52 Weekend Adventures - 2016

Written by Wynter Holden Category: Travel Issue: February 2016
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Paris and Rome are lovely and all, but trips like those don’t exactly grow on trees. Exciting weekend getaways in our own little corner of the Southwest, on the other hand, can be enjoyed by the bushel. From wintertime f ireworks in Lake Havasu City to summer foraging in the forests of Flagstaff, our def initive guide promises nature hikes, festivals and other grand excursions for every week of the year – now offered in a handy month-to-month format, so you can hold onto it all year long.

JANUARY
Feel the Burn... on Skis
Flagstaff
Ascenic alternative to the gym, Flagstaff Nordic Center’s 15 groomed cross-country ski trails range from an easy 1.3-kilometer jaunt to the grueling – yet “intermediate” – 7.8-kilometer North Rim Trail that rises to 8,340 feet above sea level. If snow is in short supply, the trails are also open for running and hiking, plus onsite yurts are available for overnight stays so you can get the full Genghis Khan experience. 16848 U.S. 180, 928-220-0550, flagstaffnordiccenter.com
Driving Time: 2 hours, 33 minutes (161 miles)
Fees: Adult passes $12-$18, kids $10-$12; equipment fees vary
Kids: Take ‘em
Pro Tip: “To practice for skate skiing, bend your knees and lean sideways. Then see how far you can jump from side to side. This activity will build up leg muscles and your aerobic capacity,” instructor Ken Walters says. Nordic skiers burn around 700 calories per hour, so pack your bag with trail mix and be prepared for the ultimate leg day.

OVERNIGHT OPTION! Rest your aching quads at the Weatherford Hotel (23 N. Leroux St., 928-774-2731) and its retinue of nearby restaurants and breweries in historic downtown Flag.

photo by Brenna Zumbro; Nordic Center trails
photo by Brenna Zumbro; view in Flagstaff

Jazz It Up
Tucson
Christened in 2015, the inaugural Tucson Jazz Festival drew around 10,000 fans hungry for some smooth Anita Baker tunes or Dizzy Gillespie bebop. Look for two weeks of concerts and jams at local venues including Club Congress and the historic Rialto Theater; highlights of the 2016 fest January 14-24 included trumpeter Kermit Ruffins’ New Orleans-style tooting and a headlining performance from Grammy award-winner Michael League’s Snarky Puppy band. Visit tucsonjazzfestival.org.
Driving Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes (113 miles)
Fees: Vary by event; most concert tickets start around $30
Kids: Leave ‘em
Pro Tip: Some festival acts offer CDs for sale, but for classic jazz vinyl, pop by nearby PDQ Records at 2432 N. Dodge Blvd.

Take a New Year’s Dip
Kingman
While most Arizonans dive into resolutions to lose flab or save money come January 1, the crazy residents of Kingman partake in the Canadian tradition of celebrating the New Year with a freezing dive called the Polar Dip. Join them at noon at Centennial Pool; average temps range from 32 to 52 degrees in the area, making it a crapshoot whether your buns will literally be freezing or not. 3333 Harrison St., 928-757-7919, allaboutkingman.com
Driving Time: 3 hours (192 miles)
Fees: Free
Kids: Bring ‘em if they’re brave

DID YOU KNOW?
Water draws body heat 25 times faster than air, making even 50-degree water feel like Antarctica.

Easy cheat: Wear a wetsuit designed for brisk dives.

Editor’s Pick: Get Starstruck at Hacienda Corona
Nogales
Aformer cattle rancher’s home turned Hollywood starlet getaway, the ultra-romantic Hacienda Corona de Guevavi features three self-contained casitas and rooms named for the celebrities who once passed through. The Duke honors John Wayne with its leather accents and steer horns, while the funky and colorful Corona junior suite is named for the bullfighter-turned-artist whose murals decorate the B&B’s stucco courtyard walls. Innkeeper Nisa Stover Talavera also suggests a day trip to the Whipple Observatory near Amado. “It’s an incredible place to go during the day to learn a lot about the stars and experience some of their ground-based telescopes if you are not quite a night owl,” she says. 348 S. River Rd., Nogales, 520-287-6503, haciendacorona.com
Driving Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes (176 miles)
Kids: Leave ‘em
Pro Tip: If you can’t tell Orion’s Belt from his shoe, visit earthsky.org for a map of visible stars and stun your sweetie with a galaxy of knowledge.

 

FEBRUARY

photos by David Venezia; Antelope Canyon Ultra MarathonThe World's Best-Looking Race
Antelope Canyon
Save for the Grand Canyon and kitschy postcards of snow-covered cacti, few landscape images are as iconic to Arizona as the sweeping sandstone walls of Antelope Canyon. And while nearly every Arizonan has glimpsed the most photographed slot canyon in the Southwest – in person or in magazines and hotel wall art – few have raced on foot through its major formations, The Corkscrew and The Crack. With staggered start times beginning at 6 a.m. on Saturday, February 20, Antelope Canyon Ultra Marathons offers 50-mile, 55K or half-marathon races (and a crazy 100-miler on heavy demand) that traverses through Horseshoe Bend and Page Rim, winding past the Colorado River and Lake Powell. Victors score a handmade Native American belt buckle. Register at grandcircletrails.com.
Driving Time: 4 hours, 19 minutes (277 miles)
Fees: Vary by race length and registration date; expect around $99-$165
Kids: Leave ‘em
Pro Tip: In the dry season, Antelope Canyon can be as dusty as Granny’s attic. Wear a face mask and eye protection to minimize looking like you crawled out of an Egyptian tomb.

photos by David Venezia; Tucson's Chinese Cultural Center's Chinese New Year eventChinese New Year Festival
Tucson
Most Chinese workers get up to a week off to celebrate New Year’s – a far cry from America’s one-day hangover respite. Tucson’s Chinese Cultural Center celebrates the annual turning of the Chinese calendar with a two-fold event. Look for colorful dragon dances, games, and “lucky” foods such as dumplings, spring rolls and New Year cake at the kid-friendly event on Saturday, February 13, followed by a more reserved silent auction and dinner at Westin La Paloma Resort the following weekend. 1288 W. River Rd., 520-292-6900, tucsonchinese.org
Driving Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes (109 miles)
Fees: $2 adults, $1 kids 6-12 (5 and under free); Westin dinner $150 per person
Kids: Take ‘em

DID YOU KNOW?
Money inside this holiday’s red envelopes, or hongbao, should be an even amount – unless you want your thoughtful gift associated with funerals and death.

