Summer fun is closely associated with water wherever you happen to be. That’s especially true here in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, where we love our swimming pools as much as we love bragging about our dry heat. We also thoroughly enjoy driving, in the comfort of our air-conditioned autos, to other fun watery spots where we can plunge, paddle, swim, surf, slide and splash to our hearts content. Grab your hat and sunscreen and check out some of our favorite places to enjoy some refreshing, fun H2O time.
Catch a wave at Big Surf Waterpark and Kiwanis Wave Pool. Big Surf Waterpark, America’s original wave pool is open again for the summer season. Big Surf has lots of activities to choose from – for little kids and those seeking more than a little adrenaline rush. There are calm play areas just for toddlers and food and beverage options on site. The waves at the “Waikiki Beach” come every three minutes and they even offer surf lessons. Visit the Big Surf website for hours of operation, special offers and more details.
Tempe is home to what might be the ultimate swimming pool: the Kiwanis Wave Pool. Tickets are inexpensive, $7 for ages 13 and up and $5 for kids from 2-12. For a few extra dollars you can rent tubes and rafts for the water slides or just to use for floating in the water. No need for sunscreen – this water fun is completely indoors. Check the Kiwanis Wave Pool website for hours of operation.
Cool off at one of Tempe’s splash pads. The Tempe Marketplace Splash Pad is located in the heart of The District at Tempe Marketplace and surrounded by a shaded seating area for parents, and lots of great shops. It’s also close to excellent restaurants, including a few spots where you can get an iced beverage or dessert, such as MoJo Yogurt, Cold Stone Creamery and Nekter Juice Bar. It is open daily from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. On Friday and Saturday evenings, parents can also enjoy live musicians who play within earshot of the splash pad.
Check out The Cloud – the newest splash playground in Tempe at Kiwanis Park. This is the perfect addition to the many offerings at Kiwanis Park. Along with the wave pool, batting cages, boat rentals and more. Be sure to check the website for the official opening date.
The Phoenix Zoo, located in beautiful Papago Park, has several splash pads and water play areas.
- Leapin’ Lagoon Splash Pad is perfect for babies and toddlers. Adults can take a break and watch from shaded benches, or join in the fun if they don’t mind a good soaking. There’s also a changing area.
- Yakulla Caverns features stalactites, stalagmites and splash pad is great fun for kids five and over.
- At the Virginia G. Piper Enchanted Forest kids can take the bridge over a trickling river to the tree house, slide down the giant tree trunk and end with a splash through the river bottom.
If you prefer to be on or near the water, rather than in it, head to Tempe Town Lake. During the summer months, the lake is especially nice at sunset. Walk the paths that encircle Tempe Town Lake, or get out on the water in a kayak, paddleboard, electric pontoon boat or pedal boat which you can rent from Tempe Boat Rentals. The Tempe Town Lake kiosk is located on the south side of the lake, near the Mill Avenue Bridge. Tempe’s Riverbound Sports also offers sunset paddleboard meetups on Tuesdays. The paddleboards can be picked up from their shop located at 415 E. University Dr., Ste A-112, Tempe, AZ 85281. Check their website for more information and a calendar of events.
Tubing down the Salt River is another favorite form of warm weather recreation. Floating leisurely down the river, with water temperature averaging 68 degrees, is refreshing, relaxing and a ton of fun. It’s a quick drive from Tempe, less than an hour. Salt River Tubing & Recreation in Mesa makes it easy. The family-owned company offers tube rentals, shuttle rides and other necessities for floaters. They’re open daily from 9 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Learn more about tubing down the Salt River.