Welcome to Summer

Things to do to survive and keep cool

It is May in Tucson, which means Hell is beginning to freeze over and Tucsonans are accordingly going into Bear Grylls-level survival mode in the name of staying cool.

We prepare to go broke cranking up our AC systems, take cold showers, embrace the shut-in lifestyle for the next three-or-so months and, above all, accept our shared fate of rotting indoors until summer ends.

But you don't have to rot. There is plenty to do in and out of town without combusting into metaphorical Hell flames.


Support local cinema businesses while wearing a jacket in July. Yeah, that is possible, thanks to movie theaters' generous AC systems.

1. The Loft Cinema: The Loft offers two things Sonoran Desert summers rob us of—darkness and cold air. Escape from the heat and your hermit shelter for a couple hours and enjoy a film at The Loft (it's locally owned and a nonprofit, so you'll be supporting something pretty cool). This summer, they'll screen Joan Crawford films as part of their Summer Camp Presents series, a 70mm showcase, Loft staff favorites and more, among their normal feature films. Bring a blanket—The Loft keeps it that cold, and enjoy a beer and tamales from Tucson Tamale Company.

2. RoadHouse Cinemas: Feel fancy and stay cool while watching a movie from the comfort of a luxe recliner at the locally owned RoadHouse Cinemas. The theater screens current blockbusters and old favorites alike, and serves you delicious culinary and alcoholic libations to enjoy while you watch. Score.


They're air-conditioned, they're cultured and they're sometimes free.


1. MOCA: MOCA seasonally rotates contemporary exhibitions from local and nationally renowned artists of the moment. The museum also hosts a menagerie of community events that range from art "lounges" for high schoolers to yoga classes. It's indoors, it's hip, and it's super-Tucson. Check out MOCA's inspiring mineral, machine and mud-inspired summer art offerings. Get in for free every last Sunday of the month.

2. University of Arizona Museum of Art: UAMA is a hidden gem of sorts on the UA campus. This summer, check out exhibitions featuring the space artwork of Robert McCall, pieces created by intellectually and developmentally disabled UA ArtWorks program artists and terracotta and plaster maquettes from the Jacques and Yulla Lipchitz Foundation, among other museum gems.

3. University of Arizona Center for Creative Photography: The CCP is another hidden gem of the university. The center is "recognized as one of the world's finest academic art museums and study centers for the history of photography," according to its website. The CCP even collaborates with the Phoenix Art Museum by allowing the establishment to display photographs from its own collection. Check out its permanently displayed fine arts photographs and current exhibitions if you're feeling the need to get cultured without dying of heat stroke.


1. UA Flandrau Planetarium: Similar to The Loft, the Flandrau Planetarium offers guests darkness and coolness, on two fronts—physical coldness, and just generally rad planetarium shows that cover a variety of space-related topics. Notable shows include their "Laser Light Music Show," "Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon" and "Tucson Sky and Beyond."

2. Kitt Peak Observatory: During the day, check out the Kitt Peak Observatory's indoor educational offerings. Come at night, pack a picnic, stargaze and enjoy the area's balmy temperatures (it's usually around 15 degrees cooler than it is in the city).


Whether you're looking to day-trip or stay-trip, there are plenty of travel destinations inside and outside of Arizona that aren't too far from the Old Pueblo.


1. Mt. Lemmon: It's true—Mt. Lemmon is, on average, 30 degrees cooler than here in Tucson, according to its website. That translates to about perfect 70 to 80 degree temperatures on summer days when it's sweltering her in the Old Pueblo. Mt. Lemmon is only 40-minutes away, so those looking to camp, hike, mountaineer and generally explore, go check it out and enjoy the lovely weather.


1. Flagstaff: Head two hours north of Phoenix to Flagstaff, Arizona, and the weather, along with the scenery, becomes just woodsy-beautiful. Surrounded by pine-covered mountains, Flag offers funky small-town finds, copious San Francisco Peak hiking trails, camping and lodging opportunities. Definitely head up to Flagstaff for a couple days if you're looking to escape the heat without leaving the state.

2. San Diego: If you haven't traveled to San Diego over one summer at some point in time, get to it. The city is the perfect place to soak in livable temperatures and air that isn't unbearably dry while you lay in front of an ocean instead of a pool. Downtown San Diego is also pretty happening night-life and family-wise, and you can daytrip to other nearby beach towns like Encinitas, Carlsbad and Del Mar.


No, you don't, I guess. If you really enjoy summer's forced-hermit lifestyle, power to you, but don't forget to entertain yourself while you blow money on AC.

1. Take up that hobby: If you're going to stay indoors for three months, do something productive that at least kind of challenges your intellect. Learn to play guitar. Macramé. Complete a Rubik's Cube. Yodel. You have access to endless knowledge with the help of YouTube and the general Internet and, therefore, anything is possible.

2. Netflix and chill, by yourself: Step one: find a show on Netflix (I suggest Master of None, Parks and Recreation or Gossip Girl). Step two: binge-watch entire aforementioned show, only stopping to pay the Jimmie John's delivery guy and/or pee. Congrats—you just avoided the heat of the Great Outdoors for several days because you never left your house.

3. Game night: After days without human interaction, grab a box of Franzia, some pals and play a game of Monopoly or Settlers of Catan that may or may not ruin your relationships with them.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to accurately reflect the Loft Cinema's Summer Camp plans.

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