52 Weekend Adventures 2021 Edition

Jessica DunhamJanuary 1, 2021
Share This
Canyon at Rock Art Ranch.; Photo by Kevin Kaminski; Models: Cat Hartmann & Torin Sixx/Ford Robert Black Agency
Canyon at Rock Art Ranch.; Photo by Kevin Kaminski; Models: Cat Hartmann & Torin Sixx/Ford Robert Black Agency
The new year is upon us – and the time is perfect to unleash our annual calendar of fabulous in-state getaways. 

Coming off an annus horribilis like 2020, the stakes for pleasant escapism are higher than ever. So we reduced the margin of error by offering monthly tripsfor four different interest types, from luxe indulgences to family-friendly overnighters, scouring Arizona for unforgettable trips that will hopefully surprise, thrill, inspire and rejuvenate your world-weary souls.

JANUARY
Splurge
Set up Base Camp
Marble Canyon

When you book the Cliff View Cabin at Lee’s Ferry Lodge, you get a cozy retreat with unparalleled access to the best of the Arizona outdoors: Vermilion Cliffs, Kaibab National Forest and the Colorado River. Spend the day hiking Cathedral Wash or fish for trout in Glen Canyon before returning to your private oasis for the evening. Toast to the day’s adventures on the cabin’s balcony – it opens up to million-dollar views of the cliffs.
Fees: $200 per night
If You Go: U.S. Hwy. 89A, mile marker 541.5, 928-355-2231, 
vermilioncliffs.com

fly fishing at Lees Ferry.; Photo by Madison Kirkman, left; models: Ashley Habermel & Dan Fitzpatrick/Ford Robert Black Agency
fly fishing at Lees Ferry.; Photo by Madison Kirkman, left; models: Ashley Habermel & Dan Fitzpatrick/Ford Robert Black Agency
Dillinger Days at Hotel Congress; Photo courtesy Hotel Congress
Dillinger Days at Hotel Congress; Photo courtesy Hotel Congress
Budget
Revel Like It’s 1934
Tucson

Dillinger Days reenacts the dramatic capture of well-endowed gangster John Dillinger in Tucson. Celebrate the coup January 23-24 with whiskey tastings, live music, a gun trick show and historical walking tours.
Fees: $45 for the speakeasy, all other events free
If You Go: Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., 520-622-8848, hotelcongress.com

Family-Friendly
Snowshoe with a View
Flagstaff

At Peak View Winter Recreation Area, the powdery trails for snowshoeing meander through the forest in breathtaking view of the San Francisco Peaks. Rent gear from Babbitt’s Backcountry Outfitters (babbittsbackcountry.com) in Flagstaff.
Fees: $5 per day for snowshoes, no fee for access to the recreation area
If You Go: From Flagstaff, take U.S. Hwy. 180 north, entrance is 1 mile before Snowbowl Road; 844-256-7669, fs.usda.gov

WILD CARD: For History Buffs
Live in a Ghost Town
Sonoita

You don’t have to live live at Kentucky Camp – just spend a night at this former gold mining village in Southern Arizona wine country. The Forest Service maintains the deserted “town,” which is now a collection of old adobe buildings and cabins.
Fees: $75 per night
If You Go: From Tucson, take I-10 east to SR-83. Turn right and drive 21miles to Gardner Canyon Road. Turn right and follow this for about a mile to FR-163. Take FR-163 for 5 miles to Kentucky Camp; 520-281-2296, fs.usda.gov

FEBRUARY
Concierge Extraordinaire; Photo courtesy Concierge Extraordinaire
Concierge Extraordinaire; Photo courtesy Concierge Extraordinaire
Splurge
Vacation Like Royalty
Statewide

Concierge Extraordinaire traffics in VIP getaways. The Scottsdale travel service arranges bespoke Arizona trips. Example: A weekend at the eight-bedroom Paradise Valley luxury home “Entertainer’s Paradise” (complete with putting green, rooftop fire pit, poolside yoga and fully stocked kitchen), whence you’ll be whisked away for an exclusive sightseeing excursion in Sedona. Think luxury transportation to and from, private wine tastings and a guided red-rock hike, capped by a chef-made dinner and acoustic entertainment upon your 
return “home.”
Fees: Vary
If You Go: 480-466-8773, viextraordinaire.com

