It’s summer in Phoenix and you’re dying to get out and do something. But where can you go? All of AZ is baking right? Wrong.
Whether you’re new to the valley of the sun or a lifelong native, the summer heat takes its toll on everyone. While watching movies and taking a dip in the swimming pool are great options for escaping the desert heat, eventually you’d just like to get out and enjoy some sunshine and summer fun without melting. Unknown to many, there are numerous locations within a couple hours of Phoenix that enjoy refreshing 70 degree highs while the valley swelters in triple digits.
Here is our top 5:
Flagstaff is perhaps the most common getaway for valley residents looking to cool off. This fabulous mountain town sits at the base of Arizona’s highest peak (Mt. Humphrey’s – elevation 12,637 feet) and is approximately two hours from the north valley. If you’re looking for outdoor enjoyment in a boutique-style downtown setting or hoping to dine out on a stylish patio, Flagstaff has countless restaurants, bars and unique shops, as well as exciting outdoor entertainment and summer markets. For the more adventure seeking crowd, Flagstaff also has hundreds of fantastic campsites, cabin rentals, a ski resort (open during the summer for mountain biking and scenic lift rides) and other recreation areas within minutes of the city center.
Mt. Lemmon is one of the least explored, cool weather locations in the state of Arizona. Many valley residents who are familiar with Flagstaff’s Snowbowl ski resort and the White Mountains’ Sunrise ski resort are not aware that there is a third ski resort less than three hours away from Phoenix; Mt. Lemmon’s Ski Valley resort. Situated 17 miles north of Tucson in the Catalina mountain range, this desert oasis is a great place to visit during the sweltering summer months, offering scenic lift rides, hiking, camping and more.
The neighboring towns of Pinetop and Lakeside are nestled in the heart of Arizona’s White Mountains and provide their visitors with an endless list of things to do. From fishing to cool-weather Fourth of July celebrations, these mountain towns are a hotspot for anyone looking to escape the heat in a beautiful setting with small town charm and hospitality. Pinetop and Lakeside have many wonderful resorts, private cabins, five star campgrounds and more. The summer months in this heavenly region have typical highs in the low to mid 70s, with crisp nights perfect for a campfire and s’mores.
While this location doesn’t quite have the crispy, cool weather of others on this list, it more than qualifies as an escape from the heat. With a twenty degree (plus) difference between it and Phoenix, Sedona has warm summer days perfect for swimming or morning hikes, and evenings that are cool (high 50s to low 60s) and enjoyable to venture out into. Sedona’s natural red rock beauty, fine dining and enjoyable weather will not disappoint anyone that makes the just less than two hour drive from Phoenix to visit.
Sitting just one and half hours from Phoenix, Payson is the closest cool-weather location on our list. This mountain town welcomes visitors to Arizona’s “Rim Country” and has provided valley residents with a quick, cool escape for over a century. Payson and the surrounding rim country have numerous lakes and streams that mix with the beautiful pines, oaks and aspens to create breathtaking scenery. Similar to the other mountain towns on this list, Payson has many cabins, campsites and recreational areas to provide you with a comfortable place to stay and play while enjoying the perfect weather. Its proximity to the valley also makes Payson a great destination if you’re just looking to escape the heat for the day.