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Things to Do in Arizona - page 3

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Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA)
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This iconic contemporary art museum is located on 21-acres of local park in the heart of Scottsdale and showcases between nine and 12 exhibitions each year. Visitors who venture to this popular attraction will find some of the best examples of art, design and architecture in the Southwest.

Travelers agree the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is an ideal place to escape the city’s heat while taking in some fabulous pieces. But since the museum is relatively small, it’s good to check ahead to be sure it’s not between exhibits.

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Grand Canyon North Rim
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No trip to Las Vegas is complete without visiting the Grand Canyon. Thousands of feet higher than the South Rim, the canyon’s North Rim provides impressive vistas, trails along the Colorado River, and a better glimpse at the inner canyon, all with sparser crowds than its more popular counterpart. Highlights on the North Rim include Bright Angel Point (a terminus of the famous Bright Angel Trail), Angel’s Window Overlook, Cape Royal, and Point Imperial—the Grand Canyon’s highest point at 8,800 feet (2,682 meters).

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Tusayan Ruins and Museum
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A visit to Tusayan Ruins and Museumprovides a glimpseinto the life of the Hopi tribe and the Ancestral Puebloan people who inhabited the region 800 years ago. Inside the museum, there are artfully displayed exhibits on various aspects of life in the village including pottery,arrowheads, and other household artifacts. The museum also features some of the original 2,000–4,000 year oldsplit-twig figurines, which are made in the shape of deer or bighorn sheep, sometimes with horns or antlers.

The Tusayan Ruins and Museumis part of the Grand Canyon South Rim’s Desert View Drive. The trail itself holds a variety of attractions including Desert View, the breathtaking scenery unfolding from Desert View Watchtower, Navajo Point, where you can see the Colorado River and Escalante Butte, and Lipan Point, where you can see several stretches of the Colorado River. Also here is Moran Point, where you can see a layer of red shale in the canyon walls.

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Salt River
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9 Tours and Activities

Playing in or on Arizona’s Salt River is a great way to stay wet and cool any time of year. Just how you make a splash is entirely up to you.

Depending on conditions, whitewater rafting season typically runs winter through spring on the Upper Salt River. Its rafting rapids are rated class III and IV. Guided trips can run from just one days to five days in length.

Near Mesa, folks love to rent inner tubes and float down the lower Salt River. Not far from Scottsdale, you can paddle, or simply just float in the calm water. Be sure to be on watch for bald eagles and wild horses. A class 1 river, it’s also a great place for a stand up paddle board tour.

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SEA LIFE® Aquarium Arizona
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The SEA LIFE® Aquarium near Phoenix is home to over 5,000 animals and is an excellent attraction for families. One major draw is you don’t simply look at animals, you interact with them. First of all, the aquarium hosts a number of educational talks as well as feeding demonstrations with rays and sharks. Additionally, a touch pool allows you to hold crabs, starfish, sea squirts and shellfish.

While there are many animals to explore at SEA LIFE Aquarium, there are some visitor favorites. One is a white tip reef shark -- especially interesting to watch during feeding time -- named Jr. residing in a 161,000 gallon (60,9451 liter) ocean tank. There’s also Loki the Giant Pacific Octopus, known as the trickster around the aquarium and a lover of shellfish and crustaceans. Then there’s Zival, Arizona’s first green sea turtle and an herbivore that lives in the water but breathes oxygen. Fun fact: Did you know female green sea turtles will swim thousands of miles just to lay their eggs in the same place they were born? These are just a few of the interesting resident creatures you’ll encounter at the SEA LIFE Aquarium.

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Slide Rock State Park
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Just outside the city of Sedona is the evocatively-named Slide Rock State Park that was once an apple farm.

Slide Rock State Park was originally the Pendley Homestead, an apple orchard started in 1912 that covered more than 40 acres. Pendley later built cabins as more vacationers began coming into the area, and the homestead was purchased by the Arizona Parklands Foundation in 1985. The original Pendley farmhouse is still in the park.

The name “slide rock” comes from one geologic feature of the park, a slippery area in a creek near the homestead. The red rock formations that are so famous in this part of Arizona are all over the park, which is a popular place for hiking, swimming, fishing, and picnicking.

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LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Arizona
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Enjoy the ultimate indoor LEGO® adventure at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Arizona. Located in the Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe, this interactive LEGO-themed entertainment park features a dozen rides, build-and-play zones, games, workshops, a café, shop, and a 4D cinema, and offers hours of educational fun for kids and their families.

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Grand Canyon Railway
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Combining the mystique of the Wild West with the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon Railway has been delighting riders since 1901. As you make the two-hour trip to the canyon from Williams, Arizona, to the South Rim, you’ll be entertained by authentic characters and musicians who bring the Old West to life, all the while soaking up the unforgettable scenery of Grand Canyon National Park.

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Mother Road Brewing Company
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To sample some of Flagstaff’s best craft beers, head to Mother Road Brewing Company. Named after Historic Route 66, which was nicknamed the Mother Road in its heyday, the brewery sits just a couple blocks from the iconic highway that runs through the center of town. The brewery is located in the Milum Building, a former commercial laundromat that has been repurposed in an ideal spot to grab a pint after a day of adventuring in the surrounding mountains and high desert. Their artfully crafted beers include complex flavors like the mesquite honey and British hops of the English Barleywine-style 4th Anniversary Ale or the coffee and orange notes of the popular chocolate stout Lost Highway.

