rizona KEY Travel Magazine and ArizonaKEY.com, as the leading Arizona Travel Guide, has been providing detailed information on the Grand Canyon State’s most memorable experiences since 1969. Always current and up-to-date, for over 46 years, both travelers and locals have turned to KEY as a their trusted and monthly arizona travel guide. Arizona KEY provides a statewide roadmap of the best..
It’s hard to guarantee much in life, but spring in Arizona is a pretty safe bet. A visit to the Grand Canyon state in the springtime is generally filled with warmth and plenty of sunshine. As an added bonus, you might just catch some Spring Training.
Baseball (pick up our Ultimate Fan Guide to Cactus League Baseball for all the lowdown on games) or stumble into the desert in bloom while on a morning hike. Here are some other worthwhile experiences to consider while you’re here…
The calm that descends upon those that ascend in a hot air balloon is not to be missed. Few can resist the tranquil beauty of a hot air balloon ride. A gourmet brunch after morning flights or appetizers and champagne after evening ascensions is included in the price with Hot Air Expeditions… and we’ve got a coupon to boot!
Outdoor enthusiasts will have no shortage of incredible passtimes. A gentle lake cruise on the Desert Belle or the Dolly Steamboat will bring fond memories for years to come, and is perfect for people of all ages. Another fair weather favorite is the Arizona Renaissance Festival in Gold Canyon through the end of March, which amazes the young and old with raucus revelry, charming chivalry and downright fun!. And who can pass up a real rodeo when visiting Arizona? The 66th Annual Scottsdale Parada Del Sol Rodeo delivers authentic cowboys and cowgirls competing in saddle bronc, barrel racing, bull riding and more.
Those overwhelmed by Arizona’s persistent sunshine should consider a trip to the world renowned Musical Instrument Museum. Not only will you love spending the day in air-conditioned comfort, but you’ll be thoroughly amazed by the global musical journey that ensues. Or step inside the iconic big top tent to catch a live performance of Cirque du Soleil.
Foodies should consult our event calendar pages for spring food festivals that range from
elegant cuisine to quirky faves. Our article on page 36 walks you through the culinary options (including resto-bars, a tea room, and authentic Italian to name a few) in the Town of Carefree (P.S. it’s as easy and whimsical as the name implies!).
And if you’re here with a special someone on a romantic getaway, check out our article on page 66 for the sweet secret spots in Arizona that inspire love. With scenery that makes your heart leap, Sedona is a perfect destination for anyone seeking a peaceful and exotic desert retreat. As the light changes, so do the incredible views of the famously colorful rock formations.
There’s truly something for everyone in Arizona: customized sightseeing, wine country, performing arts, museums, festivals, dark-sky stargazing and so much more! Enjoy your time here and be sure to visit again soon! AZ.
This year the Grand Canyon National Park is celebrating its 100th Anniversary. In honor of the Centennial milestone, the Grand Canyon Conservancy and the Grand Canyon National Park will host a variety of events throughout the year at the canyon and in cities around Arizona.
The actual date of the Grand Canyon becoming a National Park was February 26, 1919 — just three years after the inception of the National Park Service itself. Special events are scheduled throughout 2019 to commemorate this historic achievement.
For thousands of years, people have called the canyon their home. The ancestral Puebloan people left behind dwellings and other artifacts that signify their presence, and modern tribes still consider the Grand Canyon their homeland today. The important work that has taken place over the past century of preserving this natural wonder for generations to come is worthy of celebration.
In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a work program for the poor during the Great Depression. The important work these companies of men completed included trail construction, erosion control, tree planting, park development and fire fighting measures; all while they too lived and worked in the canyon. The 9 years that the CCC operated were considered among the most productive and successful of the social programs during
that time period.
Throughout the centennial year, visitors can look forward to such upcoming special events as Exhibits (through September); Symphony performances (March); Storytelling (April); and FREE admission days (April 20th, and September 28th). AZ
Arizona New Year’s Eve Celebrations and Parties: 2018 NYE Guide
Looking for great ideas on where to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2018/2019? Check out our list of fabulous 2018 New Years Eve events going on all over Arizona to help you plan for your New Years Eve Night Out! Bookmark this page as we will be adding more New Year’s Eve Celebrations …
Are you looking for the Best Holiday Events in Arizona? Be sure to also check out our Holiday Events Page loaded with Holiday Light displays, concerts, parades, festivals and more!
