Summer in Tucson:
Arizona enjoys more than 300 sunny days a year and in the summer months it’s important to find ways to endure and also enjoy, summer in Tucson. A little creativity is necessary and it’s always good to remember that even though it may be beastly hot outside, it will never prevent you from pursuing activities the way winter in colder climes does. You don’t have to shovel it and you don’t have to scrape it off your windshield and if you’re lucky, summer will only last until mid-October. After that, it’s heavenly here. You just have to find places and things to do that keep you out of the blazing sun during the hottest hours of the day.
Until the middle of May the nights and mornings in Tucson are cool and pleasant. As June, the nastiest month, approaches, night and morning begin to come close to daytime heat, minus the sunshine. Air Conditioning is our salvation, in the house, in the car, in stores & theaters; it’s everywhere you want to be. You just have to figure out how to navigate from air conditioned place to air conditioned place and remember to drink lots of water.
One new reason to spend part of summer in Tucson is the Summer in the City Discount Card (discontinued). About 130 merchants in the five shopping and entertainment districts are offering discounts up to 50 percent with the card.You can order it online for $5 and there is no limit to the number of times you can use it. Stay at Sam Hughes Inn Bed & Breakfast and two people can use the inn’s cards to receive discounts on food & drink, to purchase something special, or take a yoga class. The possibilities for savings are at least 130. Cards are valid through the end of August. Check the website for the list of merchants participating.
Mt. Lemmon Sky Center has the largest public viewing telescope in the Southwest. They offer nightly presentations by gifted astronomers at an always cool altitude. Check the website or phone 520-626-8122, Mt. Lemmon at any time of day will be considerably cooler than Tucson.
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun occupies ten acres created and built by late Tucson artist Ted DeGrazia. Multiple cleverly conceived buildings house the huge collection of originals: oils, pastels, metalwork, pottery, ceramics & sculpture all designed by this incredibly talented artist. Some of the interesting creations are outside but you can spend almost all the time indoors in the labyrinth of rooms housing his works. 6300 N. Swan Rd. 520-299-9191.
The Tucson Museum of Art at 140 N. Main Ave. in downtown Tucson, is located in the El Presidio Historic Block of early Tucson architecture.. This summer will feature several interesting exhibits. The WPA Connection: Selections from the Modern Art Collection and La Vida Fantastica: Selections from the American Folk Art Collection. Along with its vast permanent collection you can spend many happy hours in the cool of the museum and grab a bite to eat at their yummy Cafe’ a la C’art. No sweat guaranteed!
The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures offers 10,000 square feet of air conditioned wonder as you peek into the fascinating tiny world of hundreds of different miniature art displays. Antique & contemporary miniatures are sure to please young and old. Closed on Mondays so check the website for hours on the other days. 4455 E. Camp Lowell Dr., 520-881-0606.
Pima Air & Space Museum has five air cooled hangers featuring commercial, military and civil aviation exhibits. You can also enjoy a toasty tram tour of its 80 acres of famous and not so famous aircraft and/or tour the Boneyard with its hundreds of mummy wrapped aircraft lined up by type. These tours are true examples of a Summer in Tucson experience and are not likely to be cool, so bring a spray bottle of water or a hand fan if you decide to indulge. 520-574-0462
And if you’re spending a few days of Summer in Tucson and want to venture a little further out, visit the cooler old world town of Bisbee (at an altitude of more than 5500 feet), and its Queen Mine,once a busy working copper mine. The mine is an always chilly 47 degrees so you’ll need a jacket. You’ll ride the mine train deep inside the tunnel while wearing miner’s hats, slickers and lanterns. The tour lasts about an hour & fifteen minutes. Call 866-432-2071 for reservations.
And for another cool subterranean adventure, don’t miss Kartchner Caverns State Park to witness a still forming, water dripping, perfect cave, undisturbed by man until its discovery in 1974 and featuring awesome stalactites and stalagmites. Great care is taken that nothing harms the interior of this cave so no cameras, or equipment of any kind, purses, backpacks, etc. – all must be tucked into lockers before the tours begin.Reservations are a must so check the website to make online future or same day arrangements. For those wanting to experience the cave the way its discoverers did, Helmet and Headlamp tours are also available but only on Saturdays. Kartchner Caverns Park is located near Benson, AZ, about an hour & a half from Tucson. (520) 586-2283