Picking Your Poison
Arizona wine is rising up faster than a tangle of summer syrah vines. In 1990, there were five licensed wineries in the state. Today, there are 91, with roughly a dozen more due to open by the end of next year – each providing an additional tourism boon to the state’s three main growing regions. Similar but distinct, these high-country hotspots each present a dreamy fall drive.
Wine character and quality are intimately linked to the climate, slope and soil of its origins. Turns out, these same elements also make for some Grand Cru hiking trails. Arizona’s three major viticulture regions sit near trails that ascend mountains, meander along rivers and wetlands, and succumb to the gravity of gaping canyons. This fortuitous juxtaposition of the imbibable with the hikable begs to be exploited by teetotalers and tipplers alike. Let the post-winery wilding begin. Here’s how.
Chiricahua National Monument.
Down Tucson-way, about an hour east of the Old Pueblo, lies one of Arizona’s great camping destinations – a high-desert range festooned with vertical rock formations, just minutes from Willcox wine country. And since hotels and guesthouses are scarce, RV camping is ideal. The campground is a logical home base, but be forewarned: maximum motorhome length is 29 feet. 520-824-3560, nps.gov
Est. drive time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Prescott – or “Presskit,” as some say – is widely beloved as a fun, visitable vestige of old Arizona. Formerly the state’s territorial capital, it was where Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp boozed it up when they visited Yavapai County, in the downtown cluster of bars and saloons now known as Whiskey Row. A century later, one-time resident Barry Goldwater launched his 1964 presidential campaign in Prescott, delivering speeches from Courthouse Plaza, a green and shady park frequently filled with festivities and a quaint yesteryear feel bolstered by the statues of historical figures astride horses in the park, and the classic cars frequently parked around the square.
The mountains are calling. Cooler climes beckon from up north in Flagstaff, Prescott and Sedona, but a siren song also emanates from our sister metropolis to the south. Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains and their rolling foothills provide ample opportunity for you to hit “reset” – on your sun-beaten spirit, your heat-addled mind and, perhaps most importantly, your overtaxed sweat glands.
Hey, did you hear? San Diego is a great family vacation town. And Phoenix, evidently, can get a little warm in the summer.
Sorry to belabor the obvious, but then, obviousness is pretty much a given when discussing the virtues of San Diego as a family getaway. After all, SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo are just a Frisbee throw from downtown, and Legoland is a short drive up the coast in Carlsbad. Based on those well-known destinations alone, the sunny seaside metropolis tops countless lists of family-friendly cities.
Eat, drink and play like a native in the rehabilitated heart of Nevada’s most notorious city.
When hacking through the human jungle that is the Las Vegas Strip, one encounters the expected nightlife wildlife: Gamblers, gam-flashing girls, and wannabe wise guys, oh my! Perhaps the only thing more abundant in “Sin City” than stereotypes is neon. But Las Vegas locals will tell you that what happens in Vegas... doesn’t really always happen in Vegas. “My life is not The Hangover,” one born-and-raised native told us. “I don’t get drunk and gamble every weekend, I don’t have a tiger in my bathroom or a naked man in my trunk. And I’m sick of hearing ‘Viva Las Vegas.’”