Hello-o-o summer! Goodbye homework, early bedtimes, hustling from one activity to another. It’s time for movie nights, camps, swim play dates, vacations and carefree moods. These months are hot, but that won’t keep us from enjoying great activities. Create structure with weekly kids clubs or camps, or be spontaneous and go to an outdoor concert, movie or Desert Botanical Garden Flashlight Tour. At whatever speed your family needs to move this summer, use these top events and our Summer Survival Guide as a helpful guide.
Desert Botanical Garden Flashlight Tours
Nights in the desert can be lovely once the sun is no longer blazing down. The garden celebrates this and attract crowds during the hottest months with its family-friendly flashlight tours 7-9 p.m. every Thursday and Saturday through Sept. 2.
Bring your own flashlight to light up the trails and explore night-blooming plants and elusive animals. New activities each week promote play, learning and adventure. Kids get to see desert critters up close, make crafts and learn fun facts from garden volunteers. $24.95; $12.95 for ages 3-17; free for ages 2 and younger. 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. 480-941-1225 or dbg.org
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Arizona Broadway Theatre presents the enchanted tale of Belle and the Beast who is trapped under a spell and must learn to love before time runs out. See it June 2 through July 2 at Arizona Broadway Theatre, 7701 W. Paradise Lane in Peoria. Showtimes vary. $37.50-$77.50.
From July 7-16 the production moves to Herberger Theater Center, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix. More info: 623-776-8400 or azbroadway.org
Cars 3: Road to the Races Tour
Disney/Pixar’s “Cars 3” speeds into theaters June 16, but Lightning McQueen fans can meet the five-time Piston-Cup champion, his new tech-savvy trainer, Cruz Ramirez, and the sleek new next-gen racer, Jackson Storm, when they make a pit stop in Phoenix.
Meet these life-size characters from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 3 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 4. Fans can color a giant mural of the movie characters, experience a racer pit crew tire change, and enjoy an interactive play area. Catch a sneak peek of the movie in a Cinetransformer Mobile Movie Theatre. Desert Ridge Marketplace, 21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix. shopdesertridge.com
Summer Concerts at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
This gem of a city park in Scottsdale offers a great way to enjoy its playgrounds, grass lawns and kids activities as temperatures heat up. From 7:30-9 p.m. every Sunday through July 2, bring blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy local bands playing a variety of music, from Top 40 to 1960s tunes.
Food, ice cream and other treats are available for purchase, and kids (and adults) can ride the carousel and small-scale train for $2 per ride until 9 p.m. Free admission. 7301 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale. 480-312-2312 or therailroadpark.com
Itty Bitty Beach Parties
The beach comes to you this summer when Cigna HealthCare of Arizona and the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department host poolside parties.
Designed for swimmers ages 6 and younger (and their parents), these free beach parties include water safety instruction, games, dance and swimsuit contests and a whole lot of fun from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Fridays in June. Paradise Valley Pool, 17648 N. 40th St. (June 9); Deer Valley Pool, 19400 N. 19th Ave. (June 16); Pecos Pool, 17010 S. 48th St., (June 23); University Pool, 1102 W. Van Buren St. (June 30). phoenix.gov/parks/pools
The Wizard of Oz: The Musical
Valley Youth Theatre brings Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, to the Herberger Theater. As they are swept away by a tornado from Dorothy’s farm in Kansas to the magical land of Oz, they meet new friends and enemies in this classic tale. June 9-25. 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. $16.50-$34.50. Herberger Theater Center, 222 E. Monroe St, Phoenix. 602-254-7399 or vyt.com
Mighty Mud Mania
This popular annual event offers free, muddy obstacle courses for all ages. New this year, The Muddy Tot is for ages 1-3. The Mini Mud Course for ages 4-6 and The Original Mud Obstacle Course for ages 7-12 include a foot race, mud pits, a slide and ropes for swinging into the mud.
