Whether you’ve just moved from Seattle to an apartment in downtown Phoenix, or you’ve recently bought a home in Scottsdale, it’s no secret that summers in Arizona can be scorching hot. So if you’re looking for fun indoor things to do in Phoenix this summer or just other ways to beat the heat, you’ve come to the right place. From museums and art galleries to outdoor escapes, we’ve gathered some of the best ways to spend a summer day in Phoenix from locals themselves.
Afternoon tea at the Arizona Biltmore
If you’re looking to change up your typical weekend brunch plans but still want to enjoy a bite indoors, look no further. Arizona local Sherrie Wilkolaski, Editor-in-Chief of Luxe Beat Magazine, recommends enjoying afternoon tea at the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort.
“They started serving afternoon tea when they opened in 1929 and offer this experience in the historic lobby setting. Delicious cakes, sandwiches, and croissants accompany a variety of black, green, and white teas. Don’t forget to ask about their iced tea on those hot summer days.”
Arizona Science Center
Another fun indoor activity to do in Phoenix is to explore the Arizona Science Center. From exhibits where you can see what it’s like to be in the middle of a monsoon, learn about the human brain, or watch the stars in one of the largest planetariums in the US, there’s something for learners of all ages.
Arizona Science Center says that a can’t-miss hidden gem is Good Vibrations. “Opened in late Spring, “Good Vibrations: Where Science Gets Loud” is dedicated to unique tunes created by visitors with some of the most iconic percussion instruments. This exhibition hits all the right notes.”
Check out Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West
Located in Old Town Scottsdale, Western Spirit immerses its guests in the unique story of the Greater Western region. The museum features regularly changing and permanent exhibits of Western and Native American art and artifacts, entertaining events, and informative programs that bring the West’s heritage, culture, and community to life.
An interesting exhibit to check out is the Abe Hays Family Spirit of the West Collection, which showcases more than 1,400 saddles, spurs, cowboy gear, and other Old West objects. Some other can’t-miss exhibits include Light and Legacy: The Art and Techniques of Edward S. Curtis, Canvas of Clay: Hopi Pottery Masterworks from The Allan and Judith Cooke Collection, and Rails Building America.
Cool off at Saguaro Lake
“One of my favorite ways to beat the heat in Phoenix is to go to Saguaro Lake,” shares Phoenix lifestyle blogger Kelly Chen. “It’s known for its picturesque views and is perfect for boating, kayaking, fishing, and water skiing. Or, for a more relaxed evening, aboard Dolly’s Steamboat for a twilight dinner cruise on Canyon Lake. There’s nothing like a delicious meal with beautiful scenery.”
Explore the OdySea Aquarium
Located just outside of Phoenix is the OdySea Aquarium. From sea turtles to sea lions, there’s so much to see and explore here, making it a great way to stay cool and entertained indoors.
While you’re at OdySea, check out Voyager – the world’s only rotating aquarium experience. “Voyager takes guests on a fun-filled adventure past four 46-foot aquariums teeming with sea life while they’re comfortably sitting in stadium-style theater seats,” adds OdySea Aquarium. “However, the only thing cooler than a tour through Voyager might just be OdySea’s award-winning restrooms where the mirrors above the sinks have been replaced with a view directly into the aquarium’s shark exhibit.”
Take a staycation at one of the stunning local resorts
If there’s one thing besides sunshine that Arizona has plenty of, it’s beautiful resorts with large, relaxing pools, cabanas for lounging, spas, and restaurants. “Summers in Arizona can be brutally hot, so a family staycation at one of the Valley’s resorts is an absolute must,” says local blogger Marlene of Life with Mar.
“One of our favorite traditions is booking into the Fairmont Scottsdale for their Summer at the Princess program. Each year is a different theme and there are loads of summer activities for families, events, great food, and gorgeous pools to relax and play in.”
Visit the Arizona Heritage Center
Whether you’re interested in local history or you’re just looking for unique indoor things to do in Phoenix, consider checking out the Arizona Heritage Center at Papago Park, which focuses on the rich history of the Phoenix area from the territorial days to the 1990s.
Allison Avery from the Arizona Heritage Center adds, “One of the hidden gems you can find here is a portion of a door from the U.S.S. Arizona. This powerful piece tells the story of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Arizona’s connection to that event. In addition to an immersive experience of life on the homefront in Arizona during WWII, the Arizona Heritage Center is also home to fine western art, interactive activities for families, and out-of-this-world wonders.”