Time to get out of Dodge, music fans! With the official start of summer only about a month away — although here in the Valley the unofficial official start of summer is usually somewhere around the first week of March — it's time to pack up the car with some road music, a variety of munchies, cold drinks and maps, and hit the open highway for a place where you don't see those funky heat mirages rising off the blacktop.
After putting some miles on the odometer, huffing down countless cans of Monster and ripping through plenty of bags of Oh Boy! Oberto beef jerky like a hungry grizzly, we found some great live music clubs, some comfy places to crash and some good noshing.
How to get there: Take Interstate 17 north about 60 miles to state Route 69, go 34 miles west and turn onto U.S. 89. Turn right onto Gurley Street, then right onto Cortez Street.
The vibe: This quaint watering hole is housed in a building erected in downtown Prescott in 1905. The actual bar was built in Chicago by a billiard company and, after stops in Mississippi and San Francisco, was brought to Prescott by covered wagon. While here, you might catch a Tempe band such as Tramps and Thieves or Fred Green.
Where to stay: The Hotel St. Michael (205 W Gurley St.,  776-1999) is just down the road. This historic hotel sits on Prescott's fabled Whiskey Row, where Old West badass Doc Holliday reportedly played poker and where Bruce Springsteen, passing through town on a Harley, once downed a few brews and played a set at Matt's Saloon.
Where to eat: At the Gurley Street Grill (230 W. Gurley St.,  445-3388), you can grind on pastas (including the Cajun Chicken Pasta and Chicken Cashew Stir Fry), personal pizzas, burgers and specialties such as Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs and Roasted Chicken Pot Pie, and wash it all down with one of the many microbrews on tap.
>> 120 N. Cortez St., Prescott, (928) 778-2244 or lyzzards.com
Mogollon Brewing Company
How to get there: Take I-17 to Flagstaff. Merge onto Milton Road for two miles, then turn right onto Interstate 40 for 0.3 miles. Turn left on Agassiz Street.
The vibe: Flag doesn't get all that hot in the summer — in fact it feels like a nice 80-degree winter's day in the Valley — but quaffing a good microbrew while listening to good music at the Mogollon Brewing Company (reggae bands such as Nivo Rah, Army and Abja, and Flag country favorite Nolan McKelvey and 33 have gigged here, as have Tempe faves Tramps and Thieves and Los Guys) is a great way to spend a day.
Where to stay: The Monte Vista Hotel (100 N. San Francisco St.,  779-6971) is right around the corner. Built in 1926, the hotel has a rather colorful history as a hideout for bank robbers, a speakeasy in the days of Prohibition, and Hollywood stars such as John Wayne and Lee Marvin and rockers Jon Bon Jovi and Freddie Mercury have holed up here.
Where to eat: Right at Mogollon Brewing Company, where their bar food — excellent pizzas (try the three cheese with Brie) and sandwiches — are perfect with the Apache Trout Stout.
>> 15 N. Agassiz St., Flagstaff, (928) 773-8950 or mogbrew.com
How to get there: Take I-10 to Tucson, and get off at the Congress/Broadway exit. Go east on Congress Street (eastbound Congress splits into Broadway) for one mile, turn left onto Fifth Avenue and go a block to westbound Congress.
The vibe: OK, so Tucson is really, really hot too, but it is a few degrees cooler than the Valley at night, and every little bit counts during summer. Tucson has a rich rock music history — Linda Ronstadt grew up in the Old Pueblo — and since the 1980s, when bands like Green on Red and The Sidewinders invented twangy desert rock, Club Congress has been Tucson's most important rock club.
Where to stay: Club Congress is located inside the fabled Hotel Congress. The hotel was built in 1919. In 1934, the fuzz captured legendary bank robber John Dillinger after his stay there.
Where to eat: El Charro Cafe (311 N. Court Ave.,  622-1922) is one of the best Mexican joints in the world. This downtown location was built in 1890 in the El Presidio District, and was voted “One of the Top 50 Plates in the Country” by USA Today in 2000.
>> 311 E Congress St., Tucson, (520) 622-8848 or hotelcongress.com/club/
La Mision de San Miguel
How to get there: Take I-10 through Tucson to Sonoita/Patagonia exit (state Route 83). Continue 25 miles, turn right onto state Route 82 for 12 miles, turn left onto Third Avenue, turn right onto McKeown Avenue.
The vibe: Definitely one of the coolest (as in hip, not temperature) live music venues in the state, a mammoth 5,000-square-foot adobe venue that looks like a Spanish-style mission. The club plays host to rock, country, Tejano and Latin dance music, and notables who have played the club include Valley rockabilly trio Flathead, Tempe alt-country singer Dave Insley and acclaimed Tucson singer/songwriter Stefan George.
Where to stay: There a plenty of cozy bed and breakfasts in Patagonia, but if you want to go on the cheap, the Stage Stop Inn Hotel (303 McKeown Ave.,  394-2211), the only full-service hotel in Patagonia, is the place to stay. The hotel also has a saloon and a dining room.
Where to eat: The Velvet Elvis Pizza Company is right across the street from La Mision de San Miguel, and its great pies, aside from being designated an “Arizona Treasure” by Gov. Janet Napolitano, gave name to Tempe band Velvet Elvis.
>> 335 McKeown Ave., Patagonia, (520) 394-0123 or lamisionpatagonia.com/
Hot Licks BBQ and Blues Saloon
How to get there: Take the I-10 through Tucson to the state Route 80 exit for Benson/Douglas. Continue 47 miles, then turn left on West Boulevard, right on Commerce Street, left on Brewery Avenue (stay right to stay on Brewery) and finally right on OK Street.
The vibe: Bisbee is usually up to 20 degrees cooler than the Valley in the summer, and this barbecue joint that hosts live blues music has outdoor dining that offers up a scenic view of the hilly town.
Where to stay: Nothing is more famous in Bisbee than the Copper Queen Hotel (11 Howell Ave.,  432-2216), built in 1902 when Bisbee was a fairly big city thanks to an influx of hungry miners who split when the mining dried up, leaving Bisbee now home to authors and painters.
Where to eat: Nothing goes better with the blues than some wood smoked ribs, brisket, chicken and frosty brews.
>> 37 OK St., Brewery Gulch, Bisbee, (520) 432-7200 or hotlicksbbq.com/