101 Things to Do in Arizona

Written by Keridwen Cornelius Category: Lifestyle Issue: July 2014
Group Mid-Level
Character count 2500

You shook Goldwater’s hand. You hiked Humphreys Peak. You even installed your own backyard misting system. But your Arizona membership dues aren't current until you tap our definitive list of uniquely AZ-centric events and experiences, from primeval chimichangas to the state's most exclusive river hike.

Photography by Jim David, Diana Elizabeth, Mirelle Inglefield, Mark Lipczynski, Craig Outhier, Brandon Sullivan.

Adventures in Dining
Drinking Destinations
Go Country - A Transformation in Seven Steps
Beat the Heat
Bucket List for a Kid
Musical Musts
Avian Encounters
Literary Getaways
Bonus Getaway

1 See all five waterfalls in Havasu Canyon.
The 10-mile ramble into this drop-dead-gorgeous gorge is an exercise in effort and reward. Upper and Lower Navajo Falls provide eye-candy appetizers on the final stretch to Havasu Falls – still show-stopping despite the 2008 floods that shattered its travertine tracery. The chain-grappling clamber to Mooney Falls makes the plunge into its powder-blue lagoon more satisfying. And a tramp though a tangled vale of grapevines leads to Havasu’s promised land: Beaver Falls, languidly spilling over a series of teal terraces. nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/havasupai.htm

Grand Canyon

2 Raft the Grand Canyon with a Ph.D.
On the state’s ultimate field trip, your raft doubles as an open-air classroom, with a world-renowned river historian, National Geographic photographer, archaeological ace or yoga sage as your professor. Take a specialist-led excursion down the Colorado River with Arizona Raft Adventures and Grand Canyon Expeditions, or give geologist Wayne Ranney a ring – he’ll help you decode the Canyon’s rocky palimpsest on one of his personally-led adventures. azraft.com, gcex.com, wayneranney.com

3 Do a Back to the Future tour of
Route 66.

You don’t need a DeLorean to travel to 1955; just pop into these retro diners on the Mother Road. Ease into the era with breakfast at Dar’s Route 66 Diner (107 W. Second St., Winslow, 928-289-2573), decked relatively subtly with lipstick-red seats and an Elvis portrait. Head west to Galaxy Diner (931 W. Route 66, Flagstaff, 928-774-2466), where you’ll spot more mid-century staples: Jukebox? Check. Checkered floor? Check. Go full-throttle poodle skirt at Twisters 50s Soda Fountain (417 E. Route 66, Williams, 928-635-0266). Then take it into turquoise trim and extra-malt overdrive at Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner (105 E. Andy Devine Ave., Kingman, 928-718-0066, mrdzrt66diner.com).

4 Get a Pima healing spa treatment.
Pima healer Belen Stoneman is part medicine woman, part massage therapist, part cultural ambassador for her Akimel O’odham people. Her thoachta (healing) sessions at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass’ Aji Spa begin with a couch consultation. She’ll intuit your body’s balance of earthly elements, massage you with nose-tingling creosote balm, release your body’s negative emotions, then discuss your spiritual state and perhaps foretell your future. It’s as Arizonan as a chichi spa day gets. 5594 W. Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Chandler, 602-225-0100, wildhorsepassresort.com

Titan Missile Museum

5 Spend the night at the Titan Missile Museum.
In this underground silo, Cold War-era Air Force members had their fingers poised over the key that would unlock atomic armageddon. Experience what it was like to bed beside a sleeping Shiva at this museum south of Tucson, which preserves the country’s last remaining Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile. If an overnighter’s too much for your nerves, they also offer fascinating one- to five-hour tours. 1580 W. Duval Mine Rd., Sahuarita, 520-625-7736, titanmissilemuseum.org

6 Eat a saguaro.
Or drink one, anyway. The saguaro’s pulpy, tomatillo-shaped fruit evidently makes for a pleasing tea when mingled with rose hips and the like. Additionally, the Tohono O’odham use the fruit’s berry-like seeds and ruddy pulp to make a traditional smoky-sweet syrup called bahidaj sitol – ideal for glazing meat or drizzling over fruit. Harvesting saguaro fruit can be tricky, requiring a “picking stick” to reach the top of the towering cacti, but a handful of nutritionists in Arizona offer harvesting clinics. Alternatively, you can order some bahidaj sitol ($23.05) online. acaciart.com

7 Go all Gatsby in the Mystery Room.
There’s no trumpet-blaring band or Prohibition-esque paranoia that the cops will raid the joint. But the Arizona Biltmore’s speakeasy does offer a hotsy-totsy, hush-hush space to get elegantly spifflicated. Once a 1920s gin mill accessed by a secret staircase, this Art Deco chamber was relegated to a yawn-worthy “event space” once booze became legit. Now it’s recapturing its clandestine luster during Sunday Speakeasy from 8-11 p.m. Check Twitter (@ArizonaBiltmore) each week for the passphrase, follow the sound of jazz to an unassuming door, whisper the open-sesame to the bartender, and ask him to mix you a Bonnie or Clyde. 2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix, 602-955-6600, arizonabiltmore.com

Adventures in Dining                                                             Back to top
8 Nosh on the world's best Native American cuisine.
Several chefs are putting contemporary riffs on Native American traditions and garnering hosannas from organizations like the James Beard Foundation in the process. Taste the cholla fruit of their labors at Fry Bread House (1003 E. Indian School Rd, Phoenix, 602-351-2345), Kai (5594 Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Chandler, 602-385-5726, wildhorsepass.com), Turquoise Room (305 E. Second St., Winslow, 928-289-2888, theturquoiseroom.net), and Desert Rain Cafe (Tohono Plaza, Main St., Sells, 520-383-4918, desertraincafe.com).

