Whether you’re a bachelor, breeder, gal-pal or retiree, peek inside this personalized guide to seasonal adventuring and find the perfect Arizona escape for you.

Summer Getaways

Written by Keridwen Cornelius Category: Travel Issue: June 2016
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These easy escapes are tyke-and-teen-tested, mom-and-dad-approved.

Go Pioneers!

Set off on the “Highway 60 Trail” to Sprucedale Guest Ranch in the town of Alpine near the New Mexico border, where the technology rations are bare bones but old-fashioned fun is abundant. Bond en famille milking cows, line dancing and learning the rodeo ropes. Horseback rides are divided by age, so while the little ’uns prance with ponies and the teens gallop and gossip, you’ll be savoring meadowy scenery in silence. Afternoons, your brood roams free-range, splashing in the creek or playing volleyball while you fish Big Lake or finally finish that book. 928-333-4984, sprucedaleranch.com

Rethink the Three Rs

Resort:Tucson’s JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort offers a constellation of family-friendly pursuits. Mornings, live the life aquatic on the water slide and lazy river. Middays, drop off the offspring at Rising Starr Kids Club and Blur Teen Lounge, then steal some R&R. After 3 p.m., youngsters 15 and under golf for free. 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd., 520-792-3500, marriott.com 

Rockets: Future Space Campers can construct model airplanes or blast off rockets at Pima Air & Space Museum’s Soarin’ Saturdays. On fourth Saturdays, munch astronaut ice cream while rubbernecking radio-controlled jets and Lego robots. 6000 E. Valencia Rd., Tucson, 520-574-0462, pimaair.org

Reptiles:The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is where the wild things are during Cool Summer Nights. Scope out the snakes and nocturnal critters, and learn about insects and ecosystems. Every Saturday until 10 p.m., 2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson, 520-883-2702, desertmuseum.org

Commemorate the Canyon

What’s the best way to say “Happy 100th birthday!” to the National Park Service at the Grand Canyon this summer?

A: Get your young scout sworn in as a Junior Ranger. To earn the brag-worthy badge, kids 4 to 14 must complete an activity booklet and attend a ranger-led program like the Family Adventure Hike. nps.gov/grca

B:  At Bright Angel Bicycles, rent cruisers for the parents, mini bikes for the bairns and Burley Cub trailers for bambinos. Then pedal the paved, rim-side Greenway Trail past eye candy land. 928-679-0992, bikegrandcanyon.com

C:Expand your clan’s cosmic horizons as amateur astronomers lead telescopic tours during the free Grand Canyon Star Party (June 4-11). The week’s special celestial guest? Saturn. nps.gov/grca

D:  All of the above.

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Day-Trips: Easy as A, B, C

A is for Adventure

Flagstaff Extreme Adventure is a gigantic jungle gym in the ponderosas. With separate courses for adults and kids age 7-plus, Tarzans, Janes and juniors can monkey through zip lines, rope bridges and “suspended surprises.” Fort Tuthill County Park, 888-259-0125, flagstaffextreme.com

is for Baby Goats

When life gets tough, what does everyone want to do? Look at baby animals and eat cheese and chocolate. Strawberry’s Ranch at Fossil Creek has you covered on all counts. Play with goats, pet or hike with llamas, and nosh on chèvre and fudge. 10379 W. Fossil Creek Rd., 928-476-5178, ranchatfossilcreek.com

C is for Cavern

Like Pleasantville, the weather in Kartchner Caverns is always high 72, low 72, not a cloud in the... cave. And it’s filled with things that make you go “cool!” Like 45,000-year-old bat guano. Reserve your tour in advance at azstateparks.com/Parks/KACA2980 Hwy. 90, Benson, 520-586-228 


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50 Ways to Woo Your Lover

1 seductive setting: Sedona 19cabins and1 massage gazebonestle onto the shady banks of Oak Creek at intimate Briar Patch Inn. In summer, a classical guitarist and violinist serenade you as you breakfast creekside on fresh quiche. 3190 N. Hwy. 89A, 888-809-3030, briarpatchinn.com 

13 creek crossings in 3 miles(each way) make the red-rocked West Fork of Oak Creek Trail an ideal place for romancing the stone. arizonahiking.blogspot.com

3 South American countries – Argentina, Chile and Uruguay – inspired Mariposa, a year-old Latin grill from beloved Sedona restaurateur Lisa Dahl of Dahl & DiLuca fame. Time your reservation to savor the paprika-and-saffron sunset. 700 W. Hwy. 89A, 928-862-4444, mariposasedona.com

6-plus celestial objects – including Saturn, galaxies and binary stars – will dazzle you on a cosmic experience with Sedona Star Gazing. 928-853-9778, eveningskytours.com

