Shadowed by the magnificent 9,500-foot peaks of the Huachuca Mountains, Sierra Vista – at an altitude of 4,650 feet – escapes the summer heat that settles into other Arizona valleys. The monsoon rains bring forth a glorious waterfall that cascades from Carr Peak and is visible for miles.

A Desert Oasis

Beachfront property in Arizona? You better believe it. Slip on your swimsuit and jump into the eight-foot waves at The Cove aquatic center. Slide down the tubes, dazzle the audience with your high-dive technique or relax in the lagoon.

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But for real aquatic sport, join the Tsunami Nights, when “surf’s up” and the waves are huge. Find your surfing jams and show off that body-surfing technique or just ride the waves on a boogie board.

Besides The Cove, there are many wild and wonderful nature-based explorations for kids and their families. And when kids need to “be kids,” there are more activities for that kind of enthusiasm as well.

A Birder’s Paradise

As summertime settles into the San Pedro Valley, colorful wildflowers bloom roadside, and hummingbirds, along with almost 200 other species of their bird buddies, arrive at their summer home.

Bring your binoculars and visit the Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve. At 6,300 feet, the preserve is a premier birding and hiking area. With at least 14 species of hummingbirds migrating through the Canyon, Sierra Vista is known as “the hummingbird capital of the US.”

Follow the Trail

If birding or hiking the preserve whets your appetite for more, consider the 40 miles of hiking trails along the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, where getting your feet wet in the river is natural. Check the scheduled dates for docent-led walks, and encourage your children to learn about birds, wildlife, history and the environment.

Bring your mountain bikes to Sierra Vista because the 40 miles of trails throughout the Coronado National Forest will meet your expectations. These mountain bike trails range from easy to difficult, with enough variety to satisfy every cyclist.

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Explore the Past

If you find ancient cultures intriguing, then visit one of the many local archaeological sites or ghost town ruins. Artifacts from the Clovis people and bones from a mammoth were found at the Murray Springs Clovis Site, where, on a self-guided, self-paced interpretive tour, you can relive that prehistoric era.

Abandoned mining ghost towns can be found along the San Pedro River at Fairbank, Charleston and Millville, as well as the ruins of a presidio, or fortress, at Presidio de Santa Cruz de Terrenate.

Join in the Fun

Visit Sierra Vista any time, but return for some of the renowned events and festivals. Check the website for information on the largest fireworks display in Cochise County on the Fourth of July, bratwursts at Oktoberfest, artistic talents on display at the annual Art in the Park, old autos at the annual Cars in the Park, and the annual Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering.

(Brought to you by the City of Sierra Vista, (800) 288-3861,