Hiking & Biking | Road Trips | Spas | Phoenix Open | Museums | Murals

Where to Go
Gardens | Golf Courses | Walking Trails | Architecture | Resorts | Zoos | Fun Runs | For the Kids


Trail Blaze

February is a great time to be out of doors in the desert, and hiking and biking are great ways to do it.

The recently renovated Echo Canyon Trail at Camelback Mountain (Katy Perry’s favorite!) is a short (but difficult), conveniently located adventure hike, accessed near Tatum Boulevard and McDonald Drive. One of the most visited attractions in Phoenix and a weekly, or even daily, routine for many locals, the trail offers 135 parking spaces and real toilets instead of porta‑potties. About a mile and a half in length, the summit‑bound trail winds through scenic Echo Canyon before connecting with the old trail, most of which was untouched in the renovation.

Whether you’re out for a friendly stroll or on your bike, the Bridle Path at Central Avenue and Bethany Home Road is the perfect place to get off the pavement for a change. Running from just south of Dunlap Road to well past Bethany Home Road, this popular city trail backs onto cozy residential neighborhoods and often intersects with the canal. You’ll find families riding bikes, friends out for a power walk, cheerful joggers, and athletes prepping for the next big race. Right in the middle of Phoenix, this great‑for‑all‑ages path accommodates bikers and hikers alike, and what’s more, shade from olive and mesquite trees makes this stretch about 10 degrees cooler than the rest of town, even on the hottest day.

Speaking of biking, downtown Phoenix isn’t the most bicycle‑friendly region of the Valley, but there’s a shred of hope for safe travels on Third and Fifth avenues. With a continuous and reasonably sized (for Phoenix) bike lane on both streets, the arteries pump cyclists from uptown to downtown without too much trouble. Sure, it isn’t the most scenic of rides in the metro area (many favor the Greenbelt in Scottsdale or even the Carefree Highway for more serious riders), but it’s a nice way to see some old Phoenix architecture while getting in your daily ride.

If you’ve ever wanted to visit the moon, the landscape of Tom’s Thumb Trail at the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy (23015 N. 128th St., Scottsdale, 480‑312‑7013) might just satisfy the craving — rolling, sparsely vegetated hills, boulders large and small. Don’t be fooled by the posh, resort‑style entranceway at the trailhead, because you’ll ascend nearly the height of the Empire State Building over more than two miles of steep trail with switchbacks. It’s tough, but you’ll see people of all ages taking it on.

More serious hikers will enjoy bouldering in the Pima Canyon Wash, near the east end of Phoenix’s vast South Mountain Park/Preserve (10919 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602‑262‑7393). It’s a hike that requires extreme skill, not just because of the difficult routes, but also because of the scary landings. Bouldering typically involves rock climbing with rock shoes but no rope, on routes low enough to fall off without serious injury. Check it out!

Road Trip

One of the nicest things about Phoenix is leaving it — not because this isn’t a nice place to be, but because the outlying areas are so splendid. There’s Sedona, for instance, 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 (336 Highway 179, Sedona, 928‑282‑4838), a chockablock outdoor shopping center fashioned after a traditional Mexican village and featuring art galleries, New Age shops, jewelry boutiques, and restaurants.

Jerome, a 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 (Perkinsville Road, Jerome, 928‑634‑0053), 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.

Not far from Jerome, there’s Cornville. This community is worth a visit, particularly if you’ve got both oldsters and kids to entertain. Check out Eliphante (phone for directions: 928‑634‑2687), 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 (435 South Main Street, Camp Verde, 928‑567‑9560, www.campverde.az.gov) in downtown Camp Verde, where written and oral histories and artifacts tell the story of the Verde Valley.

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.

If driving for hours sounds like a colossal drag, consider checking out Arcosanti (www.arcosanti.org). This experimental community about 70 miles north of Phoenix was designed in the 1970s by the late architect Paolo Soleri, who employed “green” building practices before they were fashionable. Join the countless 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 amphitheater. Too tired to head back to town? There’s a two‑bedroom “Sky Suite” available for overnight guests.

Now Relax

The Valley of the Sun is covered in high class TLC, by way of some of the best spas in the country.

