Looking For Ways to Keep Kids Entertained This Summer? Here’s What Six Valley Moms Recommend

By Alicia Barrón

July 27, 2021

Staycations, low-cost resorts, and summer sports—oh my! Here’s what Valley moms recommend to keep their kids cool—and maintain their sanity—from May to September.

School may be starting soon, but summer is far from over. To help our readers make it through the final stretch of summer, The Copper Courier staff reached out to Valley moms to find out what they do to keep cool during the hot summer months.

1. Kelly Gannon, Central Phoenix

This is only Kelly Gannon’s fourth summer in the Valley since moving from NYC, but she’s already gotten the inside track on some local hot-weather favorites.

The most brutal month in Phoenix for Kelly is July, and she tries to get her family out of town for the worst of it. Kelly says that time spent together with her two sons—13-year-old Chase and 15-year-old Grayson—somehow makes the summer heat a bit more bearable.

Her staycation pro tip: local resorts can be a lifesaver if you don’t have a pool. Among their favorites are the newly renovated pools at the Arizona Biltmore, the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, and the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa with a lazy river, water slides, and an ice cream van!

Kelly recommends going to ResortPass, where you can find many great options for day passes in Arizona. She buys her passes, rents cabanas, and books everything before she arrives so she can just show up with her confirmation in hand.

One perk to trading the Big Apple for desert life? Iced coffee.

“I’m obsessed with iced coffee (I even drank it in New York in the middle of winter),” Kelly told The Copper Courier.

This former television producer turned travel blogger is still fueled by coffee despite the slower pace in Arizona. And iced coffee is one of her favorite ways to cool down.

Kelly recommends First Place Coffee, a coffee truck that travels around Phoenix and offers seasonal coffee drinks. Kelly’s current favorite is the LEO, made of lavender, espresso, and oat milk.

AJ’s Fine Foods is Kelly’s daily go-to—especially during the school year when she can’t make it to the java-filled food truck. There is one near where her boys go to school, and Kelly says both the coffee and the iced tea are worth waiting in line for.

What’s her go-to order on a hot day?

“If I’m not going with something exotic, I’m pretty simple in my order: regular coffee, lots of ice, oatmilk, and Stevia (if they have it) or Splenda in a pinch,” Kelly said. 

2. Karese Dominguez, North Phoenix

Karese Dominguez is a North Phoenix mom from the New River area who says she and her boys most look forward to the freedom of summer since their school days are jam-packed with sports and work. “Summer months are still full of things to do but they are a little more relaxed,” Karese told The Copper Courier.

Visiting with friends is high on their list of activities, but they also make sure to plan out barbecues, camping trips, and water excursions. In fact, Karese and her family have fallen in love with camping in northern Arizona. “Every summer we try to pick a new spot to explore,” she said. “The lake areas around Flagstaff and Williams have been our favorites.”

Close to home, Karese and the kids enjoy the soft sand and finding crawdads in the nearby wash locations. And this summer, they decided to invest in season passes for Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Karese said she thinks the waterpark has something for kids of all ages to enjoy.

“When we are not out having fun around town, I create theme days for my kids at home,” Karese added. “We will do activities, crafts, themed snacks, and movies.” She said that’s usually something she  and the boys do during the extreme-heat days when driving does not sound like a good idea. The kids love these days, Karese said, because they are perfect just to relax and enjoy their air conditioning.

3. Jenna Pacheco Oxford, Peoria

Jenna Pacheco Oxford is an Arizona lifestyle blogger and freelance content creator who lives in Peoria but is originally from Texas.

When it comes to coping with the extreme Arizona heat, Jenna says, “It’s hard, that’s for sure.” She and her family recently built their house, and the pool isn’t quite finished yet, so they head up north to higher elevations and cooler temperatures whenever they can. “Within an hour or two from home, you can experience much cooler climates and even do some swimming or hiking!” she said. 

In the meantime, Jenna and her 11-year-old daughter, Addison, just fill up a kiddie pool in the backyard and splash around. It’s a surefire way for the whole family to cool down, Jenna said. 

The family dog, Remington von Wigglebottom — or “Remy” for short — isn’t very excited about it, but Jenna said their chickens love joining Addy in the pool to cool off.In fact, Addy spends so much time with her chickens during the summer months that Jenna has taken to calling her daughter their “little Chicken Lady.”

Above all, Jenna says, she has learned to get all of her outside activities done early in the day, and that “misting squirt bottles can be your best friend!”

4. Catherine Gochoco McKown, Central Phoenix

Catherine Gochoco McKown is a Phoenix-area realtor and fashion aficionado. She has appeared in publications like Marie Claire and Voyage Phoenix Magazine.

When it comes to the summer months in Arizona, what Catherine most looks forward to is what she describes as “almost forced time off.” This is the time of year that her daughter is not in school, and the real estate market slows down. That leaves a lot more time for her favorite thing to do — spending time with her family playing sports.

Catherine says her happiest moments of the season are spent swimming, kayaking, tubing, and horseback riding. She also likes to swing the clubs at Topgolf or enjoy a good old-fashioned barbecue.

A very Arizonan thing Catherine does to make her summer more enjoyable is paddle boarding. She likes it because the heat lasts all day and way into the evening, making swimming into the night a must. “Night swimming is a pastime that I’ll never grow out of!” she said. 

When it’s too darn hot to be outside and staying home is necessary, Catherine said she loves crafting and playing pool games. 

5 & 6. Ashley Gerardo and Bree Watson, Queen Creek

Get out of town and go north to beat the heat, say Ashley Gerardo and Bree Watson. These women are the masterminds behind The Exchange, a coffee shop in Queen Creek.

As moms, one of the things they love the most about Arizona summers is that they get to travel around the state and teach their kids about Arizona history. Bree has fond memories of day trips to the Grand Canyon and Sedona as a child and enjoys recreating those experiences with her children.

One of their favorite things to do is visit local Arizona spots like Lake Pleasant and Slide Rock in Sedona. They owned a boat until recently, so boating has always been high on their summer activity list. Hiking, camping, and fishing trips up north with the kids are also a must for the summer months, the pair said.

When Ashley and Bree stay in town, they like to take their cuties to the trampoline park as a way to escape the unforgiving Arizona heat (and for the kids to burn off energy). They also highly recommend checking out local pools as another option for hot weather activities.
Their pro tip: some high schools and other recreation centers with water slides sometimes have inexpensive rates for some fun in the sun in the water.

CONTINUE READING: Want to Get the Kids Out of the House This Summer? Here Are Some Activities in Phoenix and Beyond.

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