Cool Fun for Summer Memories

Be Prepared for the Heat by Enjoying Some of the Valley’s Cool Water Destinations

Maybe you have plans to be out of town and out of the heat most of the summer. But for those few weeks when you are home, what then? It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be humid, and if you have kids, they’re not going to want to be cooped up indoors. How many snow cones can you make them? How much doodle art can they doodle?

When it comes to family fun while keeping cool, there are plenty of locations where you can make great memories right here in Arizona—including some amazing waterways.

Here are some of the “coolest” locales to spend the day, where you can enjoy some of the gorgeous lakes and waterways of the area.

Lake Pleasant: Paqua Park at Scorpion Bay Marina and H2-Whoa!

Lake Pleasant Paqua Park at Scorpion Bay Marina (PaquaPark.com) is open Thursdays through Mondays during the summer. This must-try destination offers more than 7,000 square feet of inflatable water fun. Jump, slide, and swim during one of the 45-minute sessions at the park. Participants must be age seven or older and at least 45 inches tall. Life jackets are provided and required. TIP: This is also great news for those kids with a summer birthday—the park can be rented for private parties.

Done with the park? Hop over to H2-Whoa! (H2-Whoa.com), the world's tallest floating water slide. With three lengths to choose from, you can pick how high you'll fly. Two-hour sessions are offered Mondays through Sundays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Slide into this adventure—slide on your back or stomach and remember to strike a pose in mid-air!—or just enjoy watching others in flight.

If you are one of the latter, there are seats in the shade where you can relax and watch your friends and family as they launch up to 30 feet in the air.

There are also Night Flight sessions offered from 8-10 p.m.

Next door to the H2-Whoa! slide is Pleasant Harbor’s Boats 4Rent area (Boats4Rent.com), where jet skis, pontoon boats, and power boats can be rented for half or full days.

Barlett Lake

Just 55 minutes from Tempe in Carefree, find this beautiful lake (BartlettLake.com), which has more than 2,800 boatable acres. Located in the heart of the Toronto National Forest, the lake has beaches on the west, and mountains that break the breeze on the east.

The natural habitats surrounding the lake are home to a variety of wildlife, making it possible to spot everything from mule deer to bald eagles.

Here you can rent pontoon boats, a jet ski boat and tubes, kayaks, paddle boards, jet skis, or a party yacht. There’s also shoreline camping available—a fair amount of the west side of the lake is for campers and picnicking. (Several state records for fish have also been set here.)

For those who dream of continuous access to boats without the entire financial outlay or boat upkeep, there’s the Bartlett Lake Marina Boat Club, a membership-based boat club where members have access to 14 boats year-round, as well as water skis, boards, tubes, and ski vests. The club handles upkeep, insurance, and maintenance, leaving you to be free to simply enjoy boating.

Bartlett Lake is the result of Bartlett Dam, completed in 1936 to tame the flooding and provide irrigation from the Verde River. The dam stands 308.5 feet tall, is 800 feet long, and is the longest multi-arch dam of its kind when it was built. It's impressive.

Salt River Tubing

Ready for a fun day floating down a river?

With Salt River Tubing (SaltRiverTubing.com) ,you’ll be picked up at the parking lot by bus to take you to the Salt River. From the moment you board to your float down the river to the (often) wild horse sightings along the way, this water adventure always makes for an adventure to remember.

While you can float separately, groups usually bring rope to tie their tubes together and float together. You can also bring a cooler and rent a "cooler tube" to tow along.

There are hop-off points along the way, depending on how long you want to float—an hour or for the afternoon. The company’s busses run all day, and are usually available within 20 minutes at each hop-off stop to pick you up for a ride back to the parking lot.

To participate, guests must be eight years old or 4 feet tall. Life vests are not available for rent but can be purchased for $15 at the snack shack.

Look for special summer events, such as the 25th Annual Spooktacular Halloween (July 15) and 11th Annual Mega Hawaiian Hula (July 29) events, for extra floating fun. 

Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat!

Tip: The river is best traveled with a UV-protective sun shirt.

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