Ten Arizona Experiences That Will Leave You Wanting More
Apr 25, 2019 10:27PM
This year, as the Grand Canyon celebrates 100 years as a designated National Park, the state of Arizona has so much to offer travelers. Arizona (VISITARIZONA.COM) is one of those states that is most often associated with iconic national parks because it’s home to the Grand Canyon. The state offers so many incredible options for visitors, year-round and in every part of the state, so no matter where you land in Arizona, there’s something to experience, from a private resort for two nestled in the red rocks of Sedona to jaw-dropping nature that will have you snapping endless photos to food that will leave your taste buds craving more. Here are some highlights to help inspire your next Arizona adventure.
1.TASTE THE BEST MEXICAN FOOD
A smaller sister restaurant to Barrio Café, Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s highly celebrated Phoenix-based restaurant known for regional Mexican favorites, Barrio Café Gran Reserva (BARRIOCAFE.COM) seats only 30 people, including two seats at the bar, and has a radically different menu. At Gran Reserva, the half-vegan, unique and bold menu uses traditional Mexican techniques to create one-of-a-kind dishes. Here you can choose from a tasting menu or à la carte. Chef Silvana carefully sources ingredients and pairs them with Mexican wines and craft cocktails. She truly is one of Arizona’s best chefs, not to mention she is a total badass within her industry. In a state filled with incredible Mexican food, Chef Silvana consistently reigns supreme. Reservations are highly recommended, though walk-ins are welcome.
2.SAVOR A WORLD-FAMOUS HOT DOG
There are many reasons to visit Tucson. It has a vibrant downtown filled with shiny new and established restaurants; the Pima Air & Space Museum, one of the largest non-government funded aviation museums in the world; and a national historical landmark that is also the oldest intact European structure in Arizona, attracting over 200,000 visitors each year. There’s also the world-famous Sonoran hot dog. Sonoran-style hot dogs are bacon wrapped and come with beans, grilled onions, fresh onion, tomato, mayo, mustard, and jalapeño sauce and the best Sonoran hot dogs come from El Guero Canelo (ELGUEROCANELO.COM). El Guero Canelo, owned by Sonora-born Daniel Contreras, has three locations in Tucson, in addition to a meat market in Tucson and a bakery and tortilla factory in Magdalena, Sonora, in Mexico. Contreras opened his first hot dog stand in Tucson in 1993 and has become somewhat of a local celebrity, as his Sonoran hot dogs are legendary.
3.STAY IN A RESORT FOR TWO
Nestled in the scenic landscapes of Sedona is a resort for two that will capture your heart from the moment you step inside. The casita offers majestic, unobstructed vie ws of Cathedral Rock. You can view the rock from the comfort of the bedroom or in the outdoor hot tub or soaking tub on the edge of the cliff. The private home rental operates as a fivestar resort, and the owners are certified butlers to maintain those standards. Everything you could ever want or need is provided or can be arranged to ensure your stay is perfect. From a private chef to concierge services that include private helicopter tours, wine tasting, massages, and restaurant reservations, Sun Cliff Sedona (SUNCLIFFSEDONA.COM) has it all. There is no bad view from Sun Cliff. It doesn’t get any better than this, and that outdoor tub alone will have you booking a return visit before you check out.
4.HIKE MAGICAL WATERFALLS
In the depths of the Grand Canyon lies a place a beauty most people don’t know about: Havasupai. The Havasupai people who reside there are known as the “people of the blue-green water” and have been maintaining this mythical place for many years, but they permit visitors to experience its magic (WATERFALLSOFTHEGRANDCANYON.COM/HAVASU-FALLS). It’s not easy to obtain a permit to visit, as the waiting list is lengthy and the hike is not easy. The lush oasis is sacred to the Havasupai, and they believe it flows not only through the land but through each tribal member. A visit to the Havasupai is an unforgettable experience. Guided three- to five-day tours are the best way to visit.