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Seven Canyons
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Sedona may be known for its stunning red rocks, desert life and spiritual slant, but those who like to live their life in the green still have their chance at the Seven Canyons Golf Course. Since 2002 this scenic outdoor destination has played host to thousands of golfer lovers seeking to experience the best of Arizona. With 20,000 square feet of teeing space, manicured fairways, world-class cuisine and a relaxing club house, visitors will feel at home in the comfort and luxury of this back nine destination. The challenging course is as ideal for long-time lovers of the sport as it is for newbies and breathtaking views of Sedona’s red rocks and national forests insure travelers get to experience the best of Arizona when they tee up.

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More Things to Do in Arizona

Scottsdale Fashion Square

Scottsdale Fashion Square

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Featuring some of the area’s top boutiques and shops, Scottsdale Fashion Square is Arizona’s largest shopping destination with miles of more than 250 stores, 40 of which cannot can be found elsewhere in the state. A range of different retailers can be found, including luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co., Prada, Neiman Marcus, Jimmy Choo, Burberry and Nordstrom.

The three-story mall features unique architecture, a food court, wine bar, several restaurants, and movie theater. There is also a free playground area for toddlers. The experience is highly stylized and mostly indoors, with an abundance of large windows letting in natural light. An onsite concierge can help with amenities, services, and transportation options, including a free trolley that runs throughout. There are also seasonal events held inside at the Scottsdale Fashion Square. It is one of the thirty largest shopping malls in the country.

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Chase Field

Chase Field

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Chase Field, the first retractable-roof, natural grass stadium in the U.S., is home to the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball. The stadium in downtown Phoenix features a swimming pool and one of the largest video scoreboards in the MLB. When baseball isn’t in season, the venue hosts live music and other sporting events.

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Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park

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The Lost Dutchman State Park covers 320 acres in the middle of Arizona, not far from the Superstition Mountains. The park was created in 1977, and it's named after the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine. This perhaps-apocryphal mine is said to be full of gold, but its exact location is unknown (people have died trying to find it). It's believed to be in the Superstition Mountains not far from where the park is today.

Lost Dutchman State Park is a popular spot for hiking, mountain biking, and camping, and there are even naturalist-led hikes and programs you can join. Periodically, the park hosts “Star Party” events during which you can see an incredible array of stars in the night sky over the park.

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Arizona Science Center

Arizona Science Center

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As a non-profit organization, the Arizona Science Center‘s main goal is to entertain and educate people of all ages about science. They opened in 1984 as a small, 10,000 square feet (3,048 square meters) museum featuring select hands-on exhibits. Since its humble beginning, the Arizona Science Center has quickly grown into one of the most popular local attractions in Arizona. Today the Arizona Science Center stretches over 120,000 square feet (36,576 square meters) and is one of the most high-tech museums in the world. With over 40,000 square feet (12,912 square meters) of gallery space, they currently feature over 300 hands-on exhibits in five different themed galleries. There are daily shows in their multi-media Dorrance Planetarium as well as in the giant, five-story IMAX Theater.

The Arizona Science Center is designed around the concept of making learning fun. Exhibits are created to be interactive, encouraging visitors to learn from doing. In addition to the regular exhibitions, you can enjoy a variety of educational programs to help people of all ages have fun with science, such as summer camp programs, adult night outs, and even use of the facilities to host events such as high school proms and birthday parties.

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Tombstone

Tombstone

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The dusty streets of Tombstone, Arizona, are what Wild West movies are made of—quite literally. The historic mining town, now restored to its 1800s glory, has been the setting for numerous Hollywood flicks and is a tourism hotspot. Catch recreations of notorious gunfights, get a drink at a saloon, and stroll the wooden boardwalks.

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Tempe

Tempe

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If you’re hoping for a getaway filled with warm, sunny days, hit the road to Tempe. With 330 days of sunshine each year and an average temperature of 85 degrees, just thinking about Tempe can make you feel warm.

The combination of nice weather and 50 parks make spending time outside easy. Papago Park has more than 13 miles of hiking and biking trails and Tempe Beach Park boasts 25 acres of recreation space, while cyclists love Tempe’s 175 miles-plus of dedicated bikeways.

Tempe is home to Arizona State University. Just North of ASU is Tempe Town Lake, a popular spot for boating, kayaking, fishing and rowing. An assortment of water toys are available for visitors to rent. Shoppers flock to The Mill Avenue District and its more than 100 shops, restaurants and bars.

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Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake

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The smallest of the Salt River Projects lakes, Canyon Lake is just 10 miles long but offers 28 miles of shoreline.

Being wet is popular here. Water skiing, boating, swimming and fishing are how most folks spend their days when visiting. Along with a designated swimming area, there is also a pair of boating ramps. Motorboat and row boat rentals are available. On weekends and holidays from April through October, the lake usually reaches capacity in the morning. Lucky fisherman can hook walleye, largemouth bass, yellow bass, rainbow trout, bluegill, channel catfish and crappie.

