100 cool places in Arizona

Museums, food, outdoor activities and more.

Western Arizona



If it was good enough for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard on their honeymoon, Oatman should be good enough for you, although it's been 73 years since the Hollywood couple spent their honeymoon night in the allegedly haunted Oatman Hotel. Oatman's other attraction is its wild burros, which beg for food like large puppies. They're cute but pushy. (928) 768-6222,

Old Route 66, Oatman to Kingman.

The other reason to come to Oatman: It's where you'll start a winding drive to Kingman on Old Route 66, past the ghost town of Goldroad and up to Sitgreaves Pass at 3,500 feet. Just before the pass, there's an excellent vista looking west toward Oatman with a small collection of gravestone markers. It's gravel, so if you slip and start sliding, you could be joining those dearly departed. CH


Arizona sights: An article in the Feb. 12 Travel section about 100 things to see and do in Arizona referred to the pies at Pizzeria Bianco as "deep dish." The pizzas there are thin crust. —


Cowboy and character actor Andy Devine isn't a native of Kingman — he was born in Flagstaff — but Kingman claims him, named a major thoroughfare for him and has a room dedicated to him at the Mohave County Museum. Of special note is a telegram signed by a fellow actor from California: "Nancy joins me in wishing you the happiest birthday ever.... Sincerely, Ronald Reagan Governor of California." 400 W. Beale St., Kingman; (928) 753-3195,

. Admission $5. CH

London Bridge, Lake Havasu.

If the Grand Canyon is the granddaddy of Arizona attractions, London Bridge is the prince. The span, which traces its royal roots to 1831 England, was purchased in 1971 for $2.4 million, but it cost more than $4 million to ship. A look at this big, blocky bridge is unaffecting, but when you walk across, you have to wonder in whose footsteps you're following — Charles Dickens? Jack the Ripper? Queen Victoria? (928) 855-5655,


Arizona 95.

The drive south from Lake Havasu to Quartzsite is surprising. There you are in the middle of the desert and suddenly, there's Cattail Cove State Park, a 2,000-acre park with five dozen campsites, a sapphire blue ribbon courtesy of the Colorado River, a boat ramp and a beach. Never mind the sign that tells you to watch out for snakes and scorpions. A little farther along 95, you reach the Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge, complete with cottonwoods and cattail stands, a 6,105-acre riparian oasis. Cattail Cove, (520) 586-2283,

. Bill Williams, (925) 667-4144,



You know you've reached RV heaven when you see the sign for an RV proctologist. Yes, Quartzsite has a huge RV show (and is RV central for snowbirds), but it's mostly for shoppers, if you like the idea of hundreds of vendors in tents and out of doors. There are gems and minerals (and big shows focused on those) and hundreds of swap meet vendors. They say if you can't find it in Quartzsite, it can't be found. The town, population about 3,700, hosts 1.5 million visitors a year who arrive in November and December. Many stay, leaving about March 1. (928) 927-9321,

. CH

Hi Jolly, Quartzsite.

Here's a story straight out of Hollywood: The U.S. Army decides to try camels instead of horses in the desert. Alas, the camels don't speak English, and the soldiers don't speak Arabic. Enter a Greek/Syrian fellow named Hadji Ali, also known as Philip Tedro, but ultimately known as Hi Jolly. He wrangles the beasts for this experiment, which ends after the camels can't adapt to the rocky, cactus-needle-laden desert floor. (Some say the Army didn't give it enough time.) Hi Jolly eventually dies in Quartzsite, where a monument is built to him; it's on the National Register. His grave in Quartzsite is the most obvious in the recently rededicated cemetery; it's the only one with a camel atop it. (928) 927-9321,


Castle Dome Mines Museum.

About 40 miles from Yuma is the Castle Dome Mines Museum, a love letter to the rough-and-tumble mining region. More than 30 buildings (lots of bars, as was customary), clustered together, tell the story of the 3,000 or so people who once dug out a living from the earth. Today, closed-off mine shafts dot the countryside. Many of them held the detritus of daily life and, when opened, were like little time capsules. It's in the middle of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, up a road that will give your car's suspension — and yours — a good workout. Open mid-October to April, by appointment other times. (928) 920-3062,

. Admission $10. Take Arizona 95 to Mile post 55 and turn toward Castle Dome.

Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park.

Elena Estrada's lover messed around, but when she was angry, she apparently didn't: She sliced open his chest, yanked out his heart and threw the bloody innards on him. That's how she ended up in Yuma Territorial Prison, at the confluence of the Gila and Colorado rivers. This prison, re-created and restored from the 1876 structures, was open for 33 years, saw about 3,000 prisoners (Estrada was one of only 29 women) and was either the "country club on the Colorado" or a hellhole. Judging from the tiny cells where six bunks are clustered, I'd vote for the latter. The characters who passed through here, whether prisoners or superintendents or their wives, speak volumes about the Old West. 1 Prison Hill Road, Yuma; (928) 783-4771,

. Admission $5. CH

Northern and eastern Arizona

Lower Antelope Canyon.

Not for the passive walker, the canyon is an interactive experience that you climb and squeeze your way through. At its steepest points, visitors can continue only with the aid of metal stairs. Because it is part of the Antelope Canyon-Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, access is by tour only. Tours start at $20, plus $6 admission.

. JL

Wupatki and Sunset Crater Volcano national monuments.

Legend has it that 19th century explorer John Wesley Powell gave the crater its name because he thought its rim resembled a sunset. Just up the road from Sunset Crater is Wupatki National Monument, with picturesque scenery and pueblo ruins. You can tour the pueblo grounds, including the ball court and community room. Volcano National Monument, (928) 526-0502,

. Wupatki National Monument, (928) 679-2365,

. The $5 fee is good for admission to both monuments. Children younger than 16 are free. Open year-round. JL

Petrified Forest National Park.

The park has first-rate scenery, and much of it can be appreciated up close. Driving the 28-mile road that leads past most of the park's sights takes at least an hour, not taking into account stops. The Blue Mesa Trail carries you into the bowels of the Painted Desert's badlands, an alien-like landscape strewn with kaleidoscopic petrified wood. Admission is $10 per vehicle. (928) 524-6228,




Canyon de Chelly National Monument.

As nearly as spectacular as the Grand Canyon 200 miles to the west, but far less crowded. (928) 674-5500,

. Visitor center open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. JJ

Totsonii Ranch organizes half-day, full-day and overnight trips — by horseback — into Canyon de Chelly. (928) 551-0109,

. Tours from $50 with a two-person minimum. JJ

Explore Navajo Interactive Museum.

About three hours west of Canyon de Chelly, with a variety of exhibits on Navajo history and culture. 10 N. Main St., Tuba City; (928) 640-0684,

. JJ


Hotel Monte Vista.

What to make of the Monte Vista? The latest Lonely Planet guide gives it a glowing endorsement — but 30% of TripAdvisor critics call it "terrible." The 43 rooms, an eccentric collection (most priced $75-$130) with tiny bathrooms, are suitable for the collegiate and the unfussy, not-so-suited for families. But I wouldn't want to miss the Monte Vista's bustling Rendezvous coffee shop and martini bar, adjoining the lobby. 100 N. San Francisco St., Flagstaff; (800) 545-3068,

Little America Hotel.

Compared to the quirky Monte Vista, this place has no character at all. It sits behind a vast parking lot just off Interstate 40. But wait. There are safe outdoors space for kids to run around in, a big pool, generously sized rooms and very good prices. With an Auto Club discount, I paid $89, and got excellent service at the desk. Families, this is a winner. 2515 E. Butler Ave. Flagstaff; (800) 865-1401,


Macy's European Coffee House & Gallery.

This place is a merry mix of local students, backpackers and tourists. Tasty food, intriguing art on the walls. 14 S. Beaver St., Flagstaff; (928) 774-2243;

. Menu tops off at about $8.

Beaver Street Brewery.

This spacious place, known for good grub (wood-fired pizza), stands amid the atmospheric old roadside signs in Flagstaff's Southside district. 11 S. Beaver St. No. 1, Flagstaff; (928) 779-0079,

. Dinner main dishes $9-$17.

The Museum Club.

Come here to drink up and commune with the ghosts of the old Route 66, which runs right out front. The Zoo (as locals call it) is a log-cabin roadhouse full of neon signage, ample taxidermy, a big flag, juke box, dance floor and history dating to 1931. 3403 E. Route 66, Flagstaff; (928) 526-9434;


Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar.

