things to do
Things To Do
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Things To Do
June, 2013, Page 116
Photo courtesy Texas Bike Tours
Along with sweeping sherbet sunsets, one of the perks of living in the Valley is our proximity to paradises of milder climates. It’s easy to escape the scorching days of summer for a century-old rodeo, stargazing at the Grand Canyon, or tequila tasting on a train. Here are 41 places and events to discover this summer – including 12 out-of-state adventures.
BONUS - Check out these
bonus video travelogues of high-elevation wonders Williams and Lynx Lake
Hipster Haven Weekend
: While East Austin’s counterculture scene has overtaken the South Congress area on the hipster-meter, the historic hotels along the SoCo stretch are still a worthwhile destination. The vintage marquee outside the inexpensive, family-owned Austin Motel (1220 S. Congress Ave., 512-441-1157,
) marks it as retro cool, but if you have the dough, the nearby Hotel San Jose (1316 S. Congress Ave., 512-852-2360,
) has gorgeous vine-covered concrete bungalows originally built in 1936. As a bonus, four-legged friends are welcome.
: Pedal-philes will appreciate the simplicity and leisurely pace of Texas Bike Tours (
), where cyclists can choose to get acquainted with, court or lovingly romance this laid-back city on two wheels. At night, keep Austin weird by attending a Big Lebowski Quote-along or Totally ’80s Singalong at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (320 E. Sixth St., 512-476-1320,
: With coffee, sandwiches, and a beer and wine list longer than the food menu, Spider House Cafe (2908 Fruth St., 512-480-9562,
) is a sweet place to chow down while dissecting the intricacies of cult classic films like A Clockwork Orange. Bonus: The owners of the 1920s bungalow recently opened a multi-stage music venue next door that hosts eclectic bands and touring cirque performers.
Learn to Cook Cactus
The Sonoran desert is home to frightening flora, from deadly nightshades to spiked cacti. Yet Native Americans utilized these plants to make food, medicines and fibers long before modern technology intervened. Loews Ventana Canyon Resort offers a window into ancient desert life with a summer cooking series on gathering and preparing plants grown on-site. In June, Pastry Chef Krista Owens whips up desert desserts made with barrel cactus fruit, while July’s class has Executive Chef Ken Harvey harvesting mesquite pods used in marinades and flour. The series culminates with harvesting opuntia, the magenta fruit of the prickly pear. Chef Harvey will demonstrate how to clean and peel the fruit to avoid giving yourself an unintentional tongue piercing, after which a prickly pear cocktail from the mixologists will definitely be in order. Classes open to non-guests; approximate price $25. 7000 N. Resort Dr., 520-299-2020,
Three Cheers for Staycations!
: A mouthwatering palette of ribbon-candy pink and juicy tangerine sets the stage for a delicious experience at The Saguaro (4000 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale, 480-308-1100,
). From the Latin-inspired spa’s chocolate-chile wrap and prickly pear sugar scrub to a spicy chile relleno at Iron Chef Jose Garces’ Distrito or margaritas delivered to private poolside casitas, there’s plenty of sensory input here.
: Every element of Royal Palms Hotel (5200 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-840-3610,
) looks like something out of a fairy tale, from the grandiose vine-covered façade reminiscent of a Mediterranean villa to sky-high pillow-top beds fit for a princess. Tack the Royal Romance Package onto an overnight stay and you’ll get a heart-shaped rose petal turndown, champagne and an elegant
dinner at T. Cook’s.
: With a Western-themed saloon and a 7-acre water park, The Arizona Grand Resort & Spa (8000 S. Arizona Grand Pkwy., Phoenix, 602-438-9000,
) is a godsend for parents. Named one of the Travel Channel’s top water parks, the Oasis boasts three slides and a giant wave pool and is open daily to resort guests in summer. Parents in need of time alone can enroll youth ages 5-12 in a half-day Kids Club (morning or afternoon session) with games, crafts, and outdoor activities.
