4 Reasons to Visit Amazing Arizona
Whether you want a sunny escape or snow-filled adventure, Arizona offers the best of both worlds during the holiday season
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Set at 7,000 feet, Flagstaff offers small-town charm and big-time outdoor adventure. This alpine playground, home to the world’s largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest, is a winter wonderland with plenty of sunshine, boasting 288 days of clear, sunny skies. Skiing and snowboarding await just minutes outside of Flagstaff at the Arizona Snowbowl from mid-November to mid-April. Breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon can be seen on the new high-speed chairlift, aptly named The Grand Canyon Express.
Other wintery family fun includes sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and camping in yurts at Arizona Nordic Village. Or try the tree-to-tree challenges and zip lines at the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course. During the holidays, glide across the ice at the free skating rink downtown and warm up with hot cocoa or craft coffee. Other holiday delights include Hitchin’ Post Sleigh Rides, a North Pole Experience, tours of the Riordan Mansion, and stargazing at Lowell Observatory.
Historic downtown bustles with holiday shopping and gourmet dining at local favorites like The Cottage, Farmhouse French Bistro, Josephine’s Modern American Bistro, and Shift Kitchen & Bar. Craft beer connoisseurs should follow the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail, a self-guided tour and brewery tasting adventure with stops at Beaver Street Brewery, Flagstaff Brewing Company, Wanderlust Brewing Company, and more. And of course, Historic Route 66 runs right through town, so take time to cruise along the nostalgic “Mother Road.”
As the hub of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff is an easy drive to archeological treasures, national monuments, and mind-blowing attractions. Check off that bucket list by visiting Grand Canyon National Park, just 80 miles from Flagstaff, or explore the ancient pueblos and red rocks of the Wupatki National Monument. Don’t miss the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Meteor Crater, where the Apollo astronauts trained for the first trip to the moon.
Once Upon a Time in the West
National Park Alert
Witness the cliff dwellings of early native cultures at Walnut Canyon National Monument and the 800-year-old rock-walled pueblos of the Anasazi tribes at Wupatki National Monument.
To learn more about the native cultures, visit the renowned Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff.
Another wonderful destination for Southern California residents wanting a taste of winter, festive events, and the great outdoors, Prescott is known as Arizona’s Christmas City for its incredible holiday spirit. The town transforms into a glistening gem celebrating the season with one of the largest gingerbread villages in the country, a cowboy Christmas parade, story readings, carolers, music performances, holiday-themed theater, a spectacular courthouse lighting, and more.
There’s also 450 miles of trails to play on, whether you want to hike, bike, camp, or discover prehistoric sites. An easy way to navigate the area is along the Prescott Circle Trail system, which loops 54 miles together. Over 360 species of birds inhabit the natural environs, making it a great bird-watching destination. For a taste of the Old West, be sure to saddle up and horseback ride with a local cowboy along a scenic trail. Or explore the three pretty lakes by canoe or kayak. Golfers can tee off year-round (weather permitting) at public courses like Antelope Hills Golf Courses or Prescott Golf & Country Club.
There’s no shortage of arts and culture in Prescott, where you can visit the historic Sharlot Hall Museum, Phippen Museum—named after local artist and first president of the Cowboy Artists of America, George Phippen— or the Smoki Museum of American Indian art and culture. Stroll Whiskey Row, once home to 40 raucous saloons during the gold rush. Today, the charming streets are dotted with candy shops, art galleries, unique shopping, restaurants, and, of course, famous saloons. Be on the watch for a “shoot-out” reenactment that takes you back in time for some fun in the Wild West.
Some Like It Hot
National Heritage Area
Yuma has a rich history, as the first Europeans arrived in 1540 to survey the area as a natural point to cross the once-untamed Colorado River.
Today, the revitalized land near Historic Downtown Yuma is made up of two State Historic Parks, riverfront trails and beaches, 350 acres of restored wetlands, and an interpretive plaza that tells the many stories of the Yuma Crossing.
Just over two hours from San Diego, Yuma has a warm, temperate climate year-round and endless adventures for every interest. In November, don’t miss the annual Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival, a sight to behold with dozens of colorful balloons soaring above the river and West Wetlands Park. Yuma’s riverfront parks are also home to playgrounds, nature trails for tranquil walks, and spectacular bird-watching in 350 acres of restored wetlands. Since Yuma sits along the Colorado River, try canoeing, kayaking, or a float trip to take in the scenic wonders.
History buffs will appreciate the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, with its 1907 Baldwin locomotive sitting at the very spot (Pivot Point Interpretative Plaza) where the first railway locomotive entered into Arizona. There’s also the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, where guests can explore the museum and corridor of cells, hand-built by its prisoners back in 1875, and made popular by the movie 3:10 to Yuma.
Take a trip out to Castle Domes Mining Museum to visit a real ghost town in the desert, or head to nearby Felicity to experience the truly unique Museum of History in Granite, a sprawling site where you’ll find the history of humanity, the United States, California, Arizona, and more engraved into granite. Catch wheel-to-wheel action at the Cocopah Speedway, a clay and dirt oval for weekend racing, or rev up that ATV and explore the Imperial Sand Dunes, a filming location for Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
Back in Yuma’s historic downtown, there’s plenty of boutique shopping, gourmet dining, and entertainment. Catch a show at the historic Yuma Theater or grab a bite at Lutes Casino Restaurant. Craft beer fans should head to Prison Hill Brewing Company for a beer and a bite.
In December, the Somerton Tamale Festival offers up the largest assortment of tamales found anywhere on earth. Want the best of what Yuma’s agriculinary scene offers? Hop aboard for a Field to Feast tour, a Savor Yuma progressive dinner, grab a seat at a Farmer’s Wife Dinner, or dine elegantly under the stars and palms at Date Night. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Go behind the gates of Yuma Proving Ground and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma with fascinating military tours.
Escape to Scottsdale with this Holiday Special
Sun and fun seekers should head to this 496-room desert oasis that has it all. The upscale resort sizzles with its massive casino (home to 800 multidenominational slot machines and a wide array of table games), two championship golf courses managed by Troon Golf, a chic pampering spa, poolside cabanas, 10 entertainment lounges, a sports bar, a martini and cigar bar, and gourmet dining and craft cocktails at Orange Sky on the 15th floor, ideal at sunset for sprawling valley views.
Look for their holiday package with rates starting at $139 with a minimum two-night stay. Enjoy $25 in food and beverage credits. To book your escape from December 1 to January 12, please use the code CHEER.