Winter adventures in and around Arizona’s two biggest cities

Winter Adventures in Arizona’s Two Biggest Cities

Photo courtesy of Mount Lemmon Ski Valley

By Teresa K. Traverse

December 20, 2023

It can be difficult to get into the true winter spirit in Phoenix and Tucson, as you won’t find any snow falling unless you head up to the mountains. But not to worry—both cities do more than enough to cater to those in search of winter activities. From skiing on Mount Lemmon to seeing faux snow in shopping centers, here are seven items to cross off your Arizona winter bucket list.

 

Mount Lemmon Ski Valley

Where: 10300 Ski Run Road, Mt. Lemmon

Winter Adventures in Arizona’s Two Biggest Cities

Photo courtesy of Mount Lemmon Ski Valley

Mount Lemmon is Tucson’s winter snowsports mecca. When there’s enough snow on the mountain (as of press time, there isn’t), visitors can ski and snowboard at Ski Valley, touted as “the southernmost ski destination in the continental United States.” The highest elevation is at 9,157 feet. This area of the mountain is home to 200 skiable acres and features a total of 21 ski runs. Daily tickets are only sold at the resort and not online. An all-day ticket that’s good from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. for an adult (ages 13 to 59) costs $73 per person.

Pro tip: Don’t leave here without trying some fudge at The Miner’s Sweet Tooth. This shop has been crafting fudge for more than 15 years and offers more than 10 flavors of fudge.

 

Tucson Holiday Ice 2023

Where: 260 S. Church Ave., Tucson Convention Center

When: Open now through Jan. 7, 2024

Head to the Tucson Convention Center to enjoy an outdoor ice skating rink. And yes, this isn’t a desert mirage. Each ice-skating session starts at a designated time and lasts 90 minutes. Look forward to an outdoor rink that’s draped with overhead lights in the evening hours. Adult admission costs $22 per person. Children 12 and younger cost $15. The first session of the day is discounted—$12 for adults and $8 for kids. Socks are required and gloves are suggested.

 

Winter Wonderland Ice Rink

Where: 56 E. Main St., The Plaza at Mesa City Center

When: Open now through Jan. 6, 2024

Downtown Mesa is playing host to an outdoor ice-skating rink as part of its Merry Main Street happenings. The Winter Wonderland Ice Rink features 6,000 square feet of real ice. Skate around downtown Mesa for just $10 per one-hour session. Skate rentals are included with the reservation, and no refunds available. The site suggests that skaters purchase tickets in advance as only a limited number of walk-up registrations will be available. The ice rink is hosting a teen skate on Dec. 22 and 29 from 3-4:45 p.m.

When to visit: The City of Mesa will host free Holiday Movies at the Plaza on Saturday nights from 5:30-7:30 p.m. through the end of December. Visitors can expect to see films like “The Polar Express” projected on the side of the ASU Mix Center building. Check out this calendar to see what’s showing.

 

Skate Westgate

Where: Fountain Park, Mesa

When: Open now through Jan. 15, 2024

Winter Adventures in Arizona’s Two Biggest Cities

Photo courtesy of Baxter Imaging

Glendale’s Westgate features an outdoor skate rink that’s located near Fountain Park. Skaters of all skill levels are welcome. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and must be purchased onsite. Only Visa and Mastercard credit cards are accepted as payment. Adult and children tickets cost $22 with a skate rental and $18 if you bring your own. Socks cost $5.

 

12 Days of Snowfall at Desert Ridge Marketplace

Where: Desert Ridge Marketplace, 21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix

When: Open now through Dec. 24, 7 and 8 p.m.

Yes, there is a way you can see “snow” in Phoenix. Experience live holiday music and snow for 10 minutes at a time in north Phoenix’s Desert Ridge Marketplace for 12 days in December. Head to the AMC Lawn near the AMC Theaters, Sid’s Garage, and Dirty Dough Cookies. On Christmas Eve, enjoy snow every hour on the hour from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

 

Enchanted Snowfall

Where: La Encantada, 2905 E. Skyline Dr., Tucson

When: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, now through Dec. 23, 6-7:45 p.m. 

Tucson’s La Encantada mall hosts snowfall, live entertainment, and Santa visits. Snowfall will take place from 6-6:15 p.m. and 6:45-7 p.m. on the above-listed evenings. These performances will take place at the La Encantada Courtyard. During the snow showers, visitors can enjoy complimentary hot chocolate from Blanco Tacos & Tequila.

 

Holiday Sip & Stroll

Where: Tempe Marketplace, 2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe

When: Open now through Dec. 23, Fridays and Saturdays, 6-9 p.m.

Adults 21 and older can enjoy festive drinks and pop-up art installations as part of the Holiday Sip & Stroll at Tempe Marketplace on Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 23. Shoppers can enjoy a nightly snowfall as part of the Holiday Sip and Stroll Mobile Bar.

 

READ MORE: 6 perfect winter hikes to take in Arizona

Author

  • Teresa K. Traverse

    Teresa K. Traverse is a Phoenix, Arizona-based writer and editor. Her work also has appeared in national print outlets including Weight Watchers, Bust and Parenting magazines and on sites like Tripadvisor, Wine Enthusiast, SFGate, Brides, Rachael Ray Every Day, Bustle, Racked, ForRent.com, WeddingWire, Refinery29, The Daily Meal, Oxygenmag.com, USA Today and Fast Company. She's the managing editor of Sedona Monthly. In her spare time, she loves hiking, reading magazines and spending quality time with her long-haired Chihuahua, Rocket. Visit teresaktraverse.com to check out more of her work.

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