2015 Summer Getaways

Written by Keridwen Cornelius Category: Travel Issue: June 2015
Group Free

Discover Heavenly Bodies in Flagstaff
It is 4.6 billion miles away. In photographs, it is a pixilated blob. In our imaginations, it’s an icy underdog eccentrically rocketing around the sun, as if reeling from its recent demotion. The good news: Pluto is coming soon to an observatory near you. NASA designated 2015 “The Year of Pluto,” thanks to a cosmic coincidence. It’s the 85th anniversary of the year Depression-era-farmer-turned-astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto at Lowell Observatory. It’s also the year the New Horizons spacecraft, launched a decade ago, will finally make humanity’s first fly-by of the dwarf planet. Lowell is celebrating with a daily tour spotlighting Tombaugh’s telescope, plus an exhibit displaying – for the first time – the photograph confirming the existence of the former planet formerly known as Planet X.  On June 13, the observatory’s 4th annual fancy-dress gala will honor Tombaugh’s discovery. On July 14, when the spacecraft makes its closest encounter with Pluto, Lowell plans to beam the incoming images onto a planet-shaped projector. What will they reveal? 1400 W. Mars Hill Rd., 928-774-3358, lowell.edu

Space Sushi?
You’ll need brain food to learn all that astronomy. Fortunately, Karma Sushi Bar & Grill, where Clyde Tombaugh ate dinner the night he discovered Pluto (it was then the Black Cat Café), is serving an honorary Pluto Roll throughout 2015. Made of tempura lobster, snow crab, sweet potato purée, Sriracha, and spicy honey ponzu, it’s really out of this world. 6 E. Route 66, 928-774-6100, karmaflagstaff.com

photo by Brenna Zumbro
photo by Brenna Zumbro

Flagstaff continued: Locavore Tour

10:00 a.m.: Flag Buzz Coffeehouse. Compensate for the high altitude’s shortage of oxygen with a shot of caffeine at this robin’s-egg-blue beanery. Local bees put the buzz in the honey almond latte, with a little help from organic almond extract and organic, shade-grown, locally roasted coffee. 107 N. San Francisco St., 928-774-4731

photo by Brenna Zumbro

12:00 p.m.: Proper Meats + Provisions. The smell of smoking bacon hits you like a ham hock when you open the door to Arizona’s first exclusively local, whole-animal butcher shop and deli. Local beef is cured and smoked in-house for a pastrami sandwich slathered with green chiles and cactus cream cheese. The banh mi is stuffed with lashings of pork confit. And vegetarians will relish moist falafel tucked into a hoagie. 110 S. San Francisco St., 928-774-9001, propermeats.com

5:00 p.m.: Historic Brewing Company. We fist-bump the badass creatives behind this family-owned Flag flagship. In addition to working local ingredients into their wort – Arizona Sonoran White Wheat from BKW Farms in Marana, smoked peppers from Satchmo’s BBQ in Flagstaff, beans from Single Speed Coffee Roasters in Williams – they’re aging saisons in Arizona red wine barrels. There’s always a lineup of seasonal quenchers in the hopper, such as Short Shorts, a summertime IPA with a subtle pop of bubblegum. 4366 E. Huntington Dr., 928-707-0900,

7:00 p.m.: Coppa Cafe. Fourteen biomes are represented in Arizona, and nearly as many play a role on Coppa Cafe’s tasting menu. Conifer forests? They give rise to ponderosa pine butter and freshly foraged mushrooms. Juniper woodlands? Those babies are spiking the scallop crudo. Plains grassland? Arizona churro lamb and free-range local veal love that stuff. Desert scrub? Behold: Sonoran wild mesquite pasta mingled with paddle cactus. 1300 S. Milton Rd., 928-637-6813, coppacafe.net

New Brew
Dark Sky Brewing opened in spring 2015, featuring storm-in-a-pint-glass flavors like Jalapeño Pale Ale and Spruce-Tip Cinnamon Porter.

