Relaxing in and around Phoenix is all about the outdoors and the town's amazing spas. Some spas, like the one at the Mobil Four-Star Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, offer such special relaxation activities as yoga at sunrise as the desert landscape surrounds you.
You can also relax with endless games of golf, admire the beautiful variety of desert flowers and cacti on a late afternoon bike ride, or try your hand at river rafting. There's an activity for every season.
And, believe it or not, there's some good skiing and snowboarding near Flagstaff just three hours north of Phoenix. But you won't head for Arizona just to ski, unless you just want to say that you did it.
The Best of Relaxing & Unwinding in Phoenix
The Best of Relaxing & Unwinding in Phoenix
Golf, golf, golf! Beginning January 1, you can play a round at a different course every single day in The Valley and you won't start repeating courses until at least late July. Some of the country's most beautiful and challenging courses are situated here. As you might imagine, prices for a single round can be pricey in the winter months. They, of course, come back to earth during the high heat months of summer, when golfers vie for the very earliest tee times.
Needless to say, there are virtually hundreds of public and private golf courses throughout The Valley. The Phoenician Golf Club (6000 E Camelback Rd) is a 27-hole, par-70 private course. The three 9-hole courses are each named for the surrounding landscape. The Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale (17020 N Hayden Rd, Scottsdale) is a 36-hole course designed by Tom Weiskoph and Jay Morris. It's also home to the Phoenix Open. For a more affordable round, try the ASU Karsten Golf Course (1125 E Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe). This is the Arizona State University 18-hole golf course where NCAA champions train. Fees are about $90 for 18 holes.
Go where the Phoenicians go and get wrapped in desert nectar honey at the famous Mobil Three-Star Marriott Camelback Inn Resort Golf Club & Spa (5402 E Lincoln Dr). Or, get wrapped in seaweed for a skin-detox at Asian-inspired Mobil Three-Star Sanctuary Spa on Camelback Mountain(5700 E McDonald Dr). After your treatment, meditate in the beautiful Zen garden.
You can also just relax at the many resorts, most of which have special activities for the kids as well. Outside of the metro area, in the Tucson area and around Wickenburg, are a number of top-notch guest ranches; these all offer a great variety of activities. Here you can play "city slicker," take a breakfast rail ride, yodel around the evening campfire, or just lull around the pool.
Go north for about one hour from Phoenix, don your best western duds, and enjoy first class amenities and a ranch experience you'll always remember at Rancho de los Caballeros (1551 S Vulture Mine Rd, Wickenberg). This 20,000-acre property has it all, including horseback riding, a golf course, tennis courts, pools, and lots of stars to gaze at in the night sky.
The Valley is a wonderful spot for hikers. In the heart of the city, it's almost a ritual to climb Piestewa (Squaw) Peak for a commanding view of the city. Then drive to South Mountain Park billed as the nation's largest public park. Here you can rent a horse, a bike, or provide your own two feet for some real exercise.
Throughout The Valley, there are virtually hundreds of parks, greenways, and mountain trails for hiking. A gentle reminder and word of caution, though, especially in summer months: Don't overexert yourself in the mid-day heat, and be certain to carry plenty of water.
Now, everyone's heard about the dangerous critters that inhabit the desert. First, let's share a word about rattlesnakes. Some folks have lived in the region for years and have never seen one. But if you're hiking, wear high boots and stay on trails as much as possible. Most rattlers will leave you alone and will be just as happy if you offered them the same courtesy.
Then, there are scorpions, but again, you'll probably never encounter one. However, if you're camping, it's always good advice to shake out your boots in the morning before you put them on. Even if you happen to be stung by a scorpion, they're almost never fatal.
In the event of a bite or a sting, it's best that you report to a medical facility. Don't let the threat of an encounter spoil your holiday. Just watch where you sit and where you put your hands when you're in the desert. If you have an emergency situation, your best bet is to call 911.
If you have the time, a visit to the Grand Canyon is a must-do experience. The canyon is 228 miles north of Phoenix, or four hours driving time. It is possible to "see" the canyon in a day -- but it's not practical. To fully appreciate the experience, two days are okay, but three days are much better.
There are plenty of motels and hotels in Tusayan near the park entrance on the South Rim. But be advised; if you're traveling in summer months, rooms book up fast and reservations are imperative, sometimes two years in advance!
From desert jeep tours to hot air balloon rides, Phoenix offers a wide variety of organized ways to explore The Valley. Learn more on the next page.