Monday, May 13, 2013

Surviving Tucson: A Guide to One's First Summer In the Old Pueblo

Posted By on Mon, May 13, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Catalina Pool, located just north of Catalina High School.
  • Tucson Parks and Recreation
  • Catalina Pool, located just north of Catalina High School.

"Tucson is so exciting in the summer!" said no Tucson visitor ever — and really, said no T-Loc either.

As the unbearable heat draws closer with every bright, sunny day, finding something to do between hugging an air conditioner and going to work can be quite challenging.

When I first moved to the Old Pueblo just three years ago, I had no idea the heat that I would soon face. Don't get me wrong, I knew Arizona was hot, but it wasn't until I was laying on a blanketless bed with three fans facing me and cold washcloth on my face that I knew how hot.

I should also mention that during the first two weeks of my time in Arizona I was unaware that my air conditioner was broken. I also had yet to discover what a swamp cooler was. But that's another subject.

Since then, I have grown to appreciate Tucson a little more. It's about the little things - the pools, the hikes, the stars and of course, the sunshine.

With that in mind, I've come up with some advice for new Tucsonans, spending their first summer in the unbearable heatscape that is Tucson, Arizona:

Utilize your mornings.

For many, especially students, the summer is a time to wind down and relax. Sleeping in is always a wonderful thing, except when it's too hot to leave the house by noon. (Side note - If you sleep with the windows open, be sure to close them early to prevent heat suffocation later on. We're only kind of joking.)

Whatever you do, do not waste your summer or weekend sleeping in. By the time you wake up, it will be too hot to enjoy anything outdoors, and that is just not a fun way to spend your time off.

Get up early, enjoy the morning temperatures, and if you need extra sleep, take an afternoon nap. By then, hopefully you'll have had some kind of productive day or adventure.

A pool is never a bad thing.
Not everyone has the luxury of having a pristine, sparkling pool sitting in their backyards, but there are plenty of public pools around that work just fine.
The Catalina Pool, located just north of Catalina High School, has depths of 4-13.5 ft and costs just $2 for one lovely day in the sun.

Currently under renovation, the Campus Recreation Center pool at the UA is another great spot. It was also just recently ranked in the top 25 in the nation by Best College Reviews.

Renovations are set to last until May 27, after which anyone can take advantage of the high quality facilities for just $8 per day. The facility is also offers "Family Swim" during university holidays. During this time, the price drops to $3 per day, per child.

Take advantage of the scenery.

The desert is surprisingly an awesome place to go for a hike. After monsoon season is over, many local canyons transform into giant swimming pools to provide the perfect depth for cliff diving, and make sure to check out Sabino Canyon or Tumamoc Hill, especially in the early mornings.

Sabino Canyon - Seven Falls hiking trail.
  • theoutdoorsoftheborder
  • Sabino Canyon - "Seven Falls" hiking trail.

Sabino Canyon also offers evening tours if you're curious about nightlife. At night time, you should be able to catch a glimpse of nocturnal animals on the prowl during a tour.

Tours are offered three times a month, during the months of April, May, June, September, October and November.
To make reservations call: 749-2327; for more information, check out

Make friends with the universe.
One of the first things I noticed about Tucson was the amazing opportunities to stargaze, both in-town and at clear, dark stretches of land.

For those itching to get even more personal with the cosmos, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter offers nightly programs, including a chance to look through Arizona's largest public viewing telescope.

Mt. Lemmons largest public viewing telescope.
  • The University of Arizona Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter.
  • Mt. Lemmon's largest public viewing telescope.

To buy tickets, check out:

Get in shape.
With so many students gone for the summer, why not take advantage of those deserted streets? Get up early, go for a jog, go for a hike and drink plenty of water. Just try to hurry home before the afternoon to avoid a heat stroke.

Don't forget to purchase some good shoes, as we all know the potholes hiding among the Tucson streets that would be happy to cushion your fall.

As a college student, the only reason I won't be going insane this summer is thanks to an exciting internship and two jobs. That said, I definitely remember my first summer in Tucson, and it was nothing to brag about.

While just getting into your car may pose as a burn risk from your seats, steering wheel or seatbelt, you can still have a great time - provided you take advantage of the opportunities at hand.

And always, always be sure to have a good air conditioner and a fan or two, because swamp coolers are just no fun.

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