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20 Low-Risk Ways to Have Fun This Summer

Festivals are off the list, but there are ways to have a good time despite the outbreak

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The Loft Cinema.

One of the best ways to escape the summer heat is heading to the movie theater. While those are unfortunately still closed because gathering hundreds of people into a single room doesn't work too well in the age of social distancing, The Loft Cinema is offering multiple ways for you to still enjoy summer movies. The Loft is keeping their artsy demeanor by offering a rotating selection of independent and experimental films for streaming on their website. Their wide range of streaming releases range from animation shorts to foreign films to civil rights documentaries. And if you can't make up your mind about which movie to watch, The Loft is also offering Streaming Selects, where you fill out an online application to receive a curated list of films that best fit your taste. The Loft Streaming Selects application has you select which movie genres you enjoy (such as thriller, documentary, experimental, musical or animated), which streaming services you have (such as Netflix or HBO Go), and write down a few of your favorite films. Within 48 hours, the Loft's dedicated programming staff of film buffs will reply with a specially curated list of three films perfect for you. Finally, The Loft is also allowing the public to rent a theater to watch the movie in a private screening. The Loft is allowing private rentals for parties of up to 10, and you can reserve Screen 1, which is their main theater with 370 seats, and Screen 3, which is the smaller building next door with 96 seats. Cost is $100 per hour.

Drive-In Movies. Speaking of movie theaters, the pandemic has caused a lot of interest in drive-in movies lately, and Tucson is responding accordingly. The beloved Cactus Drive-In Theatre is up and running, offering several screenings for family movies throughout the summer months like The Princess Bride, Sonic The Hedgehog and Coco. Cactus Drive-In is currently hosting movies at the Medella Vina Ranch (4450 S. Houghton Road). For COVID-19 safety, their staff will be required to wear masks, and any contact will be minimized as much as possible. There will also be extra space between cars. Tickets and information can be found at cactusdrivein.com. The Pima County Fair is also joining the drive-in scene, by hosting movies at the Pima County Fairgrounds and Tucson Dragway. They'll be screening films like Monsters Inc. and Jurassic Park in the coming weeks. Just $15 per carload. tucsondragway.com

Summer Archery Class. The Desert Destroyers' Junior Olympic Archery Development Club is hosting archery classes on Mondays and Fridays into July from ages 8 and up. At the classes kids can learn the basics of archery while still adhering to social distancing guidelines: classes are limited to 10 students, and hand sanitizer and wipes will be provided. Classes are 45 minutes of archery instruction followed by 45 minutes of archery activity. The classes are $20 per session and are held at Naranja Park Archery Range (810 W. Naranja Drive). More information can be found at Desert Destroyers Archery's Facebook page.

Etherton Gallery. The Etherton Gallery is trying out a phased reopening until June 27, by appointment only, before taking its annual summer break and reopening on July 7. If you want to try them out during the appointment-only phase, email info@ethertongallery.com to make your appointment, and follow their guidelines: Check in at the front desk before entering, wear a mask, maintain a 6-foot distance from others and stay home if you're feeling sick. It's a great chance to see their "Go Figure" show, featuring the work of Jack Balas, Titus Castanza, Holly Roberts, Robert Wilson and Benjamin M Johnson. Not quite ready to venture out? They've also got a great virtual tour of the show on their website. Etherton Gallery, 1350 S. Sixth Ave.

Untitled Gallery. Untitled Gallery is resuming normal opening hours: noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and by appointment otherwise. They're just launching a new exhibit featuring the work of several of their artists, including Inna Rohr, Will Whitehouse and Momoko Okada. They've featured a virtual exhibit during quarantine, but this show is brand new. Untitled Gallery in the historic Steinfeld Warehouse building, 101 W. Sixth St., suite 121.

MOCA. Our local Museum of Contemporary Art is closed for the summer, but they've got lots of digital offerings, like instructions for how to make your own Diana Shpungin-inspired flipbook, a witty still-life activity and a coloring book. If you can't go see the art in person, maybe you can get so good at making your own that it will be in a museum someday? moca-tucson.org/digital-programming/

Possible Futures Mini-Installation Summer Camp. MOCA, the Children's Museum and the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures are coming together to offer two weeklong youth camps where campers can create miniature real and imagined spaces. Kids will learn about installation art, using a kit of materials (brought to your house in a no-contact delivery) to create their own mini-installations! It doesn't involve sitting in front of a computer all day, either. There are some video tutorials, templates and check-ins with other campers, but most of it is hands-on artmaking. A camp for Pre-K to 8-year-old kids runs from Monday, June 22, to Friday, June 26, and a teen camp, for ages 9 to 18, runs from Monday, July 6, to Friday, July 10. Sliding scale of $40 to $80, with all payments due by Friday, June 19. moca-tucson.org/class/summer-camp-2020/

Biosphere 2 Virtual Tours. Tucson's friendly neighborhood replicate of our planet's biosphere is closed to the public, but its Facebook page has tons going on. They've been going live at least once a week, and you can view the videos on the "virtual tour" tab. Take a "walk" through ecosystems ranging from rainforest to savanna and learn more about some of the behind-the-scenes science like the cooling towers. They even have a tour of a hidden trail in the facility! biosphere2.org