Photo by Abraham Karam
Scout out Trout
Sedona or Pinetop, AZ
There’s an art to fly-fishing. Anglers have to wade to the perfect spot, get a good cast and drop the fly daintily onto the water’s surface to simulate a landing insect. Sign up for The Hook Up Outfitters’ half- or full-day Sedona Red Rock Trout Adventure or two-day White Mountain Overnight Adventure and learn the tricks of the trout-catching trade. Anglers are outfitted with top-of-the-line Orvis rods and gear, and on the latter tour, breakfast, lunch and one night’s lodging near Pinetop are included. Worried your guide will put your skills to shame? Though he might be a two-time Bassmaster champion or an International Game Fish Association record-holder, rest assured he’ll stand back and watch while you reel in The Big One on your own. Sedona: $375-$495 for up to two people; White Mountains: $1,290 for two people. 888-899-4665,
Saddle up, Hoedown
A far cry from primitive dude ranches, Mountain Ranch Resort at Beacon Hill is designed with the urban cowboy (and cowgirl) in mind. Sure, the weathered wood, wagon wheel benches and carved bear mascot scream “rustic.” The tennis courts, swimming pool, smoke-free rooms, on-site bar and high-speed wireless, on the other hand, bring the West into the 21st century. The seasonal resort is just a few miles from Bearizona, Grand Canyon Deer Farm and the Grand Canyon Railway, but guests seeking an idyllic high country experience can mosey down to the adjacent stable and take a one- to two-hour guided ride (starting at $35) through Kaibab National Forest’s ponderosa pines. No riding experience is required, and half-day tours are available if you’re comfortable enough on a nag to sit in the saddle for a longer spell. 6701 E. Mountain Ranch Rd., Williams, 928-635-2693,
Photos by Jill Richards
Red Rocks Romance
Stay & Play
: Far from the stereotypical shabby-chic B&B, Kathy and Larry Jaeckel’s Sedona Cathedral Hideaway Bed & Breakfast (30 Serendipity Trail, 866-973-3662,
) is a modern “green” home with unobstructed mountain views, an on-site spa offering hot oil massages, and a fireplace and two-person whirlpool in each of two private rooms the size of a big-city apartment. Alternately, active types will appreciate the all-inclusive couples retreat at Sedona Rouge Hotel (2250 W. Hwy 89A, 866-312-4111,
), which includes morning yoga and access to the nautilus fitness center and lap pool. The three-night package features six couples massages/spa services and $200 towards dinner at REDS restaurant (pictured, left), featuring a romantic rooftop patio.
: Sip a tart Napa Valley cabernet with your sweetie while savoring foie gras and listening to the gentle rush of water on the banks of Oak Creek at L’Auberge Restaurant (301 L’Auberge Lane, 928-282-1661,
). Executive Chef Rochelle Daniel’s multi-plate dinners encourage couples to nibble the fresh, seasonal fare slowly, while the gorgeous surroundings encourage nibbling of another sort.
Photos by Louis Hernandez; models provided by Ford Robert Black Agency; hair, makeup and styling by Shannon Campbell
Pat and Randy George fell in love with Grand Canyon Deer Farm around the same time they fell for each other. After spending several dates there – and part of their honeymoon – they purchased the 44-year-old farm in 1987. Since then, they’ve added dozens of animals including coatimundi, wallabies, marmosets and reindeer. It’s easy to see why the Georges were so captivated: Walk through the front gate and be nuzzled by free-roaming deer that look like Bambi’s cousins. Hand-feeding is allowed (with approved feed purchased in the gift shop), but be forewarned that Gracie the camel might suck the hat off your head if you get too close. Comedic cockatoo Mozart is one of the Georges’ favorite additions; since cockatoos can live up to 60 years in captivity, the bantering bird will likely be cracking jokes long after the couple retires. $9.95/adults, $8.50/seniors, $5.95/children 3-13, 2 and younger free. 6769 E. Deer Farm Rd., Williams, 928-635-4073,
Photos by Jill Richards
Jackson Hole, WY
With awe-inspiring views of the jagged Tetons, it’s no wonder famously flamboyant Washington Times-Herald owner Countess Eleanor “Cissy” Patterson took respite at Flat Creek Ranch. Her antique piano sits in the log cabin lodge, a ghostly reminder of the decadent parties she no doubt threw here. Soak in a claw foot tub or read an Owen Wister cowboy novel on the porch at one of the five cozy cabins, which include one built and named for the Countess of Flat Creek. Saddle up with a friendly nag, fly-fish in a private stretch of Flat Creek, or hike the grueling Poachers’ Trail to the 11,000-foot crest of Sleeping Indian Mountain. Muscles sore? Flat Creek Ranch has a sauna for that. Getting there is an adventure itself, with 15 miles of no man’s land and a bumpy dirt track leading to the government-protected property. Upper Flat Creek Rd., Jackson Hole, 866-522-3344,
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