Taste-Test Arizona Wines
Oro Valley
The desert seems an unlikely place for grapevines to thrive, but the volcanic soils and temperate climate of some Arizona regions mimic the Mediterranean growing conditions of regions like Rhône and Valencia. Twenty Arizona-based winemakers including Flying Leap, Kief-Joshua Vineyards and filmmaker Sam Pillsbury’s Cochise County winery sampled their Cabernets and Chardonnay at last year’s Off the Vine Arizona Wine Festival, located at the historic 1800s Steam Pump Ranch in Oro Valley. Sponsored by the Arizona Wine Growers Association, the event also features live music and vendors hawking vino-related wares. Saturday, Feb. 20. See arizonawine.org for details.
Driving Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes (110 miles)
Fees: $20-$25 (includes 7 tasting tickets)
Kids: Leave ‘em

DID YOU KNOW?
All 50 U.S. states have at least one winery. In Arizona alone, there are 83 licensed wineries with more than 900 acres under vine.

Fireworks on the Water
Lake Havasu City
While lovers are off indulging sparks of another kind this Valentine’s Day, Lake Havasu will be aglow with nighttime fireworks at the 27th Annual Western Winter Blast Pyrotechnics Show, February 11-14. It’s basically the President’s Day version of a July 4th celebration, minus the waving flags and potato salad spoiling in the summer sun. Besides the hour-long displays, look for live bands, kids’ activities including a bouncy house and more adult-friendly activities in the beer and wine garden on the ball field at SARA Park. 1799 Sara Pkwy., Lake Havasu City, 928-453-3444, westernpyro.org
Driving Time: 3 hours (188 miles)
Fees: $5 per vehicle; Ball Field Pyro Party $3 adults, $2 kids 6-12 (5 and under free); RV Parking $150
Kids:  Take ‘em
Pro Tip: Load up the ol’ Family Truckster and park it at the Lake Havasu City Rodeo Grounds for a prime viewing spot and perks like a free concert and $10 cowboy barbecue dinner on Saturday night.

 

MARCH

photo by Madison Kirkman; Camping at Burro Creek Campground in WikieupSpend the Night in a Dr. Seuss Forest
Wikieup
One could argue that U2’s fifth studio album put the Joshua tree on the map. But in Arizona, the tall spiky plant that looks like one of Dr. Seuss’ forgotten monsters is a regular sight along the 54-mile stretch of scenic highway from Wickenburg to Wikieup. Pitch a tent at the Burro Creek Recreation Site, about 60 miles northwest of Wickenburg off Highway 93, for views of saguaro-studded hills and patches of Joshua trees visible from the site’s 1,960-foot elevation. Visit blm.gov for info.
Driving Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes (124 miles)
Fees: $14 per night
Kids: Take ‘em

Learn to Grow Food on Mars
Oracle
A quarter century before actor Matt Damon took his star turn as a stranded astronaut in The Martian, researchers at Biosphere 2 were testing ways to grow food on a strange planet – no rocket fuel required. With staff infighting and oxygen shortages, the 1991 experiment turned out more like comedian Pauly Shore’s Bio-Dome. Now a University of Arizona facility with seven ecosystems and daily public tours, Biosphere 2 recently added programs from fall to spring with topics that change monthly – starting with space exploration and the idea of colonizing Mars. 32540 S. Biosphere Rd., Oracle, 520-838-6200, biosphere2.org
Driving Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes (111 miles)
Fees: $20 adults, $18 military, $13 kids 6-12, U of A students and faculty $10
Kids: Take ‘em
Pro Tip: Don’t expect Lexus-level climate control. Though humidity and air flow are somewhat regulated in the domes, winter visits can be chilly, especially in the morning.

Paddle Race and Wine Festival
Camp Verde
Kayaks are designed to be faster and more streamlined than canoes, yet in the right hands the latter can outpace its city-slicker cousin. Both lightweight boats battle it out at Camp Verde’s annual Verde River Runoff, a 10-mile race from White Bridge to Beasley Flats. Spectators and paddle-weary racers can refresh with nutty snacks and local libations at the Spring Heritage Pecan & Wine Festival held in conjunction with the race, March 19-20 at Fort Verde State Historic Park. 125 E. Hollamon St., Camp Verde, vrvno.org.
Driving Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes (91 miles)
Fees: $50 entry fee; park fees (for festival) $5 adults, $2 kids 7-13, 6 and under free
Kids: Leave ‘em
Pro Tip: Though there’s little danger of freezing or being swept away by the currents here, carry a blow-up paddle float that’ll help you bob back up like a cork in wine.

Play B&B Roulette
Arizona offers no shortage of cozy cottages and funky, eclectic bed-and-breakfasts. Spin the roulette on your next trip with one of these three unusual overnight venues.

Baya and Paul Meehan’s Shash Diné & Eco-Retreat (Hwy 89, Indian Rte 6211, Page, 928-640-3701, shashdine.com) is the Native American version of “glamping,” with comfy Bell tents and a warmer winter Hogan setup on their family ranch. Wear closed-toe shoes and be prepared to experience doomsday-prepper basics, because there are no flush toilets or stoves here – though Hogan-dwellers score a solar shower.

Once a brothel, the Red Garter Inn (137 W. Railroad Ave., Williams, 928-635-1484, redgarter.com) sports a “staircase to heaven” that leads to four guest rooms rumored to be haunted by a former lady of the evening.   

Available for $200 a night on airbnb.com, Tucson’s funky Mollohan Castle looks more like a fantasy movie set than a private home, but it’s the perfect proposal site for Renaissance festival junkies.

 

APRIL

photos by Brian Goddard; Alcantara Vinyards on the Water to Wine tour“Will Paddle for Wine”
Cottonwood
Drinking and driving any sort of vehicle is a no-no, but downing a glass of vino after paddling can help relax sore muscles. Sedona Adventure Tours’ Water to Wine experience is a one-hour tour down the Verde River, ending with a tasting at the 13,000-vine Alcantara Vineyards. Both activities require no previous experience, so first-time kayakers and wine novices needn’t be afraid – seasoned guides and sommeliers are happy to pass their knowledge to the next generation of water and wine lovers. 3445 S. Grapevine Way, Cottonwood, 877-673-3661, sedonaadventuretours.com
Driving Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes (94 miles)
Fees: $97.25 (includes $20 wine credit)
Kids: Leave ‘em
Pro Tip: Don't chance a drive on the I-17 after your wine paddle; instead, book a room at The Iron Horse Inn (1034 N. Main  St., 928-634-8031, ironhorseoldtown.com), a tastefully reclaimed one-time motor court in Old Town.

