Art and stars
Arizona’s capital city is vibrant during summer nights. Experience arts and culture during monthly First and Third Fridays, when more than 50 studios, art galleries, performance spaces, restaurants and bars keep their doors open long after sundown.
During First Friday Art Walk, use the free trolley shuttle to get around to nearby shops and performances that draw thousands. Third Fridays, commonly known as "Gallery Night," is decidedly more art-focused, and draws a likeminded crowd to peruse openings and chat with local and emerging artists.
Star Parties, Northern Arizona
Find your way around the star-filled summer sky. Every June, at the Grand Canyon Star Party, amateur astronomers spend eight days giving talks, leading constellation tours and setting up telescopes on the North and South rims of the national park. Astronomy buffs also gather at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument for Summer Night Sky events one Saturday in June, July and August to seek out planets, stars and constellations.
Meet our local flora and fauna
Prowl & Play, Phoenix
Have a wild time at the Phoenix Zoo. This June and August, the zoo hosts Prowl & Play, a nighttime event guaranteed to keep kids busy with specially themed activities, waterslides, a dance party and encounters with some of the animal residents. June's theme is Superheroes Unite, featuring costumed characters, and August celebrates magic with wandering wizards.
Cool Summer Nights, Tucson
Visit the acclaimed Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on Saturday nights from late May to early September to see the comings and goings of nocturnal denizens. Bring a flashlight to explore parts of the zoo and botanical gardens, gaze at the stars and encounter scorpions, bats and beavers.
Twilight Thursdays and Fridays, Tucson
What started as a summer after-hours adventure at the Tucson Botanical Gardens is now a year-round treat. Twinkling tree lights cast a glow along your walk among cacti, herbs, wildflowers and plants that attract birds and butterflies, which surround this former early-20th-century home. Be sure to make reservations for a seasonal meal at Café Botanica.
Wet and wild fun
Glow Paddle, Tempe
Tweens and older can glide along placid Tempe Town Lake aboard a kayak in one of several Glow Paddle sessions from May 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. Be sure to register on the City of Tempe website before you go. Paddlers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Night Splash, Mesa
Golfland's Sunsplash is a high-energy, family-fun water park. On select days from June through September, it stays open late for Night Splash. the dark of night – safely lighted, of course – adds another dimension to the thrilling slides, chutes and falls and the calmer wave pool, lazy river, tot pool and play area. 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.
Dinner Cruises, 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 on-board telescopes.
This story originally ran on June 4, 2017. It was last updated March 22,2018.