Love Is In The Air
There are few spots in the world that can match Arizona’s wide variety of romantic backdrops – perfect for a wedding or honeymoon. From red rocks to picturesque mountain ranges and rustic guest ranches to lavish resorts – all under more than 300 days of sunshine a year – Arizona is an easy wedding destination to sell.
At sunset, the red rocks of Sedona glow a spectacular crimson. With near-perfect weather, there are endless possibilities for outdoor ceremonies and receptions. Nature lovers can say their vows under the “wedding tree” at Red Rock State Park. The Grand Canyon’s magnificent Shoshone Point overlooking the South Rim is an unbeatable backdrop for wedding photos. Garden lovers would be happy among the wildflowers of Lockett Meadow at the base of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff. A ceremony barefoot among the grapevines of a vineyard may be just the ticket for a pair of gastronomes.
The romance of Western history is never far away in atmosphere-steeped towns like Tombstone and Bisbee. In Tombstone, couples can exchange their vows under the sweet-scented canopy of the world’s largest Lady Banks rose tree. The Victorian-style bed and breakfast inns and gourmet restaurants of Bisbee are part of the old mining town’s renaissance as an artists’ enclave. In some of the smaller, historic communities like Prescott and Jerome, territorial-era churches still have the original stained glass windows and wood plank floors.
In Arizona, even the cities are known for jaw-dropping settings, quaint bed & breakfasts and luxury resorts. In Phoenix, the Sonoran Desert and the drama of peaks like Camelback Mountain are home to high-end properties like The Boulders or the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Both use the ancient desert landscape to create romantic settings for both ceremony and reception. In Tucson, Spanish and Mexican heritage is reflected in the many charming adobe hotels and upscale guest resorts.
Ranches & Retreats
With so many different landscapes – from deserts to canyons to forested mountains – there’s something for everyone’s dream holiday, from girlfriend getaways to family bonding time.
There’s no more authentic Western experience than on a ranch stay. Immerse yourself as much as you’d like – from riding the trails to hanging out at night to count the stars in the Western sky. Ranch stays are family-friendly and fun girlfriend (or guy) getaways. Properties like Rancho de los Caballeros (Wickenburg) and Tanque Verde Ranch (Tucson) are members of The Dude Ranchers’ Association. New Age meets Old West at the eco-friendly Sunglow Ranch near the Chiricahua Mountains where yoga, cooking, writing and photography workshops can be part of the vacation.
Sedona CVBSedona’s worldwide reputation as a spiritual energy centre means no shortage of places to rejuvenate and reenergize. The Mii amo spa at Enchantment Resort was ranked the world’s best destination spa by Travel & Leisure. Their focus is on all-inclusive spa retreat journeys including meals and two spa treatments daily. The Amara Resort and the Hilton Sedona Resort are two other Sedona properties that offer renewing spa experiences and upscale accommodations.
Arizona’s Musical Roots Run Deep
The multi-layered heritage of Native American and Hispanic cultures has left a strong mark on the musical traditions of Arizona.
At one time performance theatre was huge – many of the grand halls have been transformed into modern facilities now home to groups like the Phoenix Metropolitan Opera (Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix) and the Fox Tucson Theatre.
Rich musical heritage comes alive at many exhibits and festivals:
• Fiesta del Tlaquepaque in Sedona celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month (September)
• Mexican Day of the Dead is commemorated in Tucson and at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff (October)
• Music in the Garden Fall Concert Series brings the musical spirit of the Southwest to life at The Desert Botanical Garden of Phoenix
What better way to understand the Native American culture of ceremony, artistry, symbolism and deep traditions than with a visit to one of the state’s many museums?
In Flagstaff, the Museum of Northern Arizona’s enormous collection is a treasure trove of knowledge on tribal history, traditional weaving, pottery, katsinas and jewelry, as well as the geology and biology of the Colorado Plateau.
The Explore Navajo Interactive Museum near Tuba City in the Four Corners region approximates the journey Navajo take through life. The museum is divided into four quadrants, a number with special significance to the Navajo.
The Heard Museum in Phoenix’s arts district showcases the cultural heritage of Native peoples – it’s a must-see introduction to the founding heritage and art of the Southwest. Indoor and outdoor galleries show innovative programs, festivals, music, dance and world-class Native American fine art.
The Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix sits at the 1,500-year-old ruins of a prehistoric Hohokam village. Visitors can walk the ruin trails, see an excavated ball court and view reproductions of Hohokam homes.
Built On Native Foundations
The influence of the state’s earliest Native residents is reflected in Arizona’s love for designs that integrate function with the surrounding environment. Some of America’s pre-eminent architects – Frank Lloyd Wright, Mary Jane Coulter – made the Arizona desert their homes, drawn by the inspiration of the landscape and the ancient cultures.
Greater Phoenix CVBFrequently called “the greatest American architect of all time,” Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, Taliesin West, at the foot of the McDowell Mountains is now headquarters of The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Tours allow the public to experience Wright’s craftsmanship and learn about the famous architect’s philosophies and theories of design. Wright influenced the architecture of Phoenix and Scottsdale, leaving his mark on several buildings in the valley area.
Along historic Route 66, in Winslow, an architectural treasure described as “the last great railroad hotel” has been rated by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the best places in the world to stay. With its sustainable desert gardens and award-winning Turquoise Room restaurant, La Posada is the hacienda-style masterpiece of famed American architect Mary Jane Colter. Colter’s design touch also shaped several of the National Park Service landmark hotels and structures along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Considered a work of art, the luminous Mission San Xavier del Bac (“White Dove of the Desert”) is one of the country’s finest examples of Spanish Colonial architecture. A National Historic Landmark, it’s distinctive for its two-metre thick walls of adobe brick and interior decorations of paintings, statuary and murals.
At Tubac, home of the first Spanish settlement in Arizona, the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park preserves the ruins of the original presidio and a territorial schoolhouse. Close by are the ruins of three Spanish colonial missions at the Tumacácori National Historic Park.
Scottsdale CVBA Cultural Renaissance
Many visitors come to Arizona in search of colourful Navajo rugs, intricate jewelry, woven baskets and carved Hopi katsina dolls. Part of the fun is the opportunity to buy from the artisan or tribe member at an historic trading post or roadside stand.
The Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado is a National Historic Site and the oldest trading post in the Navajo Nation. It’s also a good spot for the serious collector to purchase high quality Navajo rugs, Pueblo katsina dolls, pottery and paintings in an historic location.
Just 30 minutes from the Grand Canyon, the sandstone and log Cameron Trading Post offers a variety of Native American and Southwest art from handmade originals to more contemporary dreamcatchers and flutes.
The Hopi Mesas north of Winslow and Flagstaff are known for brightly-painted katsina dolls representing the sacred spirits, coiled baskets and fine pottery.
Galleries and museum gift shops in Tucson, Flagstaff, Sedona and Phoenix showcase original works – a good bet is the Heard Museum gift shop.