Tubing in the Salt River northeast of Phoenix  is a fascinating combination of relaxing and trashy. On the two- to four-hour trips, tubers float along the banks of the lower Salt River, where you’ll experience an interesting mix of wildlife and some raucous partiers.
The tour company Salt River Recreation (480/984-3305, www.saltrivertubing.com , $15) will rent you a tube and give you a ride to and from the parking lot. Take Highway 202 (Loop 202) to Power Road in east Mesa and drive seven miles north.
As might be expected in a town where summertime temperatures regularly top 100 degrees, metro Phoenix has a wealth of water parks. The three biggest all feature the requisite water slides, wave pools, and tubing areas, but each has a slightly different focus.
The claim to fame of Big Surf (1500 N. McClintock Dr., 480/947-2477, $26 adult, $19.50 child) is a wave pool big enough to allow actual surfing, as featured in the 1987 movie North Shore.
Golfland Sunsplash (155 W. Hampton Ave., 480/834-8319, www.golfland.com/mesa , $26 adult, $19.50 child) in Mesa has a dozen different water slides but a less powerful wave pool.
And the newest destination, Wet ’n’ Wild (4243 W. Pinnacle Peak Rd., 623/201-2000, http://phoenix.mywetnwild.com , $35 adult, $27 child), opened in summer 2009 with $30 million worth of slides and white-water rafting rides in Glendale.