Summer dust storms are a part of living in Arizona, and they make for some spectacular photographs. But it's no fun to be caught in the pool or in traffic when a monsoon rolls through. At best, you end up with a face full of dust. At worst, you could get struck by lightning.
Considering that we're in for about two or three more months of scattered evening storms, it's a good idea to explore some of the Valley's indoor options to stay active. Here are 10 of our favorites.
4840 East Jasmine Street, #102, Mesa
If you happen to be tooling around east Mesa near the Falcon Field Airport when a monsoon hits, seek shelter in Starfighters Arcade. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time for quick minute, as the 4,000-square-foot establishment is overrun with more than 100 old-favorite arcade games (including Super Mario Bros., Galaga, and Space Invaders), classic rock, and enthusiastic gamers – all overseen by the Starfighters Arcade Social Club. More of an arcade museum, Starfighters Arcade is open Fridays and Saturdays from 7 to 11 p.m., and Sundays from 3 to 7 p.m. Playtime will run you $10 for a daily membership, and $35 for a month’s membership – allowing for two free guests.
It's All in the Game Sports Center
7797 West Paradise Lane, Peoria
While the indoor baseball and softball facility isn't the first of its kind in the Valley, It's All in the Game's Paradise Lane location (right next to the Peoria Sports Complex) is certainly the most impressive we've seen. With several hitting tunnels, pitching mounds, weight-training areas, and a physical therapy facility, this ballplayers' indoor haven can provide a great place to get some exercise in while staying in the air conditioning. Top-notch baseball and softball instructors are available to host private lessons and group instruction for tee-ball teams to elite collegiate and professional athletes. Reservations are recommended.
AZ on the Rocks
16447 North 91st Street, #105, Scottsdale
With about 14,000 square feet of rock walls and climbing area, AZ on the Rocks is a city block of a climber's dream. Whether it's your first time climbing or you're a regular Spider-Man, Arizona's biggest indoor rock climbing facility will have a wall to offer you the right level of difficulty – including the ROCKFIT program, or rock climbing combined with functional, dynamic exercises. If you're just not in the mood for climbing, the facility also offers a small weight-training area, and daily Yoga on the Rocks classes. AZR is open to the public 3 to 10 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 3 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
13525 North Litchfield Road, Surprise
Think of a bowling alley: its outdated music, uncomfortable seating, and a vaguely disconcerting smell that might be coming from the shoes. Uptown Alley in Surprise is exactly the opposite of all of that. Aside from being a significantly upscale bowling alley with spacious couches and plasma televisions, Uptown Alley also sports a full-size arcade, a two-story laser tag maze, a Sports Theater full of giant screens to watch your favorite sporting events, a stage for live music, and billiards tables. The food and drink are far classier than expected from a bowling alley, with a full bar and restaurant on-site, and there's a club-like area called The Approach for the 21-plus crowd to bowl and socialize on weekend evenings.
Topgolf Scottsdale at Riverwalk
9500 Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale
For those who haven’t been to a birthday party or corporate event there yet, Topgolf puts a new spin on the classic driving range. While the actual high-tech golfing area is outdoors, it's completely covered and cooled by fans and misters, so unless a haboob rolls through while you're taking aim at the colorful targets, you're mostly protected from the elements. In the event that the weather takes a terrible turn while you're practicing your swing, Topgolf offers a full bar loaded with gourmet food and drink as well as a wide screens and overstuffed couches. Pool, foosball, shuffleboard, and other table games are also available to kill time while a storm passes.
Coyotes Curling Club
2202 West Medtronic Way, #101, Tempe
Everyone's favorite winter Olympics event that no one gets has its very own training center in the Valley. Tempe's Coyote Curling Club is the only dedicated curling facility in metro Phoenix, and it's a one-stop shop for all of your curling needs. The club usually hosts a public and corporate Learn to Curl classes every weekend, and has games going Sunday through Friday. All the equipment you need to curl is available at the club; the only things you need to bring are some clean athletic shoes, warm clothing, and your can-do attitude.
2425 South 21st Street
If you ever wanted to be a race-car driver, or just prove to your friends that you'd totally beat them in real life Mario Kart, then you may want to seek shelter from monsoon season at K1 Speed. K1 Speed promotes that it's best for parties and large groups, but it’s also fun just speeding around the track with just a couple of friends. Also, one of the nice things about this go-kart venue is that the karts all use electric motors, so you don't spend the entirety of your time there inhaling the exhaust of the cars. Barring closure for a special event, K1 Speed offers the ability to Arrive & Drive for walk-ins, so no reservations are needed.
4240 West Camelback Road, #C-3
Westworld Paintball's Xtreme Pursuit Indoor Paintball Arena, located just off of the 60 and Camelback Road, is a tremendous facility. Though it's closed to the public on Mondays, open games are available the other six days of the week, and admission for the day includes as many games as you can play; you just have to pay for the paint (and equipment rental if you don't have your own). Everyone ages 10 and up is invited to take part in the open games, and instruction on the basics of paintball is included in the orientation video before a game, so don't worry if you've never done it before. Paintball isn't for everyone, but being indoor and air-conditioned are two big perks for Xtreme Pursuit over its outdoor competition during monsoon season.
Ice Den Scottsdale
9375 East Bell Road, Scottsdale
One of the most popular indoor summer escapes in the Valley, the Ice Den in Scottsdale provides a chilly retreat from monsoon season's smothering heat. With two ice rinks and an indoor turf field, the Ice Den hosts a variety of activities for children and adults. There's a public skating session every day, as well as pickup hockey games, leagues, and several skating classes for all ages. Skates are available for rent, and balancing assists called "skate trainers" can help even the most unsure of new skaters get on to the ice. Friday and Saturday nights turn the public skating session into a party with a DJ and light shows.
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4900 North Taylor Street, Eloy
So, SkyVenture isn't in metro Phoenix (it's actually about halfway to Tucson), but for those who want to experience indoor skydiving, the drive to Eloy should hardly be a deterrent on a sweaty summer afternoon. Even though you'll only spend two to four minutes flying a few feet above the ground, the instructional class and preparation will keep you busy for an hour or two. As a bonus, the enormous wind tunnel is located right next to SkyDive Arizona, so you get to see all of the terrified people preparing to jump out of a plane. It's not a cheap way to spend an afternoon, but if you're looking for something completely out of the ordinary to do, it's hard to come up with anything quite like indoor skydiving. Reservations are recommended.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version, which first appeared in July 2014.