Have an itch to travel this winter but not sure where to go? How about a place where you can find great hiking, golf, skiing, shopping and ruins to explore? And all this within a few hours of driving each other? Of course, this place is Arizona, a state that offers travelers an endless array of things to do in the winter.
Superstition Plans: One of the best winter tourism destinations in Arizona is the Superstition Mountains, just east of Apache Junction, which is east of Phoenix. They are best known for the fabulous lost Dutch mine. Legend has it that the mine, discovered by Jacob Waltz (the Dutchman), still contains a large amount of gold. That is, if anyone can find it. You can be among the many who have tried to find the mine (some of them have died trying), or you can be among the many who venture into the superstitions of the mountains in search of great tourism. Be sure to visit the Lost Dutch State Park, where you will find a variety of hiking trails as well as morning and full moon hikes led by the Ranger during the winter and spring months.
Arizona is also a great place for golf in the winter. Several golf courses worth noting include:
Grayhawk Golf Club: Located in Scottsdale, the Golfhawk Golf Club consists of two golf courses, Talon and Raptor, which have received numerous accolades over the years, including the "Top 100 You Can Play in the US." from Golf magazine.
Troon North Golf Club: Two golf courses make up the Troon North Golf Club: Monument and Peaks. Also located in Scottsdale, Troon North Golf Club has also received numerous accolades, including being named the nation's No. 21 and No. 1 in Arizona by Golf Magazine.
Are you skiing in Arizona? Why, of course. Arizona not only has the sun in the winter, but it also has some spots in the states where you go downhill.
Sunrise Park Resort: Sunrise Park Resort is located in Greer, in the east of the state, just a 4-hour drive from Phoenix and Tucson. Owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache tribe, Sunrise Park offers 8 lifts and 65 ski runs of all skill levels. There is also a separate snowboard area, a children's area, running paths and tubing hills.
Arizona Snow: Arizona snow is located on the peaks of San Francisco, above Flagstaff, and only a few hours from Phoenix. Offering 32 tracks and 4 lifts, the Arizona Snowbowl is one of the oldest ski runs in the United States. If snowboarding is more your style, they also offer a terrain park with rails and boxes.
Exploring the ruins of the Indians
You could plan an entire vacation in Arizona, going from ruins to ruins, but if you visit Phoenix and only have a day, be sure to drive about an hour and a half north on I-17 to Montezuma Castle, a five-story home on a 12- the century that has inhabited the people of Sinagua. This is an easy walk along a 1/3 mile trail that offers great views of the Castle. If you have time, drive 11 miles north and visit Montezuma Well, where you can see a hole in a natural sink and small homes built into the steep walls surrounding the hole. The sink hole may sound like a big yawn, but it really is an interesting place to visit.
If you're going to Arizona for shopping, then you'll probably want to head to Scottsdale, home to luxury resorts, high-end shopping malls, art galleries and 5th Avenue shops. The Scottsdale Arts District in downtown Scottsdale boasts one of the largest concentrations of art galleries in the nation, incorporating diverse arts including contemporary, western and Native American art.
Arizona can also claim some of the finest antique malls in the country, including Brass Armadillo at 12419 N. 28th Drive in Phoenix, where you can spend hours walking the ranks and rows of antique and collectibles. And Glendale, a small town west of Phoenix, has so many antique stores downtown that it's called the "Arizona Antique Capital" by readers of local newspapers. Serious antiques will want to devote a whole day to discovering the treasures in downtown Glendale.
Of course, the above is just a handful of things to do in Arizona in the winter. If you can't do everything for a winter getaway, there is always spring!