The Extreme Course is a more challenging option for ages 13 and older.Adults (ages 18 and older) who participate in the Extreme Course pay $10; otherwise the event is free. Also new this year, one-time-use Fast Passes for the Original and Extreme courses. The event includes inflatable water slides, food vendors, open-play mud pits and wash stations. 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 10 at Chaparral Park, 5401 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale. scottsdaleaz.gov/mighty-mud-mania
Prowl & Play at the Phoenix Zoo
It’s the first summer in the Valley for LouLou, the zoo’s new white rhino, which means it’s also her first Prowl & Play. From 5:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, June 10 (Kids Street Fest) and Saturday, Aug. 5 (Dinosaurs), the zoo will celebrate children and animals with musicians, artists, dancing and performers on themed Prowl & Play nights. Kiddos can stay cool on waterslides and water features. $24.95; $14.95 ages 3-12; free for ages 2 and younger. Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Parkway. 602-286-3800 or phoenixzoo.org
Birthday celebration at Children’s Museum of Phoenix
Help celebrate the ninth year of this museum dedicated to hands-on play and learning for ages 10 and younger. You’ll find all the birthday necessities: sweet treats, balloons and giveaways! 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 14. (The museum is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily in June and July.) $11; free parking. 215 N. Seventh St., Phoenix. 602-253-0501 or childrensmuseumofphoenix.org
“Get Animated!” at the Arizona Science Center
Step into the world of animators June 16-Sept. 4 and try your hand at animation when the Arizona Science Center unveils its new “Get Animated!” exhibit. Explore the entertaining world of animation, from traditional hand-drawn cel animation to stop-motion and CGI.
Highlights include “The Simpsons,” “Scooby-Doo” and “Mr.Toad’s Wild Ride” photo opps, a “Shrek” castle, cartoons from animation pioneers and drawing and stop-motion animation stations. Price TBA plus general admission: $18; $13 ages 3-17; free for ages 2 and younger. Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix. 602-716-2000 or azscience.org
“My Favorite Monster” at i.d.e.a. Museum
This new exhibit offers “light-hearted look” at our fascination with fantastical creatures — including dragons, ghosts, zombies and vampires — in animation, gaming, books, TV shows and films. Hands-on activities including storytelling, dressing up as goofy monsters, “monstrous” games, making monster movies, building 3-D creatures in the “monster lab,” and a monster dance party. June 16-Sept. 10. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. $8; free for children younger than 1. 150 W. Pepper Place, Mesa. 480-644-4332 or ideamuseum.org
Happy Father’s Day!
Dads get free admission to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa June 18!
Have a blast this 4th of July at one of the most entertaining patriotic parties in town. The Peoria Sports Complex transforms into a family-friendly environment with a kid zone, water zone, food-eating contests, a beanbag toss tournament, live entertainment and a colorful fireworks display. Festivities begin at 5 p.m July 4. $10; free for ages 12 and younger. Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 N. 83rd Ave. 623-773-8700 or peoriasportscomplex.com
4th of Zooly
It doesn’t get any more American than spending the 4th of July at the Phoenix Zoo. At 7 p.m. July 4, enjoy an all-American catered barbecue feast lakeside. The night includes special animal encounters, carousel rides, live music and bounce houses. Gather at the back of the zoo at 9 p.m. for a special view of the Tempe Town Lake Fireworks Spectacular show. Reservations are required. $45; $35 for ages 3-12; free for ages 2 and younger. The Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Parkway. 602-286-3800 or phoenixzoo.org
Christmas in July
Deck the halls on Saturday, July 8 when the City of Glendale’s annual Christmas in July celebration jingles into town. Enjoy free holiday crafts, sweet treats and discounts at the shops in Old Towne and Catlin Court. Santa Claus is even taking time away from his tropical vacation to visit and take pictures with the whole family. 10 a.m to 4 p.m in downtown Glendale. visitglendale.com
Winter in July
The forecast is calling for snow in Phoenix on July 15. You won’t even remember it is 100-plus degrees outside when The Phoenix Zoo transforms into a winter wonderland. Families can chill out and play in snow, splash around at the wet and wild play areas, and watch animals cool off and enjoy icy treats from 7-11 a.m. $24.95; $14.95 ages 3-12; free for ages 2 years and younger. 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. 602-286-3800 or phoenixzoo.org
Rubble from PAW Patrol at Tilt Studio
PAW Patrol’s construction pup will visit Tilt Studio at Arizona Mills Mall on Saturday, July 22. See the Nick Jr. character at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. The free event includes drawings for prizes. Tilt Studio, an arcade and eatery, is offering $30 game cards for $20 through Thursday, Aug. 31. 5000 Arizona Mills Circle, Suite 669, Tempe. 480-648-1222 or tiltstudio.com
July 23 starts one of the most anticipated weeks for fans of these ocean predators. But this year, you can ditch your TV and see the fierce creatures up close at both Sea Life Arizona Aquarium and OdySea Aquarium.
OdySea is is hosting “SOS” (Summer of Sharks) events all month long. These mysterious creatures will be celebrated with activities and educational programs that are free with admission. The “Sharks of the Deep” exhibit, a 10-minute film “Underwater Giants” and the Living Sea Carousel are just a few of the many ways guest can view sandbar, sand tiger, scalloped hammerhead and lemon sharks. $34.95; $24.95 ages 3-12. OdySea Aquarium, 9500 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale. 480-291-8000 or odyseaaquarium.com