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Yayoi Kusama, You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies, 2005. Photo by Airi Katsuta

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Explore the Valley

Staying in Town This Summer? Take Advantage of the Time to Experience Local Destinations

The Valley and its surrounding areas are filled with unique attractions, fun experiences, and historic destinations. Whether you’re in town this summer and looking for something to do or you tuck this list away for a later date, make the time to explore where you live.

Be Surrounded by Fireflies

In other areas of the country, summer means evenings spent watching fireflies as they light up the darkness. While we don’t have fireflies in the Valley, we do have the unique Fireflies Infinity Mirror Room at Phoenix Art Museum.

This beloved installation, You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies by artist Yayoi Kusama—will evoke feelings of those summer evenings. Her repetitive and extensive use of polka dots, mirrors, and LED lights investigates infinite repetition. 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix; PHXArt.org

Explore a Historic Location

Tour the Rosson House, a fully restored 1895 Queen Anne Victorian house museum, located on Block 14 of the original townsite of Phoenix (now Heritage Square). Tours of the home, which was named for owners Dr. Roland Lee Rosson and his wife, Flora Murray Rosson, include all living areas, and offer visitors a glimpse into the lifestyles of early Phoenix families with furnishings and items from the time showcased. 113 N. Sixth St., Phoenix; HeritageSquarePhx.org

Go For a Cruise

Step back in time as you enjoy the nature of Canyon Lake and its surrounding flora and fauna on The Dolly Steamboat, a replica of a classic American sternwheeler. Located just outside of the Valley in Tortilla Flat, cruisers have the option of different tours—a twilight dinner cruise, a scenic nature cruise, an astronomy dinner cruise, or a game and fish bighorn sheep cruise.

As The Dolly winds through the inner waterways, you can often spot animals and even bald eagles. And don’t worry—while the boat may be a throwback to the past, it still boasts air conditioning on the upper and lower decks during the summer. 16802 AZ-88, Tortilla Flat; DollySteamboat.com

Hit the (Wine) Trail

Did you know that we have a wine trail right here in the Valley? Head to Downtown Scottsdale and follow the Scottsdale Wine Trail for a day exploring at the tasting rooms of several Arizona vineyards. Seven tasting rooms—Aridus Wine Company, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Carlson Creek, LDV Winery, Merkin Vineyards, Salvatore Vineyards, and The Wine Collective—participate in the Wine Trail (there’s a map on the website), all showcasing a selection of their Arizona-grown wines. So, raise a glass and toast to Arizona, as well as a fun day. Downtown Scottsdale; ScottsdaleWineTrail.com

Take a Cocktail Journey

At Century Grand Phoenix, book a “ticket” (i.e., a reservation) to Platform 18, a Presidential Pullman-inspired train car that resides inside the location and get ready for an immersive, elevated cocktail experience. The 90-minute journey—complete with changing scenery in the train windows—takes its “travelers” on a train ride while they imbibe on exquisitely crafted cocktails. 3626 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix; CenturyGrandPhx.com

Dive Into Arizona’s History

How much do you know about Arizona? Visit the Arizona Capitol Museum and explore exhibits such as USS Arizona: Flagship of the Fleet, Minerals of Arizona’s Historic Mining Communities, Historic House Chamber, Celebrating Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and more, plus view a 7-foot flag made from 114,006 Lego bricks (to represent the total number of square miles in Arizona). 1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix; AZCapitolMuseum.gov

Listen to the Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ

Each year, Organ Stop Pizza—which recently celebrated 50 years in the Valley—attracts hundreds of thousands of patrons to view and listen to its Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ, which has come to be known as the biggest and best in the world. The theater pipe organ rises above the audience on an 8,000-pound rotating hydraulic elevator to sit 10 feet above the 700-seat dining room. The music is accompanied by theatrical performances, complete with dancing cat puppets, disco balls, and light shows. Only one of two "pizza and pipes" concepts left in the U.S., the songs played range from classical music to Disney favorites to pop and rock hits. Dine on pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and more while you listen. 1149 E. Southern Ave., Mesa; OrganStopPizza.com 

Watch Famous Windbells Being Made

Tucked into a quiet neighborhood in Paradise Valley is Cosanti, built by architect, urban designer, and philosopher Paolo Soleri (1919-2013). The structures here were created with his “Earth-casting” technique, which adhered to his idea of “arcology.” Here, you can watch artisans still pour and make the famous Cosanti Originals windbells. Finished windbells are also available for purchase at the locale. Tours are offered select days. 6433 E. Doubletree Ranch Road, Paradise Valley; Cosanti.com

Learn All About Firefighting

Have you ever seen an 1897 Champion water tower or American La France Type 400 senior fire engines dating from the mid-1930s? What about a 1750 Newsham Estate Pumper? More than 400 helmets from around the world? Manual and horse-drawn equipment? The Hall of Flame has it all. There are more than 130 wheeled pieces in the collection and more than 10,000 smaller objects, all of which relate to the history of firefighting. 6101 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix; HallOfFlame.org

  • Yayoi Kusama, You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies, 2005. Photo by Airi Katsuta
  • Organ Stop Pizza
  • Carlson Creek Vinyard
  • Carlson Creek Vinyard
  • Rosson House at Heritage Square. Photo by An Pham/Visit Phoenix
  • Cosanti. Photo by Jessica James Photo on behalf of the Cosanti Foundation
  • The Dolly Steamboat. Courtesy The Dolly Steamboat