AZ's best Sonoran hot dog

9 Sink your fangs into AZ's best Sonoran hot dog.
We’re not just rooting for the underdog; sometimes the most famous isn’t the best. And Aqui Con El Nene, the little Tucson food truck that could, is converting droves of devotees away from traditional champ El Güero Canelo. You can hardly go wrong with a hot dog swaddled in bacon, cradled in a toasty bun, and topped with tomatoes, grilled onions, pinto beans, mayo, mustard and avocado sauce. But Nene (pictured) edges ahead with its fluffier bread, zingier sauce, and impressive condiment bar, beckoning like a culinary artist’s palette. Corner of W. Wetmore Rd. and Flowing Wells Rd., 520-312-1666

10 Discover Phoenix street food.
Food Truck Fridays feel like something out of a musical: Office workers, policemen and ASU students sit shoulder-to-shoulder, tucking in to quesadillas and Filipino pork belly. Join the throng at Phoenix Public Market and, if the ice cream’s good, break into song. On Saturdays from fall through spring, the parking lot at legendary eatery Vincent’s turns cool when Chef Guerithault fires up the grill and pizza oven, and Arcadians stock up on farm-fresh kale and strawberries. phxpublicmarket.com, vincentsoncamelback.com

11 Punch your ramen card.
The ramen craze sweeping the nation hasn’t exactly gripped Phoenix by the fish balls, but food-forward Chef Josh Hebert takes a Field of Dreams approach to gastronomy. His improvisational resto, Posh, is going strong while many “safe” steakhouses have foundered. And his late-night ramen specials proved so popular he slid them to regular hours every Tuesday and debuted a ramen punch-card: Buy 12 ramens, get the 13th free. You’ll need it to sample his mind-bending array of traditional and wild-card soups like taco ramen and Mardi Gras ramen. 7167 E. Rancho Vista Dr., Scottsdale, 480-663-7674, poshscottsdale.com

12 Tackle the tasting menu at Lon’s.
Chef James Ducas’ tasting menu is like a play in five acts, opening with tea-cured ahi in togarashi aioli, climaxing with smoked pork in Arizona date mole, and bringing down the house with death by chocolate pudding cake. The best part? The performance will be entirely different the next time you go. Hermosa Inn: 5532 N. Palo Cristi Rd., Paradise Valley, 602 955-7878, hermosainn.com/lons

13 Do a Terminal 4 food crawl.
Think of Sky Harbor Airport’s Terminal 4 as a food festival that happens every day. Where else can you find so many homegrown restos huddled in one place? If you’re traveling, the world of local eateries behind the security checkpoints is your oyster: Barrio Cafe, Delux, Matt’s Big Breakfast, the list goes on. Ticketless foodies must stick to the table-shaped center, which at the time of this writing included Chelsea’s Kitchen, Sauce, and Lola’s Coffee with Tammie Coe Cakes. But opening this year are Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles, Joe’s Real BBQ, America’s Taco Shop and more. skyharbor.com

14 Sally forth on Arizona’s best Sunday road trip: Sonoita.
By the time you reach this pulp-Western prairie town, you’ll be ravenous. Fortunately, Chef Greg LaPrad has a plate-bending brunch dish with your name on it. At Overland Trout – cowboy slang for bacon – the former Quiessence toque serves a tempting menu of Sunday-only sustenance (the “divorced eggs” are a tepary-tomatillo-tortilla marriage made in heaven). Well-fortified, make the rounds at local wineries including Dos Cabezas Wineworks, Callaghan Vineyards, Kief-Joshua Vineyards, and Arizona Hops and Vines. 3226 Hwy. 82, Sonoita, 520-455-9316, overlandtrout.com; arizonawine.org/sonoitaWineTrail.html

chimichanga

15 Honor Arizona’s contribution to international dining: the chimichanga.
Ladies and gentlemen, in the blue corner, fighting out of Tucson, is the chimichanga from El Charro (pictured). The restaurant’s owner claims her great-grand-aunt invented the dish in the 1920s when she accidentally dropped a burrito in the fryer. The opponent in the red corner, from Phoenix, is the chimichanga from Macayo’s. Its creator, Woody Johnson, claimed the El Charro incident was a one-off fluke, whereas he deliberately frittered his burritos in the ‘40s and immediately put them on the menu. Which chimi delivers the KO punch? You decide. elcharrocafe.com, macayo.com

 

Drinking Destinations       Back to top
16 Squeeze into the smallest bar in Arizona.
Its mining days are over, but Bisbee has unearthed a gold nugget in the form of Room 4, a diminutive dive in the Silver King Hotel. Grab one of two seats at the bar and chat with the bartender over a half-pint; listen to live music on weekends; and on Sundays, bring your art supplies and sketch a model at the “drink and draw.” 43 Brewery Ave., Bisbee, 520-432-3723, silverkinghotel-bisbee.com

17 Drink-and-dash at Arizona’s top dive bar: the Nellie E. Saloon.
In the middle of nowhere and rarely open, the Nellie (a.k.a. Desert Bar) is like a mirage that serves beer. Don’t miss the Desert Dash, a 5K run/walk and five-mile bike ride to the Parker-area watering hole held every President’s Day weekend in February. Cash only. thedesertbar.com

18 Enjoy a tequila sunrise in its original habitat.
The crimes committed against the tequila sunrise are egregious: California bartender Bobby Lazoff mutilated it with orange juice; Mel Gibson besmirched its name with a clichéd sex thriller; and the Eagles equated it with a cuckold’s crippling hangover. Go to the Wright Bar to taste the original carefree concoction of tequila, soda, creme de cassis and lime, invented here in the 1930s by bartender Gene Sulit. 2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix, 602-955-6600, arizonabiltmore.com

tequila sunrise19 Sip a gin martini at Durant’s.
A requirement for Phoenix residency. Enter through the kitchen’s back door and put yourself in the capable hands of the bartenders, who’ve been there since red flocked wallpaper was newfangled. 2611 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-264-5967, durantsaz.com

20 Sample beer in a muffin tin.
There is a use for muffin bottoms. At Angels Trumpet Ale House, peruse the blackboard list of 31 international draft beers (ever-changing even as you watch) and jot down the numbers of your six favorites. Your server will bring you a half dozen sample-size glasses of liquid-wheat loveliness in a muffin tin. 810 N. Second St., Phoenix, 602-252-2630, angelstrumpetalehouse.com

