20 cool things to do in Phoenix on hot summer days

May 26, 2021

Halpern Residential | 20 Cool things to o
Jaci picking out her ice cream from Churn, 5223 N. Central Ave.

Phoenix is an adventurer’s paradise with beautiful sunny weather, southwest inspired cuisine, craft brews, outdoor activities, extraordinary resorts, collegiate and professional sports, and many other incredible attractions. There’s never a shortage of things to do which makes Phoenix Arizona’s most cosmopolitan and dynamic city. 

Families are itching to make the most out of their summer plans and with Arizona’s openness compared to other states, Phoenix will not only be a destination this summer for out of town guests, but for locals who are choosing to staycation. As anyone who has spent a summer in Phoenix knows, the summer climate can be unforgiving as temperatures in the summer rise well above 100 degrees and in certain parts of Phoenix remain above 100 degrees 24 hours per day for weeks at a time! Not to worry! Here’s our list of 20 family-friendly things you can do in Phoenix and the surrounding areas to beat the heat.

Ice Cream Hot Spots

Priority number one? Ice cream. You better believe we scream for this refreshing sweet treat in the summer. Here’s the inside scoop on the best places in town to grab an ice cream scoop. 

1. Scoopwells Dough Bar 

There’s nothing like tasting cookie dough and ice cream in the same bite. Scoopwells offers the best of both worlds with endless cookie dough and ice cream flavors. You can also pair ice cream with an under-baked cookie for that gooey and chewy bite. Try the fan favorite Night Shift which is your choice of half-baked cookie dough topped with ice cream, finished with homemade whipped cream. 

100 E Camelback Rd #164 | 602.296.5146 | scoopwells.com 

2. Sweet Republic 

Savor over 20 artisan ice cream and sorbet flavors that hit the spot. Sweet Republic sources milk and cream from independent dairy farms throughout Arizona so you can feel good about supporting local dairy farmers. Time Magazine featured the local shop for its unusual flavors like Sichuan Chocolate, Sweet Corn and Blue Cheese.

6054 N 16th St | 602.535.5990 | sweetrepublic.com

3. Churn

In line with its namesake, you’ll find slow-churned ice cream with dozens of fresh flavors that rotate daily. The vietnamese coffee scoop is a hit! The decadent sundaes, milkshakes, and floats will have you coming back for more. What’s endearing about Churn is the nostalgic display of candies and toys that take you back to your childhood, so pick up a throwback gift while enjoying something sweet! 
5223 N. Central Ave | 602.279.8024 | churnaz.com

Our team at Halpern Residential loves Churn. Check out our Nerding Out in North Central video filmed at this whimsical ice cream shop and hear about our recommendations on things to do around Phoenix when it’s too hot.

Summer Eateries 

The Phoenix summer food scene can’t be beat. Here are our picks on family-friendly restaurants loved by locals and tourists alike that offer a great variety of fare, crafts, and cocktails. 

4. Culinary Dropout 

Also known as The Yard, the restaurant transformed a converted motorcycle garage into a comfortable, laid-back and fun atmosphere. Choose from inventive craft beer, cocktails, and crowd favorites like the pretzel bites and provolone fondue, 36-hour pork ribs, and fried chicken drizzled with honey. Families can play together in the yard with ping-pong tables, corn hole and more. 

5632 N. 7th St | 602.680.4040 | culinarydropout.com

5. Chelsea’s Kitchen 

This farm to table restaurant does southwestern BBQ right! Take in the view from the patio and delight your senses with the mouth-watering aroma from the wood burning rotisserie. 

The organic chicken and the beef prime rib are both slowly roasted in the Smokeyard and they’re an absolute must!

5040 N 40th St | 602.957.2555 | chelseaskitchenaz.com

6. Windsor 

The upscale neighborhood eatery is popular for its brunch and lunch options in the form of global comfort food. The Brown Bag Chicken Sandwich and the Backyard Burger are a hit with locals. Windsor is also pet friendly and has a large backyard-style patio with misters.

5223 N Central Ave | 602.279.1111 | windsoraz.com

7. Joyride Taco House 

Across the street from Windsor, bask in the retro 1950s vibe and high energy at Joyride Taco House where the chips and salsa are always stocked. Savor on elevated Mexican street eats with favorites like the crispy fish tacos and Mexican street corn. The refreshing pineapple mojito is a crowd-pleaser. 

5202 N Central Ave | 602.274.8226 | joyridetacohouse.com 

8. Federal Pizza 

Housed in the restored 1950s bank, Federal Pizza specializes in wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, pastas, and salads. The Detroit style crust is so light and crisp and you have to try the Watermelon Mint Wine cooler. What’s fun about Federal Pizza is you can swing through what once was the bank’s drive-thru lane to grab beer and pizza to go!

5210 N Central Ave | 602.795.2520 | federalpizza.com 

9. Luci’s at the Orchard

Enjoy this gourmet market and cafes set in a historic Phoenix ranch home. Luci’s offers all-day breakfast, salads, sandwiches, and fresh-squeezed juices perfect for a hot summer day. The cafe overlooks a citrus orchard and the patio is lined with outdoor seating under the shade of citrus trees. There’s even a splash pad for kiddos, so bring towels. 

7100 N 12th St building 2 | 602.633.2442 | lucisorchard.com 

Indoor Activities 

No one has a greater appreciation for air conditioning than a Phoenix resident in the summer! There’s plenty of fun indoor activities to keep the entire family entertained. 

