Late-Night Summer Fun Across Arizona

Don't let summer temps end the fun. As the sun sets, cities and attractions throughout Arizona come alive with special events and activities. Here’s a sampling of late-night things to do this summer.

Late-Night Summer Fun Across Arizona
First Fridays Art Walk, Phoenix

Friday nights in Downtown Phoenix

Arizona's capital city heats things up during the day and keeps things vibrant at night, especially during the weekend. Each month, on the first and third Fridays, experience the art, music and food of downtown Phoenix with more than 70 studios, art galleries, performance spaces, restaurants and bars that stay open long after sundown.

Start your night in Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row and Historic Grand Avenue art districts for First Fridays, one of the largest self-guided art walks in the nation. Browse goods from street-side vendors or shop the area’s boutiques and businesses while musicians and performers entertain all night long. Free shuttles take attendees to nearby museums and galleries, such as the renowned Phoenix Art and Heard museums, both of which offer free admission for the evening.

On Third Fridays, also known as "Gallery Night," the vibe gets decidedly more art-focused, and draws a like-minded crowd to peruse exhibition openings and chat with local and emerging artists.

Stargaze at the Grand Canyon

Arizona’s drier weather makes for clearer skies—perfect for viewing the star-filled night sky without obstructions. You can take full advantage of our clear night skies at the Grand Canyon Star Party. For eight days every June, amateur astronomers give talks, lead constellation tours and set up telescopes on the North and South rims of the national park for all to use. The only cost—admission to the national park; all else is included.

Late-Night Summer Fun Across Arizona
Grand Canyon, @alexandermhill
Late-Night Summer Fun Across Arizona
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Christine Charron

Meet the (flora and fauna) locals in Tucson

Visit the acclaimed Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on Tucson’s west side for Cool Summer Nights every Saturday night from early June thru late August. Bring a flashlight to see the comings and goings of the desert’s nocturnal residents as you explore parts of the zoo and botanical gardens, gaze at the stars and encounter scorpions, bats and beavers.

Closer to the city’s center, the Tucson Botanical Gardens extends its hours for Sunset Sundays, June through August. As the sun sets, twinkling tree lights cast a glow along your walk among cacti, herbs, wildflowers and plants sown about this former early-20th-century home.

Wet and wild fun just east of Phoenix

Tweens and teens can glide along placid Tempe Town Lake aboard a kayak in one of three Glow Paddle sessions held monthly from June through August. Equipment and an instructor are included, and you get glow-in-the-dark accessories to illuminate your way around this popular urban water feature. Pre-register on the City of Tempe website before you go as spaces are limited. Paddlers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult (no more than three youth per adult).

Golfland's Sunsplash in Mesa is a high-energy, family-fun water park. On select days from May through September, the fun extends late into the evening for Night Splash. The dark of night—safely lighted, of course—adds another dimension to the thrilling slides, chutes and falls, while the calmer wave pool and lazy river let guests float under the stars. For those preferring to stay dry, the park's arcade, mini-golf, pizza kitchen, laser tag and race cars also remain open late. Grab a bite to eat and give the sunscreen a rest.

Late-Night Summer Fun Across Arizona
Night Splash, Golfland's Sunsplash
Late-Night Summer Fun Across Arizona
Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake, An Pham

Dine at dusk on a river cruise

Further east of Phoenix, in the town known as Tortilla Flats, many Sonoran Desert animals become active at twilight, the perfect time to enjoy a dinner cruise aboard the Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake. Nosh on a dinner buffet while you try to spy bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyotes, javelina or a mountain lion on the surrounding cliffs or shore. Specially scheduled cruises once a month add a stargazing program with an astronomy guide and onboard telescopes.

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About the Author

Elena Acoba

Since moving to Tucson in 1988, freelance writer Elena Acoba has enjoyed traveling to the four corners of Arizona. Her favorites spots in her adopted state: the natural wonders and the rich historical sights.

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