4 (thousand) feet above Sedona is the climax of a sunrise flight with Red Rock Balloons. 800-258-3754, redrockballoons.com


Taste Verde Valley Wine Country

The Cabernet and Chardonnay suites at The Vineyards B&B are characterized by romantic and refreshing undertones thanks to Tambrala and Bruce Shurman’s thoughtful touches and Page Springs’ lush terroir. 1350 N. Page Springs Rd., Page Springs, 928-300-4313, thevineyardsbandb.com

The leafy, herbal notes at Page Springs Cellarsmight come from its Grenache or the picturesque setting on tree-shaded Oak Creek. While you’re there, try a soupçon of creekside massage. 1500 N. Page Springs Rd., Cornville, 928-639-3004, pagespringscellars.com

AtUp the Creek Bistro, you’ll sense international fusion fare on the palate and piano music in the air. 1975 N. Page Springs Rd., Cornville, 928-634-9954, upthecreekaz.com

New Clarkdale winery
 Chateau Tumbleweed is drinking beautifully now, but we can’t wait to see how this two-couple team’s tasting room matures. Pair it with a visit to its parent venture, incubator Four Eight Wineworks, set in a historic bank. 1151 W. Hwy. 89A, Clarkdale, 928-634-0443, chateautumbleweed.com; 907 Main St., Clarkdale, 928-649-2007, four8wineworks.com

Tip: Let your guide do the driving while you do the drinking on a customizable private wine-tasting tour with Wine Tours of Sedona. 866-445-3732, winetoursofsedona.com


Cool Couples Escapes

 3 Flyaway Flings

This summer, Allegiant Air uncorks nonstops from Mesa Gateway to Sonoma wine country for as little as $37 one-way. Splurge at charming Cottage Inn & Spa (cottage-innandspa.com) or save at Sonoma Creek Inn (sonomacreekinn.com). Pedal past grapevines to tasting rooms with Sonoma Valley Bike Tours (sonomavalleybiketours.com), then feast on rustic French fare at The Girl + the Fig (thegirlandthefig.com).

Just south of L.A. basks bohemian Laguna Beach, where you can learn to surf the swells (lagunabeachsurfinglessons.com) and see paintings come alive at the Pageant of the Masters (foapom.com). Surrender your credit card at The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel (ritzcarlton.com), perched on a bluff 150 feet above the Pacific, then sip a sundowner and watch the sun set.

Play’s the thing at northeast Lake Tahoe, an easy drive from Reno’s airport. Kayak or sail the cerulean water, then hike or mountain bike in the forest fringe (tahoeadventurecompany.com). Pack a picnic and a bottle of wine and watch Shakespeare on the shore (laketahoeshakespeare.com). Après play, drop anchor at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe (laketahoe.hyatt.com).

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Girlfriend Getaways

Top 5 for Gal-Pals at Miraval

Soul sistas will find inner focus and outer fun at Tucson’s Miraval Resort & Spa, which offers a 15 percent discount to Arizona residents. 5000 E. Vía Estancia Miraval, 800-232-3969, miravalresorts.com

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An Unforgettable Canvas

A horse is your living canvas in this new experience inspired by Native American traditions. Paint your own “Starry Night” on a steed, then wash it off to remind you to live in the moment.


Quantum Leap 2 You and your BFF stand atop a 35-foot pole, “experience compromise, communication, trust and commitment,” then jump.


It’s Not About the Horse 

Horse whisperer Wyatt Webb leads you in equine interactions, then brings to light how that behavior mirrors your relationships and reveals your unconscious beliefs.


Why High

Tightrope walk along cables 30 feet high, first by yourself, then with a friend – preferably one who can rock Tree Pose.


Spa Treatments Tension between you and your fellow femmes? Feel it melt away with a Shamana Karma Ayurvedic massage or a Hot Stone & Honey mani.

Say "Om My God"

Do sun salutations as lemony light slips down the sienna strata, warrior pose by reflective pools before battling the rapids, and eagle pose in the mist of a waterfall. Arizona Raft Adventures guides six- to 14-day Grand Canyon Yoga Retreats for yogis and paddlers of all levels. 800-786-7238, azraft.com


Festivals with Friends

Made in the Shade Beer Tasting Festival (June 11)

Flagstaff’s longest running craft brew bonanza brings 100-plus breweries to the pine-hugged Pepsi Amphitheater. Fun for guys and gals alike. azbeer.com

Tilted Earth Festival (June 16-18)

A bevy of bands, 13 Northern AZ wineries, two craft breweries and a fleet of food trucks converge on Cottonwood to celebrate the solstice.tiltedearthfestival.com

Flagstaff Blues and Brews (June 18)