21 Do reverse happy hour at Compass Lounge.
It’s not the gin and tonics; the room really is moving. You’re at the revolving restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix, savoring 360 degrees of city lights while saving money at their nightly reverse happy hour from 9-11 p.m. House wine, dessert and well drinks cost $5, and the cocktail special is just two bucks more. 122 N. Second St., Phoenix, 602-252-1234, phoenix.hyatt.com

22 World. Margarita. Championship.
You’re a judge – for the people’s choice competition, at least – at this tequila-spiked showdown, where a dozen-odd restaurants serve up shots of their finest firewater. Which will win: a traditional marg or a sage-infused, chile-foamed tipple? October 18 at the Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave., 520-624-2333, tucsonoriginals.com

23 Brew your own beer at O.H.S.O.
Always wanted to try home-brewing but worried about improperly temperature-controlling your wort and killing the whatchamacallits? At O.H.S.O. Eatery + Nanobrewery, they take care of the technical hoo-hah, while you do the fun stuff: put ingredients like hops and pumpkin in a kettle; choose your favorite style of yeast; name it something awesome; then come back and drink it. Guest brewing sessions are offered regularly but sell out quickly; visit ohso.dynamicmenudisplay.com/events. 4900 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-955-0358, ohsobrewery.com

24 Uncork Arizona’s best Saturday day trip: Cornville.
Your Saturday saturnalia begins with a tour of Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery, complimentary with your tasting. While you sip zinfandel, Dr. Russ Balda will school you in grape growing and let you peek in the barrel room to learn the ins and outs of oak. Next, decant to Page Springs Cellars for another tour and tasting, followed by live music from 6-9 p.m. 1565 Page Springs Rd., 928-649-2681, javelinaleapwinery.com; 1500 N. Page Springs Rd., 928-639-3004, pagespringscellars.com

The Palace25 Knock back a whiskey in the Palace.
They say in a fire you save the thing most dear to you. Telling, then, that when Whiskey Row was burning in 1900, Prescottonians saved the bar at the Palace saloon. Toast their dedication and the ghosts of former patrons Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday with a dram of whiskey. 120 S. Montezuma St., Prescott, 928-541-1996, historicpalace.com

26 Go grocery shopping in the QC.
Invent a dish – pork loin with peach salsa? tomato and bacon salad with roasted garlic olive oil? – then head down to Queen Creek to cherry-pick the finest fixings at Schnepf Farms’ U-pick organic orchards (pictured), the Pork Shop, and Queen Creek Olive Mill. The QC is the Valley’s great untapped food ‘hood. 24810 S. Rittenhouse Rd., 480-987-3100, schnepffarms.com; 3359 E. Combs Rd., 480-987-0101, theporkshopaz.com; 25062 S. Meridian Rd., 480-888-9290, queencreekolivemill.com

Go Country - A Transformation in Seven Steps         Back to top

PHM 500x500 FPO

27 First, you need to look the part. Get fitted for a cowboy hat and boots at Saba’s (pictured; multiple locations, 877-804-3618, sabas.com) or Óptimo Hat Works (47 Main St., Bisbee, 520-432-4544, optimohatworks.com).

28 Next, ease into horseback riding on a two-hour trail ride through the Coconino National Forest with Hitchin’ Post Stables. 928-774-1719, hitchinpoststables.com

29 Now you’re ready for a weekend of wrangling at a dude ranch. Tanque Verde Ranch will teach you horsemanship and cattle herding and guide you on Sonoran trail rides. 14301 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, 800-234-3833, tanqueverderanch.com

30 Deepen your authenticity with some culture. The Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott (August 7-9, 928-713-6323, azcowboypoets.org) and Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering in Sierra Vista (February, 520-678-9952, cowboypoets.com) corral the best wrangler writers in the world.

31 Balance it out with a little badass: Great American Adventures offers a multi-day horseback-riding trip that lets you recreate Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride. This time, it’s personal. 505-286-4585, great-american-adventures.com

PHM 500x500 FPO

32 You can ride now, but can you rodeo? Watch and learn at the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott (June 30-July 6, worldsoldestrodeo.com) and the August Doins – the world’s oldest continuously held rodeo – in Payson (August 14-17, paysonrimcountry.com).

33 Finally, ride a bull on Wednesdays and Fridays at Buffalo Chip Saloon & Steakhouse, and you can call yourself a real wrangler. 6811 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, 480-488-9118, buffalochipsaloon.com

34 Spend the night with an astronomer.
“We are all in the gutter,” Oscar Wilde wrote, “but some of us are looking at the stars.” And the really lucky ones are looking at the clearest skies in the continental U.S. on an all-nighter with an astronomer. Kitt Peak National Observatory’s Advanced Observing Program offers stargazers of all levels a chance to spy planets and galaxies through a telescope, calibrate astronomical data, or snap DSLR images of a dozen galactic objects. $550-$650/night for up to two people. 520-318-8726, noao.edu/outreach/aop

Kitt Peak National Observatory

35 Experience America’s most scenic airport.     
The Sedona airport stands on a pillar-like stage surrounded by a rock opera of scenery. Soar with Sedona Air Tours on a helicopter or biplane, experience an ovation-worthy landing, then toast with a red ale at the airport’s Mesa Grill. 928-204-5939, sedonaairtours.com; 928-282-2400, mesagrillsedona.com

36 Dare to perform at Open Mic Night.
“Don’t die with your music still inside you,” sings a chorus of self-help gurus. Fortunately, the Tempe Center for the Arts helps you release your inner musician or poet every Wednesday night. Host Walt Richardson and an understanding audience will buoy you on a flotation device of positivity during your 10-minute performance, and you’ll leave on cloud nine. January-May and September-November. 700 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, 480-350-2829, tempe.gov/city-hall/community-services/tempe-center-for-the-arts/tca-shows-and-events/walk-in-wednesdays-open-mic-night