photo by Brenna Zumbro; Sweet Shoppe & Nut House

On Foot or Bike
Want to enjoy Flag sans car? Do a two-hour downtown pub crawl on Alpine Pedaler's people-powered trolly ($27), or join them for a “walking food tour” of seven nearby restos ($40). Or build your own itinerary.
Some suggestions:
>> Grab an artisanal goodie at Sweet Shoppe & Nut House. 15 E. Aspen Ave., 928-213-9000, sweetshoppecandy.com
>> Enjoy the city's best wood-fired pie at Pizzicletta. 203 W. Phoenix Ave., 928-774-3242, pizzicletta.com
>> Score some liquid energy at Firecreek Coffee Co. 22 E. Route 66, 928-774-2266, firecreekcoffee.com  
Info: 928-213-9233, alpinepedaler.com

photo by Brenna Zumbro; Proper Meats + Provisions
photo by Brenna Zumbro; Historic Brewing


photo by Brenna Zumbro; Alpine Pedaler’s people-powered trolley delivers Flagstaff visitors to a variety of pubs and restaurants.
photo by Brenna Zumbro; Pizzicletta

Time Travel at the Grand Canyon

On a Grand Canyon Field Institute course, your classroom is both muse and teacher. The canyon’s stone walls are a colossal blackboard on which history is written. It contains, as John Muir wrote, “a grand geological library – a collection of stone books covering thousands of miles of shelving, tier on tier, conveniently arranged for the student.” Since 1993, the nonprofit Grand Canyon Association has collaborated with the National Park Service to offer a range of expert-led learning adventures. Backpack rim-to-rim with a geologist, foraying into side canyons to learn about the spectrum of life zones, and poke around prehistoric pueblo dwellings to explore Native American history. Learn to compose cloud portraits in a Monsoon Photography class. Let the North Rim inspire your own Desert Solitaire while Writing on the Edge. Or construct a celestial calendar in an introduction to archeoastronomy. 800-858-2808, grandcanyon.org

Stellar Party
In a way, the Grand Canyon is a time machine: The deeper you descend, the older the rock strata around you, till you reach the 1.8-billion-year-old basement. Telescopes are also time machines, offering glimpses of celestial objects as they were billions of years ago. The two come together during the 25th Annual Grand Canyon Star Party, June 13-20. Join the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association on the South Rim and the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix on the North Rim for telescopic time travel to galaxies, nebulae, and show-stopping Saturn. The free event coincides with the Grand Canyon Field Institute’s archeoastronomy class. 928-638-7888, nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/grand-canyon-star-party.htm

photo by Brenna Zumbro

Bike the Canyon
While other tourists are jostling selfie sticks and fighting for parking spots, you’re pedaling at stream-of-consciousness pace along the South Rim’s paved greenways. Thanks to Bright Angels Bicycles, you’re savoring the silence as the scenery scrolls by: shadows curving into the canyon’s alcoves, sunlight gilding a stone cathedral. You’re on Hermit Road, carved in 1913 as a wagon track and now closed to private vehicles, so you have the 5.5-mile one-way route almost to yourself. The Mather Point shop and café offers cruiser bike rentals (including kids’ bikes and Burley Trailers) as well as guided three-hour tours. 10 South Entrance Rd., 928-638-3055, bikegrandcanyon.com

Fluffing It
If an overnight camping stay at the Grand Canyon isn’t in the offing,    Grand Canyon Bed & Breakfast bills itself as “the closest B&B to the  Grand Canyon” – about 60 minutes away in Williams. 1129 Stockmens  Rd., Williams, 928-635-4608, grandcanyonbandb.com

Bond With Your Brood in Williams

photo by Brenna ZumbroTrain Train Train
Nostalgics will revel in the romance of Grand Canyon Railway’s 1923 Steam Train – those churning pistons, that billowing steam. Adventurers will savor the scenery of the Colorado Plateau and the Grand Canyon. Kids will love the chug chug and the choo choo. And environmentalists will appreciate the locomotive’s designation as the Greenest Train in America; it’s fueled by used vegetable oil collected from restaurants in town and on the South Rim. The steam train travels on the first Saturday of the month, April through September, and on holidays including July 4. 800-843-8724, thetrain.com/special-events/steam/

