How to Stay Cool in Metro Phoenix This Summer

In New Times' 2016 summer guide, we're all about keeping cool — from eating and drinking to staycationing. Here's your guide to shopping, partying, and recouping in style. 

Unless you perpetually and supernaturally glow all summer long à la J-Lo, the sweaty look likely isn’t your best. But this season, there’s hope for the non-sparkly among us — those with bare legs sadly sticking to chairs, hair that simply cannot when temps exceed 100, and six already pit-stained shirts. Why? Because Phoenix has plenty of places to cool off, chill out, and leave you feeling shiny and new — no blotting papers required.

First things first: It’s time to trade in those skinny jeans for flowing caftans, airy shirts, and new sunnies. What we mean to say is, your future’s so bright that there’s no way you’ll get through this without a decent pair of sunglasses. Framed Ewe, 2502 East Camelback Road, carries the optical stylings of such indie brands as Moscot, Thierry Lasry, and Salt. They’ll make a statement and hide the Maybelline that’s begun melting off your lashes.

For a mix of old, new, and locally handmade goods, visit downtown Phoenix’s GROWop Boutique, 902 North Sixth Street. Pick up comfortable vintage sneakers and lightweight T-shirts for daytime adventures and a copy of The Collective Quarterly and a serape to wrap up with when night falls. The finds at Scottsdale’s Vintage by Misty, 7046 East Fifth Avenue, are strictly fabulous and date from the 1960s through the early ’90s. Get outfitted in a fabulously drapey designer caftan that was made in Israel or Missoni maxi dress for a dash of throw-it-on glamour.

Now you’re ready to go out — or, um, in. Even though the outdoors have reached satanic levels of sweltering, you’ve got options.

Take refuge from the blazing afternoon sun at the newest Harkins Theatres Scottsdale location: Camelview at Fashion Square, 7014 East Camelback Road. The luxury, 14-screen theater features plush leather seats that you can reserve when buying tickets to the Ghostbusters reboot or the latest indie offering, paired with an icy cold beer and popcorn.

Also pleasantly dark and air conditioned is Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue, a basement hangout accessible by a downtown Phoenix alley. Belly up to the bar, take to the games toward the back, burrow in the secret reading room, or nab tickets to see Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra. Just don’t miss the mobile that hangs from the ceiling and depicts Winnie Ruth Judd’s infamous murders. Feeling the vintage vibe? Grab a pitcher at Bikini Lounge, 1502 Grand Avenue, and cozy up in a booth to jams selected by some of Phoenix’s finest vinyl-wielding DJs. Open since 1946, it’s the city’s oldest bar and strangest tiki relic (and they aren’t exactly known for island-inspired sips).

Should you choose to come up for air, you can alternate hot and cold at Talking Stick Resort’s Release Pool Parties at 9800 East Indian Bend Road. The Scottsdale resort and casino’s summer bashes feature such star mix masters as Skrillex and Tigerlily and cabanas and daybeds for rent, should you want to post up for a while with bottle service and snacks.

Although poolside dance jams have their time and place, you probably can leave the earplugs at home when packing for a day at the Arizona Biltmore, 2400 East Missouri Avenue, where you’ll find four designated “quiet pools” amid lush landscaping and Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture. The hotel’s Paradise Pool, however, makes more of a splash with its 92-foot waterslide, swim-up bar, and nighttime movie screenings. For spectacular city views, visit the rooftop pool at the Hotel Palomar, 2 East Jefferson Street. Each summer, the Kimpton hotel’s third-floor hangout hosts a 100-day series of happenings — from free yoga classes and locally themed beer tastings to fashion shows.

When it comes to rebounding from it all, we’ve got one three-letter word: spa. The Valley is home to world-class spas, and you’d be wise to start at the Camelback Inn, 5402 East Lincoln Drive. Inspired by the desert, the spa’s menu includes body wraps and massages alongside its plunge pools and therapy baths. Try the Sonoran Rose Facial ($160) for a deep pore cleansing that wipes away dry skin — something that’s all but inevitable this season.

Need some pampering on a budget? Book some back-to-back treatments at the Aveda Institute, 8475 South Emerald Drive. The Tempe beauty school offers spa services at jaw-dropping prices. A 90-minute facial for $55? We couldn’t make it up if we tried. Lest that sounds too good to be true, don’t worry. It’s all under the supervision of educators.

If you’re more into wearable art, then take a deep breath before looking over the work by the nail technicians at Stash House Az, 1619 East McDowell Road, Studio C. Stiletto nails, bejeweled acrylics, graffiti art-inspired gels, and Rifle Paper Co.-style patterns are all within the wheelhouses of the talented nail artists, who share their handiwork on Instagram. Cool, right? 
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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski