Cucumber Cool in the Hot Phoenix Sun

By: Anne Eliason

According to Money Magazine's recent Best Places to Live poll, the Phoenix area is home to one of America's best small cities (Scottsdale) AND one of America's best big cities (Mesa). Phoenix' reputation as a prime real estate location began with retirees looking for an alternative to Florida. With over 300 days of sunshine every year, and a distinct lack of hurricanes, Phoenix real estate soon became some of the most in demand retirement property in the country. For some, 300 days of sunshine is pure heaven; for others, however, staying cool is a challenge. Well, I'm here to tell you that it is far easier to cool down in a hot place than it is to heat up in a cold one - especially if that hot place is Phoenix.

The first thing to know about Summer in Phoenix is that it DOES get hot - with temperatures around 100 degrees - in fact, it's the hottest city in America. The second thing you should know is that, because the tourist season is in the winter, residents get great summer discounts for cool activities such as movies, art galleries, live theatre, museums, hotels and resorts, and golf! In fact, many Phoenix residents cannot WAIT for summer to roll around: not only have the winter tourist crowds thinned out, leaving ample space on the city's many wonderful golf courses, but golf deals are among the lowest in the country! And there's more, this is just the tip of the, um, icecube.

Perhaps it's because museums are known to be cool and capacious that there are so many in Phoenix. From the Phoenix Police Museum, and the Living History Museum, to the Hoo-hoogam Ki Museum and the Arizona Doll and Toy Museum, it seems that Phoenix has a museum for every taste and every occasion. If the occasion is a hot day, remember, museums are BIG, with stone floors (cool!) and beautifully conditioned air. However, if museums don't cut it (did I mention the Arizona Science Museum and the Hall of 'Flame' Firefighting Museum?), there is a way to cool down out in the sun.

If you are looking for a way to appease both the sun-worshippers and the shade-seekers, there are - believe it or not - many options in Phoenix. If you're looking for quiet fun there's no better place than one of Phoenix's beautiful beaches (yes, I said beaches!); those looking for LOUD fun (equally as cool) will revel in the many water parks Phoenix has to offer. Beaches include Camelback Mountain - Echo Canyon Recreation Area (north of town, in Paradise Valley), Encanto Park (right in Phoenix), Vista del Camino Park (in Scottsdale) and Tempe Town Lake (in Tempe). Phoenix water parks include Castles and Coasters, Big Surf (Tempe), Mesa Golfland Sunsplash, and Waterworld Safari. In addition to all of these, many parks in and around Phoenix feature "splash pads" and "splash areas". These are usually free and do not entail a big, day long excursion; more the sort of place you can just go and cool off.

If you are planning on moving to the Phoenix area, there are a couple of important 'cooling factors' to consider when looking for a home. Carpets, while cozy and comfy, are not cool; look for homes with tile, stone, or hardwood flooring. High ceilings help cool rooms by allowing more space for heat to dissipate. Also, heat rises, so the higher the ceiling, the higher the heat will be over your head. Finally, check the windows in the home: windows can help to heat homes, so check which direction the windows face, and remember that morning sun is cooler than afternoon sun.

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