Here is the place to spend a few bucks extra on a romantic dinner. It's on the edge of downtown with about eight tables and a dozen seats at the bar, and much more space on the patio when the weather allows. Many locally sourced ingredients. 413 N. San Francisco St., Flagstaff; (928) 213-1021; Dinner main dishes, $23-$34.

Starrlight Books

. You can't visit Arizona without a tattered volume of Edward Abbey in your backpack, and Starrlight books is just the place to pick one up. Inventory is mostly used, with a lot of regional nonfiction. 15 N. LeRoux St., Flagstaff; (928) 774-6813.

Lowell Observatory.

Among its many successes is the discovery of Pluto in 1930. Guided by scientists, visitors are welcome to look through the massive telescope at night. There's also a small museum, where guests can see the original moon maps as well as a guest book signed by Neil Armstrong in 1963. 1400 W. Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff; (928) 774-3358,



Route 66 and the Grand Canyon Railway.

The longest still-drivable stretch of Historic Route 66 begins west of Williams in Ash Fork and continues for about 150 miles to the Colorado River at Topock. Williams is also the southern terminus of the railway, which makes the trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in a little over two hours.


La Posada.

This landmark Spanish-Colonial-Revival hotel, adjacent to the trim adobe train depot, has a handsome lobby, lounges, restaurant and guest rooms that are redolent of the past. The design is by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, who from 1902 to 1949 created hotels, restaurants, shops and depots for the Harvey/Santa Fe team. 303 E. 2nd St., Winslow; (928) 289-4366,

. Doubles from $99.

Central Arizona


Overlook Point.

Here's your epic, red-rock view, easy to reach. From Arizona 89A, head south on Airport Road, park in the lot at left, and brave the short, steep trail to the Overlook. (Or take the adjoining Yavapai Trail, go farther and see more.) For details on this and a dozen other hikes, go to


Slide Rock State Park.

This place is jammed in summer, because kids can splash and swim in a narrow stretch of red-rock creek bed. In winter, it can be nearly deserted … and spectacular.

. Cost is $20 per vehicle in summer, $10 the rest of the year.

Pink Jeep Tours.

Thrill-seekers can take a bone-rattling Jeep tour to explore the Broken Arrow Trail as it winds through sandstone monoliths in Coconino National Forest, outside Sedona. 204 N. Highway 89A, Sedona; (800) 873-3662,

. Two-hour Broken Arrow tour, $79 for adults, $56 for children.

Enchantment Resort.

This 70-acre property backs up to the ruggedly beautiful peaks of the Red Rock/Secret Mountain Wilderness. Rooms are plush; some have beehive fireplaces and many have panoramic red rock views. Two restaurants, spa, clubhouse. Doubles from $295, with $22 per night resort fee. 525 Boynton Canyon Road, Sedona; (928) 282.2900,


Montezuma Castle National Monument.

This cave dwelling, attributed to the Sinagua people, seems to have been built in the 13th century, about the time the French were building Notre Dame Cathedral. But by 1425, the Sinagua had vanished, and scientists are still trying to sort that out. Camp Verde; (928) 567-3322;

. Admission $5 for adults, free for children younger than 16. CR


Downtown Jerome.

The town's population is south of 600, so it doesn't take long to cover downtown. Start with breakfast at the Flatiron Café (three tables, three stools and three employees at 416 Main St.) and browse the antiques and bric-a-brac at House of Joy (416 N. Hull St.), which was once a brothel, then a restaurant, now a shop open Thursdays-Sundays. Then take measure of the area's recent wine boom by sipping a bit at Jerome winery or Cadaceus Cellars.

Jerome Grand Hotel.

Once a hospital for miners, then idle for decades, this old pile was refashioned into a hotel about 15 years ago. It stands at the top of tiny, rustic Jerome, which clings to Cleopatra Hill like a miner to his last drop of gin. The Jerome Grand's guests rely, warily, on a caged 1926 Otis elevator, and the place gets a lot of attention for being "haunted." 200 Hill St., Jerome; (928) 634-8200,


. Rooms for two $120-$195, more for suites.

15.Quince Grill & Cantina.

