Sedona: Okay, so this hippie-dippy town is an obvious destination for any city dweller to head once Phoenix temperatures hit triple digits. Sometimes obvious is good. Known for its red rocks and preponderance of magical thinking, this gorgeous resort town about 120 miles north of Phoenix is a top-of-the-list getaway. If you've got kids in tow, a stop at Slide Rock State Park, about seven miles north of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon, isn't a bad idea. The 43-acre park offers a natural water slide eroded into a slick creek bed surrounded by massive red rock walls and a gorgeous apple orchard. Golf and tennis fans know that Sedona is home to some of Arizona's finest resorts, which offer professional instruction and top-quality greens and courts. And tchotchke mavens dig the (Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village), a chockablock outdoor shopping center fashioned after a traditional Mexican village and featuring art galleries, New Age shops, jewelry boutiques and restaurants.
Jerome: Another no-duh destination, this historic city, built on a vast copper deposit in the late 19th century, is a bustling tourist stop about 30 miles west of Sedona. Most folks visit the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town museum, where rare cars, trucks, and farm machinery are lovingly displayed, and then head downtown to check out dozens of art galleries. But here are a couple of stops you may not know about: Nellie Bly Kaleidoscopes on Main Street is a store devoted entirely to the making and selling of custom kaleidoscopes and marbles — and it's owned by the woman who was the voice of Lucy Van Pelt in all those old Charlie Brown cartoons. And take a detour to Old Jerome High School, an artist enclave that transformed a former public high school into a series of studios and galleries where artists and craftspeople create and sell their work.
Cornville: No, really. Cornville — and not just because its name is so much fun to say. Not far from Jerome, this community is worth a visit, particularly if you've got oldsters and kids to entertain. Check out Eliphante, a unique three-acre sculpture garden featuring work by artists Leda Livant Kahn and Michael Kahn. More prosaic charm can be found 16 miles away at the Camp Verde Historical Society museum in downtown Camp Verde, where written and oral histories and artifacts tell the story of the Verde Valley.
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Miami: Adjacent to better-known Globe, Miami is located on U.S. 60, about 90 minutes from Phoenix, along the northeastern slope of the Pinal Mountains and surrounded by the Tonto National Forest. This tiny former mining town (population: about 1,800) is attracting arty types with its low-cost housing and formerly crumbling downtown. It's ghost town meets Grand Avenue, with nearly two dozen art galleries and working artist studios — and not much else, at least just yet. An annual art walk, the Miami Loco Arts Festival, is held every year in late March, and the rest of the time most artist studios — many of them owned by Phoenix-based artists like Janet de Berge Lange — are available to the drop-in trade.
Arcosanti: Does driving for hours sound like a colossal drag to you? Consider checking out this experimental community about 70 miles north of Phoenix, designed in the 1970s by the late architect Paolo Soleri, who employed "green" building practices before they were fashionable (www.arcosanti.org). Join the bazillion visitors who've come from around the globe to gaze at the bronze-casting apse, a semi-circular dome, or to ogle the community's oddball architecture, storefronts, and stunning outdoor amphitheater. Too tired to head back to town? There's a two-bedroom "Sky Suite" available for overnight guests.