Summer is here and that means it’s time for some fun in the sun!
It has been a difficult few months for all of us, and the pandemic has left many people rethinking their summer vacation plans. Fortunately, we live in a state with lots of outdoor options for recreation.
The Phoenix Zoo, home to more than 3,000 animals, is reopening this month with shorter hours through Aug. 31. If your family is not quite ready to be around others just yet, the zoo is still offering its Cruise the Zoo option on select days through Aug. 10. Visitors can see some of their favorite animal residents from their car or motorcycle! For either option, tickets must be purchased in advance on the zoo’s website.
In Scottsdale, the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park began a phased reopening last month. The 30-acre park is a unique attraction and has resumed offering train and carousel rides.
If you are looking for some cooler weather, there are plenty of attractions to check out up north. Located in Williams, Bearizona offers both a walk-through and a drive-thru option to view North American animals in natural habitats. If camping or fishing sounds more interesting, the White Mountains may be the right outdoor wonderland for a little summer getaway!
Throughout the state, there are several farms you can check out to pick your own produce and roam outside. Schnepf Farms can be found in Queen Creek, and Mortimer Farms is located in Dewey.
Arizona is also fortunate to be home to a number of national parks, monuments and memorials. These sites offer the opportunity to check out hiking trails, scenic views and historic sites. The parks are reopening in PHASES, so be sure to check out the National Park Service website before planning a visit.
For a truly unique Arizona experience, you can check out Kartchner Caverns. They started running limited cavern tours, by reservation only, earlier this month.
No matter what your interests may be or where you are in the state, you’ve got plenty of options for a little fun in the sun this summer!
Clean the Windshield—It’s Movie Night!
Grab your family and ask your parents to dust off their car keys because drive-in movie theaters are popping up across the state and allowing people to safely get out of the house for a little family film fun. The concept is simple: with a large screen that lights up as the sun goes down, people can watch a movie from the comfort of their own cars, much like in the old days!
Earlier this spring, as movie theaters remained closed and people were looking for a way to get out of the house, pop-up drive-in theaters began opening across Phoenix. Around the Valley, you can find theaters at a variety of outdoor locations, such as Schnepf Farms and shopping centers.
There haven’t been any big new releases for the last few months, so the theaters are showing movies that cater to all sorts of tastes—from classics and horror movies to newer releases, such as “Onward” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.” All of the drive-ins are observing social distancing guidelines and taking steps to limit contact between people, from only allowing one family at a time to access restrooms to limiting concessions.
In Tucson, the Cactus Drive-In Theatre is hosting pop-up drive-in movies on a giant inflatable screen three or four nights a week. The people behind the pop-up have a goal of bringing a permanent drive-in theater to the city. Currently, West Wind Glendale 9 is Arizona’s only old-school drive-in still in operation.
Drive-ins have actually been around for more than 100 years as they first appeared in the 1910s! The first patented drive-in opened in June 1933 in New Jersey, and it was advertised as a place where the whole family was welcome. The idea really took off and drive-ins gained popularity, especially in the 1950s and 60s.
At their peak, there were more than 4,000 drive-in theaters across the United States. That number has decreased over the years and now there are about 330 drive-in theaters still in operation. Who knows, maybe they will regain some popularity this summer if the pop-up drive-ins are successful!