37 Join an AZ wine club.
Stand under the sycamores as vintner Eric Glomski mixes your personalized blend of grenache, petite sirah and mourvedre. Cheer on a cork-constructed boat as it cruises down Oak Creek. These are just two of the exclusive events available to members of Page Springs Cellars’ Wine Club, the best and most in-demand in the state. But it’s worth joining any of Arizona’s wine clubs, with their perks of quarterly bottle shipments, free tastings and special releases for their friends-with-bennies. Check your favorite winery’s website for details. pagespringscellars.com

38 Peruse 3,000 years of human expression.
The Deer Valley Rock Art Center in west Phoenix is kind of like a millennium-old Facebook wall. It’s the site of a hill etched with the Valley’s largest concentration of petroglyphs – ceremonial drawings, children’s doodles and personal visual statements that document the human condition from 1500 B.C. to 1450 A.D. Visit the museum and Hedgpeth Hills site and try to decipher the inscrutable symbols. 3711 W. Deer Valley Rd., Phoenix, 623-582-8007, dvrac.asu.edu

39 Go to a gong meditation.
As you meditate, didgeridoos provide an aural massage, and Jere Friedman’s gong harmonies surround you like sunlight shimmering on rippling water. No wonder they call it a “gong bath.” Gong2Heaven offers occasional meditations at Temple Chai in Phoenix. gong2heaven.com

40 Join an AZ book club.
None of your friends shares your passion for British crime thrillers or historical fiction? Befriend the bookworms at Changing Hands’, Poisoned Pen’s and Dog-Eared Pages’ plethora of clubs, which offer monthly opportunities to dish about your favorite genres. changinghands.com, poisonedpen.com, dogearedpagesusedbooks.com

41 Discover snow-biking.
Apparently invented by Alaskan bicycle-tinkerers driven half batty by winter’s perpetual darkness, this niche activity is now going mainstream. Last season, Flagstaff Nordic Center rolled out its fleet of fat tire bikes – cushy enough to comfortably schuss along its 15 kilometers of snowmobile-groomed forest trails. 928-220-0550, flagstaffnordiccenter.com

42 See a performance among plants.
Studies have shown music helps plants grow and thrive. At the Desert Botanical Garden, plants return the favor, lending their arboreal aesthetics to a year-round series of concerts featuring Spanish guitar, Brazilian beats, blues legends and more. 480-481-8188, dbg.org

43 Paddle to slot canyons on Lake Powell.
Nose your kayak or stand-up paddleboard into Powell’s painterly narrows on a day or overnight trip. Kayak Lake Powell will give you a stand-up paddleboard lesson or lead you like non-mythical Ariadnes through Labyrinth Canyon. 928-660-0778, kayakpowell.com

44 Learn to survive in the desert.
He may have schooled actor Emile Hirsch in knife-only survival to prep for Into the Wild, but Ancient Pathways’ Tony Nester is more teddy bear than Bear Grylls. With 20-plus years’ experience – and a Mora bushcraft blade – under his belt, he’ll teach you outdoor skills, land navigation, fire-making and survival psychology. 928-526-2552, apathways.com

Sunset Crater

45 Bike to volcanoes and ruins.
Around 1040 to 1100 A.D., a fusillade of eruptions rocked the San Francisco Volcanic Field’s 600 magma-filled mountains. Sunset Crater’s flare-up drove the Sinaguan people north, where they built Wupatki pueblo and capitalized on the fertile volcanic ash to farm the land. Trace this explosive story on two wheels along the 46-mile loop from Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument visitor’s center to Wupatki National Monument and back. 928-526-0502, nps.gov/sucr; 928-679-2365, nps.gov/wupa

Beat the Heat          Back to top
46 Go on a moonlit nature walk...
In the cool of night, the desert takes on a surreal aspect, lit by a pearlescent lunar sheen and buzzing with a symphony of critter-song. Several Valley parks offer guided walks to scout out nocturnal creatures, including scorpions lit neon-blue by black light. maricopa.gov/parks

47...and a moonlit kayak trip.
Howling at the moon is optional at these adult-only paddles on Tempe Town Lake, but kayaks, equipment and personal flotation devices are included. Usually held monthly. 480-350-8069, tempe.gov/index.aspx?page=1323

48 Play night golf at Palo Verde.
Glowing balls aren’t known for their backspin, but you’re here to keep cool and have fun, not recreate Bubba Watson’s Masters win. Then again, Bubba would totally be down with the glow-stick-lined pins and family atmosphere at this Phoenix 9-holer. Monthly, March-October. Call 602-249-9930 or visit phoenix.gov and search for “Palo Verde Golf Course.”

49 Escape to Pinetop.
This meat-and-potatoes town got a welcome dose of seasoning with the arrival of Salt Restaurant & Wine Bar (476 W. White Mountain Blvd., Lakeside, 928-367-1819, saltpinetop.com) and Pinetop Brewing Co. (159 W. White Mountain Blvd., Pinetop-Lakeside, 928-358-1971, pinetopbeer.com). They’re the carrots dangling at the end of a day spent at nearby Sunrise Ski Park Resort, riding the chairlift to the mountaintop, then zooming down on a rented mountain bike. 855-735-7669, sunriseskiparkaz.com

50 Swim and leap in Oak Creek.
Forget Slide Rock. Hop over to nearby Grasshopper Point, a shady, bottle-green swimming hole popular – but not overcrowded – with picnickers. Visit www.fs.fed.us and search for “Grasshopper Point Swimming & Picnic Area.” Alternatively, opt for a shot of adrenaline by jumping off low cliffs at “The Crack” in Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness southeast of Sedona. Visit arizonahiking.blogspot com and click on “Bell Trail.”