Budget
Harvest One of Arizona’s “Five Cs”
Casa Grande

Caywood Farms grows cotton, and in the spirit of agricultural stewardship, they host three-hour tours October through March. Owner Nancy Caywood commences each tour with live fiddle music, then invites you on a hayride around the farm, stopping for equipment demos and to let you pick lint 
from cottonseeds.
Fees: $15 per person, reservations required
If You Go: 841 E. Hwy. 287, 520-560-1119, caywoodfarms.com

Family-Friendly Winter Play
Late Season Snow Play
Williams

At Oak Hill Snow Play Area, a 1950s alpine ski lodge, sledders and snow-tubers can careen down one of two trails: a long, steep hill for thrill-seekers and a short, gentle ride for beginners. Oak Hill has a warming shelter, plus bathrooms.
Fees: None
If You Go: Located 10 miles east of Williams on Route 66; 928-635-8200, fs.usda.gov

WILD CARD: For Movie Buffs
Attend a Film Festival
Sedona

See feature films, foreign flicks and documentaries at the Sedona International Film Festival. Nine days, 90 movies and the option to attend in person or stream from the comfort of your couch – did we mention popcorn to go?
Fees: $15 per single ticket, $625 for Gold Pass (unlimited access to live and virtual screenings)
If You Go: February 20-28, 928-282-1177, sedonafilmfestival.com

The Chaperone, presented at the Sedona Film Festival; Photo courtesy Sedona Film Festival
The Chaperone, presented at the Sedona Film Festival; Photo courtesy Sedona Film Festival
The Neon Museum; Photo courtesy The Neon Museum
The Neon Museum; Photo courtesy The Neon Museum

Winter Out-of-State Escape

Visit a neon cemetery
Las Vegas  

Paris might be the City of Lights, but Las Vegas is where the worship of nighttime glitz and illumination achieves truly religious proportions. Our evidence: The Neon Museum in Vegas’ resurgent downtown district, a non-profit refuge for iconic neon signage retired by the casinos and lounges they once touted. Walk the museum’s incomparable outdoor Neon Boneyard, and get a luminous eyeful of the city’s storied past, from the Stardust sign to the Hard Rock Café’s four-story electric guitar.  
Fees: $20-$28
If You Go: 770 Las Vegas Boulevard North, 702-387-6366, neonmuseum.org

MARCH
Budget
Take a Safari
Valentine

An African safari can cost upwards of $1,500. But you don’t have to break the bank to see exotic animals in their natural habitat. Embark on an affordable safari and help a good cause at the animal sanctuary Keepers of the Wild. Plunk down 30 bucks for a 75-minute trip, which carves through 175 acres of land where hundreds of rescued and lovingly cared for animals frolic. You’ll see lions, tigers, wolves, bears, leopards, cougars and more.
Fees: $30 per person.
If You Go: 13441 E. Route 66, 928-769-1800, keepersofthewild.org

A leopard in repose at Keepers of the Wild; Photo by Lara Kraft/Keepers of the WIld
A leopard in repose at Keepers of the Wild; Photo by Lara Kraft/Keepers of the WIld
Splurge
Drive a Backhoe
Williams

Big Toy Playground lets you operate heavy machinery – excavators, skid steers, loaders – for fun. Dig giant holes, move mountains of dirt, stack towers of tires, even maneuver obstacle courses. Instructor-led sessions run 90 minutes, and no experience is necessary.
Fees: $200 to $400 per person, per session
If You Go: 287 S. Garland Prairie Rd., 928-606-5711, bigtoyplayground.com

Family-Friendly
Discover the Hopi Way
Hopi Tribal Land

An Experience Hopi Tour grants you an unprecedented peek into the lives of the native Hopi. The tour stops at petroglyph-covered canyons, Prophecy Rock, Hopi Cultural Center and Old Oraibi – the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America.
Fees: From $145 per person
If You Go: 928-283-4500, experiencehopi.com/tours

the Environment and Natural Resources building at U of A; Photo courtesy University of Arizona/Jacob Chinn
the Environment and Natural Resources building at U of A; Photo courtesy University of Arizona/Jacob Chinn
WILD CARD: For Lifelong Learners
Tour Great Architecture
Tucson

