Destination spotlight Arizona, yes even for beach lovers

Happy February?  It’s a favorite month for skiers but warm days filled with sunshine are calling the rest of us!  Speaking of gorgeous weather, Arizona is an incredible state with dry heat and year-round sunshine.  I’ve mentioned it a couple of times in past newsletters (ICYMI you can read back issues on the blog on our website) because I love the magic of the desert. Arizona has so much to offer families, couples and affinity groups, especially golfers, outdoor adventurers, and hikers. If you haven’t been to Arizona recently or have never been at all, now is a great time to book a trip!

WHY go?  Arizona is an incredible state – it offers breathtaking natural beauty, a thriving arts scene, a fascinating perspective on American history, diverse adventure activities, and amazing culinary options just to start the list.  If you’re into unique landscapes and spiritual energy, Sedona is rich, not only with other-worldly red rock formations but 4 vortexes and local people who can help you connect to their energy.  Architecture buffs will want to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, Taliesin West, in Scottsdale and the Arizona Biltmore Resort.  If you love Americana, Route 66 passes through towns like Winslow (yes same as the Eagle song town), Flagstaff, Williams, Kingman and be sure to stop at a historic diner and the Petrified National Forest.  Stay overnight in Flagstaff to zipline through the Ponderosas in the day and gaze into the star-filled night sky at the Lowell Observatory.  And you can’t think of Arizona without the Grand Canyon coming to mind – it’s rightly on most family’s travel bucket lists.  Foodies can dive into Phoenix’s culinary scene (we love southwestern inspired dishes), and many cool options for bar hopping and nightlife. 

WHERE to go?  You need a few weeks to experience all that Arizona has to offer.  It’s the 6th largest state in the United States bordering Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Mexico, and California. Some key tourist destinations include Phoenix/Scottsdale, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Page, Flagstaff, Jerome, Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, and Tucson.  The diversity of the Arizona landscape is truly mind-blowing; the state doesn’t disappoint the most discerning nature lovers with snow-covered mountains to the north in winter, to the red rock formations of Sedona, and to the Saguaro cacti national forest in Tucson which far south near the Mexico border. 

WHEN to go?  The short answer is year-round!  Yes, it gets hot enough in the summer to ground planes in Phoenix, but Lake Powell offers water activities galore that even beach lovers will enjoy.  In the desert, they are well set up for beating the heat.  In the winter, you can ski up north and enjoy the cool temps in the south.  The spring brings wildflowers, baseball spring training games and loads of activities that maximize the gorgeous weather.  Fall into holiday is another activity-filled time to visit, and Flagstaff offers gorgeous leaf-peeping, believe it or not.  The holidays are full of seasonal events you can enjoy without the heavy winter coat. 

WHO should go?  Honestly, everyone should go to Arizona and more than once with activities for everyone.  A favorite family activity is taking a Pink Jeep tour which goes off-road into Red Rock State Park in Sedona; you can also hike, bike or even horseback ride throughout the park. Salt River Tubing near Phoenix is a hidden gem activity; cool off in the summer while having a picnic floating down this scenic river.  Have a kid who loves baseball?  Cactus League spring training games in Phoenix are a lot of fun in February and March.  Families can glamp in the Grand Canyon come summertime.  We recommend considering a specialized tour company, like Austin Adventures, for an epic family experience.  If you have a multi-generational group, a custom tour can be arranged. 

Couples will enjoy the art galleries, diverse museums, boutique shopping and upscale dining in Scottsdale.  The Arizona Biltmore Resort is perfect for people into history and architecture.  Frank Lloyd Wright was the consulting architect, and it opened in 1929 attracting high society and presidents alike.  Irving Berlin penned “White Christmas” here.  Enjoy the resort and its many amenities, then drive up to Sedona for the art scene and be sure to have dinner on the outside patio at Mariposa at sunset.  Watch the colors of the red rocks change as you sip a glass from their extensive wine collection. 

For golfers, the course options in Arizona are enticing. In January, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is held at the TPC Scottsdale golf course, located adjacent next to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort, attracting fans far and wide.  It’s the only golf tournament that allows fans to loudly cheer, and even boo, the golfers from the stands on the 16th hole.  A member of the Hidden Gem team attended the tournament this year; the weather was perfect at 75 sunny degrees, and he followed Ricky Fowler around the course, surely picking up some pointers!

Part of a group that loves golf, hiking, cycling, or wellness?  Arizona is ideal for a group getaway that is customized to everyone’s wishes and needs.  If you have gear, Southwest Airlines flies regularly into Phoenix and is a great option as there is no charge for up to two checked bags (see their website for details).  Oversized or overweight items like golf clubs?  The charge is $75 per bag currently.  Wellness groups have incredible options for spas and healthful experiences that recharge and relax.  I’m ready to go now 😊.

Inspired and excited to learn more?  I can be reached by email or phone/text 203.247.3396. 

Hidden Gem Tip: Make sure you see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (open May-October); 95% of tourists visit the South Rim and only 5% make it to the North Rim which runs 10 degrees cooler and offers less crowded magnificent views.



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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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