The world‑renowned Spa at Sanctuary (5700 E. McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley, 480‑948‑2100), situated on Camelback Mountain, is an Asian‑inspired retreat perched above the city, secluded in thick bamboo, and features a reflecting pond and zen meditation garden. The Eastern‑style services include tok sen vibration therapy, reiki healing, sabai foot massage, and luk pra kope herbal massage.

Then there’s the Joya Spa at the Montelucia Resort (4949 E. Lincoln Dr., Paradise Valley, 480‑627‑3020, www.omnihotels.com/hotels/scottsdale‑montelucia/spa), a Hammam‑inspired luxury spa featuring strong Moroccan influences and New Age treatments. The spa is named after the night‑blooming cactus flower near its entrance and offers numerous services, including massages and facials, infused with its signature scent. At Joya, you’ll choose from standard pampering to cupping, IV therapy, and hypnotherapy.

The Spa at Camelback Inn (5402 E. Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale, 480‑596‑7040, www.camelbackspa.com) has done away with cheesy gimmicks about spirituality, the planets aligning, or the haziness of your aura, and is focused instead on making its clients feel completely relaxed. The spa is tucked away against the backdrop of Mummy Mountain and offers services like a Desert Nectar Honey Wrap, Sonoran Rose Facial, and Native Hot Stone Massage.

The Village at Gainey Ranch is an upscale health club with a stunning spa. The Gainey Village Spa (7477 E. Doubletree Ranch Road, Scottsdale, 480‑609‑6980, www.villageclubs.com) offers a variety of massages and body‑care treatments like wraps and scrubs and facials. A more involved spa experience can be had at the Spa at the Boulders (34631 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Carefree, 480‑488‑9009, www.theboulders.com). It’s a Waldorf Astoria Resort set in the outskirts of Phoenix, a 33,000‑square‑foot spa great for relaxing and rejuvenating. Signature treatments include something called the Turquoise Wrap, as well as the usual massages and facials.

The Jurlique Spa in Scottsdale (4925 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480-424-6072, www.fireskeyresort.com) is a holistic spa that uses only products that are hypo‑allergenic, pH‑balanced, environmentally friendly, free of animal byproducts and testing, and contain certified organic herbs and plant‑derived ingredients. These elements turn up in treatments including the FireSky Stone Massage, Instinctual Organic Bath Therapy, Orange Blossom Body Ritual, and Signature Revitalizing Facial, which makes use of the spa’s Herbal Recovery line.

Biltmore Fashion Park is located right in town and is home to the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa (2502 E. Camelback Road, #215, Phoenix, 602‑553‑8800, www.reddoorspas.com), an upscale day spa that has been an industry icon since 1910. Tired shoppers and out‑of‑town visitors can opt for a little pampering pick‑me‑up or an all‑day escape with treatments like the Elizabeth Arden Signature Massage, Seawater Pearl Hydrating Facial, or the olive oil‑infused Signature Stress Melter Ritual.

The Alvadora Spa (5200 E. Camelback Road, 602‑840‑3610, www.royalpalmshotel.com) inside the prestigious Royal Palms Resort does not disappoint. This Mediterranean oasis offers luxury amenities like Vichy showers, private courtyards, an eight‑foot waterfall, and a fitness center. Guests of the spa can indulge in both ongoing and seasonal services and a wide variety of single and doubles massages.

Tee Off

It boasts the largest crowds on the PGA Tour, which may be why the Waste Management Phoenix Open has gained legendary status. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also the fifth‑oldest event on the tour schedule, or that it features one of the most unique holes on the tour — namely the famous 16th hole, normally a routine 162‑yard par 3, that gets completely transformed into a stadium with enough room for 15,000 screaming fans.

Combine these bullet points with 132 of the top golfers on the PGA tour (including Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, and Brandt Snedeker, to name a few) and it’s easy to see why this event has grown to be a jewel in the PGA crown.