10. Phoenix Art Museum

Check out the expansive collection of art from all over the world at the Phoenix Art Museum. The catalog of renaissance, contemporary and modern art is impressive. Take advantage of the museum’s Pay What You Wish Wednesdays from 3 to 7 pm. 

1625 N Central Ave | 602.257.1880 | phxart.org

11. Heard Museum

A great place for a visual education of the region’s Native American culture and history. The Heard Museum presents the stories of American Indian people from a first-person perspective through traditional and contemporary art. The museum offers free evening admission during the first Friday of every month. 

2301 N Central Ave | 602.252.8840 | heard.org 

12. Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Spark your child’s imagination and creativity at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. The museum is designed for newborns to 10-year-olds. It houses over 300 hands-on interactive exhibits, programs and activities, indoor and outdoor play areas, and you can even sign your kids up for summer camp! 

215 N 7th St | 602.253.0501 | childrensmuseumofphoenix.org 

13. Arizona Science Center

Kids drawn to science will love this place. The Arizona Science Center is full of interactive experiences and makes learning fun with a planetarium, theater, and over 350 hands-on exhibits. The astronaut and dinosaur exhibits are a hit with kids and you can choose guided experiences or explore on their own. 

600 E Washington St | 602.716.2000 | azscience.org 

14. Party Jungle

The indoor amusement park is packed with carnival rides, mini golf, a jungle gym, laser tag, educational toys, and more. There’s plenty to keep kids busy to burn off their energy. You can also book a private party room for summer birthdays. 

12046 N 32nd St | 602.923.9444 | party-jungle.com 

15. KTR Action Sports 

When the weather is unbearably hot, KTR is a great indoor venue for kids who love sports. Inside, you’ll find an indoor skate park, trampolines, dodgeball, parkour, gymnastics, and more. Kids can enroll in classes or a summer camp to improve their skills. KTR has three locations in Chandler, Mesa, and Scottsdale, which are just a short drive from Phoenix. 



Phoenix and the surrounding areas are home to dozens of world-class hotels that offer a refreshing change of scenery and exciting experiences. Here are our picks of where to book a staycation without having to travel too far. 

16. The Camby Autograph Collection 

Located in the upscale Biltmore area, The Camby was voted the second most popular hotel in the Southwest and West for the 2020 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. Experience stunning views from the rooftop pool, enjoy endless amenities, and explore nearby restaurants, movies, and shopping, all within walking distance. 

2401 E Camelback Rd | 602.468.0700 | thecamby.com  

17. Royal Palms Resort and Spa 

The Four Diamond resort is set in a lavish Spanish Colonial setting with intimate villas and casitas with stunning views of Camelback mountain. The Royal Palms Resort and Spa is also home to the award-winning T. Cook’s restaurant. Try the Mediterranean spa treatment, cool off in the outdoor pool, and rest under the shade of a private cabana.  

5200 E Camelback Rd | 602.283.1234 | royalpalmshotel.com

18. Arizona Biltmore

The historic Waldorf Astoria Resort has the opulence of old world charm. The newly renovated grounds are full of lush gardens, seven swimming pools, and iconic architecture. The Arizona Biltmore is a welcome place for relaxation and features a spa, tennis courts and a fitness center. 

2400 E Missouri Ave | 602.955.6600 | arizonabiltmore.com

19. JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

Kids will love this resort for its five pools, lazy river, and water slides. The resort is also lined with a championship golf course. The JW Marriott was named one of the top 75 resorts in America by Condé Nast Traveler readers. 

 5350 E Marriott Dr | 480.293.5000 | jwdesertridge.com

20. Westin Kierland Resort & Spa 

25 minutes from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa is the ideal getaway to Scottsdale. One of the resort’s biggest attractions is the Adventure Water Park, which offers the iconic Kierland FlowRider flow-board simulator for surfing, a lazy river, and a water slide. The resort has a jogging trail, a sauna, tennis courts and is just steps from upscale shopping, dining and entertainment. 

6902 E Greenway Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ | 480.624.1000 | marriot.com 

A Short Drive Away

Summer is a great time to hit the road and explore nearby popular destinations. If your family is itching to get out of Phoenix for a day trip or or an extended long-weekend getaway, you want to add these hot spots to your list: 

Rocky Point (4 hours)

Puerto Penasco, also known as Rocky Point, is a must! The tiny fishing village is on the Sea of Cortes in Mexico and is full of picturesque beaches. It’s the perfect place for scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing. 


Las Vegas (4.5 hours)

Pack the family in the car and hit Highway 93 for a straight shot to Las Vegas. Enjoy plenty of blue skies and desert scenery on the way. Most hotels on the strip have swimming pools and there are plenty of family friendly shows to enjoy like the tournament of Kings at Excalibur and Circus Circus. 


California Destinations (Under 6 hours)

There’s nothing quite like feeling the sand on your feet. The closest American beaches within driving distance to Phoenix are in the Sunshine State. Los Angeles, San Diego and Carlsbad are all just under six hours away. And if you’ve travelled this far, consider Disneyland or the kids will never let you hear the end of it. 

From sweet treats to restaurants, resorts and destinations that are a stone’s throw away, you can count on Halpern Residential for your ultimate summer bucket list. So, slap on some sunscreen and get out there! 

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