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Summer In the City: 7 “Cool” Places In Downtown Phoenix

by Taylor Costello
Arts & Culture Community Phoenix Community Alliance Travel, Shopping & Leisure Uncategorized Taylor Costello June 7, 2023

In the summer, air conditioning is your friend! When air conditioning arrived in the Valley, this new luxury first appeared Downtown, mainly in commercial spaces, such as the Westward Ho in 1929 and the former Fox Theatre, located on Block 23, in 1931.

Eventually, air conditioning in the desert became commonplace, but more so a necessity to weather the summer months. Below are a few Phoenix Community Alliance Member art and culture institutions that will encourage you to get out of the house periodically but not break a sweat while you do!

Phoenix Art Museum (1625 N Central Ave.) 

On display through July 23, “MOVE: The Modern Cut of Geoffrey Beene” exhibition shows off the imaginative, expressive fashion designs of the titular designer. (Photos by Taylor Costello)

A great museum shares the same traits to protect its precious art and assets inside its walls against deterioration, such as a controlled environment and minimal direct sunlight.  

A stable low humidity with cool overall temperature (between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit) in their galleries make “MOVE: The Modern Cut of Geoffrey Beene,” a special exhibition on the imaginative, expressive fashion designs of the titular designer, a staple for generations to come! 

MOVE: The Modern Cut of Geoffrey Beene is on display through July 23. 

Heard Museum (2301 N Central Ave.) 

A collection of Heard Museum’s 400 Katsina Dolls, which belonged to Senator Barry Goldwater. (Photo Courtesy of Heard Museum’s Facebook)

The home of former Senator Barry Goldwater’s 400 Katsina dolls, the Heard Museum hosts countless permanent and rotating exhibits that tell the stories of the Indigenous people of the Southwest and elsewhere.  

Exhibits to explore the different facets of culture include “He‘e Nalu | The Art and Legacy of Hawaiian Surfing” (Through July 16) and the ongoing “Substance of Stars,” an immersive examination of four Indigenous cultures and their spiritual values, told through commissioned artwork by native artists, like local muralist Thomas “Breeze” Marcus.

You can also find a large-scale mural by Breeze and muralist El Mac, at 111 W. Monroe Street.

Arizona Science Center (600 E Washington St.) 

The Arizona Science Center’s staff pose with their 10ft pair of functional scissors, made in-house, for the grand opening of ‘The Science of Guinness World Records’ in May. (Photo by Taylor Costello)

Literal big things are afoot at this Downtown institution! To kick off their latest exhibit, ‘The Science of Guinness World Records’ in May, the Arizona Science Center staff unveiled the largest* pair of functional scissors made in-house for the ribbon-cutting event. These scissors measured 10ft in length and weighed 93 lbs., which required six people, including Mayor Kate Gallego, to wield.  

The exhibit delves into the sciences behind the unique record-breaking feats encompassing their books and allows patrons to break those records. 

*-Hang tight, though, while they await confirmation from Guinness if their ginormous scissors are, in fact, going to break a world-record!  

 The Science of Guinness World Records is displayed through New Year’s Day 2024. 

The Arizona Science Center also recently announced they will be offering summer camps to families at no cost this year due to a summer enrichment grant awarded by Governor Katie Hobbs. CAMP INNOVATION is intended to inspire, educate, and engage curious minds through hands-on science. To learn more and register, click here.  

Children’s Museum of Phoenix (215 N 7th St.) 

The focal point of the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is “The Climber,” constructed from 50 tons of steel and running through all three floors of the building. (Photo by Taylor Costello)

The 1913 Monroe School, where the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is located, once was the largest elementary school west of the Mississippi and housed a young Jackson Pollack as a student. In 2008, the historic building was revived using local bond funding to unleash creativity for new generations of children. 

Highlights include a Noodle Forest (a collection of swimming noodles hanging from the ceiling), a children’s grocery store, their KIDchen, an enclosed outdoor playground, and hundreds of different spots to play centered around an ultimate indoor jungle gym called “The Climber,” constructed from 50 tons of steel. 

The museum is for children up to age ten, but all ages are tempted to trek through “The Climber,” which runs through all three floors of the building. 

The Nash (110 E Roosevelt St.) 

Zazu West performing at the Nash during a Django Reinhardt-themed concert, pictured January 13, 2023. (Photo by Taylor Costello)

Jazz is alive at The Nash! Recognized as one of the “Great Jazz Venues in the World” by Downbeat Magazine, the venue has spent more than ten years keeping the spirit of jazz thriving through different ways of engagement. 

The Nash, named after the renowned local jazz drummer Lewis Nash, gives a platform to a rotation of touring jazz musicians and vocalists while furthering the genre for generations to come. Teenage musicians can receive a crash course from Phoenix’s best musicians with educational programming from jam sessions, jazz camps, and workshops. 

Archwood Exchange’s Buy Black Marketplace (850 N 5th St., 7th Floor) 

Ali Nervis (left) and Henry Dickerson (right) co-owners of Straw and Wool hat store in Downtown Phoenix are co-founders of the Archwood Exchange nonprofit that hosts the Buy Black Marketplace. (Photo: Contributed)

For more than six years, local nonprofit Archwood Exchange has acted as an incubator for new Black-Owned Businesses in the Greater Downtown area, supporting entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses. Successful businesses whose ventures evolved into storefronts include Stardust & Sage (a Botanical and aromatherapy shop) and The Diaspora Collective (authentic fashions and home décor designed by Black artisans). 

Their Buy Black Marketplace activation gained a new physical anchor on Wexford Science + Technology’s seventh floor after being displaced from its former Roosevelt Street location.

The Buy Black Marketplace sets up shop twice a month, starting in July, from 12 PM to 4 PM. Check Archwood Exchange for a complete list of times. 

The Churchill (901 N 1st St.) 

The Churchill keeps their customers cool, and the summer at bay, using two evaporative cooling units, a misting system, and two 16 ft. diameter fans to circulate the air. (Photos Courtesy of The Churchill)

A different way to think of coolness! Under the arched roof in Roosevelt Row, 10 storefronts give visitors various ways to gather, shop and eat local. The Churchill is a collective for artisanal pop-ups to house operations under a 9,000-square-foot courtyard.  

Made from a structure of enclosed repurposed shipping containers by LOCAL Studio, this communal space keeps the summer at bay using two evaporative cooling units, a misting system, and two 16 ft. diameter fans to circulate the air. 

The Churchill’s Participating businesses include: The Brill Line, Infruition, So Far So Good, Cosas, Freak Brothers Pizza, State Forty Eight, Stoop Kid, Cayla Gray, Mod Co., and a Neighbor Market and Gourmet Pantry. 

For More Summer Family-Friendly Programming & Classes Check Out: Herberger Theatre Center, Phoenix Center for the Arts, Valley Youth Theatre and Xico Art y Cultura.

Central air conditioning isn’t scarce, so luckily, this list isn’t a complete rundown of cool things to do Downtown in the months ahead. If you want a more exhaustive list of weekly events and occurrences, bookmark the Downtown Phoenix calendar or check out our weekly What’s Happening Guide!