Do Some Intro Rock Climbing
Pine
Not surprising that a canyon named Isolation is difficult to find. With more than 150 documented climbing routes from 50 to 350 feet and year-round access, Isolation Canyon's quartzite walls are a moderate but worthy challenge. To get there, head south from Pine past Bradshaw Drive to Pine Trailhead. The climber’s trailhead is located along Arizona Trail near the ranch. Check hikearizona.com for details.
Driving Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes (273 miles)
Fees: Free
Kids: Leave ‘em

DID YOU KNOW? Isolation's steep and colorful algae-covered walls are featured in a popular guidebook by Manuel Rangel titled Isolation Canyon Climbing Guide: Narrows of Pine Creek.

photo by Desert Solitair/Adobe Stock images; the town of BisbeeCatch Up with Bisbee
Bisbee is a small town with a big reputation. In the early 1900s, it was a bustling burg of 25,000 residents (consider that Phoenix’s population was a mere 11,000) and some 50 saloons and brothels. Today, the Cochise County outpost is a hotbed of eclectic shops and paranormal activities, and a popular tourist destination. Here’s what’s new around town:

Restaurant industry vets James and Amanda Gibson opened Beast Brewing Company (1326 AZ-92, Ste. 8, 520-284-5251, beastbrewingcompany.com) in March 2014, tapping craft brews like Sexy Beast Stout, made with organic Timor coffee, and 7.5 percent ABV Beast Ale.

Bookshelves and blown-up photos of Old Bisbee decorate the walls of Tavolo (2 Copper Queen Plaza, 520-432-6788), an artisanal pizzeria with a laid-back coffeehouse vibe.

The recently opened Bisbee Craft School introduced one- to three-day workshops for locals and tourists in January 2016, with subjects ranging from the traditional – painting and sculpture – to the really traditional: basket-weaving and metalsmithing. Visit bisbeecraftschool.org.

Stop and Smell the Roses
Tombstone
Legend has it that a homesick Scottish lass received a cutting from a white Lady Banksias Rose bush that she planted with a friend at a nearby Tombstone inn. The bush grew to span more than 8,000 square feet, eventually holding the Guinness World Record as the world’s largest rose tree. Tombstone takes its blooms seriously, celebrating the fragrant centerpiece with a floral parade and Tombstone Rose Tree Festival April 8-10, 2016. Performers include folklórico dancers and the Nogales Arizona Mariachi Apache Band. 520-457-3326, tombstone.org
Driving Time: 2 hours, 49 minutes (184 miles)
Fees: Free
Kids: Take ‘em
Pro Tip: Take home the romance of the Wild West with a cutting from Tombstone’s famed flower tree, available at the Rose Tree Museum (formerly the Rose Tree Inn).


MAY

photo by Brenna Zumbro; Wildflower hunting in FlagstaffWildflower Hunt
Flagstaff
Lingering frosts mean later blooming times in Northern Arizona, with the San Francisco Mountains around Flagstaff erupting into color from May to around September. The area boasts several photo-ready meadows and hills including Lockett Meadow (Lockett Meadow Road typically reopens in mid-May) and Slate Mountain. Leading north with an elevation gain of about 850 feet, Slate Mountain Trail #128 (pictured) is home to swatches of cornflower blue flax. Signposts along the hike make the hunt easier by identifying local foliage. Check fs.usda.gov for trail info.
Driving Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes (154 miles)
Fees: Free
Kids: Take ‘em

DID YOU KNOW? Slate Mountain is a misnomer, as the peak is largely made of a viscous lava rock called rhyolite. Good thing “Rhyolite Mountain” doesn’t have the same panache, or the feature might’ve been renamed. 

Romancing at the Canyon
The Grand Canyon
Recently renovated to include upgraded rooms and a full-service tavern, Yavapai Lodge at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim is no longer just a family respite. Explore wilderness romance with awe-inspiring sherbet sunsets at Mather Point, set up a humorous photo with your sweetie “kissing” the Duck on a Rock landscape feature along Desert View Drive, or warm up by the wood-burning fire in the lodge anytime night or day. 11 Yavapai Lodge Rd., Grand Canyon Village, 928-638-4001, visitgrandcanyon.com.
Driving Time: 3 hours, 28 minutes (228 miles)
Fees: $119-$183 per night spring rates; park pass $30 per car
Kids: Take ‘em or leave ‘em
Pro Tip: Pack a Thermos of spiked hot chocolate and take a shuttle to the secluded Hermit’s Rest lookout after dark for prime stargazing with frequent shooting stars.

Love a Fair
Cottonwood
There are no fancy-schmancy computer graphics or console games at the Verde Valley Fair – just old-fashioned showmanship and participation in categories from poultry farming to roping, horticulture and ceramics. Look for plenty of carnival rides and fattening festival foods from April 27-May 1, 2016. The main attraction is seeing kids with the kind of skills that would prove useful in most post-apocalyptic Mad Max scenarios. 800 E. Cherry St., 928-634-3290, vvfair.com.
Driving Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes (103 miles)
Fees: Admission $8 adults, $5 seniors, $6 children 6-12; additional fees for rides
Kids: Take ‘em

DID YOU KNOW? Costco’s beef section has nothing on the prizewinning steers here, some of which have sold for more than $6,000 and yielded 700-plus pounds of meat.

View Native Animals
Window Rock
Founded when a single black bear was donated to the Navajo Nation in the ‘60s, Navajo Nation Zoological and Botanical Park – the nation’s only tribally-owned zoo – now houses more than 50 species of reptiles, mammals and amphibians. Stop by the 9-acre park May 2 for its annual ZooFest, an educational event featuring wildlife talks, live entertainment and a children’s play area. 928-871-6574, navajozoo.org
Driving Time: 4 hours, 38 minutes (285 miles)
Fees: Free
Kids: Take ‘em
Pro Tip: Tribe members can legally take naturally shed feathers from protected birds. At ZooFest 2015, then-Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly approved funding for a new 4,000-square-foot aviary for golden eagles.

OVERNIGHT OPTION! The near-five-hour drive to Window Rock means you will be spending the night. Why not camp at Spider Rock near spectacular Canyon De Chelly? 928-674-8261

 

JUNE
Jazz Concert at Arcosanti
Mayer
What better way to celebrate the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation’s signing in 1865 than with a musical style born out of African-American communities a generation later? The Prescott Jazz Society’s annual Juneteenth Jazz Festival at Arcosanti includes two days of All-American jazz, blues, and gospel music, with past acts including IMPACT Trio fusion jazz and pianist Billy Mitchell. Also look for African drumming and dancing and a cabaret show, plus Cajun and barbecue food. Date TBD. 13555 S. Cross L Rd., Mayer, 928-237-7908, pjazz.org
Driving Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes (66 miles)
Fees: $10 per day, free for teens
Kids: Good for teens

DID YOU KNOW? Architect and artist Paolo Soleri purchased the land for his experimental community in 1956. He celebrated his 90th birthday there in 2009 with a giant bash that included a dance party and community meal.