The American Institute of Architects named three University of Arizona buildings among the most significant in Arizona: the Poetry Center (highlights include open roof canopies); the Environment and Natural Resources building (a conceptual representation of the desert); and the Optical Sciences building (copper panels serve as breathable skin).
Fees: None
If You Go: Poetry Center, 1508 E. Helen St.; Environment and Natural Resources, 1064 E. Lowell St.; Meinel Optical Sciences, 1630 E. University Blvd.; arizona.edu

APRIL
Splurge
Eat at the New Elote Café
Sedona

James Beard Award finalist chef Jeff Smedstad recently moved his acclaimed Mexican restaurant Elote Café to a new, 4,800-square-foot location. The imported copper tables and 60-year-old eucalyptus bar are great and all, but what really matters is that Elote now takes reservations.
Fees: $25 to $30 per entrée
If You Go: 350 Jordan Rd., 928-203-0105, elotecafe.com

Chef Jeff Smedstad with his elote and smoked brisket enchiladas at Elote Café; Photo by Jill Richards Photography/courtesy Elote Cafe
Chef Jeff Smedstad with his elote and smoked brisket enchiladas at Elote Café; Photo by Jill Richards Photography/courtesy Elote Cafe
WILD CARD: For Nature Lovers – Spring Wildflower Viewing
Oracle State Park
Oracle

Procrastinators, take note. Because of its location at a higher elevation in the Santa Catalina Mountains, Oracle State Park is the perfect place to admire late-season wildflowers. Mariposa lily, morning glory, desert lilacs, hyacinths, larkspur, poppies and sand-verbena explode in a riot of vibrant color around mid-April. Make a weekend of it. There’s no camping at the park, but you’ll find a picturesque spot nearby at Peppersauce Campground at the base of Mt. Lemmon.
Fees: Oracle State Park, $7 per vehicle; Peppersauce Campground, $15 per night
If You Go: Oracle State Park, 3820 E. Wildlife Dr., 520-896-2425, azstateparks.com/oracle; to reach Peppersauce Campground from Oracle State Park, drive south on Mt. Lemmon Highway for 7 miles; 520-388-8300, fs.usda.gov

Budget
See the Raptors Soar
Williams

At the bird-of-prey park Raptor Ranch, experience the raptors’ power during a flying demonstration. The ranch sits on what used to be Bedrock City, a recreated Flintstones village; the ranch maintains Bedrock City for guests to camp.
Fees: $5 for flight demos, $25 for camping, no fee for 
Bedrock City
If You Go: 332 AZ-64, 928-635-3072, raptor-ranch.com

Family-Friendly
Hike with Llamas
Prescott

Bring the fam to Arizona Backcountry Llamas for hikes through the pine trees with soft, cuddly llamas by your side. Not only will you learn lots about these sweet creatures, you’ll also soak up local history of the region.
Fees: From $85 per person
If You Go: 928-642-3324, arizonallamas.com

MAY
Splurge
Go Jet-Setting in Canyon Country
Statewide

Westwind Air Service chauffeurs you to Page via a private flight, followed by a 90-minute hike of Antelope Canyon, a scenic aerial tour and a guided Jeep ride through Monument Valley. And then you’re back home for dinner.
Fees: $799 per person
If You Go: 480-991-5557, 
westwindairservice.com

Westwind Air Service luxury aircraft; Photo courtesy WestWind Air Service
Westwind Air Service luxury aircraft; Photo courtesy WestWind Air Service
Budget
Restore Natural Lands
Statewide

Lace up your hiking boots to volunteer with Natural Restorations, a nonprofit that removes trash and graffiti from outdoor recreation and wilderness areas. They also manage a team comprising military veterans who handle restorations beyond the reach of volunteers.
Fees: None
If You Go: 480-628-3903, naturalrestorations.org

Plaid Man by Todd Noris at Saguaro Man; Photo by Todd Norris/courtesy Saguaro Man
Plaid Man by Todd Noris at Saguaro Man; Photo by Todd Norris/courtesy Saguaro Man
WILD CARD: For Free Spirits
Be a Burner
Willcox

If who’ve wanted to attend the legendary Burning Man event, but haven’t yet, dip your proverbial toe in the water at Saguaro Man. “Burners” gather on 80 acres in Southern Arizona for a five-day celebration of community and art. All are welcome but take note: This is not your typical festival. There are no food trucks. There is no lodging. There’s no music, unless you bring a guitar. Basically, pack everything you need in order to not die – camping gear, food and lots of water. Attendees follow the Burning Man principles, which range from racial inclusion to self-expression.
Fees: $106 per person
If You Go: May 12-16, azburners.org

