An aerial view of Bullhead City with the Colorado River flowing in the background.

These Small Towns in Arizona Come Alive in Summer

If you know anything about this desert state, it is that it gets hot, really hot, during June, July, and August. Even with the oven-like "dry heat," Arizona's 120-degree summers are not only dangerous but prohibitive when searching for outdoor fun. That is unless you know where to look and not only for water activities, although they are the most popular. Here are a few towns that take the summer heat in stride and relish the influx of tourists curious about the untapped wealth of culture, excitement, and entertainment that abound within. Some are tame, while others are wild, but all are ready to welcome you, enchant you, and give you new memories you will cherish and share with friends and family. Let the trip begin.

Bullhead City

 A view of Rio Las Palmas condominium complex and neighboring riverfront property located on the Colorado River in Bullhead City, Arizona.
A view of Rio Las Palmas condominium complex and neighboring riverfront property located on the Colorado River in Bullhead City, Arizona. Editorial credit: Felipe Sanchez /

Situated along the Colorado River and just across the Nevada line from Laughlin, Bullhead City hosts many amazing events year-round, but during summer, tourism truly explodes. Access to the river's cool waters is a huge draw, with boaters cruising with tubes and skis dragging behind, boat parties, and lots of fishing.

On land, the parade-like pre-car cruise-in for the Perkins Bullhead Car Show is a spectacle for all vehicle enthusiasts. The Independence Day Tie Dye Party is a crowd favorite for family fun. Enhance your gardening knowledge and learn how to develop your green thumb at the Gardening Gone Right seminar. Then close out your day at a "dive-in," showing off the Little Mermaid as you float on your very own mermaid raft.

Cave Creek

Snow capped Desert Foothills in Cave Creek, Arizona
Landscape around Cave Creek, Arizona.

Just north of Phoenix, the town of Cave Creek takes country living up a notch, so much so that some call it the Nashville of Arizona. Perhaps this is due to the rustic southwestern restaurants such as the Horny Toad, famous for its Pulled Pork Sandwiches, or maybe for the rodeos held here every summer. The most likely reason has to do with a myriad of evening music events that speak to the heart of Arizona residents.

Cave Creek is a departure from the madness of the big city. Everything is intentionally designed to be slower, calmer, and picturesque. Feel it in the well-manicured golf course during the Cave Creek Rodeo golf tournament or the Hidden in the Hills Art Tour. It is very popular for motorcycle rides with special spots that are biker-only. Let's not forget the July 4th Fireworks extravaganza. There is something for everyone.


Aerial view of Kingman, Arizona.
Aerial view of Kingman, Arizona.

The first major city on Interstate 40 after crossing out of California, Kingman is a hidden gem with everything you want and need for your summer adventure, with a few events you don't want to miss. Have a blast and interact at the Big Bad Musical, where you witness the trial of all the wolves from fairy-tale stories in a real courtroom, a family-friendly spectacle.

For collectors, check out Collector Con. This convention is designed to buy, sell, and hobnob with collectors of toys, trading cards, and so much more. Perhaps you love motorcycles of all years and models. The Custom Motorcycle Showcase is just your speed. Not to mention, every weekend, the Thunder Road Farmer's Market is in full swing.


View of the Mogollon Rim from Payson, Arizona.

Adventure lives in Payson, and the outdoors awaits. Along the Mogollon Rim and at an elevation of 5,000 feet, Payson is nestled in the largest Ponderosa Pine Forest in the world, so as you can imagine, much of its draw has to do with its topography. Fishing, camping, and picnicking are very popular, as well as swimming in cool lakes such as the Woods Canyon Lake, sitting at 7,500 feet above sea level.

Zane Grey fans will love visiting his historic home, restored for visitors, as well as learning about the surrounding areas featured in his novels. The Payson Rodeo is a huge local event that attracts folk from all over the state. Come for the Summer Concert Series at Green Valley Park. Do you love books and art? Plan part of your day to enjoy the Authors and Artists Festival at the Mazatzal Casino.


Aerial view of Williams, Arizona, on a bright summer day.

So much to see, with even more to do, Williams is a must-visit destination, drawing a multitude of unique visitors each summer. Why? Its proximity to the Grand Canyon. However, it's not the distance that makes this little town unique. Plenty of towns are equally close, if not closer. The reason Williams is wonderful for visitors to one of the Wonders of the World is in the transportation: The Grand Canyon Railway, starting and ending right here.

Maybe you've done it, seen it, and want other things to do. As is common throughout Arizona, car shows, and rodeos abound, and Williams has both as well. The Historic Route 66 Car Show pops up as a two-day event in June. Cowpunchers Reunion rodeo will get you on your feet and cheer on your favorite cowboy. Then in July, take a gander at crafts of all types at the Independence Day Craft Show.


The spectacular Lake Powell in Arizona.

One of the northernmost towns in Arizona, Page is the home to Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon. Lake Powell is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world and is a destination for swimming, fishing, boating, and shore camping. Visitors can take tours and hiking trips around the area on trails designated for public use, as well as take in the fascinating marvel of Glen Canyon Dam.

A lot of people want to try river rafting but have concerns about rapids. Page has the answer with a Smooth Water Rafting Trip, perfect for viewing the lovely scenery and natural wonders and taking lots of pictures to share. Some of the unique topography is better seen by air, and the Horseshoe Bend Air Tour is ready to show you from a bird's eye view. Private tours are also available, guided by local experts.

Prescott Valley

skyline of Prescott Valley civic center
Skyline of Prescott Valley civic center. Image credit: CZfromPV, via Wikimedia Commons.

Surrounded by the Prescott National Forest, Prescott Valley is celebrated for its natural beauty, its true 4-seasons (as opposed to Phoenix, which basically only has two), and the unspoiled wilderness that surrounds the town. All of this draws thousands of tourists year-round, but during summer is when the town explodes with visitors.

Music is at the heart of Prescott Valley's summer scene. Grab your set at Civic Center Park or Findlay Toyota Center for plenty of summer concerts, including Red White and Boom, a fun 4th of July family event, or the Happy Together Tour. Scavenger hunts and puzzler events are always good for those wishing to challenge themselves while sharing an afternoon.

Is it time for you to come alive this summer? A visit to Arizona might be just what you need. There are so many towns with rich histories. There is always something new to experience. From Tombstone to Flagstaff, Holbrook to Yuma, and so many influences shaping the landscape, you will learn, grow, and become entranced by what makes Arizona tick.

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