March is prime time for trips to the Phoenix – Scottsdale area of Arizona. Families, couples, singles – everyone wants a dose of sunshine.
But what can you do if you’re not into playing golf on one of the more than 200 golf courses that dot the area?
Here’s my list of five great things to do if and near Phoenix or Scottsdale that don’t involve golf – or tennis for that matter.
- The hiking is excellent in and around Phoenix. Try the popular Piestewa Peak hike (formerly Squaw Peak) – an outdoor version of the Stairmaster. The most popular route is the Summit Trail – which takes you roughly 1.2 miles to the top. But it gets busy – very BUSY. The other option is the Circumference Trail. It’s 3.5 miles long and doesn’t see nearly the traffic of the Summit Trail.
- Another classic hike is the one up Camelback Mountain. You can choose the 2.2 mile Echo Canyon Route or the 2.8 mile Cholla Lane route. Be prepared for some steep hiking – but you’ll be rewarded with 360 degree views of Phoenix.
- Head out of town to the Superstition Mountains. There are lots of trails to choose from, and a choice of access points. Try one of the trails out of Lost Dutchmen State Park, just 40 miles east of Phoenix.
- Look for over 50,000 plants in the Desert Botanical Gardens. Spring is a particularly beautiful time to visit with many plants coming into bloom. There’s also a “Music in the Garden” series on Friday nights from early March through until June, though you can’t bring the kids.
Drive the Apache Trail
- I discovered this remarkable drive on my recent visit to Phoenix. Jaw dropping scenery begins at the Theodore Roosevelt Dam, at the junction of Highway 88 and 188, and ends just outside of Apache Junction, though you could continue all the way to Globe. The Apache Trail is mostly a dirt road, often narrow, and not a place you want to be caught with an RV. In fact they’re prohibited. Take water and a lunch – though you can get something to eat in Tortilla Flats – and plan on lots of stops so you can really enjoy the scenery.
- The Phoenix Art Museum, a world class museum, boasts over 18,000 works of art from many genres including American, Asian, European, Western American and Modern. They have also, along with the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson, have established a photography exhibit with over 80,000 photographs representing 2,000 photographers.
- The Heard Museum is the place to go if you are interested in American Indian art and history. Exhibits change frequently.
- The Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park, a National Historic Landmark, is a prehistoric Hohokam Indian village site that was occupied between 100 and 1450 AD. The ruin is located at 4619 East Washington Street in Phoenix. You’ll need to pay a fee before you walk the self guided trail to the ruins.
- Take an architecture tour of Taliesin West in Scottsdale – Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio and architectural campus. Or visit The Hotel Valley Ho – one of the best known mid century hotels in the US. Other area tours will educate you about sustainable architecture in the southwest or designing with solar. If you have time, an interesting place to visit is Cosanti, the gallery, studio and residence of Paolo Soleri, out in Paradise Valley. You’ll find bronze and ceramics windbells and depending on the time of year, you might be able to watch a bell being poured.
Photo credit: Camelback Mountain