Desert Adventures: The Best Things to Do in Phoenix,Arizona

Along with it’s signature red rock landscape,crystal blue skies and endless sunshine Phoenix is a city where life is best lived outdoors. Whether you’re traveling to Phoenix for a business trip or to Scottsdale for a girlfriend getaway,the proximity of several mountains,the Sonoran Desert and a small number of lakes and rivers means you’re never too far from some outside adventures. So if you want red mountain hikes,crave a bit of culture or desire nothing more than to lounge in a poolside cabana in Scottsdale; there is no shortage of outside activities in Phoenix Pack your bags and take a look at a few of the best things to do in Phoenix,Arizona.

Hiking in Phoenix

There is no question Phoenix offers up a few of the best urban hiking in the country. Where else can you hit the trails throughout the day with plenty of time for a poolside cocktail in the evening? Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale is perhaps the best known hike in Phoenix but the nearby Usery Mountains,Tonto National Forest and Superstition Mountains have miles of trails waiting to become explored. While beautiful the desert can also be brutal; make sure you stay on marked trails,watch out for wildlife (a snake bite is a sure way to ruin your day) and drink plenty of water (make sure to bring along an eco-friendly reusable water bottle). With countless trails ranging flat and wheelchair accessible to 2,000 foot climbs that require scrambling and boulder hopping,a few of the best hiking in Phoenix is only minutes from downtown.

 

Laze by the Pool in Scottsdale

When the Arizona sun brings temperatures into the triple digit range the only thing you really want to do is lounge by the pool with a fruity drink in hand and naturally Phoenix has elevated lazing by the pool into an art form. Scottsdale is popular for it’s top quality luxury resorts featuring over the top pools that are the perfect antidote to the blazing Sonoran sun. The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale features a 2.5 acre aquatic playground with 10 pools,20 fountains and a three-story tall tall high speed waterslide (take a look at my review for the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale); while the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess features six pools including one that has a 9,000 square foot white sand beach.

 

Horseback Riding in the McDowell Mountains

For a true taste of the wild west,cowboy up with the folks at Fort McDowell Adventures. Atop your trusty steed explore the sun-baked hills dotted with saguaro cactus and mesquite while real-deal cowboys share the history of the Yavapai Indians and tell tales of long lost gold mines. We-Ko-Pa Resort,a family friendly resort operated by the Yavapai Nation that boasts a pool with views of the nearby Red Mountains in addition to a cozy spa and an awardwinning casino,is the perfect place to rest your haunches after a day in the saddle.

 

 

Stand Up Paddle Board in Mesa

When you consider Arizona adventures stand paddle boarding probably isn’t the very first thing that enters your mind but when the desert temperatures climb there is nothing like a day out on the water. With six lakes and a small number of rivers the Phoenix area offers ample opportunity to get out on the water. Get your rental board from the friendly folks at No Snow Stand Paddle in Mesa on your way out to Saguaro Lake. This two square mile lake,with views of the Four Peaks range of mountains,towering sandstone cliffs and namesake saguaro cacti lining the shores is among one of the most stunning places I’ve paddled. Lake Pleasant,a 10,000 acre lake popular for windsurfing and waterskiing,is just a 45 minute drive from downtown Phoenix.

 

Hot Air Balloon Ride in Phoenix

A hot air balloon ride tops many bucket lists and with over 300 days of sunshine per year and the beauty of the Sonoran Desert extending for miles Phoenix is among the best places in the US to make your ballooning dream a reality. Watching the sun rise from behind red rock mountains while gliding approximately 5,000 feet above the desert landscape is equal parts thrilling,magical and surreal and with a champagne brunch after you land this flight with Phoenix Hot Air Expeditions is one experience you won’t mind getting up early for. If you’re a first timer be sure to take a look at my tips for your first hot air balloon ride.

 

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West

Including an architectural tour on a list of outside adventures may seem a bit odd,but hear me out. Taliesin West,the winter outpost of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright,is where the architect’s signature brand of organic architecture is on full display. The home is equal parts Flintsones and mid-century modern while the history of Frank Lloyd Wright,his family and students (Taleisin West continues to serve as an architectural school to this particular day) are fascinating. Time your visit to Taleisin West for the evening for magnificent sunset views over Scottsdale and the surrounding McDowell Mountains.