Adult Time-Out
Clearly, you rock as a parent and deserve an adult reward. The appropriately family-owned Grand Canyon Winery (138 W. Route 66, 928-635-5232, thegrandcanyonwinery.com) recently paired with their sibling biz, Historic Brewing Company in Flagstaff, to become the first Arizona-born winery to serve both wine and beer flights. In addition, this spring the Grand Canyon Brewing Company (no relation) renovated and reopened their taproom, featuring 16 taps dispensing all Arizona ales, including several from their own copper kettles. 233 W. Route 66, 800-513-2072, grandcanyonbrewery.com

photo by Brenna ZumbroWith adrenaline-rush activities, nostalgia galore, and opportunities for face-time with fauna, a weekend in Williams is perfectly calibrated for family fun. Conquer your fear of heights as a family on the Route 66 Zipline, strung 110 feet above Grand Canyon Boulevard. You’ll be seated in a car-themed chair, propelled at 30 mph backward, poised at the top for a view of downtown Williams, then hurtled 700 feet forward, all to a soundtrack of rock ‘n’ roll and squealing tires. The only restriction is a minimum height of 42 inches, so everyone from grandpappy to your preschooler can say sayonara to acrophobia together. 200 N. Grand Canyon Blvd.,928-635-5358, ziplineroute66.com

Close Encounters
Mechanical or otherwise, these large beasts will delight the family.  
• Have you hugged a mule deer today? The deer, camel, llamas, wallabies and other critters at Grand Canyon Deer Farm have been raised here from infancy, so they’re happy to be fed, petted, and even cuddled. 6769 E. Deer Farm Rd., 928-635-4073, deerfarm.com
• You can’t pet the animals at Bearizona, but would you want to? Best to stay in the car, as nature intended, and view the black bears, bison, and wolves through the windows at this drive-thru wildlife park. 1500 E. Route 66, 928-635-2289, bearizona.com
• Honey, they blew up the toys. Your kids’ tiny Tonkas won’t seem the same after a visit to Big Toy Playground. Dig a huge hole, stack a tower of tires, and veer through an obstacle course on a full-sized excavator, loader, backhoe, or skid steer. 671 S. Garland Prairie Rd., 928-637-8808, bigtoyplayground.com


photo by Daniel Kim; Yoga at Page Springs Vineyards & CellarsSoothe Your Soul in the Verde Valley
Sunlight sifts through sycamores and Oak Creek burbles background music as Gayle Glomski describes how yoga has changed her students’ lives. “I have people tell me, ‘I’ve never felt this way before, I’ve never been so relaxed before.’ I have people break down and cry and tell me that the sensation, the beauty really moved them and inspired them and healed them.” Gayle is director of yoga and massage at Page Springs Vineyards & Cellars, where her husband Eric Glomski’s wine evokes similar enthusiasm. At first blush, viticulture and vinyasa seem miles apart. But this couple, and this setting, synthesize the two as seamlessly as a Syrah-Barbera blend. Both practices are ancient arts influenced by terroir, Gayle says. Just as grapes are suffused with the essence of their unique setting, people are permeated by the spirit of their surroundings. After all, doing tree pose under an actual tree is entirely different than doing it in a studio. “It elevates the experience,” Gayle says of the Monday and Friday morning classes. “It’s amazing and magical and mystical.” 1500 N. Page Springs Rd., Cornville, 928-639-3004, pagespringscellars.com

New in the VV: The Three C’s
Been a while since your last trip to the Verde Valley? See what’s new with this town-by-town guide.

Clarkdale: Delve into the Copper Art Museum, and you’ll excavate a trove of fascinating nuggets (849 Main St., Clarkdale, 928-649-1858, copperartmuseum.com). Housed in the former Clarkdale High School, this rockin’ salute to Arizona’s favorite heavy metal explores the many uses of copper – it slays germs in hospitals and fungus on farms, and forms architectural flourishes, cookware, religious relics, and liquor-making machinery dating back hundreds of years – all displayed extensively in carefully curated exhibits.

Cornville: Looking for an overnight destination? Tambrala and Bruce Shurman’s personalities shine through every detail of their lovingly realized Vineyards B&B, from the poolside tiki bar to the elaborately homey breakfasts to the guitars ready for an impromptu jam session with guests (1350 N. Page Springs Rd., Page Springs, 928-300-4313, thevineyardsbandb.com). This leafy emerald in the rough snuggled between two vineyards is an ideal hub for a pulse-reducing respite. Lounge in local wineries, tube the neighboring Verde River, or soak in the whirlpool tub of the Cabernet suite.