Post‑tournament, you’ll find nightly musical guests and nonstop partying at the Coors Light Birds Nest. Other amenities include these:
• Thursday, January 29
7:30 a.m.: Waste Management Phoenix Open first round
3:30 p.m.: Coors Light Birds Nest entertainment tent opens; main act Darius Rucker takes the stage at 8 p.m.
• Friday, January 30
7:30 a.m.: Waste Management Phoenix Open second round
3:30 p.m.: Coors Light Birds Nest entertainment tent opens; main act Kid Rock takes the stage at 8 p.m.
• Saturday, January 31
9 a.m.: Waste Management Phoenix Open third round (Attendees are encouraged to wear green to support the green/eco‑sensitive efforts of the tournament.)
3:30 p.m.: Coors Light Birds Nest entertainment tent opens; main act Afrojack takes the stage at 8 p.m.
• Sunday, February 1
9 a.m.: Waste Management Phoenix Open fourth round
• Monday, February 2
9 a.m.: Post Open Pro‑Am, TPC Stadium Course

Anyone inspired by the PGA Tour might consider heading to one of 200 local golf courses. Among the more popular ones are Southern Dunes Golf Club (48456 Arizona 238, Maricopa, 480‑367‑8949, www.golfsoutherndunes.com). Located in Maricopa, 25 minutes south of Sky Harbor International Airport, this big, bold 7,300‑yard layout features broad, fescue‑framed fairways, artfully contoured bunkers, and masterfully crafted undulating greens framed by unobstructed mountain and desert vistas. Further north, one can tee off at The Boulders (34631 North Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree, 480‑488‑9009, www.theboulders.com). Its north course is the stronger, better balanced of the two available, but the south has the more spectacular holes. The par‑4 opener and the par‑5 sixth, with green sites tucked into six‑story‑high boulder complexes, also are favorites.

Scottsdale’s Grayhawk Golf Club (8620 E. Thompson Peak Pkwy., Scottsdale, 480‑502‑1800, www.grayhawkgolf.com) is busting with ambiance, excellent service, above‑average dining options, and classic rock tunes piped to the practice range via faux‑rock speakers. On Grayhawk’s Talon course, golfers traverse a swinging bridge on the par‑3 17th hole to reach the flower‑rimmed island green. Also in Scottsdale, popular greens can be found at Troon North (10320 E. Dynamite Blvd., Scottsdale, 480‑585‑5300, www.troonnorthgolf.com). This pair of courses winds around cacti, arroyos, rock outcroppings, and stunning vistas of Pinnacle Peak. The Monument course is the more scenic of the two, but Pinnacle is the more cohesive test and is walkable, a rarity among modern real estate‑oriented desert courses. Check out the restaurant and happy hour specials in the clubhouse.

Get Cultured

Phoenix is home to some of the best museums and art galleries in the Southwest. Look no further than the Heard Museum (2301 N. Central Ave., 602‑252‑8840, Phoenix, www.heard.org) for proof. There you’ll find art, artifacts, and history of the Southwestern people, from Native Americans to Hispanic cultures. Phoenix Art Museum (1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602‑257‑1222, 602‑253‑8662, www.phxart.org) offers classic and contemporary works from around the world and plays host to some of the best national touring exhibits. The museum’s fashion and photography galleries are well‑regarded and worth a gander.

For family fun, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix (215 N. 7th St., Phoenix, 602‑253‑0501, www.childrensmuseumofphoenix.org) is a safe bet. Another family‑safe and fun‑but‑educational stop is the Musical Instrument Museum (4725 E. Mayo Blvd., 480‑478‑6000, www.mim.org), which showcases instruments from around the world, collectibles from musical superstars, and interactive displays of music‑making ephemera. The Experience Room allows visitors to play rare instruments from different cultures, and the mainstage Music Theater always features national and international music acts.

The Arizona Museum of Natural History (53 N. Macdonald, Mesa, 480‑644‑2230, www.azmnh.org) takes on something more than nice oil paintings in its quest to explore Arizona and the Southwest from the creation of the Earth 4.5 billion years ago to the present. You can consider depictions of the origins of life on Earth, meteorites, and minerals. In another gallery, some of the biggest dinosaurs that ever lived can be pondered. In a Walk Through Time, visitors can explore ancient Arizona’s Paleozoic Seas, Triassic petrified forest, monsters of the Cretaceous Seas, and the first animals to fly. And don’t be fooled by the Southwest Gallery, which doesn’t house cowboy paintings. There, you’ll see Paleoindian big-game hunters and gatherers, the first inhabitants of North America, and the desert cultures that developed later.