5.INDULGE IN A SONORAN DESERT OASIS
Peoria, Arizona, is home to a scenic desert oasis, Lake Pleasant Regional Park. Surrounded by the Sonoran Desert, it is an outdoor enthusiast’s destination for action and adventure. With more than 23,000 acres of water and beautiful, unblemished desert landscape, Lake Pleasant (MARICOPACOUNTYPARKS.ORG/LAKE-PLEASANT) is one of the most scenic recreation areas in the Valley. Adventure abounds with opportunities like kayaking, fishing, scuba diving, camping, stargazing, and even scorpion hunting. Pleasant Harbor Marina is also home to the H2 Whoa, the largest floating water slide in the world. Whether you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city or simply wish to have some fun in the sun, Lake Pleasant is the perfect anytime getaway.
6.DISCOVER A BREATHTAKING LAKE
Watson Lake (PRESCOTT.COM/WATSON-LAKE), located four miles from the city of Prescott, is a stunning bright blue lake surrounded by granite boulders and hiking trails. The lake features fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, camping, and day picnicking. Watson’s water surface is about 380 surface acres and distinguished by its sky-blue calm waters surrounded by huge granite boulders with protruding vegetation, which makes for epic views (and incredible Instagram photos). The great thing about a visit to Watson Lake is that you can also head to Prescott, a city located within the Ponderosa Pines of Prescott National Forest. The charming city has more than 700 homes and businesses listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including Whiskey Row, once known for its many saloons. The national forest has more than 643 kilometers of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.
7.HUNT FOR GOLD
The famous tales of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine are known throughout the world, with travelers coming to seek the legend and experience the mystery. Lost Dutchman State Park (AZSTATEPARKS.COM/LOST-DUTCHMAN) is on the Apache Trail, State Route 88, north of Apache Junction. Highway 88 crosses the northwest portion of the Park, private land is on the south, and the Tonto National Forest is on the north and east. The park provides views and access to the most scenic portions of the legendary Superstition Mountains and maintains facilities to support the recreational activities. If not in search of gold, visitors can become entranced with the golden opportunities to experience in the beautiful and rugged area known as the Superstition Wilderness, accessible by trails from the park.
8.VISIT THE STATE’S MOST LIBERAL TOWN
The town of Bisbee (DISCOVERBISBEE.COM) is 90 miles southeast of Tucson and nestled amongst the Mule Mountains. The community was founded in 1880 and named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee, a financial backer of the Copper Queen Mine. By the early 1900s, the Bisbee community was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. Today Bisbee has evolved into an attractive artist colony and retirement community known for its relaxed quality of life. People come to Bisbee to savor its unique charm. To stop in Bisbee is to stop in time. Nestled in the mile-high Mule Mountains of southern Arizona, Bisbee has maintained an Old World charm seldom found anywhere in the United States. Bisbee is also estimated to have a very large percentage of LGBTQ residents as evidenced by their annual pride events each June, which helps cement Bisbee as one of the most liberal places to visit in Arizona.
9 & 10.EXPERIENCE TWO RESORTS WITH DEEP TIES TO MODERNISM
Hotel Valley Ho (HOTELVALLEYHO.COM) is a midcentury marvel with all the luxuries of a modern-day escape following an $80 million restoration in 2005. Paying tribute to the region’s signature design and storied past as a Hollywood hideaway, the downtown Scottsdale hotel features generously sized guest rooms with glass walls opening onto airy patios or balconies in Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature style of compress-and-release spaces. Located just 5 miles away in the affluent neighboring city of Paradise Valley is another desert icon, Mountain Shadows (MOUNTAINSHADOWS.COM), a newly opened upscale boutique resort with roots in 1950s modernism and history. The original property closed in 2004, and a $100 million new-build resort by the acclaimed developers of Hotel Valley Ho opened its doors in April 2017. Mountain Shadows features timeless modern design, 183 guestrooms, a restaurant with an exhibition kitchen, two 75-foot pools connected by a modern waterfall feature, an art gallery, and dramatic views of Camelback Mountain and the surrounding desert beauty.