Cottonwood: A recently revamped addition to Cottonwood’s Old Town, the Iron Horse Inn (1034 N. Main St., 928-634-8031, ironhorseoldtown.com) instantly soothes guests with its tranquil courtyard filled with river rocks and the sound of a trickling fountain. The 1930s-era rooms are refreshingly chic and contemporary – thanks to bright linens, dark wood floors, and stone showers. Cottonwood recently got a tablespoon of exoticism when Iranian-born couple Golab Momen Khani and Hojat Nabipour opened FarSide Persian Bistro (1075 S. SR 260, Cottonwood, 928- 649-6563, farsidebistro.com). Golab brings her fashion design experience to the stylish front-of-house. Hojat’s passion for Persian cuisine spices dishes such as steak kebabs steeped in saffron and French rosé wine. A massive Brunswick-style bar and copper ceiling give Ancient Pillars (1001 N. Main St., Cottonwood, 928-634-1949) an Old West flavor, but the food hails from a culture far older: Greece. Charylle and Christos Tsakiris cook up dishes from his birthplace, Crete, such as crunchy lamb meatballs with fresh tzatziki, flambéed salty goat cheese, and honey-soused galaktoboureko (if you can’t pronounce it, ask for “galactic booty call”).

The Anti-Yoga: An ATV Excursion
Crisp blue sky above, thyme-green mountains ahead, red rocks rimming the horizon. An ATV excursion with Arizona Offroad Tours is like Riders of the Purple Sage, but with a lot more horsepower between your thighs. Self-described “nature nerd” Mary McDowell takes you on a mogul-style joyride while pointing out the foliage canopying the trail and the barred owl winging overhead. Don’t miss the full moon tours, when cool night air turns the desert into an alfresco aromatherapy session, and the altitude, McDowell says, makes you feel like “you can reach up and pick a star.” 928-451-1777, myarizonaoffroadtour.com

Sip and Swirl
Check out these newly-opened VV tasting rooms.
Four Eight Wineworks: At this freshly-minted Clarkdale tasting room in a reimagined 1914 bank, wooden teller windows and sepia-toned photos provide a stunning backdrop for sampling small-batch wines you won’t find in stores. This cooperative comes courtesy of rocker-turned-vintner Maynard James Keenan, who’s giving four experienced winemakers a chance to launch their own labels by sharing the bank-breaking cost of equipment. 907 Main St., Clarkdale, 928-649-2007, four8wineworks.com

Fire Mountain Wines: As a member of the Yavapai-Apache Nation, Jamie Fullmer wanted his winery – Arizona’s first Native-owned – to foster a return to Native people’s agricultural roots. In the process, he’s produced some of the smoothest-tasting wines around. Indulge in a flight of reds paired with gourmet chocolates made by winery representative Wayne Dollman and his fiancée. 1010 N. Main St., Cottonwood, 928-649-9135, firemountainwines.com

THAT Brewery: Brewers Michael Willis and Joey Steiner modestly describe their beers as “extremely drinkable.” We think “impeccably sublime” is more like it, thanks to local ingredients like pine cones, juniper, pecans, and Firecreek Coffee Company beans. Others agree, which is why the brewers recently expanded their pint-size Pine brewery to this larger Cottonwood tasting room to accommodate high demand. 300 E. Cherry St., Cottonwood, 928-202-3013, thatbrewery.com

Desert Diamond Distillery: Arizona’s oldest distillery is based in Kingman, where summer heat helps mature their molasses-based vodka and rum but tends to wilt travelers. Thankfully, this family business recently debuted a tasting room in cooler Cottonwood. Try their barrel reserve rum, which won a gold medal at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. 1019 N. Main St., Cottonwood, 928-649-0494, desertdiamonddistillery.com


photo by Daniel KimFind Inner Peace in Chino Valley & Prescott
Driving east from Chino Valley, along a dirt road that stripes a pale prairie, you turn up Blissful Path and wind past fluttering prayer flags to the Garchen Buddhist Institute. It’s not something you’d expect to find here, but the Tibetan teachers who come to guide guests through meditation and mindfulness say it reminds them of their homeland. Visitors here also find something more elusive. “Our function being out here away from things is to cultivate calmness and try to re-find it,” says director Heather Beghtol. “It exists for everyone ultimately, but the speed of our world makes it really difficult to find.”

The institute was founded in the early 2000s by Garchen Rinpoche, “a rock star in the realm of Buddhist teachers,” Beghtol says. Rinpoche cultivated his own calmness enduring 20 years in a forced labor camp during China’s Cultural Revolution. His openness sets the tone for the institute, which welcomes people of any religion and level of experience, including those who’ve never meditated before. It’s for anyone who wants to become more patient and serene. “We’re trying to tame our mind and... realize the true nature of our mind, which ultimately is compassion and kindness,” Beghtol says.

