things to do in phoenix in summer

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The Desert Isn’t Deserted: Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Phoenix Wildlife

Nature lurks around every corner at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden. (Photo: Alamy)

A common misconception is that deserts are an abundance of extra space, a vast open area of nothing. In fact, the opposite is true: deserts are actually teeming with wildlife. Throughout the Phoenix region, you’ll find interactive and educational experiences where you can learn the various types of cacti in Arizona, or get wild on an off-road tour. Whether you’re spotting scorpions or feeding giraffes at the zoo, the possibility of interacting with Phoenix wildlife is high.

Play and Learn at the Desert Botanical Garden

Who knew there were so many varieties of cacti?! As one of the most phenomenal cactus gardens in Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden features picturesque trails through the manicured desert landscape beautifully kept up by the city of Phoenix.

Learn about the various types of cacti and desert flora before grabbing a quick bite to eat or refreshment from Gertrude’s restaurant, a necessary oasis away from the crowds and heat. One of the best times to visit is during the holidays, as the Las Noches de Las Luminarias is a hauntingly gorgeous experience. Enjoy fireside conversations with cider or cocoa or stroll the lantern-lined trails before dinner at the Garden.

Get an In-Depth Look at Zoo Life

Boasting a rolling landscape with exhibits ensconced by various trees and foliage, the Phoenix Zoo offers a unique way to observe desert animals. Phoenix heat can get brutal, so take a lot of water with you and plan on ducking into the 4-D movie or new indoor farm play area for kids. Adults traveling with young kids should make sure to pack their swimsuits so they can enjoy splashing around in Yakulla Caverns or Leapin’ Lagoon, mini water parks perfect for cooling down.

Interact with Nature during Desert Wolf Tours

For a more exciting and daring adventure, go off-roading in a TOMCAR with Desert Wolf Tours and experience the outfitter’s “Sunset Scorpion Hunting Adventures,” where you get to drive into the sunset and seek out some dessert critters using LED lights. These are the only night tours offered where you get to be the driver.

Navigate diverse terrain as you make it to Sunset Point, the best place to view the last few rays of daylight as the sun descends into the mountains. Once it’s dark, flip the switch and take sight of not only scorpions, but perhaps some rattlers, jack rabbits and possibly a bobcat or mountain lion. As one of the best Phoenix desert tours, this excursion is sure to get your blood pumping.