It can be a challenge to enjoy the outdoors in Tucson during the summer months due to the heat. But, with a little planning and modifying when activities take place, there is plenty of fun to be had. Here are several ideas for the whole family to enjoy:
Free Kidsfest Movie Screenings
The Loft Cinema frequently hosts free movie nights throughout Tucson (read here for more info about their free outdoor screenings using a state-of-the-art solar powered projection screen!). In addition to the outdoor screenings for adults, this year’s Kids Fest kicks off with a movie screening at Himmel Park, Friday, June 23. Then, indoor screenings will be shown at the Loft Cinema every Saturday and Sunday morning, Saturday, June 24 – Sunday, July 16! For movie titles and more information, read here – some movies that will be shown include Toy Story, Minions, and Matilda.
From the base of the mountain to the top, it’s only a 26-mile drive to 20-degree cooler weather. It’s well worth the wait. Around 14 miles up, you can stop at Windy Point to stretch your legs and view the breathtaking scenery. Along the whole route up, there are many overlooks and trails, and even Rose Lake, where you can fish and picnic.
If you drive all the way to the top, you’ll find Summerhaven. There are several restaurants, as well as the Cookie Cabin- known for their extra-large ice cream cookies. Cute shops can be found, housing Mount Lemmon souvenirs, beautiful trinkets, and delicious fudge! The community center is also within Summerhaven, and of course, trail heads, if you’ve decided to hike from there. For more information, you can read here.
Summer Nights at Reid Park Zoo
Now — Saturday, August 12, 2023
Explore the Zoo for keeper chats, animal encounters, sponsor booths, and enjoy a variety of activities including carousel rides, giraffe feed, enrichment making, face painting, inflatables, and artifact stations. Remember to bring a blanket so you can sit back and relax in the Event Garden while you enjoy the concert. Ticket prices vary, from free for Members, to $10.50 for adults. You can read more about this fun outing, here.
Tugo Bike Share
You may have noticed bike racks popping up around town offering rentals of yellow bicycles. These stations are provided by Tugo Bike Share, and are available at 36 locations around town. This makes it convenient to plan your route with starting and ending points peppered throughout.
One great route starts at Himmel Park. Hop on the 3rd Street Bike Path through the historic Sam Hughes neighborhood, to the University of Arizona campus and tour the grounds. You can then bike to Mercado San Augustin for a quick bite and refreshment. There is a Tugo station at the Mercado if you have had your share of cycling; you can take the Street Car (here is a map of the Street Car route as well as their summer schedule) back to campus and then either pick up a new Tugo on Campus, or walk back to the park. Check where all the Tugo stations are located here (the map is interactive so you know how many bikes and ports are available at each location).
Music Under the Stars at Reid Park
The Tucson Pops Orchestra has been sharing the joy of music with audiences of all ages since it was founded in 1955 by world-class violinist Georges DeMeester and his collaborator Ernest Hoffman. The Orchestra began with just 22 musicians and has grown to 50 gifted and talented professional musicians consistently attracting audiences in excess of 8,500 to its spring and fall concert series.
Music Under the Stars™ returns May 14, 2023. All concerts begin at 7pm at the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center, Reid Park. Seating is limited, so bring your own blanket or folding chairs to enjoy the performances. For more information, click here.
Public Pools and Splash Pads
There is no better way to cool down and get some exercise than in a pool. Get your laps in, or enjoy splashing in the water at the many public pools and splash pads available throughout town. Here is a list of facilities open during the summer (some are open year-round).
Learning to swim is an important part of water safety- here are other ways to keep people safe while at the pool.
The Chuck Huckelberry Loop
One of Tucson’s Gems, the Chuck Huckelberry Loop offers 120 miles of paved paths and bike lanes that tie the Rillito, Santa Cruz, and Pantano River parks to the Julian Wash and Harrison Road Greenways. There are many points around town where you can start your walk, bike ride, or run. Many starting points are near parks, shopping centers, and restaurants, making The Loop a fun way to enjoy a variety of activities (and to cool down along the way). Read here for more information, maps, and resources.
Cool Summer Nights at the Tucson Desert Museum
June 10th-August 23rd, 2023
In addition to beating the heat, the Desert Museum’s Cool Summer Nights is a great way to fit a walk into your day. There are different activities and themes (like Magic of Monsoons, World Ocean’s night, Insectopia, Dino night, and more!) offered every Saturday, making it a great destination for the family. Additional information is available here.
Odysea In The Desert
9500 East Vía de Ventura, Scottsdale, AZ 85256
If you’re willing to make the trek to Scottsdale, Odysea is a must for the whole family. At the aquarium, you can see sharks, penguins, pet sting-rays, helmet dive, among other great activites. Odysea is also a “Pal Place,” a part of the national network of Pal Places that develop custom videos, digital guides, and on-site resources that enhance specific customer experiences for all guests, and particularly for families and individuals impacted by autism and related non-visible intellectual and developmental differences. It is the first location in Arizona to be a Certified Autism Center.
Other attractions at Odysea in the Desert are: Butterfly Wonderland, Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs, and other interactive centers. In addition to the learning experiences, there are restaurants, shopping, and places to just relax and enjoy the day. If you get there early enough, there is truly enough to do through the entire day! For more information, read here.
These are just a few of the amazing variety of activities available in Tucson and the surrounding area. Do you have a favorite activity during the hot summer days? Leave a comment and share your favorite!
A friendly reminder: no matter what you choose to keep you and your family busy, please make sure to stay hydrated and protect yourself from sun exposure– it doesn’t take long for heat exhaustion and heat stroke to take hold. Prevention is key, to keep you and your family safe.