Visitors can dip their toes into Buddhist teachings during a Sunday afternoon White Tara practice – a one-hour ritual full of drums, bells, mantras, and meditation. More in-depth teachings, usually lasting one to three weeks, happen throughout the year, including one in August. The cooler six months of the calendar, when Rinpoche is in residence, draw visitors from around the world. But at any time, guests can arrange a silent retreat, punctuated by personalized teachings. 928-925-1237, garchen.net

photo by Daniel KimAprès-Monk Tipple
The peacocks that preen around Granite Creek Vineyards are not just there to entertain the guests lounging on the lawn, listening to live music and sipping Chardonnay. They’re pest control. That’s because Arizona’s only certified organic vineyard and winery shuns scary chemicals and sulfites. It also nurtures native grasses that promote healthy soil and welcomes indigenous hawks that keep away critters. The result is a thriving ecosystem where flowers, shade trees, and red barns meet spicy Cabernet. Don’t miss live music every Saturday and celebrations on July 4 and Labor Day weekends. 2515 N. Road 1 East, Chino Valley, 928-636-2003, granitecreekvineyards.com

Prescott Specials
• This year, the Phippen Museum is celebrating the 100th birthday of its namesake, George Phippen, the first president of the Cowboy Artists of America. The exhibit, which goes through July 19, spotlights Phippen’s paintings, sculpture, and drawings, including sketches never seen by the public. His son, Darrell Phippen, will speak at a dinner celebration on July 10, and on July 11 (George’s birthday), the museum will offer free admission and birthday cake. 4701 Hwy. 89, Prescott, 928-778-1385, phippenartmuseum.org

• If you imagine mead to be syrupy firewater favored by Beowulf-types, you’re in for a pleasant surprise at Superstition Meadery. Recognized by the Mazer Cup and RateBeer.com to be one of the country’s best meaderies – and craft brewers, period – this basement speakeasy brings contemporary sensibilities to the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage. Ranging from dry to sweet, their meads are made by fermenting various Arizona honeys in bourbon or oak barrels and infusing them with ingredients such as prickly pear, spruce tips, and Tahitian vanilla. No wonder mead maker Carlos Bassetti says, “It’s like experiencing a rainbow of flavors. It’s totally unlike any other craft beverage experience.” 120 W. Gurley St., Prescott, 928-458-4256, superstitionmeadery.com

Prescott Events
There’s no such thing as a “lazy summer” in Prescott, where the dog days are packed with parades, music fests and rodeos. visit-prescott.com

42nd Annual Folk Arts Fair (June 6-7)
WoofDown Lunch (June 6)
Antiques on the Square (June 7)
Chaparral Music Fest (June 6-13)
35th Annual Territorial Days Arts and Crafts (June 13-14)
34th Annual Bluegrass Festival (June 27-28)
Prescott Frontier Days & World’s Oldest Rodeo (June 29-July 4)
35th Annual Prescott Rodeo Days Fine Arts & Crafts Show (July 3-5)
City of Prescott 4th of July Extravaganza and Frontier Days Parade (July 4)
18th Annual Prescott Indian Art Market (July 11)
6th Annual Prescott Film Festival (July 22-26)


photo by Mare CzniarHave An Eco-Awakening at the Mogollon Rim
The Forest Service doesn’t want us to write about Fossil Creek. Another breathtaking magazine spread of its teal travertine cascades, and they fear the crowds can’t be far behind. Rangers euphemistically say this oasis for native fish – including several threatened and endangered species – is being “loved to death.” Replace “loved” with “littered.” Naturally, none of the intelligent and conscientious readers of this magazine is responsible for this trash-terrorism. But it’s difficult to stand by when one of only two official Wild and Scenic Rivers in Arizona is destroyed.

A handful of organizations provide opportunities for the public to give back to the landscapes that give us so much. The Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter (602-253-8633, sierraclub.org/arizona) conducts clean-ups of Fossil Creek following the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays, when this waterfall-tiered Eden looks like Monday morning at a frat house. To RSVP for the May 30 clean-up, contact Jennifer Martin, Arizona Water Sentinels Program Coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 602-254-8362.