In Scottsdale, don’t miss the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (7374 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale, 480‑874‑4666, www.smoca.org), a multi‑gallery museum with rotating modern art and architecture displays, as well as a deluxe gift shop and a performance lounge.

In nearby Old Town Scottsdale, dozens of galleries, including many offering Native American and Western art you won’t find elsewhere in town, throw open their doors during the traditional Thursday night Scottsdale ArtWalk (details at www.scottsdalegalleries.com). Meanwhile, in downtown Phoenix, dozens of galleries (many of them on Roosevelt Row and Grand Avenue) participate in self‑guided art walks during the first and third Fridays of every month (details at www.rooseveltrow.org).

10 Downtown Phoenix Murals

Phoenix is looking colorful lately, and it’s not just the usual hues of light and dark beige. Though street art culture dates back decades, the past several years have heralded a new era for murals in the city. We’ve documented the progress in our ongoing series Mural City, but we thought it was about time to compile a list with some of our personal favorites.

We focused on the three biggest mural hubs in Phoenix: Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, and Calle 16. And we were completely blown away by what we saw. Suffice it to say, this list is not comprehensive, but it does represent a mere fraction of the street art that’s out there right now (and we’re sure there are many more murals to come).

In celebration of what has been and what will be, here are 10 of our favorite murals in Phoenix right now.

Between Innocence and Understanding: There’s more to Beatrice Moore’s mural on the east-facing wall of Kooky Krafts Shop than what meets the eye. The piece is incredibly detailed, with rhinestones in some places to add an extra bit of whimsy. (1500 Grand Ave.)

Untitled by Isaac Caruso: The sunflowers on the north-facing wall of MonOrchid gallery evoke happiness. The mural was made to honor the Valley of the Sunflowers project that activated an empty lot near Roosevelt. It’s appropriate that the mural itself faces a vacant lot. (214 E. Roosevelt St.)

Untitled collaboration between Lalo Cota and El Mac: We love the contrast between the black and white and the bright colors. The artists are working in very different styles, but they look great together. The south-facing wall of Por Vida Gallery on 16th Street south of Thomas Road features more local talent as well. You can see a bit of Thomas “Breeze” Marcus’ line work in this image near the top of the wall. (2800 N. 16th St.)

Centennial: This mural by Laura Spalding Best is perfectly in tune with its surroundings on a south-facing wall on Second Street and Garfield, which makes sense because the artist takes her inspiration from the cityscapes of downtown Phoenix. It’s a quiet but powerful mural. (Second and Garfield streets)

Tribute to Wallace and Ladmo: We natives have a soft spot in our hearts for Wallace and Ladmo, so it’s no surprise that this mural makes the cut. Hugo Medina’s mural began as a collaborative wheat paste between Casebeer, Jenny Ignazewski, and Nomas. It is a worthy tribute on the north-facing wall of First Studio at First Avenue south of McKinley. (631 N. 1st Ave.)

Phoenix: This mural behind Barrio Cafe on 16th Street is a beautiful showcase of some of our favorite Phoenix muralists, including Colton Brock, Lalo Cota, Angel Diaz, Pablo Luna, and J.B. Snyder, and it’s all about city pride. What more could we ask for? (2814 N. 16th St.)

Tribute to Margaret Kilgalen: There was initially a bit of controversy surrounding Carrie Marill’s lovely homage to Margaret Kilgalen; the mural had to be fixed after a defacing. But today, it stands as a clever reference any art history nerd can enjoy on the west-facing wall of Dougherty Wholesale Floral Co. on Second and Roosevelt streets. (201 E. Roosevelt St.)

Untitled work by Eric Cox: It’s easy to drive past this mural without a second thought since it’s been around for so long. But if you slow down a bit when passing the south-facing wall of Garfield Galleria, we think you’ll appreciate the expressiveness of this portrait. (316 W. McDowell Road)

Three Birds: This might not be Portland, but we still know how to put a bird on it (three, actually). Lauren Lee’s mural on the side of GreenHaus is simple but super-cute. (222 E. Roosevelt St.)