Pronounce that


as in the number 15 in Spanish. Great New Mexico-style cuisine served in a striking dining room. 363 Main St., Jerome; (928) 634-7087,

. Dinner main dishes $8-$17.95.




. Head northeast from Prescott on this meandering mountain road, and the crazy rocks will begin just outside town, followed by handsome Watson Lake, followed by miles of winding mountain roads. The drama increases with the drop into the old mining town of Jerome (which is best executed in daylight). And then comes 89A's finest hour, the stretch that leads north through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon toward Flagstaff — some of the most dramatic scenery in the American Southwest.

Palace Restaurant & Saloon.

The bar dates to the 1870s (when Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were among its customers), but its signature moment came in 1900, when a fire threatened the building. In fact, fire destroyed the building — but not before patrons saved the ornately carved wooden bar by dragging it out the door and across the street. Now it's back in place, neighbored by display cases full of historical knickknacks. The saloon serves food along with drinks and often hosts live music. 120 S. Montezuma St., Prescott; (928) 541-1996;


Hotel Vendome.

Tom Mix slept here. This 1917 lodging has 20 rooms, 12 of them with claw-foot tubs. New owners have been working on upgrades (including a wine bar in the lobby) since 2011, but it's still a modest place with modest rates. 230 S. Cortez St., Prescott; (928) 776-0900;

. Rooms for two usually run $79 (weekdays) to $129 (weekends).

Raven Café.

This is where Prescott's cool kids come. It's a coffee house by day and a bar by night, with full lunch and dinner menus in between, all sorts of local art on the walls, and frequent live music. 142 N. Cortez St., Prescott; (928) 717-0009,

. Dinner main dishes, $9-$18.


Flying E Ranch

. Wickenburg, about 90 minutes northwest of Phoenix, once was center of the dude-ranching universe, but now there are two dude ranches left. This one, opened in the '40s, is the modest mom-and-pop option, with 12 rooms, three suites and two family houses; a pool; about 50 horses, and access to about 20,000 acres. Open November through April. 2801 W. Wickenburg Way, Wickenburg; (928) 684-2690;

. Rates $308-$392 per night (for two people). Includes three family-style meals daily. Trail rides extra.

Rancho de Los Caballeros.

This prosperous ranch dates to the '40s too, but about 30 years ago, somebody decided to build a golf course and go upscale. Guests at this 79-room retreat divide time between riding (about 100 horses) and golfing (18 holes) — and for dinner, men wear jackets or vests. Open early October through mid-April. 1551 S. Vulture Mine Road, Wickenburg; (800) 684-5030,

. Rooms for two, $415-$635, meals included, depending on room and season, plus 15% service (in lieu of tipping) and tax. Trail rides are extra.

Screamers Drive-In.

Need road food? This burger joint has it. There's nothing more than $5, with a $2.75 root-beer float if the kids are good. 1151 W. Wickenburg Way, Wickenburg; (928) 684-9056; no website.

Anita's Cocina

. This busy Mexican spot in downtown Wickenburg is big with locals. The menu tops out at $16 (surf and turf fajitas). 57 N. Valentine St., Wickenburg; (928) 684-5777.

Phoenix area


In 1970, when architect Paolo Soleri began constructing Arcosanti in the desert 65 miles north of Phoenix, he envisioned the "arcology" as a solution to urban sprawl — a new kind of urbanism that melded architecture and ecology. The site offers a fascinating look at alternative architecture as well as beautiful views across desert plateaus. It's windy at Arcosanti, and good thing, as development is partly financed by the sale of hand-cast ceramic and bronze bells. Swing by for an hour-long tour or a lunch at the tasty Arcosanti Café buffet. 13555 South Cross L Road¿, Mayer;¿ (928) 632-

. Daily tours 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Cave Creek.

This former mining town, 30 minutes north of Phoenix, is a great place to "cowboy up." Sure, the shops can be a little kitsch. But so was "Gunsmoke."

Rock Springs Café.

Here's an old-fashioned roadside attraction, 30 minutes north of Phoenix, with cafe, bar, a big patio area and a reputation for serious pies (apple crumb, blackberry crumb, walnut brownie crunch…). 35769 S. Old Black Canyon Highway (off Exit 242, Interstate 17), Rock Springs; (623) 374-5794.

Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa.

The Wigwam, a low-rise throwback, has sprawling grounds (440 acres), spacious rooms (331 casitas and suites), newish owners (who have spent several million on upgrades since 2009); and more than 90 years of history. To that add 54 holes of championship golf. Rooms for two usually $159-$399 in season, $99-$149 in summer. 300 E. Wigwam Blvd., Litchfield Park; (623) 935-3811;

. Daily resort fee $20.


Arizona Biltmore.

You may not be able to afford a night here during the winter, but you deserve a morning at least. This 720-room resort dates to the late 1920s, when Albert Chase McArthur, an Arizona-based disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, dreamed up this place and appropriated the master's "textile block" design scheme. At 10 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, there are 60- and 90-minute tours for $10 (free for hotel guests). Or come any day, self-park for free, and have a snack at one of the cafe's patio tables and wander a little. 400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix; (602) 955-6600;


Embassy Suites Phoenix-Scottsdale.

Yes, it's your basic chain hotel, but it stands near the convergence of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. Family friendly, with a big pool too. Rates range from $89 in summer to $249 a night. 4415 E. Paradise Village Parkway S., Phoenix; (602) 765-5800.

Barrio Café.

Outside, colorful murals. Inside: top-flight food. This restaurant is big with the power-lunch crowd. Try the azul filete — a $28 journey to nirvana. 2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix; (602) 636-0240. Dinner main dishes, $20-$28.


Matt's Big Breakfast.

This red-brick restaurant is tiny, with a kitchen the size of a Mini Cooper, but the meals are big, greasy and tasty. Breakfast entrees $4 to $6.50. 801 N. 1st St., Phoenix; (602) 254-1074,


St. Francis

. For forward-looking dining, locals head to this family-owned restaurant in central Phoenix, for interesting takes on salmon, grouper, calamari and chops. 111. E. Camelback Road, Phoenix; (602) 200-8111,


Pizzeria Bianco.

Waits can reach three hours at the deep-dish haven downtown. Avoid the long lines with a Tuesday dinner or a late lunch. Most popular pizza: the margherita. 623 E. Adams St., Phoenix; (602) 258-8300;

. Open Tuesdays-Saturdays. CE

Alice Cooperstown

. Local resident Alice Cooper owns a sports bar filled with baseball and music memorabilia, in the shadow of where the Suns and Diamondacks play. 101 E. Jackson, Phoenix; (602) 253-7337,


Musical Instrument Museum.

The piano John Lennon used to compose "Imagine" is on display at this stunning yet off-the-radar museum. 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix; (480) 478-6000,


Phoenix Art Museum.

The stylish, two-story museum

has much to offer art lovers, with air-conditioned rooms adorned with works by Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Georgia O'Keeffe and Claude Monet. 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix; (602) 257-1222,


Heard Museum.

Joining a tour here

is like walking into a high school history lesson on Native Americans, enhanced by some of the world's best visual aids. Colorful kastina (also called kachina) dolls, sand-cast silverware, hand-woven wedding shawls, water jugs and red-clay pottery line the glass cases. 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix; (602) 252-8840,


South Mountain Park/Preserve.

Hike to the summit on Holbert Trail and you will be serenaded by red-tailed hawks, accompanied by curious jack rabbits and shaded by bushy small-leafed Palo Brea trees. Along the way, examine 600-year-old Hohokam pictographs etched into massive flat, black rocks. 10919 S. Central Ave., Phoenix; (602) 495-0222 or (602) 534-6324,


Spring training tix.

Games in the Phoenix-based Cactus League begin March 2 and run through April 3;, or Ticketmaster (800) 745-3000.


Boulders Resort.

Set amid breathtaking rock formations just north of Scottsdale, this is where Fred Flintstone would stay if he won the lottery. 34631 N. Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree; (888) 579-2631,


Sanctuary at Camelback.

This serene boutique resort on the edge of a mountain offers world-class amenities in a setting you'll never forget. 5700 McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley; (800) 245-2051,


Hotel Valley Ho.

Call it Rat Pack redux. About seven years ago, this 1956 hotel was retooled to the tune of $80 million, and the result is a bold mid-centurion with a big, groovy pool. Standard rooms start at $259 in high season and drop to $99 in summer. 6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale; (480) 248-2000,


Don & Charlie's.

