Do you have any vacation plans already growing in your head for this spring? If that vacation includes hitting up some of Arizona’s top tourist locations, you may want to give your itinerary a second look and consider a location that is a little off the beaten path. Here are a few suggestions for where to head.
Why stop here instead of Taliesin West? There's no mistake that Frank Lloyd Wright was a major influence in modern architecture but, perhaps much to his chagrin, his fame pushes outer architects out of the spotlight. If you're someone who roots for the underdog or has an interest in alternative architecture styles, you may want to pay a visit to Cosanti. The former home and studio of Italian architect, Paolo Soleri, this building shows some of his early ventures in arcology.
Address: 6433 East Doubletree Ranch Road in Paradise Valley.
2. Japanese Friendship Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden is a beautiful example of just how lush the desert naturally is, but there are days when the crowds can be a bit much. For a more peaceful garden experience, check out Ro Ho En, the Japanese Friendship Garden. While the garden is located on a scant 3.5 acres, it is still a lovely experience that transports you away from the steel and concrete found elsewhere in the city.
Note: This garden is only open October through May. Address: 1125 North 3rd Avenue in Phoenix.
3. Marble Canyon
Sitting between Glen Canyon and the Grand Canyon is Marble Canyon, named for its “marble-like” cliffs by John Wesley Powell. This is a great alternative to the other canyons for several reasons; it is less crowded, the river waters are calm for fishing and less raucous boating, and it gives a glimpse of what Glen Canyon may have looked like before it was filled to become a reservoir.
Directions: From Flagstaff, drive north on US-89 to Bitter Springs, then take US-89A to Marble Canyon.
4. The Shady Dell in Bisbee
With its history and purported haunted status, the Copper Queen Hotel is a pretty tempting and lovely place to stay when visiting Bisbee. But if you want something that shows off the quirky side of the town, and if you've ever been curious what it would be like to sleep in the aluminum trailer pictured above, you will want to book a stay at
the Shady Dell
. It has 10 retro-themed airstream trailers to make your stay a unique one during the spring and fall months.
Address: 1 Douglas Road in Bisbee.
5. Sunset Crater
At first, the name is a bit deceptive because it suggests the site may be a meteor crater, but Sunset Crater is actually a cinder cone volcano. It was last active in the 11th-century, making it significantly younger than the stratovolcano that forms the San Francisco Peaks. It is also visited far less frequently than the San Francisco Peaks, so it is a great little area for a quiet walk and to learn about the regional volcanic field.
Directions: From Flagstaff, drive north on US-89, then turn right at Sunset Crater-Wupakti Loop Road. Drive two miles to the visitor center.
The San Xavier del Bac Mission is well regarded as a stunning example of preserved Spanish Colonial architecture and ornate interiors. This attracts thousands of visitors each year and can make the experience a bit crowded. If you're still looking for existing examples of old missions with a quieter experience, another option is to check out Tumacacori National Historical Park. This site is approximately 40 minutes south of Tucson, and actually hosts the ruins of three different missions; Tumacacori, Calabasas and Guevavi. The last two are only available through guided tours, so check the National Park website for
information on reserving a tour
Address: 1891 East Frontage Road in Tumacacori.
7. Vulture Mine
Goldfield once lived a thriving life as a mining town, but little of the actual town exists today. Instead, the buildings you will find here are fairly recent constructions as a tourist attraction to emulate what the town must have looked like back in the day. However, if you are looking for a more authentic view of a ghost town and former mining town, another nearby option is Vulture Mine.
Note: Tours are available between October and May when the weather is more palatable to wandering the desert. Follow this
link for tour information
br>Address: 36610 North 355th Avenue in Wickenburg.
What nearby places would you recommend people visit instead of the usual tourist spots? We’d love to hear your suggestions!