OVERNIGHT OPTION! The Arcosanti area isn't exactly teeming with hotel options, but here's a fun one: Creekside Preserve Lodge & Cabins, a B&B with private units overlooking Big Bug Creek, including one with a jacuzzi. 11255 S. Hwy. 69, Mayer, 928-632-0777, creeksidepreserve.com

EXTREME SPORTS SPECIAL - All-Night Bike Ride
Prescott
Imagine taking sharp curves and steep mountain climbs on a mountain bike – all at night, without a rest. GO! Adventure Recreation’s annual 12 Hours at Night Bike Ride is just that: an all-night run from 8 p.m.-8 a.m. with racers traveling as many laps on single- and wide-track stretches as humanly possible. Thankfully, participants don’t have to go solo. Teams of two can pass the baton to allow for rest along the arduous route. Visit 12hoursatnight.com to register.
Driving Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes (99 miles)
Fees: Registration $60-$165; free to spectators
Kids: Leave ‘em
Pro Tip: The ride is mapped out in chalk about a week in advance; head up to Prescott a few days early to get a leg up.

photo by Jim David; Paddleboard Yoga on Lake Pleasant
Do Downward-Facing Dog... on a Paddleboard

Lake Pleasant
Stand-up paddleboard yoga, or SUP yoga, as insiders call it, is exactly what it sounds like: pretzel-like poses and asana (postures) practiced on a 10- to 12-foot-long water board. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, but the practice can be daunting, especially on the 70-foot-deep open waters of Lake Pleasant. Several companies offer SUP Yoga classes at the lake including Waterplay USA (waterplayusa.com), whose 2-hour, instructor-led course is relatively inexpensive and easy to book online.
Driving Time: 55 minutes (43.5 miles)
Fees: $48.65 and up
Kids: Leave ‘em
Pro Tip: Most first-timers fall in. While you’ll likely have a life jacket, wear a headband (the oh-so-chic ‘80s sweatband type) to stop lake water – or tears of frustration – from streaming into your eyes.

Other Paddleboard Resources
Desert Lotus Paddleboard
Serene poses on the water led by Jennifer Marks. 623-826-6927, desertlotuspaddleboardyoga.com

No Snow Paddleboard
Paddleboard rentals and sales. Based in Mesa. 480-807-6786, nosnowsup.com

Desert Paddleboards
Rentals range from $15 - $20 per half day. 480-201-9520, desertpaddleboards.com

Art-Colony Film Fest
Jerome
The weekend-long Jerome Indie Music & Film Festival is no Sundance – and that’s a good thing. Look for screenings of small-budget horror, comedy, animated flicks and more, but with a twist worthy of its ghost town surroundings. The fest’s signature event is Wicked Wild West Cinema Train, a rollicking ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad where filmmaker Q&A sessions, film screenings and live musical performances take place simultaneously in separate train cars – the latter aboard an outdoor car with a platform stage. June 9-12. See jeromefilmfestival.com for updates.
Driving Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes (111 miles)
Fees: Vary
Kids: Leave ‘em, unless they’re budding Tarantinos
Pro Tip: Event founder and former Jerome art gallery owner Toni Ross is always scouting for killer locations. This year, look for a secret venue revealed after a kayak trek.July

DID YOU KNOW? Once known as the "wickedest town in the West," Jerome now hosts a monthly First Saturday Art Walk, in which the town's 30-odd galleries stay open until 8 p.m. jeromeartwalk.com

 

JULY
Beverage Diversity Tour

Prescott
The lone Arizona city with a winery, brewery, distillery and mead-making facility, Prescott can rightly be called the land of adult-beverage opportunity. Explore the town with this tasting room checklist.

1. Begin the whetting of your palate at Prescott Brewing Co. (130 W. Gurley St., Ste. A, 928-771-2795, prescottbrewingcompany.com), a classic Arizona craft brewery.

2. Scoot next door to Superstition Meadery (120 W. Gurley St., 928- 458-4256, superstitionmeadery.com), a charming basement set-up where visitors learn the vagaries of making alcohol from honey while scoring a flight of 12 tastings of hard cider or honey wine for $24.  

3. Lunch time. Prescott’s growing food scene includes an LGO-style lunch and brunch spot called The Local (520 W. Sheldon St., 928-237-4724) and an upscale diner and seafood house called Bill’s Grill (333 S. Montezuma St., 928-237-9138, billsgrillprescott.com) that sports a nice craft brew list and the town’s best fish and chips.

4. Move up to the hard stuff at Thumb Butte Distillery (400 N. Washington Ave., 928-443-8498, thumbbuttedistillery.com), the first legal distillery in Prescott since Prohibition. Run by a groovy pair of California transplants named Dana and Jim, the distillery scored a silver medal at the 2015 L.A. International Spirits Competition for its mellow Western Sage Gin. The whiskeys are marvelous, too.

5. All that’s left is the vino. Tip back a glass of One-Fifty white at the newly opened Prescott Winery (216 N. Alarcon St., 928-350-8467, prescottwinery.com), just two blocks from Whiskey Row. Set in a stylish and snug converted home, the tasting room pours wines sourced strictly from Arizona vineyards.

Bonus: End your tour with the new kid on the Prescott block: Black Hole Beer Company (1590 Swenson St., 928-237-9029, blackholebeercompany.com). The stouts are quite pleasing, and so is the food – high-concept pub cuisine like a deconstructed banh mi pizza with cilantro, carrot shears and seasoned pork loin. And to top it all off: cornhole courts.
Driving Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes (99 miles)
Fees: Vary
Kids: Leave ‘em. Most definitely leave ‘em.
Pro Tip: The old adage “Beer before liquor, never sicker” was proven wrong by Discovery Channel’s MythBusters; drink water to hydrate and pace out your quest for the best experience.

Prescott Tour Map

Shine a Light on Coronado Cave
Hereford
It’s easy to feel like Lara Croft or Indiana Jones when spelunking in the dark among the dripping stalactites and flowstones of Coronado Cave. There are no golden idols or crystal skulls here - we think - but the park's two-hour, ranger-led flashlight tour shines a light on a geological jigsaw of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, and limestone columns. 4101 E. Montezuma Canyon Rd., Hereford, 520-366-5515, nps.gov
Driving Time: 3 hours, 17 minutes (206 miles)
Fees: None
Kids: Good for teens

Editor’s Pick: Stay and Play in the White Mountains
Greer
More than 100 years of history are packed into Molly Butler Lodge, a rustic White Mountains getaway that opened in 1910. Think cruise ship meets quaint country cabin. Modern amenities include pool tables, widescreen HDTVs and three private lodge rooms with queen beds, plus an award-winning steakhouse that once dished out 25-cent meals to passing fishermen and hunters. Private cabin rentals are also available through the lodge, ranging from cozy one-bedroom log cabins to million-dollar vacation homes with views of the sweeping, pine-covered hills. 109 Main St., Greer, 928-735-7617, mollybutlerlodge.com
Driving Time: 4 hours, 6 minutes (227 miles)
Fees: Lodge rooms $55-$95 per night; cabin rates vary
Kids: Bring ‘em
Pro Tip: Molly Butler’s prime rib dish was inspired by a recipe in the White House Cookbook, a gift to Butler from President Herbert Hoover.