One the hottest spring training hangouts for Angels fans who frequent neighboring Tempe Diablo Stadium, this retro rib joint features memorabilia on the walls. Ballplayer sightings are frequent. 7501 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale; (480) 990-0900,

. Entrees from $10.95.

Greasewood Flat.

Just when you think the entire Phoenix area was built this morning, you stumble upon this bleached-out Old West hangout: food and music in a bunkhouse setting. 27375 N. Alma School Parkway, Scottsdale; (480) 585-9430,



Arizona reportedly has more golf courses than Scotland. Scottsdale is the hotbed. TPC Scottsdale, site of the Phoenix Open, is the signature course. 17020 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale; (888) 400-4001,

. Pssst, also try Troon North Golf Club, 10320 E. Dynamite Blvd., Scottsdale; (480) 585-5300,


Cactus League.

Scottsdale is holding its inaugural Spring Training Festival, Feb. 25 and 26, featuring rare film clips, symposiums and autograph sessions with ex-players.


Scottsdale ArtWalk.

This weekly event has been drawing big crowds for 30 years, from 7-9 p.m. every Thursday on Main Street, with a lively mix of eateries as well.


Taliesen West.

During high season (November-April), the two-hour tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and studio is a hefty $32. Offseason, the price drops to $24. 12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale; (480) 627-5340,


Pinnacle Peak Park.

Camelback Mountain in Phoenix is one of the nation's great urban hiking experiences. Better for young families, though, is the Pinnacle Peak Trail, a 30-minute climb that can be done in flips-flops. 26802 N. 102nd Way, Scottsdale; (480) 312-0990,


McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

These hills on the edge of Scottsdale make a brilliant spot for an early morning hike. Try the Gateway Loop Trail, which makes a 3.5-mile circle around a big hill. If you have less time or energy, there's the wheelchair-accessible Bajada Nature Trail, a flatter half-mile round-trip. Free. Gateway Trailhead and parking at 18333 N. Thompson Peak Parkway, Scottsdale.

McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

This hilly, cactus-studded territory just east of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve includes 50 miles of trails for mountain bikes, hikers and horses. Entry fee, $6 per vehicle. 16300 McDowell Mountain Park Dr.; (480) 471-0173,


Arizona Outback Adventures.

Rent a bike or try a guided ride with the company's Gary Heald, but you'll run the risk of being outraced by a 73-year-old. (480) 945-2881,

. $40-$95 a day

Floating the Lower Salt River.

White-water adrenaline junkies need not apply. But if you put a kayak or raft in the water south of Saguaro Lake, you'll be floating in the middle of a desert panorama that includes Red Mountain to the west and sometimes includes wild mustangs at water's edge. (But beware of high-density tuber traffic during spring break.) Through Scottsdale-based Arizona Outback Adventures (see above), guided half-day trips usually run $90 each (four people in a raft) to $125 each (two people in kayaks). CR


Tempe Town Lake.


Escape the spring training heat with a boat ride here, a mile from the bustling stretch of Mill Avenue. Kayaks and electric pontoons for rent. 72 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe; (480) 303-9803, CE

Cornish Pasty, Tempe and Mesa.

These two modest restaurants serve the British equivalent of the calzone — one of the most original meals you will find. 960 W. University, Tempe; (480) 894-6261; 1941 W. Guadalupe Road, Mesa; (480) 838-3586. CE


Saguaro Lake Ranch.

The Mesa area's most distinctive lodging, with stables and trails that offer riding and hiking. Some cabins are on the banks of the Salt River, where kayaking is an option. Just upstream, Saguaro Lake stretches out from Stewart Mountain Dam, creating opportunities to fish, boat and water-ski. 13020 Bush Highway, Mesa; (480) 984-2194,

. Three-meal plan $150-$175 per adult, $30-$70 per child.

Arizona Museum of Natural History.

Packed with kid-friendly attractions: large model dinosaurs, rocks, gold panning and cellblocks from early prisons. 53 N. Macdonald, Mesa; (480) 644-2230,



Old Town Glendale.

