Keeping Cool in Flagstaff


This will be my ninth summer in Flagstaff. Before I moved here I knew basically nothing about it. The summer before we moved from the Midwest, I would insist to my husband that when we lived in Arizona, we’d have a pool. “Everyone in places like that have pools.”

He encouraged me to read Flagstaff’s Wikipedia page.

When we bought our first house here later that year, the windows did not have screens on them. Maybe, I thought, this is one of those places where you don’t need screens? A few bug and bat visitors later, I came to understand there are actually no places like that. But in the 4 homes we’ve lived in Flagstaff, none have had air conditioning. I’ve heard that fewer than a third of homes here do. And unlike the pool and the screens, I will stand by the idea that you don’t need it here.

The beauty of Flagstaff’s four seasons is that they are all relatively temperate. Summer days are mostly warm and sunny and typically cool off substantially at night.  Except, historically, for about a week in June before the monsoons start, when it is HOT.

Last year, whether an effect of global warming or just bad luck, that HOT week was a month long. So this year, with some help from local moms, I brainstormed some ideas to get through those HOT days, no matter how many we end up with.

  • Water play at home. Kiddie pools, water balloons, slip, and slide, etc. I plan to drag the kiddie pool under our patio umbrella ASAP to try to keep us cool. Pro tip: buy the pool before it gets super hot… Target sold out last summer in the thick of it! Spray bottles of water to mist one another.
  • Water play away from home. The Aquaplex (indoor pool), pools at Bear Paw (outdoor pool) and Flagstaff Athletic Club (outdoor at the east side location). Oak Creek. Sunset Park splash pad and the community pool in Sedona. Some folks even double down on the heat and head to Wet n’ Wild and indoor attractions (Children’s Museum, Arizona Science Center, one of the aquariums) in Phoenix.
  •  Indoor Activities. We’ve ended up strolling the mall more times than I’d probably want to admit. There is a play area in there, which is a good diversion for the kids. Movies are a classic hot summer activity. Bowling for older kids could be a good way to beat the heat. Cabin Fever is opening every day at 11 over the summer, too. The library has storytimes and a play area for the littles.
  • From the inside out. The super-dry climate and high temps mean it’s important for everyone to stay cool and hydrated. Ice cream, popsicles, smoothies should appeal to most. My three year old likes bubbly water from the soda stream with a splash of juice, it feels fancy and special but keeps him taking in fluids.
  • Rely on a little help from friends. If a third of homes in Flagstaff have air conditioning… you probably know someone who has it. Offer to bring… well, basically anything (lunch? toys? wine?) to arrange a play date at their house. And AC moms… remember the rest of us when the temperatures climb!

If you’ve got any cool tips, please share in the comments. We all hope the monsoons will start soon… but we’ll need some help until then!