DID YOU KNOW? Nicknamed Geronimo’s Cave, Coronado (page 104) was rumored to be a hideout for Apache warriors in the 1800s. Arrowheads were later found in the 600-foot-long cave system, bolstering the legend.

Hunt for Salvaged Art
Tucson
One need only glance at the mural-studded El Rio Neighborhood Center or the colorful tilework near Alamo Wash to sense that Tucson is an artsy community. Painters and sculptors have an easy time scouting supplies at local art stores, while mixed-media artists and crafters revel in the bric-a-brac and discarded metal and wood treasures found at these three unexpected places:

Ignore the Talavera pottery and metal cacti sculptures and beeline for the yard sale finds tucked inside Ronny G’s Pottery and more (1811 S. Park Ave., 520-623-1899, ronnygs.com). They buy and sell often, so rusty cast iron hinges or fanciful wood medallions sometimes lurk among the rubble.

Every first and third Saturday, Tucson Iron & Metal (690 E. 36th St., 520-355-4876, tucsoniron.com) opens early for artists, with a 10 percent discount for students. Word to the wise: get your tetanus booster first.

Two acres of discarded fixtures for home improvement projects, Gerson’s Building Materials (4726 S. Country Club, 520-624-8585, gersonsbuildingmaterials.com) often hides windowpanes, scrap wood and antique panels that are an artist’s dream.   
   

AUGUST

photo by Brenna Zumbro; Lobster mushroom foraging in FlagstaffForage for Monsoon Mushrooms
Flagstaff/Sedona
Executive chef/co-owner Brian Konefal of Flagstaff’s  Coppa Café (1300 S. Milton Rd., 928-637-6813, coppacafe.net) knows where to find fresh ingredients on the cheap. An avid forager, he incorporates herbs, mushrooms and fruits picked from nearby hills and abandoned homesteads in dishes such as pasta porcini and “mushrooms with beef in pasture” – the latter featuring clover and alfalfa like the kind used for grazing. Konefal offers these tips for fledgling foragers:

1) Don’t get poisoned: Buy a field guide (with photos) so you don’t accidentally confuse edible amanitas with their poisonous skullcap cousins. Try Kent and Vera McKnight’s Field Guide to Mushrooms: North America.

2) Timing is key: Hike the hills a few days after a heavy monsoon to find the most abundant selection.

3) Where to look: Go up to 8,000 feet for the best variety. In town, Mars Hill has easy-reach lobster mushrooms, known for their vivid orange pigmentation. Chanterelle mushrooms can be found at lower elevations.

Other Foragable Fancies
Chef Rochelle Daniel of Cress on Oak Creek (301 L’Auberge Ln., Sedona, 928-399-7002, lauberge.com) is such a passionate advocate of foraging, she named her restaurant at L’Auberge de Sedona after the leafy mustards she likes to pluck out of the ground near the resort. Her favorites for Sedona foraging:
Elderflower. Musky and aromatic, the white, ethereal blossoms of the elderberry bush are abundant in the summer. Coppa’s Konefal says he has “mason jars” of the stuff, great for desserts or homemade cordials.

Wild berries. Oak Creek teems with wild blackberries from July to September. Use them for pancake toppings.

Wood sorel. Also called sourgrass; a sour and lemony herb recognized by its heart-shaped, clover-like leaves. Great on fish or wild game.

Wild watercress. “You can find it up and down Oak Creek Canyon” just outside the resort, Daniel says. But leave some for the chef – she’s got dinner to make.

Epic Views... and Music to Match
The Grand Canyon
Musicians Robert Bonfiglio and Clare Hoffman trekked to the Grand Canyon in 1982 with flute and harmonica in hand, playing an impromptu concert for local ranchers. Their tunes inspired locals to found the Grand Canyon Music Festival one year later. Today, the homegrown event is an annual nine-concert series taking place over three weeks. Expect mainly classical with a smattering of jazz; last year’s guests included classical quartet Zone B, Sweet Plantain and The Bonfiglio Group. Check grandcanyonmusicfest.org for info
Driving Time: 3 hours, 27 minutes (224 miles)
Fees: Vary; concerts average $15
Kids: Leave ‘em

DID YOU KNOW? Despite its potential for echoing, sound levels measure less than 20 decibels in some remote trails of Grand Canyon National Park – softer than the sound of blowing leaves.

Heat-Beating Swimmin’ Hole
Clear Creek
Because of its rural location about 45 miles from Winslow, East Clear Creek is the kind of spot casual tourists avoid. Kinder Crossing Trail #19 off Highway 87 near Happy Jack offers a three-quarter-mile hike to the creek, ending in excellent spots for fly-fishing and wading. Looking for a deeper experience? Nearby McHood Park off Highway 99 has a lake that’s large enough to accommodate personal watercraft. Visit fs.usda.gov.
Driving Time: 2 hours, 52 minutes (140 miles)
Fees: None
Kids: Take ‘em
Pro Tip: Experienced climbers have traversed its craggy sandstone walls for deep water soloing in which climbers rely on water to break any falls, but be warned: East Clear Creek Reservoir is as shallow as four feet in some sections, making it a better family swimming hole than a rock climber’s paradise.

Post-Monsoon Waterfall
Grand Falls
Often muddy enough to look like a churning river of milk chocolate, Grand Falls is ready for its close-up after a good monsoon rain. At 185 feet it’s actually taller than Niagara Falls, but manages to stay a relative secret from gawking tourists thanks to its remote location on Navajo Nation land about 45 miles northeast of Flagstaff. A permit is required to visit, and both access roads (6910 and 70) are so rocky that having a 4x4 (and a strong stomach) is a must. Details at navajonationparks.org.
Driving Time: 3 hours, 14 minutes (184 miles)
Fees: Backcountry permit $5 per person
Kids: Take ‘em

DID YOU KNOW? Grand Falls was a “happy accident.” The breathtaking feature formed around 20,000 years ago when a lava vent exploded and flows dammed the Little Colorado River.