Untitled work by Roy Sproule: Sproule’s mural at Revolver Records on Second and Roosevelt streets looks almost photographic. The guy has a knack for portraiture, and we can’t complain about the subject, either. (918 N. 2nd St.)

Where to Go


Arboretum and Desert Arboretum Park at ASU: The Arboretum on the 700‑acre ASU campus displays over 300 species from diverse geographic regions as well as the Sonoran Desert. Special collections include date palms, conifers of the desert Southwest, and native southwestern plants. (556 S. Packard Dr., Tempe, 602‑965‑8467, www.asu.edu)

Bell Recreation Center Memorial Garden: Featured here are roses originally grown in the White House Rose Garden as well as replicas of the Liberty Bell and copies of historical documents. (99th Avenue and Bell Road, Sun City, 602‑876‑3000)

Biblical Garden: The similarity of Arizona’s climate to that of Palestine was the inspiration for this garden, which features 2,300 plants, many of them mentioned in the Bible. The plantings provide a vivid glimpse into the law, medicine, agriculture, commerce, and religion of Biblical times. (Paradise Valley United Methodist Church, 4455 E. Lincoln Dr., Paradise Valley, 602‑840‑8360)

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park: Founded in the 1920s, the Arboretum displays native Sonoran Desert vegetation alongside plants from many other varied deserts and dry lands. Special areas include the Cactus Garden, the Taylor Family Legume Garden, an herb garden, and a drought‑tolerant plant garden. (37615 U.S. 60, Superior, 520‑689‑2723, www.azstateparks.com)

Desert Botanical Garden: Knowledge of arid‑land plants, with a particular emphasis on succulents and the native flora of the Southwestern U.S. is the agenda here. The Cactus House, the Succulent House, the Desert House, and four desert trails are home to more than 20,000 plants representing one of the world’s foremost collections of desert plants. (1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., 602‑941‑1225, www.dbg.org)

Japanese Friendship Garden: This traditional strolling garden, created in partnership with Phoenix’s Sister City of Himeji, Japan, is designed expressly for meditation and contemplation. A tea house, tea garden, a flowing stream, tons of hand‑picked rocks, a gracious waterfall, and more than 300 colorful Koi fish are among the amenities. (1125 N. 3rd Ave., 602‑256‑3204, www.japanesefriendshipgarden.com)

Golf Courses

Southern Dunes Golf Club: Located in Maricopa, 25 minutes south of Sky Harbor International Airport, this is a big, bold, 7,300-yard layout with broad, fescue-framed fairways, artfully contoured bunkers, and masterfully crafted undulating greens framed by unobstructed mountain and desert vistas. (48456 Arizona 238, Maricopa, 480-367-8949, www.golfsoutherndunes.com)

The Boulders: The North course is the stronger, better balanced of the two, but the South has the more spectacular holes, including the par-4 opener and the par-5 sixth, with green sites tucked into six-story-high boulder complexes. (34631 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Carefree, 480-488-9009, www.theboulders.com)

Grayhawk Golf Club: This facility brims with ambiance, excellent service, above-average dining options, and classic rock tunes piped to the practice range via faux-rock speakers. (8620 E. Thompson Peak Pkwy., Scottsdale, 480-502-1800, www.grayhawkgolf.com)

Troon North: Here, a pair of courses dishes out cacti, arroyos, rock outcroppings, and stunning vistas of Pinnacle Peak and the surrounding mountains. The Monument course is the more scenic of the two, but Pinnacle is the more cohesive test and is walkable, a rarity among modern real estate-oriented desert courses. Check out the restaurant and happy hour specials in the clubhouse. (10320 East Dynamite Boulevard, Scottsdale, 480-585-5300, www.troonnorthgolf.com)

Gold Canyon: Forty-five minutes east of Sky Harbor International Airport, this one should be mentioned in any discussion of Scottsdale’s best greens. The elevation changes, sheer variety of holes, and in-your-face encounters with the Superstition Mountains make this worth the drive, no matter where you’re staying in town. (6100 S. Kings Ranch Road, Gold Canyon, 480-982-9449, www.gcgr.com)