51 Belay, boulder and bridge pose.
When the Valley’s natural rocks are hotter than a pizza stone, retreat to the cool caverns of AZ on the Rocks – a 14,000-square-foot combination climbing and bouldering gym, yoga studio and health club complete with weights and cardio machines. 16447 N. 91st St., Scottsdale, 480-502-9777, azontherocks.com

52 Enjoy art in air-conditioning.
July offers your last chance to view the Phoenix Art Museum’s Hollywood Costume and Red Carpet exhibits, as well as a variety of thought-provoking films. Summer at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art sees story-performers take the stage at Lit Lounge, plus an ongoing exhibit of Bill Owens’ Suburbia photos with a companion lecture on Phoenix sprawl. The Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum’s Boundless exhibit showcases books transformed into sculptures. And the Heard Museum’s LEGO exhibition is a kid’s brick-building fantasy. phxart.org, smoca.org, mesaartscenter.com, heard.org

53 See a film and Q&A at FilmBar.
The summer sun is baking enough of your brain cells; you can’t afford to deaden any more on a diet of Hollywood sequels. Thankfully, this art house serves a menu of indie flicks, live-streamed theater and documentaries, sometimes paired with discussions, like the recent Particle Fever, followed by a Q&A with physicist Lawrence Krauss – so dendrite-boosting you can risk washing it down with the bar’s craft beers. 815 N. Second St., Phoenix, 602-595-9187, thefilmbarphx.com

54 Meet Frank Lloyd Wright’s fire-breathing dragon.
In its heyday, Taliesin West came alive at night with black-tie dinners, cabaret and the cocktail-sipping cognoscenti. Today, on a Night Lights Tour, you’re unlikely to meet a VIP, but you will make the acquaintance of a dragon sculpture that exhales flame, plus see Wright’s masterpiece basking in the moonlight. Friday evenings most months between September and May. 12345 N. Taliesin Dr., Scottsdale, 480-627-5340, franklloydwright.org

55 Hike the best riverside trail you’ve never heard of.
S-Canyon in the Blue Range Primitive Area offers a rare opportunity to stand in splendid isolation – unless you count the wolves. Arizona’s only packs of Mexican gray wolves range in this other-Eden, demi-paradise nuzzling the New Mexico border. (Fun fact: No healthy wild wolf has ever killed a human in North America.) The 11-mile round-trip saunter begins near the banks of the Blue River, progressing from riparian verdure to a juniper-studded shelf to a fir-scented forest. Visit arizonahiking.blogspot.com and click on S-Canyon.

56 Stalk the buildings spotlighted in Psycho.
Phoenix’s skyline has changed significantly since 1960, but the keen-eyed Hitchcock fan can still spot landmarks that starred in Psycho. In the opening sequence, Valley National Bank’s sign revolves above the Art Deco-allured Professional Building at Central Avenue and Monroe Street. Today, it’s sans sign and vacated, but a hospitality developer recently announced plans to turn it into a hotel – probably a Hilton, not a Bates. Next to it stands the then-antenna-topped Heard Building (112 N. Central Ave.), often mistaken for the Westward Ho, itself featured in the 1998 remake. The camera zooms in on the brick Luhrs Building and, across the street, the Jefferson Hotel, where Marion Crane trysts with her lover, Sam. Now called the Barrister Place Building (101 S. Central Ave.), the mothballed edifice is for lease and, like Marion, looking for someone to commit long-term. Hopefully it’ll fare better than she did.

Unique Stays                                               Back to top
57 Sleep at Arcosanti.
Part flower-child commune, part living laboratory for arcology – a portmanteau of architecture and ecology – Arcosanti is the brainchild of late architect Paolo Soleri. Intended to house 5,000 people with the collective carbon footprint of a garden gnome, this futuristic structure 70 miles north of Phoenix is home to only 60-odd idealists. Join them overnight in one of the modest, inexpensive guest rooms and taste the 22nd century. 928-632-7135, arcosanti.org

58 Stay where Casablanca was filmed.
Of all the hotels, in all the towns, in all the world, you walk into this one. Well of course, because scenes from Casablanca were filmed in Flagstaff’s own Hotel Monte Vista. Or at least that’s what the self-publicity books say. Then again, the 1927 hotel once claimed it hosted Teddy Roosevelt, who died in 1919. Then again again, it is allegedly haunted. Anyway, you can be sure Humphrey Bogart stayed in room 408, even if the rest doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. 100 N. San Francisco St., 928-779-6971, hotelmontevista.com

Prescott’s Hassayampa Inn59 Hole up in a haunted hotel.
Your entire view of life, the universe and everything could hinge on whether or not ghosts exist. Best make sure. Stay in room 426 at Prescott’s Hassayampa Inn (pictured) – reportedly the eternal honeymoon suite of a jilted bride who hanged herself – or the Jerome Grand Hotel’s room 32, spooked by two men who committed suicide. 928-778-9434, hassayampainn.com; 928-634-8200, jeromegrandhotel.com

60 Rusticate to Kendrick Cabin.
Marooned in a sea of grasses, with the San Francisco Peaks undulating like blue waves in the distance, this stone and wood cabin is the ideal alpine anchorage. The forest service rents the three-bedroom former firefighter hut, located 22 miles north of Flagstaff, for groups of up to 10 people. 928-526-0866, www.fs.fed.us

Bucket List for a Kid        Back to top
61 Shoot my parents with a laser gun.
Stratum Lasertag: 1455 S. Stapley Dr., Mesa, 480-545-5500, stratumhq.com

62 Slide down a massive Slip’n Slide.
Slide Rock: 6871 Hwy. 89A, Sedona, 928-282-3034, azstateparks.com/Parks/slRO/index.html

63 See that awesome weather machine and climb on a jungle gym.
Arizona Science Center: 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix, 602-716-2000, azscience.org; and Children’s Museum of Phoenix: 215 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602-253-0501, childrensmuseumofphoenix.org

64 Camp at the zoo.
Phoenix Zoo: phoenixzoo.org/camps-programs/night-camp

65 Explore a cave.
Kartchner Caverns: 2980 Hwy. 90, Benson, 520-586-2283, azstateparks.com/Parks/KACA/; Colossal Cave: 16721 E. Old Spanish Trail, Vail, 520-647-7275, colossalcave.com; Lava River Cave: 14 miles north of Flagstaff, 928-526-0866, www.fs.fed.us