 

SEPTEMBER

photos by Brenna Zumbro; Prescott Pow-WowArizona’s Best Pow-Wow
Prescott
In the same way that once-educational cable TV channels have devolved into reality TV pushers, many pow-wows have become more about competition and entertainment than they are about socializing. The intertribal Prescott Pow-Wow gets back to basics with grass and hoop dancing, chanting, basketry and other traditional arts. Most performances are limited to tribe members, but visiting drummers are invited to compete in a hand-drum contest to beat the best. 928-499-5907, prescottpowwow.org
Driving Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes (103 miles)
Fees: Free admission
Kids: Take ‘em
Pro Tip: During a blanket dance, the tapestry isn’t just soliciting “oohs” and “aahs.” Tips are collected for the drummers or dancers being honored with the performance.

High-Country Off-Roading
St. Johns
Arizona is a great place for off-road junkies, with a multitude of publicly accessible desert trails and remote hills in easy driving distance of any major city. The old dogs of Apache County ATV Club add an extra boost of adrenaline to the mix each year with their Outlaw Trail Jamboree, held in conjunction with festival events like an ice cream social, Wild West shootout and fireworks at nearby Eagar-Springerville Event Center. Strap in, helmet up and head down marked trails like the Robber’s Roost or Harris Cave Hideout and be surprised by masked robbers re-enacting famous outlaw adventures. 7 S. Hwy. 180, apachecountyatv.org
Driving Time: 3 hours, 51 minutes (226 miles)
Fees: Vary; trail rides, ATV Expo and closing fireworks are free.
Kids: Take older ones

DID YOU KNOW? One of Arizona’s most infamous stagecoach robbers was “Red Jack” Almer, who once held up a Wells Fargo carriage disguised as a woman. Red Jack met his end in a gunfight with the local sheriff near Willcox, Ariz., in 1883.

Revel in the Ruins
Clarkdale
Once home to Native American settlers who migrated to follow seasonal game, Perry Mesa in the Agua Fria National Monument houses several remnants of ancient homes. (Caveat: Roads in Perry Mesa and the Agua Fria National Monument are notoriously rough and precipitous, and getting to the ancient sites requires some back-road driving and desert hiking.) Traveling north from Phoenix on the I-17, take the Bloody Basin Rd. exit to peep the petroglyphs of Baby Canyon and Squaw Creek Ruin, plus the remnants of a 150-room dwelling at Pueblo Pato, so named for the quaint duck image that tags alongside its deer and human companions. Head north to Sycamore Canyon near Clarkdale to find one of the most intact cliff dwellings in the area; it’s a bit off the beaten path – literally – but it offers the same awe-inspiring sights as Montezuma’s Castle minus the annoying tourists. Visit blm.gov for ruin locations.
Driving Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes (77 miles)
Fees: None
Kids: Good for adventurous teens only

Best Fall Hike
Rainbow Valley
Robert Frost might’ve appreciated the challenging Quartz Peak Trail in the Sierra Estrella Wilderness simply because it’s the path less traveled. Access roads are rutted and sandy, so a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. The narrow 3-mile-long trek winds its way up steep embankments riddled with logs and debris, ending just shy of the rocky crop of white rock that marks the summit. It’s a tough climb from the end of the path up rocky boulders to the top of the peak – which is why so few attempt this hike – but the photo-worthy desert views found there are worth it for seasoned hikers. Visit blm.gov for directions.  
Driving Time: 40 minutes (22 miles)
Fees: None
Kids: Leave ‘em


OCTOBER

photo by Brian Goddard; Golfing at Las Palomas in Rocky PointAcross-the-Border Draft Party
Rocky Point
It’s the fall, which for NFL fanatics means one thing: fantasy football draft. Why not use the opportunity to schedule a group trip at “Arizona’s beach”? After all, there’s plenty more to do once everyone has drafted their kicker.
Driving time: 3 hours, 39 minutes (212 miles)
Fees: Vary
Kids: Leave ‘em this time.

Golf. Steal a first-round-caliber running back at pick 30? Celebrate by hitting The Links at Las Palomas Beach and Golf Resort (866-360-2324, laspalomasresort.net) on Rock Point’s tony west side, with an 18-hole championship course designed by Forrest Richards and Arthur Jack Snyder, and captivating views overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Cool off afterward with a splash on the beach. Two-bedroom suites start at $600/night.

Food. Make the winner foot the bill at Citron, the Latin fine-dining resto at the AAA Four-Diamond Las Palomas. Highlights include an aggressively-seasoned grilled rib-eye with a rich papaya cream sauce. For a more quintessential RP bite, check out El Malecon downtown, with a patio that hangs over the water and a menu of soulful Baja standards.

Fish. From Cholla Bay, fishing boats can be chartered for a full day, complete with fishing gear, bait and crew for about $900. After a short 30 minute cruise from port, you’ll be casting for rockfish, trigger fish and croaker so abundant, it’s like shooting fish in a you-know-what. Take home the triggers to make a first-rate ceviche, or cruise out another hour or so to find bigger, more bait-selective flounder. Visit rockypoint-mexico.com for a list of charter services.

Party boat. Every evening around dusk, Del Mar Charters (delmarcharters.com) invites two dozen or so RP visitors aboard its 42-foot catamaran and proceeds to hydrate them vigorously. Fine ocean views and a fun-loving staff ensure those bottomless Cokes and margaritas don’t go to waste. ($30 adults/$20 children)

Tomb Sweet Tomb
Prescott
The final resting place of many an early pioneer, Citizens Cemetery was the town’s first official burial ground. It was closed in 1933, but once a year – around Halloween, naturally – the gates are thrown open for a guided tour hosted by the Yavapai Cemetery Association. Guides are dressed in period attire, but don’t worry; these ghostly hosts are still among the living. Meet locals such as John Miller, murdered over a 75-cent debt, and three-time widow Ellen Dunn Urfer McCarron Cronin, whose first two spouses were suspicious suicides. See prescott.org for info.
Driving Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes (99 miles)
Fees: $10 adults, $5 children, $15 couple
Kids: Take older ones, if they’re not easily frightened
Pro Tip: The nearby Smoki Museum hosts a dinner among the dead in October, with guests feasting on a fall meal among the tombs of Prescott’s earliest citizens (smokimuseum.org).

Editor’s Pick: Best Fall Drive
Southern Wine Country
Starting from Nogales and heading north on SR-82, the Patagonia-Sonoita Scenic Byway passes near the vineyards of Sonoita, allowing time for a stop-and-sip before heading to Vail. Make a pit stop to admire the birds and flora of Patagonia Lake State Park before filling up your car and your stomach in the adobe-lined artist town of Patagonia. Continue along SR-82, diverting down SR-83 to Elgin Road to check out local winemakerss Kief-Joshua and Callaghan Vineyards’ tasting rooms, before continuing up 82 to the rugged vistas of the Patagonia and Santa Rita Mountains.
Driving Time: 1 hour (52 miles)
Fees: None
Kids: Leave ‘em
Pro Tip: If you have a little extra time, check out the well-regarded whites and reds of the region’s newest winery, Rune (3969 Hwy 82, Sonoita, 520-338-8823), which uses a vintage Airstream trailer as a tasting room.  