Encanto Golf Course: This popular public green is known for flatness and the length of its par 4s. Greens are medium for speed, with subtle undulations that make them harder than they appear. The course is in a park-like setting in the city with greens and tee boxes in slightly uncomfortable proximity and fairways in close parallel. (2745 N. 15th Ave., 602-253-3963, www.phoenix.gov)

Walking Trails

McDowell Mountain: A 1.6-mile flat trail through the north campground of McDowell Mountain Regional Park, this path is crisscrossed with many others that start around here. Despite the slight confusion at various forks in the road, it is a straightforward trail through washes and luscious desert. (Wagner Short Loop Trail, 16300 McDowell Mountain Park Dr., Fort McDowell, 480-471-0173)

Papago Park: A multi-purpose path that is just over a mile, the Big Butte Loop Trail is easily accessed via nearby popular destinations like the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Garden. Circumnavigating one of the larger sandstone buttes in the park, this trail begins at the Eliot Ramada and continues through the dry, red desert of Papago, passing the amphitheater on McDowell and gently curving back to the beginning. A level hike, the path is a geologist’s dream. (Big Butte Loop Trail: 625 N. Galvin Pkwy., 602-495-5458)

Piestewa Peak Nature Trail: A hike of 1.5 miles, this nature trail takes you through the east side of the popular Piestewa Peak park in Phoenix Mountains Reserve. This is no walk in the park, but it’s suited to beginners who want a bit of a challenge. Though well-defined, the rocky trail can be tricky at times and may require bit of focused footwork, but the scenery will be worth it. (2701 E. Squaw Peak Lane, 602-262-7901)

Pinnacle Peak Trail: An out-and-back trail of 1.75 miles (3.5 round trip), this is a great hike for those beginners looking to start out strong. With both switchbacks and rolling hills, the trail is a wonderful way to explore the lush desert teeming with wildlife and plant life any time of year. With beautiful views of the North Valley and a unique desertscape, the trail is worth doing regularly. (26802 N. 102nd Way, Scottsdale)

Usery Mountain: Just under a mile, this trail is a pleasantly flat hike that takes you through the mountain park surrounding Usery Mountain. A simple loop around Headquarters Hill, this walk is a great starting point for the desert explorer, with placards of flora and fauna, as well as beautiful views of the Superstitions and benches on which to enjoy them. (Merkle Memorial Trail: 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa, 480-984-0032)


Arizona Biltmore Hotel: Located near 24th Street and Camelback Road, this resort recently joined the Hilton Hotels’ luxury collection Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts and was also featured on the Travel Channel show Great Hotels. Gorgeous vistas, nice restaurants, important Frank Lloyd Wright‑inspired architecture. (2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix, 602‑955‑6600, www.arizonabiltmore.com)

The Arizona State Capitol: This was the last home for Arizona’s Territorial government, until Arizona became a state in 1912. The 1901 portion of the Capitol is now maintained as the Arizona Capitol Museum with the mission to connect people to Arizona government, both past and present. (1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, 602‑926‑3620, www.azlibrary.gov/azcm)

Hotel Westward Ho: This 16‑story building, which is 208 feet to the roof, held the title of tallest building in Arizona for over 30 years until the completion of the Meridian Bank Tower in 1960. Not open to the public, it’s still worth a cruise past. The building primarily served as a hotel from its grand opening in 1928 until its official closure on April 7, 1980. (618 N. Central Ave., Phoenix)

Hyatt Regency Phoenix: The real destination here is the Compass Room, a top‑floor revolving restaurant. It was designed by Charles Luckman and Associates to complement the Phoenix Civic Plaza and Phoenix Symphony Hall. The hotel’s façade is clad in textured split‑ribbed concrete block. The hotel lobby and other restaurants occupy the main level. (122 N. 2nd St., Phoenix, 602‑252‑1234, www.phoenixhyatt.com)