Family-Friendly
Splash in a Waterfall
Payson

Water Wheel Falls Trail is perfect for heat-weary families. The hike is easy and, more importantly, leads to a swimming hole formed by the cascading collision of the Verde River and Ellison Creek.
Fees: $9 per vehicle, per day
If You Go: From Payson, drive north on SR-87 to Houston Mesa Road. Turn right. Continue 7.5 miles to Water Wheel Falls; 928-474-7900, fs.usda.gov/recarea/tonto/null/recarea/?recid=35587&actid=70

bluebonnets at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, Texas; Photo by Steve Rawls/courtesy Fredericksburg CVB
bluebonnets at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, Texas; Photo by Steve Rawls/courtesy Fredericksburg CVB

Spring Out-of-State Escape

Spring flower peeping
Fredericksburg, TX

Come spring, wildflowers cover so much of Texas Hill Country that you can spot them on the sides of the road. For pure floral volume, though, you can’t beat Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg. The nation’s largest wildflower farm has more than 200 acres of flowers, including oceans of bluebonnets, Texas’ sate flower. There’s also a gift shop, biergarten, wine tasting room, pottery shop and more
Fees: None; just stay on designated paths
If You Go: 100 Legacy Dr.,
830-990-1393, wildseedfarms.com

JUNE
Splurge
Charter Your Own Train
Williams

Take over a train car – or the whole dang train – with Grand Canyon Railway’s Rail Baron Charters. You and your lucky guests will be transported in vintage style from Williams to the Grand Canyon.
Fees: From $5,200 to reserve a single car; $15,000-$20,000 to reserve the full train.
If You Go: 800-843-8724, thetrain.com/connect/take-over-how-to-charter-the-grand-canyon-railway

Grand Canyon Railway car; Photo courtesy Adobe Stock Images
Grand Canyon Railway car; Photo courtesy Adobe Stock Images
Family-Friendly
Ride the Rim
Grand Canyon

The crowd-free way to see the Grand Canyon? Rent cruiser bikes to ride the low-traffic, paved roads and greenways of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Bright Angel Bicycles offers bike rentals, maps and itineraries.
Fees: From $43 (full-day bike rental)
If You Go: 10 S. Entrance Road, Grand Canyon Village, 928-679-0992, bikegrandcanyon.com

petroglyphs at Rock Art Ranch; Photo by Kevin Kaminski; Models: Cat Hartmann & Torin Sixx/Ford Robert Black Agency
petroglyphs at Rock Art Ranch; Photo by Kevin Kaminski; Models: Cat Hartmann & Torin Sixx/Ford Robert Black Agency
WILD CARD: For Curiosity-Seekers
See Ancient Petroglyphs
Winslow

Brantley Baird’s family has owned the 5,000-acre Rock Art Ranch since 1945. If you think that’s impressive, how about this: The cattle ranch happens to be home to one of the best-preserved collections of petroglyphs in the world. Call ahead of time and Baird himself will take you on a tour of more than 3,000 petroglyphs dating from 7500 BC. Along a 2-mile canyon, you’ll see drawings, excavated Anasazi dwellings and a Navajo hogan. The area is still considered a sacred site and its archaeological significance has drawn researchers from The University of Arizona, the Heard Museum and the Smithsonian.
Fees: $35 per person, reservations required
If You Go: Tours start at 10 a.m., M-Sa, year-round except Feb.-April; call for reservations and directions, 928-386-5047

Budget – Summer Camping
Rose Canyon Lake
Tucson

When you’re craving cooler temps, head to this peaceful retreat on top of Mt. Lemmon. Throw your sleeping bag under the canopy of shade that neighbors a pristine, six-acre lake.
Fees: $10 per vehicle for day use; $22 per night for camping
If You Go: At Grant and Tanque Verde roads, go east on Tanque Verde to the intersection of Tanque Verde and Catalina Highway. Turn left on Catalina Highway. Drive north for 17 miles to Rose Canyon Campground; 520-749-8700, fs.usda.gov/recarea/coronado/recarea/?recid=25600

JULY
ruins on Canyon Loop Trail; Photo by Mare Czinar
ruins on Canyon Loop Trail; Photo by Mare Czinar
Budget
Backpack the Backcountry
Happy Jack