Jet Ski Festival
Lake Havasu City
There’s a fine line between recreation and sport. Though most people imagine Hawaiian vacations or family fun on the lake when they think of jet skis, personal watercraft racing is an internationally sanctioned sport – a hopeful Olympic sport, along with wakeboarding and netball. Until jet skis get their place at the Summer Games, wave-running athletes have to content themselves with nabbing a slot in the annual ISJBA World Finals, a weeklong competition held in Lake Havasu City on October 1-9, 2016. More than 750 entrants representing 70 countries took to its shores last year. In addition to daily races, the event includes a lakeside festival, parade of nations and award ceremony. 1040 N. Lake Havasu Ave., 714-751-8695, ijsba.com
Driving Time: 3 hours, 21 minutes (195 miles)
Fees: Free to spectators; $15-$20 average daily parking fees
Kids: Take ‘em

DID YOU KNOW? The longest recorded personal watercraft trip was a crazy 95-day, 10,729-mile west coast trek undertaken by the late Adriaan Marais and Marinus du Plessis in 2006.


NOVEMBER
Visit an Outdoor Museum
Tucson
Ranked by Trip Advisor as one of the Top 10 Museums in America, Tucson’s Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is more of a scenic garden safari than the typical indoor stroll through decaying dinosaur bones or stuffed animal carcasses. The biggest difference? The critters here are alive. Some 230 species live on the 98-acre preserve, which includes a hummingbird aviary and an aquarium with a touch-tank. 2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson, 520-883-1380, desertmuseum.org
Driving Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes (112 miles)
Fees: $19.50 adults, $17.50 seniors, $15.50 children 13-17, $8 children 3-12, 2 and under free
Kids: Take ‘em
Pro Tip: Be on the lookout for newborns introduced as part of the American Zoological Society’s Sustainable Species Program. Last spring welcomed the addition of a bear cub and Bighorn lamb.

photo by Brian Goddard; Sonoran Desert Museum in TucsonOVERNIGHT OPTON! Located in the heart of downtown Tucson's bustling restaurant and arts scene, the Big Blue House is that rarest of commodities: a quaint urban B&B. 144 E. University Blvd., Tucson, 520-891-1827, 144university.com 

Ride the Rio de Cerveza
Yuma
If there was an actual river of beer, adults would likely fall in like Augustus Gloop to the river of fudge in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Yuma’s Rio de Cerveza Brew Fest is the next best thing, offering sudsy samples from 25 breweries such as Lagunitas, Coachella and home-state favorite Four Peaks on November 5, 2016. The Southwest-centric beer fest also features grub and live entertainment, with colorful rock tribute band 80s and Gentleman headlining the last two years running. Peep riodecerveza.com for details.
Driving Time: 2 hours, 51 minutes (185 miles)
Fees: $25 and up
Kids: Leave ‘em

DID YOU KNOW? Opened in 2014, Prison Hill Brewing Company is Yuma’s first microbrewery. The eatery’s name honors the town’s infamous Territorial Prison, which housed more than 3,000 inmates before closing in 1909.

Get Your Dose of Bluegrass
Wickenburg
One of the Southwest’s longest-running annual music events, Wickenburg’s 37th Annual Four Corner States Bluegrass Festival involves three days of eating, crafting, picking, strumming, and fiddlin’ around. Contests in 11 divisions are open to the public, with winners in the Open Fiddle, Mandolin, Flat Pick Guitar, and Banjo categories taking home cash prizes, champion status and bragging rights. November 11-13, 2016. 935 Constellation Rd., 928- 684-5479, wickenburgchamber.com
Driving Time: 1 hour, 19 minutes (65 miles)
Fees: $18 per day adults, $15 seniors, $10 children
Kids: Take ‘em if they play

DID YOU KNOW? The bolo tie, Arizona’s official state neckwear, was invented by Wickenburg resident Vic Cedarstaff in 1949. Bet your patootie there will be a few spotted at the fest.

Fall Arts Festival  
Tubac
An offshoot of Arizona’s longest running arts fest, Tubac’s Fall Arts & Crafts Festival (tubacaz.com) features 100 artists working in media from sculpture and painting to wood, leathercraft and glass. After checking out the crafts, turn your eyes to the sky at nearby Tumacácori National Historical Park on their full moon viewing nights. Once a month from September to April, the park opens its doors after dark during full moons and moonless nights. See Mission San José de Tumacácori church in a new light under la luna. November 4-6, 2016. 1891 E. Frontage Rd, Tumacacori, 520-377-5060, tubacpp.com
Driving Time: 2 hours, 21 minutes (161 miles)
Fees: $5 park fee
Kids: Take ‘em

DID YOU KNOW? The first state park in Arizona, Tumacácori houses three buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including a schoolhouse founded in 1885.

 

DECEMBER

photo by Brian Goddard; Winterhaven Festival of LightsChristmas Light Wonderland
Tucson
It’s been 67 years since developer CB Richards bought a set of Christmas lights and donated them to the Winterhaven community then-north of Tucson to start a holiday light festival. In the decades that followed, the cavalcade of cheer expanded to the point that the Winterhaven Festival of Lights was practically visible from space, while the neighborhood was engulfed by an expanding Tucson. Guests can walk through or book a hay wagon, trolley or pedal-powered bike to tour the display of luminaries, large-scale painted cutouts and twinkling LEDs. Check winterhavenfestival.org for details.
Driving Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes (115 miles)
Fees: Free admission; additional costs for vehicle transportation
Kids: Take ‘em
Pro Tip: The local food bank hands out maps in exchange for donations. They raised more than $18,000 and nearly 43,000 pounds of food during the 2014 fest.

Editor’s Pick: Girls’ Trip at the Ranch
Dragoon
Tight Wranglers and sparkly boots do not a cowgirl make. For the real deal, grab a few gal pals and get to the basics of saddling, barrel riding and riding at Triangle T Ranch’s Cowgirl Camp in Dragoon. The five-day intensive is mainly focused on horsemanship, but there are a few female-friendly luxuries such as dancing (to country tunes, natch), hot tubbing and optional massages to add glam to the Annie Oakley experience. It’s a bit longer than a weekend, but guests can opt to create their own shorter girls’ getaway. From Tucson, take exit 318 (Dragoon Road) off the I-10; follow Dragoon a quarter of a mile to the ranch. 520-586-7533, azretreatcenter.com
Driving Time: 2 hours, 38 minutes (178 miles)
Fees: $1,500 all-inclusive per person
Kids: Leave ‘em

DID YOU KNOW? Dragoon’s Butterfield Overland Mail Stage Station is said to be haunted by the ghosts of three men who were killed by laborers building the station; their graves are visible next to the ruins.