Mystery Castle: This renowned building was built in the 1930s by Boyce Luther Gulley for his daughter, Mary Lou Gulley. After learning he had tuberculosis, Gulley moved from Seattle to the Phoenix area and began building the house from found or inexpensive materials. Boyce Gulley died in 1945, but his mysterious castle lives on. (800 E. Mineral Road, Phoenix, 602‑268‑1581, www.mymysterycastle.com)

Phoenix City Hall: Located in downtown Phoenix, the building rises 20 floors, was designed by architectural firm Langdon Wilson, and was completed in 1994. This city hall replaced the former city hall, which was located in the Calvin C. Goode Municipal Building. Gorgeous exterior cladding and starburst‑themed public art. (200 W. Washington St., Phoenix, 602‑262‑6011, www.phoenix.gov)


Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch: Contemporary architecture, dramatic landscaping, a water playground with its own beach, a staff that’s always ready to assist you, good restaurants, and even gondola rides — it all adds up to a lot of fun at one of the most smoothly run resorts in Arizona. (7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Road, Scottsdale, 480‑444‑1234, www.scottsdale.hyatt.com)

Camelback Inn: First opened in 1936 and kept up to date with regular renovations, this fine destination is today one of the few Scottsdale resorts that retain an Old Arizona atmosphere while at the same time offering a wide range of modern amenities. (5402 E. Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale, 480‑948‑1700, www.camelbackinn.com)

The Phoenician: This one is brimming with marble, crystal, and works of art. And with staff posted at practically every corner, the hotel offers guests impeccable service. Camelback Mountain looms above the resort’s lush grounds. (6000 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, 480‑423‑2449, www.thephoenician.com)

Fairmont Scottsdale: The Moorish styling and numerous fountains and waterfalls of this resort create a setting made for romance. A beautiful spa, a challenging golf course, and a superb modern steakhouse top a long list of reasons to head to the Fairmont. (7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale, 480‑585‑4848, www.fairmont.com/scottsdale)

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North: The setting is dramatic, the accommodations are spacious, and one of Arizona’s top golf courses is next door. Located in North Scottsdale amid a jumble of giant granite boulders, this is the most luxurious resort in the Phoenix area. (10600 E. Crescent Moon Dr., Scottsdale, 480‑515‑5700, www.fourseasons.com/scottsdale)

The Ritz‑Carlton, Dove Mountain: Nestled into saguaro‑covered hills, this luxury resort just outside Tucson feels as though it’s in a national park. The resort’s Western ranch styling, desert landscaping, and access to miles of hiking trails make it a superb place to experience the desert. (6270 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, www.ritzcarlton.com/dovemountain)

Arizona Biltmore: Combining discreet service and the architectural styling of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Biltmore has long been one of the most prestigious resorts in the state. (2400 E. Missouri Ave., 602‑955‑6600, www.arizonabiltmore.com)

InterContinental Montelucia Resort and Spa: Convenient to both Phoenix and Scottsdale and set at the foot of Camelback Mountain, this compact boutique resort draws on Spain’s famed Alhambra for architectural inspiration and feels exceedingly exotic. (4949 E. Lincoln Dr., Paradise Valley, 480‑627‑3200, www.icmontelucia.com)

Enchantment Resort: Set in a red‑rock canyon, this is the most unforgettable resort in the state. If you want to feel as though you’re vacationing in the desert, head here, where guest rooms are constructed in a pueblo architectural style. (525 Boynton Canyon Road, Sedona, 928‑282‑2900, www.enchantmentresort.com)


Arizona‑Sonora Desert Museum: This one re‑creates the natural landscape of the Sonoran Desert Region so realistically that you find yourself eye‑to‑eye with mountain lions, prairie dogs, Gila monsters, and more. Within the museum grounds, you will see more than 300 animal species and 1,200 kinds of plants. (2021 N. Kinney Road, Tucson, 520‑883‑1380, www.desertmuseum.org)

Grand Canyon Deer Farm: This place actually allows visitors to walk among deer, touch them, and let them eat right from your hand. (6769 E. Deer Farm Road, Williams, 928‑635‑4073, www.deerfarm.com)