Wander the wilderness on the historic Cabin Loop Trail System in the Coconino Forest. Five trails pass through some of the most dazzling scenery in Arizona, with lush vegetation, bubbling springs and perennial streams. The system once offered the only reliable ingress for ranchers, settlers and even grazing cattle to access the rugged Mogollon Rim country before the Forest Service began maintaining the land. The five trails are: Houston Brothers, Barbershop, U-Bar, Fred Haught and – for the grand rim views – General Crook.
Fees: None
If You Go: Each trail offers different access points to the Cabin Loop System; 928-477-2255, fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=74999

Splurge
Commission Original Art
Oracle

To elevate your art collection beyond the IKEA print – no judgment! – visit artist Jerry Parra. The sculptor creates larger than life, custom works made from recycled metal, tools from old copper mines and vintage car parts.
Fees: Prices vary
If You Go: Sue & Jerry’s Ranch Store Center, 1015 W. American Ave., 520-896-9200, jerryparra.com

Family-Friendly
Rodeo!
Prescott

At the World’s Oldest Rodeo, held June 28-July 4, don your cowboy hat for rodeo performances, Western dances, 
Arizona’s largest rodeo parade and a Fourth of July celebration
Fees: Ticket prices range from $12 to $25 per person, depending on seat location in the arena
If You Go: 840 Rodeo Dr., 928-445-3103, worldsoldestrodeo.com

WILD CARD: For Would-Be 
Astronomers
Witness the World’s 
Largest Telescope
Safford

Not only is the LBT, or large binocular telescope, the world’s largest; it’s also the most powerful. See its mirrors positioned like giant all-seeing eyes at Mount Graham International Observatory. 
Together they create better clarity than the Hubble Space Telescope.
Fees: $40 per person
If You Go: Tours start at the Eastern Arizona College visitor center, 1651 W. Discovery Park Blvd., 928-428-6260, eac.edu/discoverypark/mgio.shtm

AUGUST
Splurge
Rent a Camper Van
Statewide

There’s Gloria – sleek and chic. Stevie’s a bit older, a natural blonde on the inside. Franklin’s tall, broad-shouldered. These are just a few of the four-wheeled members of the Boho Camper Van fleet. Others include Bowie, Blondie and Joplin. Tempe-based Boho builds stylish sleeper vans to rent to adventurous road-trippers. Vans come equipped with all of the necessities, from built-in beds and outdoor showers to cutlery and coolers. You’ll also receive a curated map with super-secret insider tips on where to go and what to see.
Fees: Minimum rental is three nights/4 four days; rates vary from $400 to $800 for three-night rental
If You Go: Van pick-ups at 1719 W. University Dr., Tempe; boho.life

View from a Boho Camper Van; Photo by Shelby Pine/Courtesy Boho Camper Van
View from a Boho Camper Van; Photo by Shelby Pine/Courtesy Boho Camper Van
Budget
Hike a Volcano
Flagstaff

Hundreds of cinder cones buckle the earth in the San Francisco Volcanic Field. The 1,000-foot-high Red Mountain is one of the oldest, forming 740,000 years ago. The eruption blew out the side of the mountain, leaving an amphitheater of red rocks and hoodoos. Follow the 1.5-mile hike to the center.
Fees: None
If You Go: From Flagstaff, take Highway 180 northwest. At milepost 247, turn left at the sign for Red Mountain Geologic Area. Drive a quarter mile to the trailhead; 928-526-0866, fs.usda.gov

Family-Friendly
Go to Sleepaway Camp
Fredonia

At Coral Pink Ranch Cowboy Camp, let each member of the family pick their own accommodations: a tipi, log cabin, cowboy bunkhouse or a tent.
Fees: $39-$65 per night
If You Go: Call for directions; 435-879-107, airbnb.com/users/18696578/listings

Southwest Wine Center; Photo by Patrick Cooley/Courtesy Southwest Wine Center
Southwest Wine Center; Photo by Patrick Cooley/Courtesy Southwest Wine Center
WILD CARD: Wine Connoisseurs
Taste the Next Best Thing in Wine
Clarkdale