66 See where a meteorite blasted Earth.
Meteor Crater: west of Winslow off I-40, 928-289-2362, meteorcrater.com

from left: Meteor Crater; Slide Rock

67 Visit Quartzsite during the Gem and Mineral Show.
Come January and February, Quartzsite is the world capital of quirk. Join the rockhounds and RVers at the town’s series of gem shows to peruse jewels, fossils and curios. Then stop by Reader’s Oasis Books to say hello to the (almost totally) naked bookseller and discover where those missing single socks go. quartzsiteaz.com, quartzsiteshowtimes.com

68 Cycle the North Rim Parkway.
Named one of ESPN’s Top 10 U.S. Biking Routes, this paved National Scenic Byway is flanked by aspen-fir forests and wildflower-stippled meadows, culminating in the Grand Canyon’s most attractive aspect. It’s 45 miles each way from Jacob Lake to the cool North Rim, so you’ll want to bed down at the Grand Canyon Lodge (877-386-4383, grandcanyonlodgenorth.com), or bring two cars and go one-way (it’s all downhill from the rim to the lake). Visit www.fs.fed.us and search for “Kaibab Plateau Scenic Drive.”

69 Ride the Verde Canyon Railway.
Ah, the romance of the locomotive. The chug of the vintage engine. The canyon views scrolling by your cozy caboose. The premium tequilas? The folks who run this Clarkdale-stabled iron horse are catering to atavistic yearnings and modern tastes with special-event journeys like the Tequila Sunset Limited, Grape Train Escape and Ales on Rails. That’s in addition to their fall colors tour and spring bald eagle-viewing rides. Giddyup. 800-582-7245, verdecanyonrr.com

70 Hike the Arizona Trail.
Six national parks and monuments, four national forests, 817 miles, one lifetime. Go. aztrail.org

71 See the summer solstice at Petrified Forest.
Sun-worship probably isn’t uppermost on your list of priorities come summer, but it was a matter of true religious zeal for the ancient Puebloan people. For a fortnight each mid-June, you can witness their historic dedication to solar calendars, when morning sunlight shafts through a cleft in a rock, slipping down a smaller boulder until it pierces a spiral petroglyph like a light saber. Rangers are on hand from 8:30 to 9:30 at the Puerco Pueblo site, 11 miles from the north entrance of the national park, to tutor visitors in archaeoastronomy. 928-524-6228, nps.gov/pefo

72 Ride Arizona’s backroads on a Harley.
Hog owners can join their leather-clad kinfolk on one of several group revs around the state, conveniently listed on lets-ride.com/event/arizona.htm. If you’re minus a motorcycle, you can still get your motor runnin’ and head out on the highway with Twisted Trailz, which offers bike rentals and guided rides to Jerome, the Grand Canyon, Tombstone and more. 602-795-8888, twistedtrailz.com

73 Hear “The Raven” quoth in a gothic mansion.  
Every year in bleak October, When you’re feeling grim and sober, Go to Ghost Lounge to witness PoeFest, Where actors play lunatics possessed By stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Like the ominous “Cask of Amontillado.” Performances continue every week – “Black Cat,” “Tell-Tale Heart,” “Annabel Lee” –Till the tales of mystery and imagination Reach their ghastly culmination In Rosson House, on Halloween night With recitals of “The Raven,” by candlelight. poefest.org

74 Take an outdoor shower.
Nothing beats being in the buff beneath the blue sky, especially when the cedar walls keep your cellulite secret. L’Auberge de Sedona, already a specialist in waterside semi-nudity (massages on the banks of Oak Creek), ups the sensual ante with outdoor cedar showers in its cottage bungalows. Same at Four Seasons Scottsdale, where many of the suites are also equipped with telescopes. Venus-viewing nude? Yowza. 928-282-1661, lauberge.com; 480-515-5700, fourseasons.com/scottsdale

75 Hike to the Wave.
You’ve seen the photos, and you want to take your own. You want to feel like a stone surfer in a psychedelically-striped vermilion ocean. And you shall. We just have a few tips. 1) Don’t take chances with the walk-in lottery; apply for your day-hike permit early – up to four months in advance. 2) Bring a hat, sun protection and a serious stash of water. Despite the name, there isn’t a drop to drink for miles. 3) Take some black-and-white photos. Trust us. 435-688-3200, blm.gov/az/st/en/arolrsmain/paria/coyote_buttes/permits.html

76 Attend an air show.
Look – in the sky: It’s a plane! It’s a plane! It’s... a plane! We could go on, because you’re going to see a lot of jets at the three main Arizona air shows held each spring: Yuma Airshow and Luke Air Force Base Open House & Air Show in March, and Davis-Monthan’s Thunder and Lightning over Arizona show in April. www.luke.af.mil, yumaairshow.com, www.dm.af.mil

Arizona’s iconic cliff dwellings

77 Explore Arizona’s iconic cliff dwellings.
It’s often said that Arizona lacks historic buildings. “We have the house where the original Tea Party was planned,” a Bostonian might bark. “Notre Dame dates from zee sirteen-’undreds,” a Parisian could scoff. “Fascinating,” you respond, without a hint of smugness, because you’re Arizonan. “I just hiked to Keet Seel and Betatakin in the Navajo National Monument, which date from the 1200s. Before that, I visited Tuzigoot, Montezuma Castle, and Honanki, which were built by the Sinaguans in 1100.” And then you walk away, because telling them we also have the White House (see No. 98) would just look like cheek. arizonaruins.com

78 Plan your week around the parks.
Bored? We prescribe a game plan: Go to maricopa.gov/parks, check out their Upcoming Events page, and fill your week with outings like a Secret Life of Saguaros walk at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, a paddle around Lake Pleasant’s Great Blue Heron Island, and evening mountain-biking or stargazing in the San Tans. Many events take place in early morning or evening, and several are kid-centric. So, parents and 9-to-5-ers, you’re gonna need a bigger calendar.

