, you can opt for the kayak or pedal boat.

OdySea Aquarium
OdySea Aquarium

Scottsdale
Even if you’re not visiting the ocean—you can pretend at Odysea, the largest aquarium in the Southwest featuring more than 30,000 marine creatures. The multi-level aquatic museum will keep you busy for a while, with tons of tropical fish, otters, and penguins—to name a few. You can even happy hour at the aquarium on select nights during Fish and Ships, the aquarium’s after hours event.

The Van Buren
The Van Buren

Catch a concert at The Van Buren

Downtown Phoenix
Enjoy the cool interior of The Van Buren while seeing some of the best names in music—whether you want to sing along to throwback hits with Hanson or rap along with Pusha T, there’s something for everyone on the venue’s summer lineup.

Maya Dayclub
@mayaclubaz

Dance the day away at a pool party

Valleywide
There’s no such thing as summer in Scottsdale without a pool party. This isn’t a casual poolside drink either—this is world-class DJs and craft cocktails. Head to the heart of Old Town to see EDM legends like Benny Benassi and Afrojack at Maya Dayclub, enjoy a more relaxing atmosphere at W Scottsdale’s WET Deck or take a nightswim at a Talking Stick Resort Arena’s RELEASE After Dark pool party.

Salt River Tubing
Salt River Tubing

Float down the salt river (and throw a marshmallow or two)

Mesa
Floating down the salt river is a uniquely Arizona activity that might sound relaxing, but in reality is a giant party on inner tubes where people drink too much beer and throw marshmallows at each other for hours. It’s also a great way to check out the desert scenery, and if you’re lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of the mysterious and beloved Salt River wild horses during your float. Just don’t forget your sunscreen.

Hotel Valley Ho
Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho

Book a luxe staycation

Valleywide
When the sizzling temperatures scare off the tourists, it’s time to enjoy hot hotel deals. Lounge poolside with a cocktail, book a massage or dine at one of the Valley’s most beloved hotel restaurants—like J&G Steakhouse or Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn—you deserve it. To make the most of your getaway, check out our full staycation guide.

Wonderspaces Arizona
Wonderspaces Arizona

Peruse modern art at Wonderspaces

Scottsdale
If all else fails—or it hits 122 degrees again—head indoors. You can at least keep it interesting with engaging contemporary art experience, Wonderspaces. Plus, while you walk through the captivating exhibits you can cool off by sipping one of their craft cocktails.

Pemberton PHX
Pemberton PHX

Gather with friends at downtown Phoenix’s hippest collective space

Downtown Phoenix
Pemberton PHX is part art piece, part dining destination with pop up eateries and bars by Saint Pasta, Hop Box, Melt Ice Cream, and more—making it the perfect place for dinner and drinks with friends. Just make sure you allow extra time to explore the colorful, quirky property for your next ‘Gram-worthy photo.

Fourtillfour
Photo courtesy of Fourtillfour

Swing by Fourtillfour Coffee for espresso with a side of vintage (or just really cool) rides

Recurring every Saturday
Old Town Scottsdale
Do you like cars? How about great coffee? We’ve got just the thing. Roll into Old Town Scottsdale and pull up at Cars and Coffee, an unmissable, laidback weekly auto meet hosted by the friendly folks at Fourtillfour Coffee. Each weekend has its own unique theme—think Aircooled Volkswagens, Adventure Machines, and Porsches.

Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix
Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

Find tranquility and peace at the Japanese Friendship Garden

Downtown Phoenix
Let’s be real, we could all use a little zen these days, right? Modeled after the traditional strolling gardens throughout Japan, Phoenix’s own Japanese Friendship Garden provides a serene and peaceful setting that often plays host to traditional tea ceremonies, informative workshops, and socially distanced group activities including tai chi classes. We recommend a sunset stroll to avoid the blistering Phoenix heat.

Shop at Sauvage’s virtual bottle shop

Downtown Phoenix, online
Local bottle shop Sauvage has bottles on bottles just waiting to find a home on your personal wine rack. Really, they offer a rotating selection of craft ciders, orange vinos, hard-to-find spirits, canned options, and so much more. So, if you need a way to effortlessly impress your friends at a summer soiree or you’re searching for a natural wine to bring to your next gathering, any bottle, really, from Sauvage, is sure to spark a spirited conversation.

Phoenix Art Museum
Phoenix Art Museum

Appreciate Arizona’s best-loved visual art at the Phoenix Art Museum

Downtown Phoenix
Head out to the Phoenix Art Museum for exhibitions such as Desert Rider, an exhibit that features imaginative takes on automobiles and skateboards. And you can experience the immersive You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies. Want to keep the arts shining bright in your city? Adopt a digital firefly from the installation. You’ll get sweet perks like unlimited admission, invitations to exclusive members only events, free or discounted tickets to workshops, lectures, and films, plus some other cool benefits, too. Plot your visit and explore the world-class exhibits and comprehensive, and we mean comprehensive, collections right here. The Phoenix Art Museum is the largest art museum in the Southwest, after all.

Federal Pizza
Federal Pizza

Hit the drive-thru, but not the fast-food type

Multiple locations
Hungry? Take your rumbling stomach to the drive-thru. Local joints like Federal Pizza, 32 Shea, Luci’s at the Orchard, and Melrose’s Copper Star Coffee all have really fantastic menus and convenient drive-thrus. Fast food just got a lot tastier. Now, who’s up for some sugar-coated, chocolate-dipped bombolini?

Shop your community farmers market, in person and online

Multiple locations, online
Whether you’re searching for locally made pasta, fresh-baked breads, cage-free eggs, seasonal organic veggies and fruits, or tapenades, Valley farmers markets including the Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market, Uptown Farmers Market, and the Downtown Mesa Farmers Market have what just what you need to conquer your shopping list. You'll leave with a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that you’re supporting local farmers, makers, and vendors during these uncertain times. And that feels good, doesn’t it? Just make sure to check for updated summer hours!

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Lauren Topor Reichert is a Phoenix-based writer, photographer, and certified nutritionist. Her work has been featured in travel guides, national publications, and the social feeds of some stellar local restaurants. Follow her around Arizona, and beyond, on Instagram @hungryinphoenix.
Jamie Killin is a Phoenix native and Arizona State graduate who specializes in lifestyle and features writing. You can usually find her at the spin studio, a concert, or trying new restaurants across the Valley. Follow her at @jamiefayekillin.