The Southwest Wine Center is a teaching facility that provides a vineyard-to-bottle education in oenology, viticulture and business. It also offers a tasting room where you can sample the latest and greatest in Arizona wine from student vintners.
Fees: $15 per flight
If You Go: 601 W. Black Hills Dr., 928-634-6566, southwestwinecenter.com

Tackling the via ferrata in Telluride; Photo courtesy The Hotel Telluride
Tackling the via ferrata in Telluride; Photo courtesy The Hotel Telluride

Summer Out-of-State Escape

Manhandle the Rockies
Telluride, Co

Italian for “iron road,” via ferrata is a system of fixed rungs, steps and ladders anchored into a rock face that lets non-mountaineers experience the adrenaline-soaked vertical rush of rock climbing with none – or little, anyway – of the danger to life and limb. It’s all the rage in high-elevation vacationing. Stay at The Hotel Telluride, just an hour’s flight from Phoenix, and book the Ropes & Rungs adventure package: three nights at the hotel, plus a day of via ferrata,
meals and more.
Fees: $1,999 for two
If You Go: 199 Comet Ln., Telluride, 970-369-1188, thehoteltelluride.com

SEPTEMBER
Family-Friendly
Rent a Resort
Scottsdale

Yes, the whole resort. The trips in our 52 Weekend Adventures roundup adhere pretty closely to an out-of-town-only edict, but we’re making a concession for Great Wolf Lodge’s “Own the Park” package. For a cool 10 grand, you get after-hours access to the indoor waterpark’s labyrinth of slides, lazy rivers, wave pools and water features. The package also includes complimentary soft drinks and snacks, overnight accommodations in up to 10 suites (with a $50 welcome gift in each), private breakfast for the morning after and a lifeguard on duty just for 
your group.
Fees: From $10,000 for up to 50 guests
If You Go: 7333 N. Pima Rd., 844-473-9653, greatwolf.com/arizona/deals/own-the-park

Whooping Hollow at Great Wolf Lodge; Photo courtesy Great Wolf Lodge
Whooping Hollow at Great Wolf Lodge; Photo courtesy Great Wolf Lodge
Splurge
Fly fish in Oak Creek
Sedona

On the banks of Oak Creek, the knowledgeable (and patient!) guides at Sedona Fly Fishing Adventures teach newbie anglers the artful technique of fly-fishing. You’ll catch trout – rainbow, wild brown – on a half-day or full-day guided trip.
Fees: $195 per person for half a day, $300 per person for a full day
If You Go: 844-487-6887, sedonaflyfishingadventures.com

Wild Cow Springs; Photo by Robert McDonald
Wild Cow Springs; Photo by Robert McDonald
Budget
Overnight in the Hualapai Mountains
Kingman

Along a winding road where mining claims hunker among the trees, you’ll find Wild Cow Springs Campground, a rustic spot thick with oak trees and ponderosa pines.
Fees: $8 per night
If You Go: From Kingman, take Hualapai Mountain Road southeast for 14 miles. In Pine Lake, turn right at the firehouse onto the unpaved Flag Mine Road. Follow this for 5 miles to the campground. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended; 928-718-3700, blm.gov/visit/wild-cow-springs-campground

WILD CARD: For Festival Goers
Eat Fair Food
Window Rock

The fry bread contests at the Navajo Nation Fair – considered the largest native fair in North America – pretty much guarantee you’ll enjoy the best fry bread in the world. Plus: a rodeo, a parade, and the Miss Navajo Nation Pageant.
Fees: $5 per person, per day
If You Go: Aug. 31-Sept. 5, Navajo Nation Fairgrounds, Highway 264, 928-871-6478, navajopeople.org

OCTOBER
Family-Friendly FALL COLORS
Snowbowl Scenic Drive
Flagstaff

This drive loops to the base of Mount Humphreys – looming at 12,633 feet – and then curves up its westernmost slopes. Gold- and yellow-leafed aspens court the edge of the road before opening to grassy meadows where elk and mule deer roam. The short route (at just under 20 miles, it’s perfect for restless kiddos) ends at Arizona Snowbowl. For a bird’s-eye view of the forested blanket of autumn colors below, ride the chairlift to the peak. Dress in layers; the weather at the top can be brisk.
Fees: $20 to $25 per person for the chairlift, no fee to drive Snowbowl Road
If You Go: From Flagstaff, follow U.S. 180 north for 7 miles, then go east on Snowbowl Road for 8 miles. Arizona Snowbowl’s chairlift is open Sept. and Oct., 9300 N. Snowbowl Rd., 928-779-1951, snowbowl.ski