The Dodgers' Camelback Ranch spring training home lacks heart and history, but in Old Town Glendale you'll find a charming square full of shops, restaurants and trees brimming with migrating birds.

Haus Murphy.

This German restaurant reportedly sells more German beer than anywhere else in Arizona. The little outdoor


is a perfect spot after a game at Camelback Ranch to drain a light Spaten or bock straight from the tap. 5739 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale; (623) 939-2480.


Renaissance Inn.

Don't tell anybody, lest his groupies mob the lobby, but Vin Scully stays at the Renaissance Inn in Glendale during spring training. 9495 W. Coyotes Blvd., Glendale; (623) 937-3700.

Westgate City Center.

A few miles from Camelback Ranch, this big entertainment area in Glendale has the usual been-there, done-that chains. For something more real, check out Hell's Half Acre, near the west entrance. (623) 877-8447.

Southern Arizona

Tucson area

Ft. Bowie National Historic Site,

116 miles east of Tucson, commemorates its 150th year in 2012. The trail off Apache Pass Road up to the visitor center is full of ruins, including the Butterfield Stage stop. The war between the U.S. Army and the Apaches escalated here during the Civil War, and years later, Geronimo surrendered here. (520) 847-250,


Picacho Peak State Park

. Civil War battles were fought as far West as Picacho, about 45 miles north of Tucson. Each year, the battles of Picacho, Valverde and Glorieta Pass (the latter two in New Mexico) are re-enacted (March 10-11 this year, the 150th anniversary). If you didn't appreciate the hardships of the soldiers, you need only stand under an Arizona sun and then think about how you'd feel if you were wearing wool, as many soldiers did. $10 vehicle entrance fee for up to four people, (520) 466-3183,


Biosphere 2.

Only in Oracle, can you begin your day in a desert, wander through a rain forest and end up in a savanna, all in a giant greenhouse replica of Earth. Since the University of Arizona took over operations in 2007, the 3.15-acre site has honed in on outreach and research, opening its doors to about 100,000 visitors a year and, in 2011, breaking ground on a $7-million Landscape Evolution Observatory. 32540 S. Biosphere Road, Oracle; (520) 838-6200,

. Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily; guided tours every 20 minutes, $20.

Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley.

Snow at Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is so great because it's so fleeting. The lifts operate year-round, but it's for only a few precious weeks each year that a $37 lift ticket buys you a ride in the southern-most ski valley in North America. In summer, 110 degrees in Tucson can turn into a breezy 70 in the shade at Mt. Lemmon. Many hiking trails begin near the ski valley, including the popular Marshall Gulch trail. 10300 Ski Run Road, Mt. Lemmon; (520) 576-1321,

. Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursdays-Mondays; call to confirm.

Mt. Lemmon Sky


. Stringent light pollution laws keep city streets dim in Arizona, so wherever you are look up: Chances are you'll see a spectacular night sky. If that's not enough, head to the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter to peer through the 32-inch Schulman Telescope. Adam Block, a NASA-recognized astrophotographer, leads nightly tours year-round (weather permitting) at the largest dedicated public telescope in the Southwest. $60, group discounts available. For reservations, call¿(520) 626-8122 or go to



a luxurious adventure spa in the boulder- and saguaro-strewn foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, 25 miles north of Tucson, offers the usual massages, facials and Zumba dance classes, but you can also book a shamanic healing, experience a Shuniya sound ceremony or have a horse enhance your self-esteem. 5000 E. Via Estancia, Tucson (the spa is actually in Catalina, but the mailing address is Tucson); (800) 232-3969,

. Doubles from $525 a night, including lodging, meals and $130-a-day allowance for a spa service or special activity. The three-hour Equine Experience is offered three times a week.

The Congress

, built in 1919 and restored in circa 1930s fashion, is a multipurpose destination in and of itself, equally popular with tourists and Tucsonans. The lobby is perhaps the Congress' most striking feature, with soaring walls colorfully adorned with Native American-inspired Southwest Deco glyphs. 311 E. Congress St.,Tucson; (800) 722-8848,

. Moderately priced guest rooms, all on the second floor (no TVs). Doubles from $79.

Club Congress

has been called one of the top rock music venues in the country by Playboy and Entertainment magazines. It is inconspicuously behind the Congress lobby but visible and audible to passersby on the street, and it is the city's busiest live music spot.