Look for more altruistic opportunities throughout Arizona with the Nature Conservancy (nature.org), Audubon (az.audubon.org), and Friends of the Forest’s Sedona division (friendsoftheforestsedona.org).

photo by Mare CzniarWhite Mountain Festival
Provence can be pricey in summer, and comes with a side of jet lag. As an alternative to Saint-Rémy, we present the White Mountain town of Concho. Red Rock Ranch & Farms blossoms during the annual Lavender Festival, when you can cut your own cologne-scented bundles, taste the fruit of cooking demos, and purchase lavender lotion, candles and more. Bring your own picnic or pre-order a packed lunch. June 18-21 and 25-28. 928-337-2289, redrockfarms.com/lav-festival/

Ambling, Ale, and Art
Ambling. Take mental snapshots as you hike the Mogollon Rim: the precise indigo of a wildflower, a shadow-stained meadow amid a thatch of pines. You’ll need these mind’s-eye Monets for inspiration during your brewery-based painting class later in the day. Two easy-breezy trails near Pine – Pivot Rock Canyon and Wildcat Spring – provide particularly verdant views of “Arizona’s rainforest.” For directions, visit arizonahiking.blogspot.com.
Ale. After drinking in the vistas, drink in the distillation of your hike – an Arizona Trail Ale. The outdoorsy hopheads at THAT Brewery (3270 N. Hwy. 87, Mile Marker 267, Pine, 928-476-3349, thatbrewery.com) have infused this English Pale Ale with pine cones picked near their Pine brewpub, and donate a portion of the proceeds to the Arizona Trail Association.
Art. Plan ahead to hit THAT’s one-Monday-a-month Brews & Brushes painting class, taught by a local artist. Art supplies, ales, and snacks are provided.


photo by David VeneziaFall in Love with Tucson
Dear Tucson: Where have you been all our lives? OK, an hour and a half away, but... did you used to be this cool and attractive? You’ve changed, right? Is it the new streetcar giving you that San Francisco flair? Your downtown has always been walkable, but now it has so many fresh, fun bars and restaurants we want to walk to. And why have you been so modest about your refreshing, 9,000-foot-high mountain? You’re just so genuine and friendly. Frankly, Tucson, it’s hot. Love, Phoenix.

photo by David Venezia1st Date: Shopping
5 Points Restaurant & Market has five major points going for it: a sunny setting with an art-and-brick backdrop, seductive pastries, a gourmet market, a delectable breakfast salad and the freshest-tasting huevos rancheros this side of anywhere. 756 S. Stone Ave., 520-623-3888, 5pointstucson.com

2nd Date: Coffee
There are two philosophies for combating the summer heat. The first one, you’re familiar with: “Chill, dude.” The other, favored in the equatorial regions, goes something like this: “Burn, baby, burn.” Embrace both at Exo Roast Coffee with a Chiltepín toddy – cold-brewed coffee spiced with chile and mellowed with Mexican chocolate. 403 N. Sixth Ave., 520-777-4709, exocoffee.com    

3rd Date: Go All the Way... on the Streetcar
The new Sunlink Streetcar zips through downtown Tucson and the University of Arizona, leaving happy commuters and an urban vibe in its wake. Try these eight exotic stops. sunlinkstreetcar.com
1. A strange phenomenon overtakes you in Tucson. You suddenly feel the answer to all questions is “tacos.” You’ll find particularly fresh and well-marinated answers at Seis in the Mercado San Agustín. Emboldened, you may foray into non-tacos, and find several options in the tortilla-size shopping center. La Estrella Bakery peddles Mexican pastries. Blu sources all its cheese, wine, charcuterie and local temptations with love. And MAST sells a cleverly curated selection of artisanal never-knew-I-needed-its. 100 S. Avenida del Convento, 520-461-1110, mercadosanagustin.com

2. When hipsters, professors and professionals all converge on one eye-pleasing eatery, you know it’s doing something right. The place is Penca, and that something is pitch-perfect cocktails, frosty tepache (house pineapple beer), and envelope-pushing tacos. Go tongue-to-tongue with a lengua taco, and try the turkey. 50 E. Broadway Blvd., 520-203-7681, pencarestaurante.com

3. Scott & Co.’s mixologists are as earnest as organic chemists but as amiable as pediatricians – and they have their complex cocktails down to a science. Chase a frisky Cottontail (sloe gin, Curaçao, cinnamon syrup) with a scrumptious seasonal special like Tucson Tea (smoked whiskey, mesquite bean syrup, and creosote tincture). 49 N. Scott Ave., 520-624-4747, 47scott.com/scottco.html