Heritage Park Zoo: The sanctuary has many opportunities for visitors, including a covered picnic pavilion, a barbecue grill, a children’s playground, and large, naturally landscaped enclosures for the animals. Winding paths allow visitors the opportunity to get an up‑close and personal view of wildlife. (1403 Heritage Park Road, Prescott, 928‑778‑4242, www.heritageparkzoo.com)

Keepers of the Wild: Since 1962, this tribal‑owned zoo has served as a sanctuary for animals residing in natural habitats surrounded by native vegetation and rock scenery. Most are native to the Navajo Nation. (13441 E. Highway 66, Valentine, 928‑769‑1800, www.keepersofthewild.com)

Out of Africa Wildlife Park: More than 400 animals from all over the world cavort here: lions, tigers, giraffes, rhinoceros, black bears, camels, ostrichs, cobras, zebras, exotic birds, tortoises, wildebeests, jaguars, leopards, wolves, hyenas, and more. (4020 N. Cherry Road, Camp Verde, 928‑567‑2840, www.outofafricapark.com)

The Phoenix Zoo: Ten dozen acres of land, including exhibit, non‑exhibit, and operations areas, are home to 1,200 creatures and collections of mammals, fish, invertebrates, birds, and reptiles. (455 N. Galvin Pkwy., 602‑286‑3800, www.phoenixzoo.org)

Wildlife World Zoo: The state’s largest collection of exotic animals features over 2,400 creatures representing more than 400 exotic and endangered species. Talk about wildlife! (16501 W. Northern Ave., Litchfield Park, 623‑935‑9453, www.wildlifeworld.com)

Fun Runs

City of Peoria Super Day 10K: Sunday, February 1, 8:30 a.m., Rio Vista Community Park, 8866 West Thunderbird Road, Peoria. Featuring a 10K Run, 5K Run, 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk. Register at 623‑773‑7137.

Superb Owl Shuffle: Sunday, February 1, 9 a.m. 5K chip timed run, 5K chip timed walk, 100 yard kids blitz, and an ages 8 and under fun run/walk. To register: 602‑469‑6402. Tempe Kiwanis Park, 5500 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, 480‑350‑5200.

Tackle Trauma 5K: February 1 at Papago Park, 1350 N. College Ave., Tempe. Check‑in at 7 a.m.; race starts at 8. Sponsorship generates much‑needed funds for trauma research and injury prevention in Arizona.

For the Kids

Children’s Museum of Phoenix: Don’t be fooled: This place is a lot of fun for folks of all ages and has a ton of variety. Grandma will like the comfy lobby and the first‑floor gift shop. (215 N. 7th St., 602‑253‑0501, www.childrensmuseumofphx.org)

Jambo Park: This indoor jungle‑themed amusement park is great fun for the family, with all sorts of rides, games, and great food, too. The park offers regular rides and a Safari Train, as well as a 1,225‑square‑foot indoor playground. (12046 N. 32nd St., 602‑274‑4653, www.jambopark.com)

Enchanted Island Amusement Park: Located in the middle of Encanto Park, this one has more than a dozen rides and attractions for kids, a great snack bar, and pedal boats for the family. The train is a one‑third scale replica of an original steam engine, and the Encanto Carousel, another highlight of the island, is Arizona’s oldest continuously operating merry‑go‑round. (1202 W. Encanto Blvd., 602‑254‑1200)

Arizona Science Center: Meet giant half‑ton tortoises and marine iguanas that spit sea salt. Dance with the tropical albatrosses and hunt fishes with the colorful blue‑footed boobies. Try kid‑friendly science “experiments” and enjoy science‑related installations. (600 E. Washington St., 602‑716‑2000, www.azscience.org)

Hall of Flame Fire Museum: This place makes an ideal destination for bright‑red educational fun. Future firemen will find firefighting equipment from all around the world, dating back through history to 1725, plus a hands‑on exhibit about fire safety. (6101 E. Van Buren St., 602‑275‑3473, www.hallofflame.org)

Butterfly Wonderland: Thousands of butterflies populate every inch. Kids can watch the transition from caterpillar to butterfly in every detail. The rainforest environment features the largest butterfly atrium in the United States. (9500 East Via de Ventura, Scottsdale, 480‑800‑3000, www.butterflywonderland.com)