Phoenix sits about 12 miles away from the sun in the middle of the aptly named Valley of the Sun. Here, everything is designed to kill you from rattle snakes to cactus to the heat itself. Temperatures often soar well above 110 degrees Fahrenheit and it doesn't get much easier at night. Walk out of your favorite bar, club or movie theater and get hit with a blast of nighttime hot air. Feel the wavy heat emanating from the pavement as you walk to your car. Yes, you can literally fry an egg on the sidewalk and it feels like there's no escape. Fortunately, there are a few ways to beat the heat, and, just to sweeten the pot, these three ways are free, too.
Phoenix Art Museum
Get your art on at the Phoenix Art Museum. Located at 1625 North Central Avenue, this giant building offers a bounty of art works and, more importantly, air conditioning. Tickets usually cost you. Visit between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. during the first Friday of the month or between 3 .pm. and 9 p.m. on the Wednesday of your choosing to receive free admission. This museum is most proud of its collection of photography but hits you with the art of the Americas as well as Asia and Europe in a modern and contemporary style. The Phoenix Art Museum is continually rocking events, so you might just bump into one. Hopefully they offer free finger food while you stand there pretending to understand the work under the air conditioning vent.
Tube the Salt River
Party time on the Salt River. Grab your favorite floaty toy, a couple of friends, and two cars then head west on Shea Boulevard until it turns into the Beeline Highway then keep going for another 10 miles. Bang a right on Saguaro Lake Boulevard and drive yet another 10 miles to the Salt River Recreational Area. Look at all the people with inner tubes. There will be a low point on the river that is the end-point, park one car here then load up into the other car. Follow the private company shuttles dropping people off at the high point, park and jump into the water. You'll notice a bunch of coolers full of adult beverages floating alongside groups of partiers. You'll also notice that nobody gets out to pee. Enjoy the ride, the cool water and the desert scenery then jump out at the end-point, where you parked. Load back up, get the other car upstream and be sure to designated two sober drivers; Arizona has some of the harshest DUI penalties in the country.
First Friday Downtown Phoenix
Phoenix has culture and tries to show it off during the first Friday of every month. The Downtown area becomes alive with an eclectic crowd. It crawls with college kids, hipsters, artsy couples, families and older folks out for a stroll. Businesses stay open late, exhibit local artworks and even provide food and beverage tastings. Most importantly, each of these businesses offer free air conditioning. Some of the participating venues are restaurants that offer free bites of cooling deserts. The downtown area is saturated with misters and it all takes place at night, when the sun extinguishes itself on the mountainous horizon and temperatures start dropping.