79 Learn to paint at the Grand Canyon.
It practically paints itself, right? Maybe not, but the Grand Canyon Field Institute insists that “with the right instruction, anyone can... effectively render even the seemingly incomprehensible majesty of the Canyon.” The Institute offers several art classes annually, from a drawing class or a nature sketching and journaling weekend for all skill levels to a plein air painting workshop for intermediate and advanced artists. grandcanyon.org

80 Give back to AZ.
Ask not what Arizona’s scenery can do for you; ask what you can do for Arizona’s scenery. The Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter leads numerous volunteer excursions, including one to help de-litter stunningly turquoise Fossil Creek. The Nature Conservancy needs assistance with invasive-plant removal and native restoration at Ramsey Canyon and Hart Prairie. And the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy is constantly recruiting help for trail-building, hike-guiding, and research. arizona.sierraclub.org, nature.org, mcdowellsonoran.org

81 See a pow wow.
When Early Europeans witnessed sacred Algonquin ceremonies, they assumed the term “pau wau” – used to describe medicine men and spiritual leaders – referred to the entire event. Likewise, contemporary non-Natives often assume one part of the pow wow – singing and dancing – defines the whole. But it’s also a time for families from across the country to gather and connect with each other, keeping their traditions and spiritual history alive. Several pow wows are held in Arizona annually; visit calendar.powwows.com.

82 Do a sort-of staycation on the banks of the Salt.
The river reflects buckskin-beige cliffs beneath a denim sky. In the lodge, a stone fireplace crackles beside wagon wheel chandeliers. It feels like you’ve rusticated, yet that Starbucks you picked up in Mesa is still warm. Where are you? Saguaro Lake Ranch, a near-Valley antidote to urban malaise. Fall through spring, their horses take you on streamside trots, while in summer, their kayaks and inner tubes buoy you into blissfulness. And year-round, the TV- and phone-free rooms let you unplug. 13020 Bush Hwy., Mesa, 480-984-2194, saguarolakeranch.com

83 Make Camp Verde a destination.
We know: You probably only stop there to use the McRestroom. But while you’ve been beelining to Flagstaff, Camp Verde has fashioned all kinds of excuses to engage the parking brake. Visit nearby Montezuma Castle National Monument (928-567-3322, nps.gov/moca), a 900-year-old Sinaguan citadel carved from a limestone cliff. Zoom over roaring lions on the 1,000-foot-long Predator Zip Line at Out of Africa (4020 Cherry Rd., 928-567-9947, predatorzipline.com). Kayak along the Verde to Alcantara Vineyards with Sedona Adventure Tours (877-673-3661, sedonaadventuretours.com). And cap off the day with a Verde Brewing Company pecan dunkelweizen or mesquite ESB at The Horn (348 S. Main St., 928-567-7229, thehornsaloon.com).

84 Hang glide.
How come so many daredevil sports involve falling? Falling is the nightmare. Flying is the dream. On a tandem flight with Sky Masters School of Hang Gliding in Maricopa, live the dream. 602-320-6439, hangglidearizona.com

85 Golf AZ’s “Divine Nine” – the state’s most scenic holes.
Troon North Golf Club, Monument Course #3
Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club, Mountain Course #3
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, Cholla Course #8
TPC Scottsdale, Stadium Course #16
Chaparral Pines #7
Sedona Golf Resort #10
Talking Rock Ranch #17
The Boulders, South Course #5
Forest Highlands Golf Club, Canyon Course #9

Musical Musts                                Back to top
86 See a concert at Flagstaff’s Pepsi Amphitheater.  
Country is twangier and rock is cooler among the pines, especially when you’re lounging on a grassy knoll, glugging a local brew. On tap in the coming months: Tedeschi Trucks Band (July 23), Eli Young Band (August 6), and Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass and Acoustic Music Festival (September 12-14). pepsiamp.com

87 Go to the Grand Canyon Music Festival.
The pitch-perfect auditory complement to the Canyon’s visual feast, this 31-year-old festival features a range of styles from classical to jazz to rock. August-September. grandcanyonmusicfest.org

88 See a show Downtown.
This March, the first Viva PHX music festival sold out shows of 70 bands across 14 venues. The founders knew something that hasn’t totally sunk in yet: Downtown’s live music scene is rockin’. Its beating heart is Crescent Ballroom, featuring live music daily, plus a Chris Bianco-designed menu. Upcoming shows include local folk punkers Andrew Jackson Jihad, and The Hold Steady, which NPR praised for its “lyrically dense storytelling.” Jazz lovers should visit The Nash, a Roosevelt Row BYOB that attracts world-renowned musicians. 308 N. Second Ave., 602-716-2222, crescentphx.com; 110 E. Roosevelt St., 602-795-0464, thenash.org

89 Camp out at Country Thunder.
Wrangling some of country music’s top acts – past performers have included Toby Keith, Lady Antebellum, and Alan Jackson – this Florence festival attracts crowds topping 24,000. Reserve your camp site well before April 9-12, 2015. arizona.countrythunder.com

90 (Re)visit the Musical Instrument Museum.
With a staggeringly comprehensive collection of instruments from every country on the planet, a stellar audio tour, pin-drop acoustics in the concert hall, and an international who’s-who of visiting performers, the (arguably) best museum in Arizona deserves to be visited again and again. 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix, 480-478-6000, themim.org

91 Escape to AZ's 1920s theatrical heyday.
Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris taught us two things: 1) The glory days are now, and 2) Even so, 1920s style is better. Fortunately, you can live the Twenties now at Orpheum Theater in Phoenix and Fox Tucson Theatre, both majestically constructed in 1929. Check orpheum-theater.com and foxtucsontheatre.org for upcoming musicals, movies, concerts and more.

balloon ride

92 Bust out a balloon ride.
Hot air ballooning isn't a specifically Arizonan pursuit. Given the necessary absence of power lines and F5 tornadoes, you can book a ride almost anywhere. But there is something about an early-morning ride over the Valley that feels truly singular. Maybe it's the vast spectacle of the Sonoran desert. Maybe it's the scirroco-like Arizona breeze at 5,000 feet. Or maybe it's the confidence of knowing that we have no weather 347 days of the year, and thus you are almost certain not to die. 2flyus.com

Avian Encounters         Back to top
According to nonprofit conservation outfit American Forests, Arizona is one of the top 10 places in North America for birdwatching, and the best area not adjacent to an ocean. Isn’t it "high" time you took advantage of this largely unappreciated Arizona resource?

