Rose Canyon Lake is a popular fishing and canoeing destination located 7,000 feet up on Mount Lemmon. 

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Let’s be clear, we love Tucson. It’s the cactus kingdom of our dreams. We love telling you all of the wonderful things happening in our big little desert town, but right now we’re telling you to GET OUT! Tucson is too dang hot, and we can’t just stare at the sky forever and wait for the monsoon clouds to roll in — We gotta do something, like take a fun trip where the sun doesn’t blast us too hard.

Here are a few places, all with in a few hours of Tucson, were you and the crew can explore and cool off for a bit.

Mount Lemmon 

Average summer high temperature: 73 degrees

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At nearly 7,000 feet, Windy Point Vista is an excellent place to stop for a photo while making the long drive up Mount Lemmon. 

With average temps that are about 20 to 30 degrees cooler, Mount Lemmon is Tucson’s most popular refuge from the midsummer heat. This 9,157-foot peak is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains, which hug Tucson’s north and east sides. A short drive from Tucson takes you through several different ecosystems including grasslands, woodlands and finally lush forest.

The small community of Summerhaven near the top of the mountain has several restaurants and businesses including a cookie cabin and a popular lunch joint called the Sawmill Run, where you can enjoy a ½ pound burger and local Dragoon IPA on the breezy patio. Work off your lunch by taking a stroll through the nearby Marshall Gulch hiking trail, a 4.4 mile loop that takes you through tall Aspen forests and past a little creek.

Further up the mountain you’ll find the southernmost ski area in country, the Mount Lemmon Ski Valley, which operates its ski lift even in the summer. It’s fun to take the half-hour ride up and down the mountain through groves of staggeringly tall Ponderosa Pine trees, leading up to an incredible view of Tucson below.

Further up the mountain at the summit, the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, operated by the Steward Observatory, runs the some of the largest telescopes in the country available for public viewing. The center hosts regular Sky Nights where you can look at constellations and learn about our universe. 

Bisbee

Average summer high temperature: 87 degrees

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Exploring the historic town of Bisbee is the perfect day trip for any Tucsonan. 

This funky border town nestled in the nearby Mule Mountains and has a lot of history to sink your teeth into.

What was once a bustling mining town during the late 1880s and 1900s, Bisbee is now home to artists and fun folks from all walks of life. With unique architecture, rolling hills and an elevation of 5,000 feet, the cool air and picturesque setting make Bisbee an ideal place for summer visitors.

Shop for unique antiques on Main Street, or grab a local beer at one of the handful of bars in Brewery Gulch. (Old Bisbee Brewing Company has a great outdoor patio btw.) After you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to Screaming Banshee for some solid pizza, but the real foodies will tell you to go to the intimate Thuy’s Noodle Shop for a big bowl of Vietnamese bun cha gio noodles.

And if you feel like cooling off even more, check out the Queen Mine Tours, located in between the Lavender Pit and Old Bisbee. Here you can explore an old mining tunnel that is always 20 degrees colder than the outside.

Colossal Cave

Average temperature: 72 degrees year-round

Drive time: About 30 minutes

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Ken, right, and Linda Sparks, visiting from Wyoming, walk through the Crystal Forest formations on a tour at Colossal Cave Mountain Park. It’s a dry cave — meaning it no longer grows stalactites and stalagmites. The temperature is a steady 70 degrees.

Sometimes the weekend won’t allow you a day trip — but don’t worry, there’s plenty of spots around Tucson where you can cool off and still do something a little of of the ordinary.

Our pick is Colossal Cave Mountain Park: It’s home to one of the largest dry caves in North America and is located about a half-hour drive from Tucson in Vail.

The cave has been in use since 900 A.D. when it provided shelter for the Hohokam, who also farmed in the basin below. It’s also the site of an old tale that deals with some train bandits and lost loot in the cave.

Take a guided tour when you can "oohh" and "ahh" over stalagmites and stalactites in a cool 72-degree setting. The 45-minute excursion takes you through the history of the cave, and leaves plenty of time for photo ops. We promise you’ll be able to make it home for dinner!

Flagstaff

Average summer high temperature: 80 degrees

Drive time: 4 hours

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Arizona Snowbowl is perfect to visit year-round. Be sure to get out of the car and explore the Aspen Loop Trail, pictured here. 

This gateway to the Grand Canyon has become a respectable dining city of late, with dozens of restaurants and bars lining the historic downtown area. Although the city of 71,000 people is significantly smaller than Tucson, Flagstaff has that bustling vibe of an international tourist destination.

You can find some of Arizona’s best Neapolitan pizza at the trendy Pizzicletta, located conveniently next door to Mother Road Brewing Company, with their piney Tower Station IPAs. Tucked back into a suburban shopping center, you’ll find one of Arizona’s best restaurants, Coppa Cafe, which forages for native ingredients to use in its French bistro faire.

Not to mention the slew of outdoor recreation among the Ponderosa Pines ... It’s a summer paradise. Snowbowl, located about a half-hour drive from Flagstaff on top of the San Francisco Peaks, is one of the longest skiing and snowboarding destinations in Arizona. It's also a great area to check out in the spring and summer months, when there's beautiful greenery and lots of hiking opportunities. Some notable trekking spots include the Kachina Trail, Humphreys Peak Trail and the Aspen Loop Trail.

Pine Top

White Mountains

Average summer high temperature: 80 degrees

Drive time: 4 hours

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Bayley Dumitrescu, 9, left, and her mother, Valerie Dumitrescu walk on the Meadow View Trail. Meadow View Trail is one of the Woodland Lake Park Trails near Pinetop.

With snowy winters and cool summers, the White Mountains, located in  is a vacation spot to many desert dwellers who flock there to watch the seasons change.

With a high elevation of up to 11,000 feet, this forest-filled mountain range is home several small towns, including Alpine, Pinetop-Lakeside, Show Low and Payson, that offer a number of fun outdoor things to do.

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Before you head down the road, take your car to Jack Furrier Tire & Auto Care to get it Road Trip Ready with 50 percent off services that will get you where you need to go. Click here for more info or call 520-547-5005. With 14 locations around Tucson, you'll find one near you.

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You can find the Star's digital food writer Andi Berlin at a taqueria near you, taking tiny bites and furiously scribbling into an old notepad.