4. After resting in peace for nearly two decades, the former Reilly Funeral Home pulled a Lazarus when it was resurrected as Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink. Now, it’s a triune of trendiness. On the ground floor, the buzzing pizzeria serves traditional-modern mash-ups, while the beer garden turns the genre delightfully on its head with astroturf, cornhole and an industrial vibe. Six feet under, in the one-time morgue, is the six-month-old Tough Luck Club. Here, mixologists muddle mind-bending elixirs strong enough to wake the dead (is that smoked paprika in my snifter?). 101 E. Pennington St., 5. 20-882-5550, reillypizza.com

photo by David Venezia; Hub Restaurant & Creamery5. Hub Restaurant & Creamery’s in-house scoops stand has proved so popular they plan to open an old-fashioned ice cream shop a cone’s throw away in time for the summer swelter. Warning: The surgeon general has determined that the lemon bar flavor is dangerously addictive. 266 E. Congress St., 520-207-8201, hubdowntown.com

To continue your date, read on...

6. Across the street from each other, the Rialto Theatre (318 E. Congress St., 520-740-1000, rialtotheatre.com) and Club Congress at the Congress Hotel (311 E. Congress St., 520-622-8848, hotelcongress.com) are constantly rockin’ with live music from up-and-comers and old favorites.

7. You’re walking down the grittier side of the Tucson tracks when suddenly you find yourself in... Paris. Those sidewalk-café chairs. The mint green brasserie tiles. The Victorian bar. The tartines and rillettes. The friendly service. Oh, wait, you are in Tucson. And you are in The Coronet. 402 E. Ninth St., 520-222-9889, cafecoronet.com

photo by David Venezia; A barista displays his wares at Time Market8. There’s a whiff of Italy at Time Market, and it’s not just coming from the wood-fired pizza oven. The artfully arranged vegetables and gourmet foodstuffs recall a Roman alimentari, while the potent coffee concoctions seem like they were steamed by a Bolognese barista. 444 E. University Blvd., 520-622-0761

photo by David VeneziaThe Morning After: A Nature Walk
During the day, Mount Lemmon is your high-altitude escape hatch. The drive up the Sky Island Scenic Byway takes you through as many biomes as a cruise from Mexico to Canada. At the top, monsoons make Marshall Gulch Trail luxuriant with ferns, flowers and trickling streams. The cool temps and aspen-and-pine fringed views make the summer swelter seem miles away. For directions and information, visit arizonahiking.blogspot.com or call the Santa Catalina Ranger District, 520-749-8700.

Four Out-of-State Life-Changers
1. Man Up at Lake Powell. Camping, boating, hiking, fishing... and little supervision. Sitting in Arizona and Utah – but mostly in Utah – the 266 azure square miles of Lake Powell (pictured below) constitute some of the country’s most fertile territory for ruggedly individual recreation. Outboard motor seized? Bust out the oars. Fish not biting? Tie a better fly. It’s like the anti-Club Med. No mollycoddling in sight. nps.gov/glca

2. Go Native in South Dakota. Delve into Dances with Wolves country on an adventure with Spirit Trails. Spend the night in a tipi on the South Dakotan prairie, share a meal with a Lakota Sioux family, watch dancers at a powwow, visit with local artists, and gain intimate insight into Native American culture. Seven- or 13-day trips available. spirit-trails.com

3. Make a Mammalian Love Connection in the San Juan Islands. In summer, pods of orca whales thread through Washington’s San Juan Islands to feast on salmon. Glide alongside with your fellow bipeds courtesy of Anacortes Kayak Tours. Launching from Anacortes, an easy drive from Seattle, the company leads excursions to see forest-draped islands, nature sanctuaries, and a surfeit of seals. 800-992-1801, anacorteskayaktours.com

4. Voluntourism in Hawaii. Untouristy experiences in Hawaii are as rare as the native Na’u tree. But “voluntourists” can engage with locals while giving back to the islands. The Pacific Whale Foundation lists a number of opportunities to protect native plant species and restore trails (volunteersonvacation.org), while Habitat for Humanity invites travelers to help build homes on Kauai (kauaihabitat.org).

photo by Richard Maack