Phoenix holds a warm spot in the hearts of many Chicago residents. This is not just a recent phenomenon either. In 1929 William Wrigley, Jr. and his wife Ada built a 24-room winter residence overlooking the Valley of the Sun.
This author actually prefers winter and enjoys the adventure travel options like cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and winter hiking, but it is spring that gets me down. The constant fluctuation of temperatures in March and April are downright awful. When T.S. Eliot remarked that “April is the cruelest month,” he must have been talking about a Chicago spring. I wonder if T.S. took off for Phoenix after penning that remark.
In Phoenix winter and spring temperatures hover at a balmy 70 degrees. This is why both of our baseball teams use the Phoenix area for spring training. Pitchers and catchers are even smarter as they report to Arizona in February.
When thinking of Phoenix, most think of it as a golfing or spring training baseball destination. It is also a great hub for adventure travel. It is only four hours from the Grand Canyon National Park, one hour from the Sonoran Desert National Monument, and just directly south of the huge Tonto National Forest. Phoenix is also only two hours from Sedona and four hours to Joshua Tree National Park, so the city is a great base for local and farther away adventure travel destinations.
If you are flying into Phoenix you will most likely need a place to stay before or after your adventure. Here are a couple hotels in the Phoenix area to check out:
The Boulders – Carefree, Arizona
Named for 12 million year old granite boulders in the Sonoran Desert Foothills, this is the hotel location for those who want access to the urban areas of Phoenix, but are looking for a little more solitude. The Boulders is located only a half hour away from Phoenix, but it might be a world away.
The Boulders has a full array of outdoor activities on site including desert jeep adventure, rock climbing, hiking, hot air balloon rides, horseback riding, and a city slickers cattle drive. My favorite is a desert photo tour. Led by accomplished photographer Linda Covey the tour is led at sunrise and sunset and focuses on camera angles and lighting. The photo tour also takes guests close to wildlife where coyotes, deer, and possibly bobcats and mountain lions can be seen if visitors are lucky.
Hotel Valley Ho – Scottsdale, Arizona
In 2005 this hotel completed an $80 million dollar renovation, so expect all the modern conveniences and amenities. After getting grubby and dirty hiking it is great to unwind with spas, pools, and for me especially wi-fi. For those who want to continue adventuring the hotel features nearby outdoor activity including: biking, hiking, running, fishing, golfing, horseback riding. They are only five miles from the Desert Botanical Gardens, which is a great place to walk around for a half day.
Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa – Gila River Indian Community
This hotel is an adventure in of itself. The resort was designed to be an authentic representation of the Gila River Indian community’s heritage and culture. They have an award winning restaurant on site featuring Native American cuisine with features such as grilled tenderloin of buffalo with smoked corn puree and sweet corn panna cotta. Kai is the only Native American restaurant and only one of fourteen U.S. restaurants to receive both a AAA five-diamond and a Forbes five star rating. The resort also offers cultural tours led by their cultural concierge, Ginger Sunbird Martin, who is Pima and was born and raised on the Gila River Indian Community.
The Saguaro – Scottsdale, Arizona
This hotel opened in the fall of 2011, so the facility has all the modern conveniences and amenities including high speed internet, two gorgeous heated outdoor swimming pools, and spa. The hotel is nearby to world class golf courses and the famous Camelback Mountain for those looking for an urban hiking adventure.
When the snow or lack of it gets you down and you need some sunny weather, think about an escape to Phoenix and seek some desert adventure in the winter and spring.
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