Take advantage of summer’s low rates to enjoy adventures in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. Plan carefully and you can stay out of the mid-day heat and still explore the attractions.
The Sonoran desert, a prime draw, stretches out as a landscape of boulders, cactus, sagebrush and feathery Palo Verde trees. Instead of hiking the terrain in the heat, get up early to float over the landscape in a hot air balloon. The balloons launch just after dawn when both the temperatures and the winds are mild.
Another desert adventure: take a back-country nighttime tour in a Hummer. The vehicle powers you up steep ridges and over giant rocks to a secluded spot for a look at the stars. Many outfitters also add night vision scopes that enable you to spot bats, scorpions and maybe even wild pigs.
Forget–about touring in the mid-day sun. That’s the time to take in a museum, get pampered at a spa, or soak in a resort pool. At the Heard Museum, get acquainted with southwestern and especially Native American art. The facility gains fame for its superb collection of Pima baskets, Navajo rugs, katsina dolls, pottery, beadwork, jewelry and other Native American objects.
At Phoenix’s Musical Instrument Museum, rated as the city’s top attraction, get into the beat of music around the world. Experience cool Jazz, classic singers, hot Hip Hop, Salsa, Rock and other rhythms from around the world. The cleverly designed exhibits, organized by region and also by topic, showcase the instruments and feature videos of people in their various countries playing the instruments. Headphones enable you to hear the music. In the hands-on Experience gallery, you can play a Burmese harp, beat African drums and strike a huge gong from Thailand.
In the afternoon, indulge at the spa. You’ve been good and even if you haven’t, these desert and Native American inspired treatments at Scottsdale’s noted resorts are just the thing for nourishing body and soul. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess’ Purification Ritual employs such local elements as Indian sarsaparilla, aloe and prickly pear. The Hotel Valley Ho uses the essence of flowers to bring calm, and in nearby Chandler, the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa’s Thoachta treatment uses ancient Pima healing doctrines.
On Thursday’s from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., enjoy the evening air by strolling downtown Scottsdale’s gallery district during ArtWalk when scores of the town’s 100+ galleries remain open. Interesting galleries include the Marshall Gallery of Fine Art, LewAllen Galleries and Altimara Fine Art, offering contemporary and southwestern pieces. For those looking for works to fit a modest budget, browse Art One Gallery, which represents students in Arizona universities.
Cool-off at your resort pool. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess makes the most of its waterscape in summer. Float on inner tubes in the pool and watch a flick at the free weekend Dive In Movies, great for families with grade-schoolers. Tweens and teens especially like the Techno Glo Party on Friday and Saturday nights when they can zip down a slide to DJ music, wiggle in a hula hoop with LED lights, splash in a pool aglow with laser lights and bubbles and try body surfing in the new SplashRider X-treme.