Arizona Friends of Chamber Music. There's nothing quite like seeing a live classical concert. But AFCM is doing what they can by offering streaming of all their commission premiere recordings. Listen to dozens of recordings of pieces created specifically for the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music by musicians from all over the world. Perhaps you can make yourself a nice dinner, then treat yourself to the lineup of your choice. Or spend an afternoon reading about these fascinating artists and their connections to Tucson. Or play through the list to help you focus. Whatever you use them for, this arizonachambermusic.org/listen/

Tanque Verde Ranch. This eastside escape recently announced their new Summer Stars Now package, where guests can book a three-night stay and get the fourth night free. The stay includes opportunities for horseback riding, bike riding, hiking, swimming and sports. Tanque Verde Ranch highlights that even before the era of social distancing, they provided guests with wide open spaces – allowing visitors to enjoy a property that sits on 60,000 acres of national forest. There are also opportunities for children's activities, nature lessons and fishing. Information can be found at tanqueverderanch.com.

Hotel McCoy. Tucson's own "art hotel" is back in business after quarantine, and is offering several alternatives for music, food and creative activities at their unique "staycation" destination. Hotel McCoy is currently offering pool, outdoor theatre, fire pit, lawn games, and local beer and wine tastings. They're also the destination for local artists and cultural events, like musical performances, art presentations and DJ takeovers. More information can be found at hotelmccoy.com

Mission San Xavier del Bac. The mission is going through a phased reopening process, with face masks, adjusted hours and a limited guest capacity. If you're not quite ready to deal with potential crowds, but are eager for the chance to see something beautiful and do some exploring, you can take a self-guided tour of the mission on Google Maps! You can tour the grounds and even check out the inside without dealing with any people. A link to the Google Maps page is on the homepage of sanxaviermission.org. Free!

Virtual Tours. This isn't an official Tucson event, but I do think it's worth recommending that you explore the wonders of Google Maps, if you haven't already. Take a walk through the streets of New York, stroll along the beaches of Portugal, or take a hike through the Swiss Alps—all without leaving your house. Or visit the street you grew up on, your favorite restaurant from college, or another place that means a lot to you. Small comfort, maybe, but it can be quite fun to show your quarantine partners places from your past, or to walk the streets of your dream neighborhoods.

Saguaro National Park VR Tours. Our local national park is also in the middle of a phased reopening, but if you'd rather not venture out into the billion-degree heat to see some nature, definitely check out their social media pages. They've got some VR tours on their Facebook page, which can be viewed with a VR headset, or just a regular smartphone or computer. And their YouTube page is also hosting some of the videos featured in the visitor centers or Science Research Corner.

Presidio San Agustin del Tucson Museum. The Presidio San Agustin del Tucson Museum is reopening with limited hours, free of charge, but they also have a virtual tour option on their website, through Threshold360. See the courtyard, the warehouse, the soldier's house and more from the comfort of your couch. What better chance to brush up on your Tucson History than now? Tour link is at the bottom of the Presidio website: tucsonpresidio.com

Border Lore Live: The Ways of Resilience. The Southwest Folklife Alliance has been hosting a series of Zoom chats with artists and culture bearers who are talking about how they've found and practiced resilience in their lives and work. Closing out the series this week is Jose Soto, a dancer and teacher of traditional Mexican folkloric dance. He learned the craft from his mother while he was growing up in Sinaloa, Mexico, and is now the director of Tradiciones Dance Company in Phoenix. Noon. Wednesday, July 24. Register in advance here: southwestfolklife.org/borderlore-live-the-ways-of-resilience/

Happy to Be Here. The Wilde Meyer Gallery's latest show is blessedly cheerful, featuring art with lots of bright colors, cute animals and serene scenes. There's literally an adorable statue of a rabbit by Kari Rives called "Lop Floppy Bunny." It's the sort of art many of us could use right now. Artists include Rives, Greyshoes and Jaime Ellsworth, and the works will be on display through the end of June. Masks and social distancing at the gallery are required. Wilde Meyer Gallery, 2890 E. Skyline Drive. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. wildemeyer.com

A Midsummer Literacy & Arts Extravaganza. The Fox Tucson Theatre does a literacy event every year, partnering with groups like Literacy Connects, Stories that Soar and the Pima County Public Library. This year, the monthlong party begins this week. Every Thursday starting June 18, check out the page on their website for free short films, performing arts-based activities, online literacy resources and literacy opportunities for local organizations. Let's get reading! foxtucson.com

Tohono Chul @ Home. For much of the summer in Arizona, it feels too hot to want to spend more than a few minutes outside anyway. This year, you can enjoy plenty of videos, photos, tutorials and activities from Tohono Chul without having to brave the heat. They've been putting up new content every week, so you can learn about everything from the history of the gardens to the habits of nocturnal animals to the geology of our region (including video footage of neat places like Kartchner Caverns). These resources are a great way to pass several afternoons with kids—or with yourself. tohonochul.org

Mildred & Dildred Virtual Storytime. Is your kid sick of hearing you read the same stories to them over and over? Here's one solution! This locally owned toystore (which is still fulfilling orders, by the way) has been hosting story hours on their Facebook page, including titles like "The Little Engine That Could," "Petra," and "The Book With No Pictures." You can tune in live or go back to watch the video footage whenever is convenient. See the store's Facebook page for more information. ■

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