93 Witness the annual condor release.
Declined to just 22 survivors in the 1980s, the California condor now numbers in the 400s thanks to a valiant recovery effort. This September 27, the public is invited to watch several Boise, Idaho-bred condors savor their newfound freedom as they hang-glide off the Vermilion Cliffs. 208-362-3716, peregrinefund.org

94 Spy the Holy Grail of birds.
While you’re watching the kaleidoscope of birds fluttering in front of you – painted redstarts, blue grosbeaks, the elusive elegant trogon – don’t forget to turn around, because the sight of a dozen binocular-donning birdwatchers can be just as entertaining. Just remember: You’re one of them too at the annual Southwest Wings Festivals. Both the Spring Fling and main festival, held this July 30-August 2, feature day and overnight tours to avian-rich areas throughout Southeast Arizona. swwings.org

95 See a live performance of Crane Lake.
Think of it as the ballet Tchaikovsky never wrote. Every winter, 30,000 sandhill cranes fly in to Sulphur Springs Valley, and you can watch them perform on their wetland stage during the Wings over Willcox festival January 14-18, 2015. The event includes tours and lectures on a variety of ecological topics, plus photography, wine tasting and more. 800-200-2272, wingsoverwillcox.com

96 Watch raptors hunt like wolves.    
A barn owl swoops by so close its feathers brush your arm. A family of Harris’s hawks scopes out prey, plans their strategy, then dives in for the group kill like a pack of wolves. These and other native raptors wing through the open desert twice a day October through April during the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s Raptor Free Flight demonstration. 2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson, 520-883-2702, desertmuseum.org

97 Hear a Christmas concert at Mission San Xavier del Bac.
Why are we printing this in a July issue? Because tickets can sell out in July. Such is the popularity of this series of six acoustically glorious mid-December concerts. Plan now to hear the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus and Sons of Orpheus carol and wassail in the ornamental surrounds of the “White Dove of the Desert.” 520-294-2624, sanxaviermission.org

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Literary Getaways         Back to top
98 Take a Tony Hillerman novel to Navajo country.
Travel through Arizona’s sunburnt eastern shoulder in the dusty fictional footsteps of tribal policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. As they unravel a murder mystery interwoven with supernatural yarns, you’ll be hiking to ruins in Navajo National Monument, bumping along the backcountry on a guided jeep tour of Monument Valley and taking the trail to the 975-year-old White House dwelling in Canyon de Chelly. nps.gov/nava, navajonationparks.org, nps.gov/cach

99 Re-create Under the Tonto Rim.
The Mogollon Rim was the muse for one of Zane Grey’s most beloved novels. Step into the Strawberry Schoolhouse (928-476-3547, pinestrawhs.org) to feel like heroine Lucy Watson, who comes to the backwoods to teach the poor but learns something about herself. At the Honey Stand in Pine (928-978-5571, thehoneystand.com), imagine you’re tasting the wares of Edd Denmeade, the handsome, wild – and unmarried – bee-hunter. Take a horseback ride with Kohl’s Ranch Stables (286 W. Kohl Rd., Payson, 928-478-0030) to feel like pretty much anyone in the book. And tour the reconstructed cabin of the man who wrote them all (928-474-3483, rimcountrymuseums.com).

100 Read Lazy B at a ranch.
Do your stay at a dude ranch justice by learning about the lifestyle from Sandra Day O’Connor. While you ride and groom horses, read about how young Sandra helped round up cattle, cook for cowboys and run the Lazy B ranch near Duncan. Your experience probably won’t lead to the Supreme Court, but you will take away a bit of the retired Justice’s ranch-bred qualities of confidence and self-reliance. For down-home, spa-free style, consider Circle Z Ranch in Patagonia or Hideout Ranch near Portal. 888-854-2525, circlez.com; 855-879-4433, hideoutranch.com

101 Dip into The Monkey Wrench Gang while houseboating at Lake Powell.
We don’t advocate blowing up dams, but we do favor a chiaroscuro perspective on life. And it’s important to observe that while you’re lounging in a Discovery XL Platinum, beneath your hull is the watery grave of the Grand Canyon’s twin. Anarchist Western scribe Edward Abbey bristled against the Glen Canyon Dam that formed the lake and had his titular saboteurs threaten to bomb it. Yet there’s no doubt this sandstone-girded reservoir is stunning and has made the canyon’s crenelations accessible to a wider public. Ponder the pros and cons as you kick back with a sunblock-stained copy. lakepowell.com/houseboating.aspx

See Arizona’s most beautiful (and remote) creek

Bonus              Back to top
See Arizona’s most beautiful (and remote) creek.
Close your eyes and the cacophony of birdsong will convince you it’s Costa Rica. Open them, and your inner GPS shifts north: An ochre-colored oasis in Yosemite, perhaps? Nope, it’s Aravaipa Canyon, a riparian elysium sliced out of the Galiuro Mountains southeast of Globe. Only 50 people per day are allowed in (30 from the west end, 20 from the east). But you few, you happy few, you band of hikers will have free reign of this pristine wilderness where big-horned sheep and coatimundi play, and the closest thing you’ll find to a trail is a splashable creek. For permits, call 928-348-4400 or visit blm.gov/az/st/en/arolrsmain/aravaipa/permits.html. *Clothing and pack provided by the Arizona Hiking Shack www.hikingshack.com