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Museum of Northern Arizona

Museum of Northern Arizona

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Filled with American Indian artifacts, fine art, and natural science displays, the Museum of Northern Arizona is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Colorado Plateau. Visit the 200-acre (80-hectare) campus to explore the vast array of exhibits as well as the museum’s majestic surroundings.

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Wildlife World Zoo Aquarium and Safari Park

Wildlife World Zoo Aquarium and Safari Park

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Arizona’s Wildlife World Zoo Aquarium and Safari Park makes up the largest collection of exotic animals in the state. Many of the animals are endangered species; most recently the zoo welcomed a pair of cheetahs. The park offers a variety of animal encounters to increase awareness. From sea lion shows and petting zoos to giraffe feedings and stingray pools, there is no shortage of face time with the animals.

Most recently, the Safari Park was added bringing the total size of the park to over 80 acres. Visitors can experience panoramic views of Africa’s most interesting habitats, including lions, baboons, antelope, and jackals. ‘Dragonworld' features ectotherms, including a large white crocodile, which use their environment to control body temperatures. At times there are even baby animals in the baby nursery that can be visited. Boat, train, and tram rides make the park easily accessible and extra fun.

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Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Lake Pleasant Regional Park

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With 114 miles of shoreline, the hard thing about a visit to Lake Pleasant Regional Park is making up your mind what to do first. The lake is a great spot for a variety of water sports. Along with a 10-lane boat ramp, Lake Pleasant offers a full-service marina equipped to handle 1,000 boats. Sport fishing is very popular. A nice variety of fish including white bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, channel catfish, and black crappie swim in Lake Pleasant. Wildlife viewing includes Bald Eagles.

But you don’t have to be wet to enjoy Lake Pleasant. With numerous overlooks and seven miles of trails, hiking and biking are popular with visitors. Add 450 picnic sites and parking for 200 vehicles to the list and it’s hard to go wrong. In addition to 165 campsites, there is also a visitor center and a desert education center at Lake Pleasant.

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Yavapai Point

Yavapai Point

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At the Grand Canyon's Yavapai Point, travelers can experience what many consider the best views along the South Rim, with unobstructed landscapes seen in both directions along the river gorge. From Yavapai Point, you can catch sight of Arizona's Colorado River, Plateau Point and Bright Angel Canyon.

The nearby visitor center here is also home to the Yavapai Museum of Geology, which features exhibits covering the canyon's history and how the various formations were shaped. The museum also has panoramic windows that provide another spot with spectacular views where visitors can enjoy the scenery in air-conditioned comfort. Yavapai Point is often included in day trips to the Grand Canyon from other Arizona cities like Sedona and Flagstaff.

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South Mountain Park

South Mountain Park

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You could think of Phoenix’s South Mountain Park as a large outdoor playground. Actually, a very large outdoor playground. With more than 16,000 acres to explore, according to the Trust for Public Land, South Mountain Park is one of the largest municipally operated parks in the United States.

With more than 50 miles of trails, South Mountain Park is a favorite among horseback riders, hikers and mountain bikers. But drivers can take in the scenery too. A little more than five miles up the Summit Road, there are Valley wide views to be had at Dobbins Lookout. If you’re inspired, keep going to the Gila Lookout for a view of the Gila River Valley. The drive is scenic, so take it slow to safely enjoy the view. There are many steep sections and blind curves and cars share the road with bikers and hikers.

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Mogollon Rim

Mogollon Rim

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Sky-high cliffs of pale limestone and sandstone give this spectacular natural wonder its recognizable color. Its shaded canyons, creeks and ledges, juxtaposed with brilliant blue skies and lush green plains, make for breathtaking photo ops of the American Southwest. Travelers can wander the Ponderosa Pine forests and revel at age-old growth here, or navigate the trails that follow Fossil Creek Canyon and Pine Canyon through impressive landscapes and breathtaking beauty. After exploring the Mogollon Rim, visitors can explore the nearby towns of Payson or Sedona, where red rock culture, Native American influence and desert life give way to an almost spiritual existence for residents.

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McDowell Sonoran Preserve

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

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If there’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, McDowell Sonoran Preserve just might be it. With more than 30,000 acres, including the McDowell Mountains, visitors can hike it, bike it or even climb it.

With more than 120 miles of trails, picking which way to go can be tough, so ask the experts. Most mornings McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Pathfinders are on duty at the Brown's Ranch Trailhead, Gateway Trailhead, Lost Dog Wash Trailhead, Sunrise Trailhead and Tom’s Thumb Trailhead. Pathfinders have all sorts of information and suggestions to insure a fun, safe day on the trails.

Fit families will enjoy the way the Family Passport keeps everyone moving together. Scavenger hunts for animal tracks, rocks and other nature provided attractions can provide inspiration for hours of exploring. When you visit five Preserve trailheads (Gateway, Lost Dog, Sunrise, Tom’s Thumb and Brown’s Ranch) and get your passport stamped you’ll win a Preserve bandana.

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