A brief monsoon storm throws a rainbow over the valley, Tucson, Ariz., July 1, 2020. View to the southeast from Greasewood.

Ready or not, summer is here!

The harsh Arizona heat may limit some of the things we love to do year-round, but that doesn't mean we can't create fun, summer memories. Here are a few of the #ThisIsTucson team's favorite things about the hot summer months and our picks for things to do. How do you make the most of your summer?

The sunsets behind the Tucson Mountains as seen from S X-9 Ranch Rd. East of Tucson, Ariz. on August 23, 2020.

Ellice Lueders, food reporter

Embracing the summer heat — but also basking in the A/C.

As someone who keeps their thermostat at an economical temperature, I love basking in the air conditioning in public places, like grocery stores and movie theaters. But I also love that first moment of getting into your car like a sauna. I wait for a brief moment (but not too long of a moment, of course) before turning the A/C on. I love standing in parking lots in the dark of night when the heat is still radiating off the ground.

Enjoying an early morning walk before the summer temperatures get too high, or curling up with a good book.

I'm hoping this is the summer I can get up early enough to maintain my morning walks. If not, cozying up with a book in a room I've shuttered into a dark cave is a favorite indoor pastime for when the sun is punishing.

Savoring the long-awaited monsoon.

And then the monsoon! I love everything about that time of year: The anticipation as the humidity builds. The capriciousness of the skies, from cloudless blue to a haboob in a few hours. The feeling of redemption when the rains finally come. Then the smell of creosote and soaked pavement. It's the most special weather in the country.

A half rainbow arcs over Saguaro National Park East as a highly localized cell of monsoon rain sweeps through a small band of the eastern valley, Tucson, Ariz., July 28, 2020.

Elvia Verdugo, features reporter

Having a carne asada with family or friends.

As someone who grew up in a Mexican family, it seems like most carne asadas with my family or friends tend to fall in the summer months. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s the holidays or the summer birthdays, or perhaps we just like suffering in the heat. But, despite suffering through the triple-digit temperatures, there’s something really nostalgic about hanging out with loved ones and sharing a home-cooked meal. While I don’t recommend hosting one of these cookouts mid-day when it's 110 degrees, there’s nothing better than eating some fresh carne asada with all the fixings and cracking open an ice-cold drink when the sun begins to set and the temperature drops to a cool 100 degrees. 

Play your sport of choice with friends.

Summertime is the perfect time to gather friends and play an evening or late-night sport of your choice. Personally, my poison is hitting the diamond with some friends and playing a game of baseball. Although, it can be difficult to rally the troops when it’s still almost 100 degrees outside when the sun sets. Even if you can’t find a few friends to go with, take your best friend, brother, sister, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, whoever you can find, to play catch or smack around a ball with. Sure, you’ll be drenched in sweat when you’re done, but the memories you’ll create with your friends are priceless.

Stepping outside and enjoying the monsoon season.

I’m sure this list has something monsoon-related from all of us, but my recommendation comes from deep childhood memories. Growing up in Tucson my entire life, I’ve seen my fair share of intense monsoon thunderstorms, including those that would knock our power out for hours at a time. Obviously, there wasn’t much to do inside while the power was off, so my family would go sit in our backyard, and take in the cloudy skies and humid air while eating whatever ice cream or popsicle we could find in the freezer to try to stay cool. So when monsoon finally hits, I highly recommend going into your freezer, grabbing a popsicle, going outside and sitting on your porch to bask in the cloudy, rainy weather after a glorious storm rolls through the city. Although, I don’t recommend grabbing the blue Otter Pop that’s been sitting in the back of your freezer for the last four years.

Yanira Raggio serves up some raspados at Oasis Fruit Cones, 4126 S 12th Ave., on June 29, 2020.

Gloria Knott, editor

Taking advantage of nighttime events.

I think we can all pretty much agree that it's hot. Because of that near-universal agreement among us all (and because experts suggest limiting outdoor activity during much of the day), it's common to come across events happening at night when summer rolls around. I love being out around sunset — listening to live music, shopping from local artists, enjoying bites from a food truck, with the beautiful pinks and oranges in the background sky. It's not a whole lot cooler, but at least the view is nice.

Eating too many raspados.

I eat raspados year-round, but they really call my name come summer. I have a sweet tooth, so really, any kind of frozen treat will do the trick. But raspados are my favorite — especially after being outside for even a minute too long and walking into a raspado shop, feeling that first blast of cool air from the A/C.

Pretty much everything about monsoon.

Oh look, another monsoon answer. There's just something about the scents floating in the air, the stunning sunsets thanks to the clouds hanging in the sky, and the flashes of lightning from afar, peeking through your window curtains. I love reading a book or watching a movie, hearing thunder in the distance. I love how excited Tucsonans get on social media, posting videos when their area gets rain. I remember loving the summer rain when I was a kid, looking out the window whenever I heard even the slightest drizzle. I still find myself looking out the window when rain might be near.

What are your favorite things to do in the summer? Let us know at thisistucson@tucson.com.

#ThisIsTucson team, from left: Gloria Knott, editor; Ellice Lueders, food reporter; Elvia Verdugo, features reporter.


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Digital Features Reporter

Elvia is a journalism and history graduate from the University of Arizona. She hopes to create stories that show what makes Tucson and its community special.