Blues bands including The Sugaray Rayford Band are the main dish, served with a side of microbrews. flagstaffblues.com

Arizona Highland Celtic Festival (July 16-17)

Foxglenn Park toasts all things Celtic: whisky workshops, bagpipes, rugby and men in kilts tossing large objects. nachs.info

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Spin Your Wheels

Whoosh through Prescott’s woods and lakeland on a bespoke mountain-biking mini-break with Soul Ride. “We really match our tours to our clients,” says co-founder Kate Phelan. “Some people want to ride really hard and see all the beautiful trails we have. Some people want to do a nice two-hour ride every day, but they also want to have a massage, go SUP (stand-up paddle) boarding at the lake, practice yoga in the forest, do a wine-tasting and eat at a beautiful restaurant.” Whatever your gal-group’s needs and skills, this two-woman outfit has a two-wheeled way. 928-642-8727, soulride.bike

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From primal pursuits to adrenaline-and-ale-charged adventures, these dude destinations are all about male bonding.

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Go Fish in Rocky Point

“Arizona’s Beach” teems with bromantic potential, including personalized fishing trips from the downtown port at Cholla Bay. For around $900 a day, you can charter the Modesto, an American-owned turnkey fishing barge fully outfitted with lines, bait and energetic crewmen ready to re-bait your hook after every cast, making it terrifically easy to rack up giant bounties of small but flavorful triggerfish. Later, turn those fish – dutifully filleted by the crew – into a kick-ass ceviche. Charter the Modesto by contacting the Rocky Point tourism bureau at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.– Craig Outhier



2 pounds triggerfish, chunked

½ red onion, thinly sliced

½ cup cilantro, chopped

½ cup Anaheim or poblano pepper, chopped

¼ cup Serrano pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 sprigs parsley, minced

4 limes, juiced

Marinate fish in lime juice for three hours; add remaining ingredients and marinate for another hour. Salt and pepper to taste.  PHM0616GA 14


 Action + Ale

Rent mountain bikes at the Nordic Village of Northern Arizona to shred the ski trails, then take a Joy Rye’d pale ale at Historic Brewing Company’s Barrel + Bottle House. 16848 Hwy. 180, 928-220-0550, flagstaffnordiccenter.com; 110 S. San Francisco St., 928-774-0454, historicbrewingcompany.com

Camp Verde

Four-wheel through the Verde Valley on an ATV with Arizona Offroad Tours, then go nuts with a local pecan porter at Verde Brewing Company. 928-451-1777, myarizonaoffroadtour.com; 325 S. Main St., Camp Verde, 928-567-7033, verdebrewing.com


Barrel through the buttes in an Austrian Pinzgauer military utility vehicle with Prescott Backcountry Tours, then dive into a brew at Granite Mountain Brewing. 928-830-6430,prescottbackcountrytours.com; 123 N. Cortez St., 928-778-5535, granitemountainbrewing.com


Four-Wheel Bucket List

Most any two-wheel-drive sedan or hatchback can ascend the unpaved “front road” into Crown King, an old mining town perched in the Bradshaw Mountains about 60 miles north of Phoenix. But it’s the boulder-strewn, circuitous “back way” that’s the most fun – and the most automotively demanding. Many standard stock 4x4s are ill-equipped for the challenge; best to use a Polaris or other side-by-side model, or a purpose-built off-road vehicle like this nifty converted Jeep Wrangler the good folks at Discount Tire lent us. crownkingaz.com – Craig Outhier

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Crown king checklist

First, go online to find reliable info on the “backway” route, which starts at the Morristown/New River Highway (SR-74) west of the 1-17 and curls around Lake Pleasant. Everytrail.com has clear, geo-marked directions. Along the way, enjoy the weird little off-the-grid communities leading to Crown King Road. Double-wide delight!

 PHM0616GA 16 1. About halfway up, check out Silver Creek, a small beach where generations of teenagers have gone to “drink beer and shoot guns,” according to a Crown King veteran. Nearby, pluck a few grapes off wild vitis vinifera vines – allegedly the vestiges of an ill-fated winemaking project.
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2. If you have the right wheels – and damn-it-all attitude – try navigating one of the “features” en route to Crown King, i.e. steep, high-difficulty turnouts that will test the mettle of your machine.

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3. Once you make it to Crown King, an insular, endearing community of 133 souls, make a beeline for Crown King Saloon to meet some locals and drink off the ravages of the road.


Solo Sojourns

We salute you, spunky free spirit. You need a trip that’s stress-free yet activity-full, with opportunities for soul-seeking or easy socializing. Well, here you go – literally.