Maynards Market & Kitchen.

Lunch, dinner and drinks in the renovated Tucson train depot. 400 N. Toole Ave., Tucson; (520) 545-0577,

. Entrees from $12 (pizzas). Other entrees $21-$26.

Cafe Poca Cosa.

The Old Pueblo has the best Mexican food of any


up north, and this one is near the top. 110 E. Pennington St., Tucson; (520) 622-6400,




has an array of microbrews, and the place is thick with University of Arizona Wildcats, so be nice and don't brag about USC's Rose Bowl victories. 1702 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson; (520) 325-1702,


Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Paved and graded paths loop through the diverse biotic communities of the lively Sonoran Desert. Neat stuff on Earth history and geology as well.

Saguaro National Park


Tucson Mountain Park

are adjacent; bring a bike, hiking shoes or both.

2021 N. Kinney Road, Tucson; (520) 883-2702,


Sonoran Hot Dogs at El Güero Canelo.

A hot dog becomes Sonoran after it is bacon-wrapped, smothered in pinto beans and stuffed into a Mexican


; toppings include tomatoes, onions, jalapeño sauce, mustard and mayo. Grab a dog for $2.49 and watch the people of Tucson roll in and out. 2480 N. Oracle Road, Tucson; (520) 882-8977. Open 10 a.m.-11 p.m. daily, Fridays and Saturdays until midnight.

Bookmans Entertainment Exchange.

Bookmans is a bazaar of used literature, media, collectibles and entertainment. Nestled behind a Walgreen's, the flagship store in Tucson (there are six locations in Arizona) looks deceptively cookie-cutter. But with a constantly rotating inventory — bring in old entertainment to receive credit for new-to-you books, magazines and music — and no computerized catalog search, no two visits to Bookmans are alike. 1930 E. Grant Road, Tucson; (520) 325-5767,

. Open daily 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

El Tiradito Wishing Shrine.

El Tiradito ("The Outcast") earns its spot on the National Register of Historic Places with the distinction of being the nation's only shrine dedicated to a sinner — a man who died fighting for his married lover. Maybe that's why El Tiradito draws so many wistful souls to light a candle in front of its crumbling walls or to slip a scrap of paper into its adobe crevasses with a prayer or a



Take advantage of a visit to El Tiradito to walk around the colorful

Barrio Viejo

to see what old Tucson looked like before a downtown "revitalization" wiped out much of this historic Latino neighborhood, or pop next door to the landmark

El Minuto Café

, which has served Mexican fare since 1939. 420 S. Main Ave., Tucson; (520)791-4873.

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun.

In 1951, when Arizona artist Ted DeGrazia began building his studio in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, he imagined it as an escape from the expanding city of Tucson. Today, Tucson has all but engulfed the 10-acre National Historic District, which makes the intricately adorned, squat adobe galleries of DeGrazia's imagination all the more transformative. Six permanent collections and rotating exhibitions display some of the 15,000 pieces of artwork DeGrazia left to the gallery. 6300 N. Swan Road, Tucson; (520) 299-9191, Free; open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.

Mission San Xavier del Bac.

The Tohono O'odham — the sovereign nation of 24,000 people formally known as the Papago — live on four reservations in southern Arizona, but the San Xavier Mission, nine miles south of Tucson, is one of the few places on tribal lands open to tourists. Completed in 1797, the Mission is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the Southwest. 1950 W. San Xavier Road, Tucson; (520) 294-2624. Open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Free admission and tours every 45 minutes.

Wine Tours.

Arizona's 40 wineries are spread throughout the state, but most growers are found on the high southern plateau, where hot days and cold nights make for the perfect wine-growing climate. The grapes are good — and the industry is new, which means the tastings are cheap, usually $5 for five wines (if you bring your own glass, it's only $3). If you're here in August, stop in the Elgin's Four Monkey Winery for its annual grape-stomping competition.


Catharine Hamm, Christopher Reynolds, Chris Erskine, Jason La, Hugo Martin, Megan Kimble, Rosemary McClure, Jay Jones, Karl Zimmermann, John Muncie, Don Shirley, Christopher Smith, Ken Van Vechten and Charlie Vascellaro contributed to this report.