Photo by Kevin Kaminski
Photo by Kevin Kaminski
Splurge
Visit the Newest Tasting Rooms
Southern Arizona

The vino coming out of Willcox and Sonoita just keeps getting better. During a wine-tasting weekend at the region’s newest spots, try the apple notes of rosé at Los Milics Winery; the peppery Petite Sirah at Birds & Barrels Vineyards; and the honey-touched Roussanne at Laramita Cellars.
Fees: Costs vary
If You Go: Los Milics Winery, 423 Upper Elgin Rd., Elgin, 707-293-8480; Birds & Barrels Vineyards, 5000 E. Arzberger Rd., Willcox, 520-507-0354, birdsandbarrels.com; Laramita Cellars, 6223 E. Cattle Dr., Willcox, 480-560-2605, laramitacellars.com

Pavle Milic and rendering of his tasting room at Los Milics Winery; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield; Rendering by Chen + Suchart Studio
Pavle Milic and rendering of his tasting room at Los Milics Winery; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield; Rendering by Chen + Suchart Studio
WILD CARD: For Art Lovers
Sleep Under a 
Masterpiece
Tucson

Hotel McCoy transformed a handful of guest rooms into “mural rooms.” Each features an entire wall of a local artist’s work. One room displays Jessica Gonzales’ blue woman, while another showcases a mystical mural of the moon cycle by Asya Reinhardt.
Fees: From $99 per night
If You Go: 720 W. Silverlake Rd., 844-782-9622, hotelmccoy.com

Budget
Escape from Prison
Morenci

The 1881 Clifton Cliff Jail was said to be inescapable. Built underground and into the side of a bluff that overlooked the mining town of Clifton, the jail was an elaborate tangle of tunnels and caves. Stroll the grounds; sometimes you’ll find an unlocked door to the underground cells.
Fees: None
If You Go: From Morenci, take U.S. 191 south for 4 miles to Clifton. The jail is on the left side of the road.

beach bungalow at Crystal Cove Beach; Photo Courtesy Visit Newport Beach; Hotel McCoy/Sean Parker Photography
beach bungalow at Crystal Cove Beach; Photo Courtesy Visit Newport Beach; Hotel McCoy/Sean Parker Photography

Fall Out-of-State Escape

Rent a Piece of the Beach
Newport Beach, Ca 

Just a 10-minute drive from Balboa Peninsula, you’ll find Crystal Cove, a community of charming little beach rentals. Built by industrious squatters and occupied lease-free for decades before the state of California scooped them all up in the 1990s, the cottages are invisible from the highway, sheltered by a natural impression in the coastline, offering direct access to a tranquil – but busy, during the summer – public beach. Naturally, the ultra-affordable rentals fill up quick, via a rolling six-month reservation window. So if you want to visit in June, say, call today.
Fees: $189-$265/night
If You Go: 35 Crystal Cove, 949-376-6200, crystalcove.org

Giganticus Headicus; Photo by Charles Block/Giganticus Headicus
Giganticus Headicus; Photo by Charles Block/Giganticus Headicus
NOVEMBER
Budget
Say Hello to Giganticus Headicus
Near Kingman

Route 66 is no stranger to kooky roadside attractions. In Missouri, there’s the world’s second largest rocking chair, and a stretch of the highway in Texas boasts 10 Cadillacs plunged nose-first in the ground. In Arizona, a top contender for kitschiest Route 66 oddity is a 14-foot Easter Island-style tiki head. Made from wood, concrete, metal and chicken wire, the sculpture is one of several by artist Gregg Arnold that dot the grounds of the Antares Visitor Center. Snap a photo in front of Giganticus or buy a miniature version of him at the visitor center’s gift shop.
Fees: None
If You Go: 9855 E. Route 66, 928-757-8554, gokingman.com/attraction-giganticus-headicus

Splurge
Hunt for Treasure
Tucson/Jerome/Sedona

The “hunt master” of Creative Soul Scavenger Hunts has been a professional tour guide in Arizona for 25 years. She curates custom two-hour scavenger hunts that take you to unexpected places.
Fees: From $33 to $50 per person, per hunt; does not include transportation
If You Go: creativesoulscavengerhunts.com

