Friends Rebecca Werner, left, Annbell DeVinney and Bill DeVinney walk past a mural in downtown Tucson during “Meet Me at Maynards” on April 5.

Summer in Tucson can mean blazing temperatures, lots of crossed fingers for monsoon season and... boredom.

Things do slow down in the summer, but there's still lots of ways to make it fun.  

We've created a bucket list of 12 local things — some very simple and some worth a longer drive — to do this summer.


1. Get a raspado from a shop you've never visited before

Hielitos at American Eat Co. makes raspados from Hawaiian shaved ice. From left: horchata raspados, the Michi-Agua and a fresa raspados with lechera and Thrifty ice cream.

If you're a raspado lover, you probably have a favorite shop for your icy treat. But Tucson is home to at least 20 different shops, so now's the time to check out a new place.

Bonus points if you try a new flavor.

2. Cross your fingers for a beautiful monsoon season and dance in the rain when it comes (safely, of course)

Lightning strikes as a monsoon cell skirts the ranges to the west of the city shortly after sunset on Aug. 7, 2020. Tucson received 1.62 inches of rain during last year’s monsoon.

Last year's monsoon season was pretty miserable so let's hope for a much better season this year. And when the rain finally pours down (like I'm dreaming it will), bask in the moment of cool raindrops and the smell of creosote. 

Just be sure to go out safely — not during a lightning storm or when it's flooding.

3. Watch a movie that was filmed in Tucson

Actors Anthony Edwards, far right and Robert Carradine, center, stumble with their suitcases during a scene for the film, "Revenge of the Nerds" on January 30, 1984. Annette Knapp, far left and Susan Schellmeyer, were extras who played women enjoying a picnic on the University of Arizona campus. The movie was filmed in areas in and around the campus. 

Dozens and dozens of movies have been filmed in Tucson, from Westerns shot at Old Tucson Studios to "Can't Buy Me Love" that was filmed at Tucson High School in the '80s and stars Patrick Dempsey. 

So, when it's too hot to even think about stepping outside, flip on a movie and see how many Tucson locations you can spot. Here's a list from 2020 to get you started — just make sure to check that the streaming services still have the local film you're hoping to watch.

4. See the lavender bloom at Oracle's lavender farm

Carolyn Blair, owner of Life Under the Oaks Lavender Farm, pulls weeds as she preps a fragrant field of lavender just weeks before bloom season.

By the time summer rolls around, wildflowers have stopped blooming and the peak time for saguaro blossoms is nearing its end. But lavender is just getting started.

The peak bloom for lavender is in mid-June, which means there's still time to pick your own lavender at Life Under The Oaks Lavender Farm and take it home with you. This summer, the lavender farm is hosting a number of events from craft workshops to dinners

5. Remember summer 2021 by snapping a selfie with the sunset (or a mural)

Sunset sky seen from Saguaro Park East, Wednesday, June 6, 2018, Tucson, Ariz.

Tucson has some of the prettiest sunsets, so hopefully this one won't be too hard to check off your bucket list. 

And considering the very extensive list of murals in Tucson, you could probably take a dozen mural selfies before summer ends.

6. Read a book by a local author

Books on display at Barrio Books, one of the local bookstores who gave recommendations for this year's reading challenge. 

If you're finding yourself with some extra time indoors this summer, try curling up with a book by a local author.

While there are countless books by local authors, we've put together a handy list of some of our favorites for our Summer Reading Challenge. The list includes books written by local authors, are about Tucson or Arizona, or stories that are relevant to our community.

7. Try an ice cream flavor you normally wouldn't go for

A selection of flavors in six one-scoop helpings are available at The Screamery in Tucson, including chocolate, left, coffee toffee, blueberry cheesecake, peppermint chip, strawberry banana sorbet and vanilla.

If you're someone who almost always goes for fudgesicle, maybe now's your chance to try something new. Although the flavors are alternating, some interesting ones that Hub Ice Cream has had in the past include olive oil, honey lavender and coconut ash. 

At The Screamery, there's a flavor called Whiskey Way that's bourbon-infused with candied potato chips and crackers. (Alternatively, try a flight of six different ice cream flavors!)

8. Go stargazing on Mount Lemmon

A truck drives up the Catalina Highway approaching Windy Vista Point, on Aug. 1, 2020. Catalina Highway closed Sunday morning after a motorcyclist crashed at Milepost 6. 

If you're really trying to escape the Tucson heat, take a drive up to Mount Lemmon. Go hiking, pick up some homemade fudge at the Mt. Lemmon General Store and maybe even stay at the new Mt. Lemmon Hotel.

Or you can stay late and catch a glimpse of the twinkling stars.

9. Visit a restaurant you've never been to

Pictured is Alfredorado, which has a guajillo chile and garlic cream sauce, from Zio Peppe at 6502 E. Tanque Verde Road.

Tucson has a long list of new restaurants to check out — Zio Peppe, Fullylove's and Flora's Market Run (yes, their restaurant is officially open now!), to name a few.

But besides the new-to-Tucson restaurants, there may be dozens of older local favorites that are new to you that might be worth trying!

10. Enjoy live music (at night when temperatures are cooler, of course) on a local patio

Drew Cooper on the stage in the St. Philip's Plaza courtyard, May 22, 2020, Tucson, Ariz.

Maybe you can check Nos. 9 and 10 off your bucket list at the same time. Some spots that frequently offer live music include Hotel Congress, Motosonora Brewery and St. Philip's Plaza.

11. Go on a staycation or a day trip

Hotel McCoy, 720 W Silverlake Rd., on April 7, 2020.

If you're hoping to get away from home for a bit, there are lots of options from the artsy Hotel McCoy to golf resort Loews Ventana Canyon

Or if you want to escape the city, explore a winery in Sonoita or take a trip to the quaint town of Bisbee.

12. Eat an Eegee

Yummy Eegee's are the perfect summer treat.

This is possibly the easiest item on this list thanks to the many Eegee's locations allover Tucson. But when you're hot and dying for something sweet, Eegee's is a good place to stop.

Plus, the flavor of the month for July is usually watermelon, which many Tucsonans rave about.


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