Ski the Darkness
Greer
With moguls barely visible and the likelihood of somersaults rivaling an Olympic gymnastics event, even some expert skiers balk at the idea of taking to the trails at night. For snow bunnies brave enough to hop down the piste after dark, Sunrise Park Resort in Greer offers ski nights throughout the winter season. The park traditionally stays open until 9 p.m. with limited trails such as Midway and Pinedale (and the Bunny Hill), and a torch light parade leading the way. Highway 273, 855-735-7669, sunriseskiparkaz.com
Driving Time: 4 hours, 12 minutes (222 miles)
Fees: Night-only rates are $38-$43 adults, $15-$29 seniors, $32-$25 children 13-17, $22-$28 12 & under
Kids: Take ‘em if they ski

DID YOU KNOW? The peak at Sunrise averages 250 inches of snowfall per year, the same as Sunlight Mountain Resort in Colorado.

photos Anna Luise, Adobe Stock images; London Bridge at Lake HavasuMeet the Queen
Lake Havasu City
Lake Havasu City already looks like a permanent Renaissance festival backdrop, with its Tudor-style English Village and famed London Bridge. Project Management students at the town’s Arizona State University satellite campus finally took the hint and inspired locals to found an annual London Bridge Renaissance Faire in 2015, beginning with a royal ball with the Queen herself on New Year’s Eve and continuing with the usual assortment of jugglers, jousting, Highland dancing and a tea party. See londonbridgerenfaire.com for info.
Driving Time: 3 hours (188 miles)
Fees: $10-$15 adult ($2 extra at the door), children 12 and under free; $44.95-$49.95 for Royal Ball
Kids: Take ‘em

DID YOU KNOW? Havasu’s London Bridge – purchased for $2,460,000 in 1968 and moved brick-by-brick – wasn’t the original. The first documented London Bridge was finished in the 13th century and later supported houses and shop buildings.

 

FAR-OUT ESCAPES
Willing to travel a little farther?
Accent your seasonal travel with these out-of-state adventures.

Spring:
The Art of Shopping in Costa Mesa, CA
Orange County’s artsiest inland city, Costa Mesa boasts the beautiful Segerstrom Center for the Arts (600 Town Center Dr., 714-556-2787, scfta.org), an architectural wonder whose campus includes a sculpture-rich arts plaza, the massive Segerstrom Hall,  two smaller theaters with cabaret-style seating, and the William J. Gillespie Concert Organ – a 30-ton musical marvel that stands 48 feet high and contains 4,322 pipes. Spring productions include the Broadway smash Wicked (through March 6), The Book of Mormon (March 22-April 3), and Newsies (May 17-29). Right across the street from SCFTA is South Coast Plaza (3333 Bristol St., 800-782-8888, southcoastplaza.com), an international shopping mecca flush with more than 250 stores spread over two floors and several street blocks. Here, shoppers can drop wads of cash everywhere from Armani Exchange and Chanel to the BMW Gallery and Porsche Design. Or they can eat their way around some of South Coast Plaza’s 40 restaurants, which include the classic French cuisine of Marché Moderne and Darya Fine Persian Cuisine.
Best Way to Get There: Take the 75-minute flight to the O.C.’s cozy John Wayne Airport. Compared to LAX, it’s Mayberry in a Zen garden.
Fees: Vary
Kids: Take or leave ‘em
Pro Tip: Situated walkably between Segerstrom Center for the Arts and South Coast Plaza, the Westin South Coast Plaza (686 Anton Blvd., 714-540-2500, westinsouthcoastplaza.com) provides the perfect place to stay.

Winter:
Run Hot and Cold in Wolf Creek, CO
With 430 inches of natural snowfall yearly and more than 70 trails on 1,600 skiable acres, Wolf Creek is an obvious hotspot for novice to expert skiers and snowboarders. Thing is, not everyone’s caught onto the resort’s magic. It remains cheaper and less crowded than glitzier Breckenridge and Vail, lending it the reputation as a serious skiers’ non-resort. Beginners should stick to the new Raven chairlift and green circle trails like Bunny Hop and Turnpike, while experienced skiers love the groomed blues and heavy moguls of Glory Hole. US-160, Pagosa Springs, 970-264-5639, wolfcreekski.com
Best Way to Get There: Drive. The trip is roughly 8 hours. (515 miles)
Fees: Full-day lift tickets $65 adults, $36 seniors, $34 children 6-12
Kids: Leave ‘em
Pro Tip: Suffering from post-ski fatigue? Soothe sore muscles with a dip in the nearby Pagosa hot springs on the San Juan River (pagosahotsprings.com).

Summer:

photo by Wiz Works Photo/Adobe Stock imagesFamily Fun in Bear Lake, UT
Utah’s Bear Lake is often compared to the Caribbean. While you won’t find reggae music or coconuts, the lake’s gorgeous turquoise blue color (derived from its high calcium-carbonate content) mimics the pristine oceans of an island paradise. Summer recreation runs the family-friendly gamut from water skiing and wakeboarding to swimming on sandy shores and ATV cruising at nearby Hodges Canyon Trailhead. For summertime events, the Bear Lake Shake is an all-American fest with volleyball tournaments and a motorboat poker run, while Raspberry Days – one of Bear Lake’s signature events – includes a parade, rodeo and fireworks display. Visit utah.com/bear-lake-state-park or bearlake.org for tourism info.  
Best Way to Get There: Fly to Salt Lake; drive the other two hours (123 miles)
Fees: Vary by activity
Kids: Take ‘em
Pro Tip: Across the Idaho state line is Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge: 18,000 acres of cattail marsh that’s home to 161 bird species, moose and other game animals (www.fws.gov/bearlake).  

Fall:
Swim with Sharks in the Farallon Islands
Thanks to Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, the toothy predators are no longer the stuff of Jaws-inspired nightmares. Shark diving adventures in Hawaii and the Caribbean have become increasingly popular with tourists, but just 26 miles from San Francisco, visitors to the scenic Farallon Islands can have the experience of a lifetime diving alongside white sharks. Offered through Great White Adventures, the 12-hour tour departs from Emeryville, Calif. on the New Superfish diving boat. Up to four divers can get into the shark cage at once, making for an underwater party at feeding time as the whites feast on migrating elephant seals. Visit greatwhiteadventures.com or call 510-808-4499.
Best Way to Get There: Fly to SF; drive another 10 miles to Emeryville
Fees: $775 per person; $375 for topside observers (no dive)
Kids: Leave ‘em

DID YOU KNOW? Once a dumping ground for nearly 50,000 barrels of toxic nuclear waste, the Farallon Islands are now home to the largest seabird breeding colony in the contiguous U.S., plus birthing or resting grounds for five species of marine mammals.