Christmas tree cutting; Photo courtesy Adobe Stock Images
Christmas tree cutting; Photo courtesy Adobe Stock Images
Family-Friendly
Cut Down a 
Christmas Tree
Statewide

Pick up a permit from the Forest Service to saw down your own holiday tree, à la National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The permit allows you to cut a tree no taller than 10 feet and only from designated areas. Permits available for: Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Tonto, Kaibab and Prescott national forests.
Fees: $15 per permit
If You Go: Permits sold online, first-come, first-served; recreation.gov/tree-permits

WILD CARD: For Wellness Travelers
Explore Arizona’s Other Vortexes
Lake Havasu City

MIT grad and leading expert on Sedona’s vortexes, Pete Sanders, recently identified four inflow energy vortexes in Lake Havasu City. Do the spring breakers know? All are accessible on a self-guided tour.
Fees: None
If You Go: Maps and info available at Lake Havasu Visitor Information Center, 422 English Village, 928-855-5655, golakehavasu.com/vortexes

DECEMBER
Neighboring horses; Photo by Kevin Kaminski; Models: Lauren Alonzo & Russell Scott/Ford Robert Black Agency
Neighboring horses; Photo by Kevin Kaminski; Models: Lauren Alonzo & Russell Scott/Ford Robert Black Agency
UTV thrills looking over Box 8 Ranch; Photo by Kevin Kaminski; Models: Lauren Alonzo & Russell Scott/Ford Robert Black Agency
UTV thrills looking over Box 8 Ranch; Photo by Kevin Kaminski; Models: Lauren Alonzo & Russell Scott/Ford Robert Black Agency
Budget
Camp at an Original 
Homesteaded Ranch
Superior

In the shadow of Apache Leap Mountain, Box 8 Ranch sprawls over 25 acres of equestrian trails, hiking paths, fruit orchards and tent and RV campsites. Homesteaded by Elizabeth Smith and her gold miner husband in the 1900s, the Smith Ranch (registered with the state as “Box 8,” hence the name) was a gathering spot for the locals, largely due to it having the first private swimming pool in the area. (As Phoenicians, we get the appeal.) Today, ranch guests can enjoy hikes, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping and, yes, the 
swimming pool.
Fees: Varies by service
If You Go: 226 S. Smith Dr., 602-689-1104, box8ranch.com

WILD CARD: For Urgan Explorers
Visit an Abandoned 
Factory
Tucson

The Lisa Frank building has been baking in the sun for years, but that hasn’t faded the zany exterior. The building attracts fans of Frank’s girlish stationery and the gawking curious who take pictures of the pastel-hued musical notes that adorn the walls, rainbow-colored loading bays and fuchsia glass windows.
Fees: None
If You Go: 6760 Lisa Frank Ave. 
No trespassing, folks. Stay behind the fence.

Lisa Frank factory; Photo by Eric Cox
Lisa Frank factory; Photo by Eric Cox
Splurge
Visit an Amethyst Mine
Four Peaks

Perched on a ridge of the Mazatzal Mountains, there’s a mine whose walls, ceiling and floor glitter purple amethyst. The Four Peaks Mine is the only commercial amethyst mine in the U.S.; see it with Sami Fine Jewelry’s helicopter ride to the mine.
Fees: $495 per person, reservations required
If You Go: Tours begin and end at Sami Fine Jewelry, 16704 Ave. of the Fountains, Fountain Hills, 480-712-7193, samifinejewelry.com

Yuma Iceberg Lettuce Drop; Photo courtesy Visit Yuma
Yuma Iceberg Lettuce Drop; Photo courtesy Visit Yuma
Family-Friendly
Usher in the New Year with Veggies
Yuma

Yuma produces nearly 90 percent of the country’s lettuce, so it makes sense that to honor its agricultural icon, Yuma celebrates the new year with an Iceberg Lettuce Drop. The 8-foot, illuminated 
lettuce head drops in Yuma’s Historic Downtown.
Fees: None
If You Go: 928-783-0071, visityuma.com

For more than 50 years, PHOENIX magazine's experienced writers, editors, and designers have captured all sides of the Valley with award-winning and insightful writing, and groundbreaking report and design. Our expository features, narratives, profiles, and investigative features keep our 385,000 readers in touch with the Valley's latest trends, events, personalities and places.