things to do
Things To Do
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Things To Do
June, 2013, Page 116
If you’re new to off-roading or want to hone your skills, Barlow Jeep School offers half- and full-day courses that will help prepare you for Sedona’s roughly-graded trails and slickrock canyons. Bring your own vehicle or rent one of the outfit’s late-model Jeep Wranglers. Classes cater to the participant, so advanced riders can tackle boulder outcroppings and steep terrain while newbies can soak in the scenery on a level trail and follow owner Nena Barlow’s advice for first-timers: “Stop to take five and go slow. It’s an intense ride.” 928-282-8700,
Kid-centric Grand Canyon
: While the six in-park hotels welcome tykes of all ages, families with younger children may be more comfortable at low-key Thunderbird Lodge or in a rented RV at Trailer Village (888-297-2757,
), which offers parking for $35/night. Off-site, a four-person Family Package at nearby Caverns Inn includes a basic room, underground spelunking tour, horseback riding and games (Mile 115, Route 66, 928-422-3223,
: Kids who complete a training booklet and attend a ranger-led lecture are sworn in as Grand Canyon National Park Junior Rangers (
) tasked with helping to keep the park clean and safe. June through August, aspiring rangers can earn their badges through adventure hikes or nature-oriented story times and borrow a Discovery Pack with field guide, binoculars and hand lens. Children 4 and older can join their parents on a Smoothwater Rafting Tour of the Colorado River (888-297-2757,
), with stops to view ancient petroglyphs.
Train with the CIA
San Antonio, TX
Do you watch Hell’s Kitchen and scream along with Chef Gordon Ramsay? Are your cupcakes a gazillion times tastier than a Cupcake Wars entry? If you have the brains for baking or the culinary chops for grilling, the CIA – Culinary Institute of America, that is – wants you. Their Boot Camp, offered at three locations in the U.S. including San Antonio, is an intense two- to five-day “culinary vacation” that focuses on a particular cuisine or technique. Forget about a restful vacay. At the crack o’ doom, participants don provided chef’s whites and endure a grueling full-day schedule of lectures, classes, recipe coursework and demos. Summer 2013 courses in the Lone Star State include American Regional Cooking, French Cooking, and a two-day BBQ and Grilling Boot Camp just in time for the Fourth of July. 312 Pearl Pkwy., San Antonio, 800-888-7850,
Spanking New Wine Trail
“You’re growing grapes… where?” When winemakers started planting vineyards in the Southeastern Arizona hamlet of Willcox, Napa Valley viticulturists scoffed. Soon, the founders of Keeling-Schaefer Vineyards were waving Wine Spectator scores in the “good” and “very good” ranges in their NoCal neighbor’s faces. The pressed tin ceiling and wood plank floors at Keeling-Schaefer’s tasting room (154 N. Railroad Ave., 520-766-0600,
) are a throwback to the glory days of the 1917 Willcox Bank and Trust building it sits in. Browse local art while imbibing $7 current release samples ($5 with a glass from one of three other Willcox wineries). Coronado Vineyards (2909 E. Country Club Dr., 520-384-2993,
) and the newly minted Sand Reckoner (130 S. Haskell Ave., 303-931-8472,
) trounced out-of-towners at the 2012 Arizona Republic Wine Competition, winning bronze and silver medals, respectively, for their dessert wines. While Sand Reckoner offers vineyard tours by appointment only, Coronado’s Tuscan-inspired tasting room encourages guests to lounge and chit-chat in European fashion. In May, idiosyncratic New Zealand filmmaker Sam Pillsbury unveiled a new Pillsbury Wine Tasting Room (
) in a former rental house at his 100-acre Willcox vineyard.
Las Vegas, NV
: The sexy, stylish decor at RUMOR Las Vegas (455 E. Harmon Ave., 877-997-8667,
) is man-repellent to the non-metrosexual crowd. Think hot pink damask with chandeliers and smoky quartz bedrooms – the kind of bordello-meets-boudoir look that inspires late-night toenail painting sessions.
: The striated red rock walls and monsoon rain shower of Sahra Spa at the Cosmopolitan (3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-698-7000
) make Arizonans feel right at home. The signature treatment is the hammam experience, a Turkish-inspired ritual that can include steam bath, herbal body scrub and a relaxing detox on a stone slab. A beefcake feast can be found at the choreographed Men of Sapphire show (3025 Industrial Rd., 702-869-0003,
), where gal pals score lap dances from scantily-dressed male models and past Playgirl centerfolds.
: Julian Serrano (3730 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 702-590-8520,
), the celebrity chef’s eponymous tapas restaurant at ARIA, boasts a formidable selection of small plates, from traditional ceviche and albigondas to earthy mushroom risotto and stuffed Iberian pork. A combo package with complimentary sangria and tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana is worth the splurge.
Go all Nat Geo exploring an ocean, a galaxy, and a subterrestrial wonderland – in one trip. In January, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson, 520-883-2702,
) opened an aquarium. Oxymoronic? Au contraire: In addition to rivers, the Sonoran Desert encompasses 100,000 square miles of ocean and 900 islands. See seahorses and 6-foot minnows, plus pet a sand star and a turbo snail. Fifty-six miles southwest of Tucson – and 6,875 feet high – is Kitt Peak National Observatory (520-318-8000,
), home to the world’s largest collection of research telescopes. Get there soon (they’re closed July 15 to September 1) to join the Nightly Observing Program. Take your stargazing to the next orbit on the Advanced Observing Program. You’ll overnight at the observatory, use primo equipment and learn to take astronomical data and process a high-res picture of a galactic vista ($525 for up to two people, plus $75 per person, double occupancy, for room and three meals). Round out your getaway underground in 72-degree, stalactite-ceilinged Kartchner Caverns (520-586-2283,
; reserve ahead), near Benson.
Paddle among Ponderosas
With summertime temperatures in the 70s, visitors to Lynx Lake in the Bradshaw Mountains southeast of Prescott don’t mind working up a modest sweat. Canoeing and kayaking are popular on the placid 55-acre waterway, though the tranquility is sometimes shattered by the whir of a motorboat. The man-made lake is well stocked with rainbow trout, and you can cook up any catch at juniper-canopied picnic tables along the sandy beaches. On weekends during the summer season, canoe and kayak rentals are available at Lynx Lake Café and Marina. Hourly prices start at $15; however, it’s well worth the $55 full-day rental fee to avoid the worry of having to paddle back to shore right away. 4505 E. Forest Service Rd., Prescott, 928-778-0720,
Photos by Jim David
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