 

Spend a Day Out on the Farm in Queen Creek

The deserts around Phoenix hold many surprises and among the biggest for me was discovering the rich agricultural heritage of the farming communities near Mesa,Arizona on the Fresh Foodie Trail. Queen Creek Olive Mill,Arizona’s only working olive grove,offers a true farm-to-table experience with it’s olive press and cafe. At their Olive 101 class you can learn about (and sample) the olive oil pressed on site then dine on casual Tuscan-inspired fare at the Mill’s onsite eatery. When it pertains to peaches Georgia has nothing on Schnepf Farms,Arizona’s largest organic peach farm that has been run by the Schnepf family for over four generations. Over 250,000 visitors stop by Schnepf Farms for juicy peaches straight from the tree,fresh baked peach pies and peach cinnamon rolls from their bakery,in addition to the numerous festivals the farm hosts throughout the year.

Here are some things to do if you are investing in 1 day in Boston

A single day affords the opportunity to sample some experiences unique to Boston. You won’t have time for full engagement,but you can touch on several singular attractions and destinations. Your focus will be the downtown area,home to the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods.

Start: Boston Common (Red or Green Line to Park St.),15 State St. (Orange or Blue Line to State),or Faneuil Hall (Green or Blue Line to Government Center).

One Singular Sensation: On a 1-day visit,think about focusing on just a couple of things you’re most excited about,plus a good meal or two. If what really gets you going is the Museum of Arts,the Museum of Science,Newbury Street’s art galleries and boutiques,or perhaps a field trip,you have a good excuse for refraining from doing more– and for a return trip to Boston!

 

1. The Freedom Trail

Boston’s signature attraction is a 2.5-mile line of red paint or brick laid out at the tip of a local journalist in 1958. Following the whole Freedom Trail can consume the lion’s share of a day,but numerous options that focus on the downtown part of the walk take 2 hours approximately. Your goal is to cover– at whatever pace suits you,as carefully or as casually as you like– the first two-thirds of the trail,from Boston Common through Faneuil Hall. Start at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center with a pamphlet describing the self-guided tour or with the audio tour available from the Freedom Trail Foundation. If you prefer a guided tour,check the schedule of tours with National Park Service rangers,Boston By Foot,and the Freedom Trail Foundation.

2. Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Faneuil Hall Marketplace uses a host of shopping options,many of which are outlets of national chains. You can give your wallet a workout before,after,or even (this may be our little secret) during your sightseeing.

 

3. Quincy Market

The main level of Faneuil Hall Marketplace’s central building,Quincy Market,is a gigantic food-court. You can eat at the marketplace,but I suggest crossing Atlantic Avenue and enjoying your snack or lunch with a glorious view. Stake out a seat overlooking the marina beside Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. If you prefer to eat indoors,head nearby to Union Oyster House

4. Paul Revere House.

Our favorite Freedom Trail stop is a little 17th-century home overlooking an attractive cobblestone square.

5. The North End

The Freedom Trail continues here with another famous Paul Revere hangout,the interesting Old North Church. But there’s more to this historic neighborhood than just history. The city’s “Little Italy” (locals don’t refer to it as that) is a great place for wandering around.

6. Hanover Street

Coffee outlets throughout the city valiantly attempt to serve good espresso and cappuccino; the shops here always are successful– and if they don’t,they don’t remain in business long. Pair your caffeine with a fresh-baked pastry,settle in at a bakery or caffè,and take in the scene on the North End’s main road. Top choices: Caffè Vittoria,Mike’s Pastry,and Caffè dello Sport.

7. The Waterfront

Now downtown Boston’s small size pays off: In almost any direction,the gorgeous harbor is a brief stroll from the North End. As the day unwind,you can take a sightseeing cruise from Long Wharf or Rowes Wharf– though a ferry ride from Long Wharf to Charlestown and back may be better for your schedule and budget. If cruises aren not for you or run out season,explore the New England Aquarium or the Boston Children’s Museum. If those don’t appeal to you,head for the nearby Seaport District (also known as the South Boston Waterfront) and visit the Institute of Contemporary Art. It’s a 20- to 30-minute walk or 10-minute cab ride.
Or– it’s not the Waterfront,but bear with us– abandon the sightseeing after the Paul Revere House and go shopping in the Back Bay,starting with a stroll along Newbury Street.

 

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