Date Yourself 

Why deprive yourself of a sensuous escape because you don’t have a plus-one? L’Auberge de Sedona hosts beaucoup activities to keep singles très occupé. Summer cottage and suite rates start at $550/night. 301 L’Auberge Ln., 855-905-5745, lauberge.com

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Morning: Endorphin up with yoga or a trail run guided by the general manager. Get a primer in photography or Sedona’s natural history.

Day: Talk shop with painters or sculptors through the new Artist in Residence program. Indulge in Shinrin-Yoku (Japanese “forest bathing”) or a Feet in the Creek spa treatment. 

Evening: Get versed in music and meditation. Experience guided imagery with a hypnotherapist. Observe the night sky with a star czar. And treat yourself to a sumptuous dinner with a literary companion (see sidebar) – because you’re worth it.


Bag a Peak (and a Book)

Hiking is the prime milieu for meditative “me” time, and Humphreys Peak – the state’s highest mountain – is the acme of Arizonan challenges. Train well, acclimatize, download an audiobook (see sidebar), pack winter clothes, check the weather, then tackle this 9-mile round-trip mettle-tester. The wildflower-strewn trail turns to tundra above the treeline, rewarding the weary with top-of-the-world views. arizonahiking.blogspot.com

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The book:
Desert Solitaire

Your biblio-buddy: Edward Abbey, “the Thoreau of the West” and pal to rebellious loners everywhere. His poetic, philosophic love letter to wilderness is also an angry appeal for conservation.

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The book:
West with the Night

Your biblio-buddy: Beryl Markham, Kenyan bush pilot, horse trainer and the first woman to fly solo east-to-west across the Atlantic. Ernest Hemingway called her memoir “bloody wonderful.”

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The book: Endurance

Your biblio-buddy: Frank A. Worsley, captain of Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition. After he tells you about being stranded on ice for two years, you’ll never feel sorry for yourself again. (Note: Worsley’s book is only available in paper. If you want an audiobook, Alfred Lansing’s Endurance is also excellent.)

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The book:
My First Summer
in the Sierra

Your biblio-buddy: John Muir, Scottish adventurer and Father of the National Parks. The young romantic’s journal of his Yosemite sojourn burbles with the lyrical charm of an alpine stream.


Single in the City

Chicago: Drop your carry-on at funky Hotel Lincoln (jdvhotels.com), then pedal your complimentary bicycle through Lincoln Park, a penny’s throw away. Breeze south on Lakefront Trail to Grant Park for photo-ops at “The Bean” and painting-ops at the Art Institute of Chicago. Trade your bike for a kayak and paddle the urban jungle on an architectural tour with Wateriders (wateriders.com). At night, take free cha-cha lessons at SummerDance in Grant Park (cityofchicago.org), or stroll from your hotel to Second City comedy club.

Portland: Feast on Portlandia’s hottest gastro-hoods with Forktown Food Tours (forktownfoodtoursportland.com). Amble to artisan breweries with Brewvana (brewvana.com) or pedal Flintstones-style on a BrewCycle (brewgrouppdx.com). In the Pearl District, peruse the world’s largest bookstore, Powell’s City of Books (powells.com). A short stroll south, food trucks bunch along 10th Avenue and Alder Street like tapioca balls in a boba tea. In the heart of it all, the Ace Hotel (acehotel.com) has style in spades.

Vancouver: Check into art-museum-esque, aboriginal Skwachàys Lodge (skwachays.com), which holds rooftop purification ceremonies overlooking trendy Gastown. In neighboring Chinatown, seek serenity at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (and at apothecary-themed Keefer Bar). Or walk to Waterfront Station via Inuit Gallery and Hill’s Native Art, then ferry to North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay Market, a journey the New York Times called “one of the most stunning commutes in the world.” Next day, graze Granville Island with Vancouver Foodie Tours (foodietours.ca).


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Run, Forest, Run!

Flagstaff’s forested trails will be your track as running gurus coach you and your fellow fitness-philes during a McMillan Running Camp. Everyone from newbies to budding Usain Bolts are welcome at the four-day getaways in June. If you’re part of a running group, they can also arrange a customized run-away. mcmillanrunning.com

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Golden Years Getaways

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Cruise the Colorado

Kick back with Colorado River Discovery as you ply the placid waters near Page in a motorized raft. Dip your toes in the water at Petroglyph Beach and scan the vermilion cliffs for bighorn sheep. 888-522-6644, raftthecanyon.com

Work on the Railroad

On the Verde Canyon Railroad’s Locomotive Ride-A-Long, buddy up between the conductor and the engineer inside the cab of a 1953 General Motors EMD FP7. Clad in safety gear, you’ll be ready to assist with train preparations as you chug from Clarkdale to Perkinsville and back. 800-582-7245, verdecanyonrr.com