2018 NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATIONS SCOTTSDALE, PHOENIX & CENTRAL AZ
DEC 31, 2018 NYE 2018: Crescent Ballroom New Year’s Eve Block Party (Phoenix) The biggest party in the area closes down 2nd & 3rd Avenues in Downtown Phoenix for the Crescent Ballroom New Year’s Eve Block Party! More Info.
DEC 31, 2018 NYE 2018: New Year’s Eve Flannel Ball (Phoenix) Party like it’s 1999! New Year’s Eve Flannel Ball has craft beer, live music, flannel (duh), food trucks, lawn games, midnight countdown, piñata drop and more! More Info.
DEC 31, 2018 NYE 2018: 3rd Annual “Drag Me To 2019” New Year’s Eve Disco Gala (SCOTTSDALE) This New Year’s Eve Soiree is filled with comedy, Studio 54, Top 40, Disco Vibes, dancing, plenty of holiday treats & Surprises!
DEC 31, 2018 New Year’s Eve Block Party (TEMPE) Downtown Tempe will be transformed into one big celebration from University Drive down to 3rd Street. From 9pm-2am enjoy interactive games and activities, musical entertainment, gourmet food trucks and more, 480-355-6060. More info
2018 NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATIONS SEDONA, PRESCOTT & CAMP VERDE
DEC 31, 2018 New Year’s Eve and Noon Year’s Eve (CAMP VERDE) Ring in the New Year at Cliff Castle Casino Hotel with three free parties, live music and exciting ways to win! More info.
DEC 31, 2018 Whiskey Row New Years Eve’s Boot Drop (PRESCOTT) Head on down to historic Whiskey Row to enjoy entertainment, amazing fireworks and fantastic local vendors. The illuminated cowboy boot will be lowered from the 40-foot high Palace Building’s flagpole at 10pm and again at midnight, 928-848-4182. More Details.
DEC 31, 2018 The Great Pine Cone Drop (FLAGSTAFF) Ring in the New Year in classic Flagstaff tradition as the giant, LED-Lighted Pine Cone is lowered from the top of the Historic Weatherford Hotel. 10pm for families & again at Midnight, 928-779-1919. More info.
DEC 31, 2018 New Year’s Eve at Hon-Dah Resort and Casino (PINETOP) Ring in the new year in the pines at Hon-Dah Resort and Casino. Ronny and the Classics entertain in the Timbers Show Room from 9pm-1am. Party favors and a champagne toast add to an evening of fun! More info.
2018 NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATIONS TUCSON and OTHER TOWNS
DEC 31, 2018 Rick Braun’s New Year’s Jazz Getaway (TUCSON) Ring in the new year at the spectacular JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa. The 2016 new year’s New York themed event features world-renowned trumpet player Rick Braun along with top-caliber jazz musician headliners. JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, 7pm, tickets 520-219-3381.
DEC 31, 2018 New Year’s Eve Iceberg Drop (Yuma) For the very first time in history, the city of Yuma will be ringing in the new year by dropping a giant head of lettuce! More info.
More events will be added as they are confirmed, so please check back!
There’s so much to do at OdySea in the Desert, it’s best to spend the day… if not several days, exploring everything this traveler’s oasis offers: from the land of the dinosaurs, to the depths of the ocean, to the amazing inner workings of the human body — time spent at OdySea is an incredible odyssey one won’t soon forget.
OdySea Aquarium allows visitors to get up-close-and-personal with sharks, otters, penguins, rays, and sea turtles to name a few. What’s more, the aquarium boasts the world’s only rotating aquarium experience (OdySea Voyager), the country’s only indoor underwater walking experience (SeaTREK), an escalator that tunnels through a huge aquatic exhibit, and the only bathroom where instead of checking your style in the mirror you’ll be nose to nose with a shark! Butterfly Wonderland features the largest butterfly conservatory in the country with over 3,000 fluttering butterflies. Guests are immersed in a rainforest and surrounded by butterflies and other rainforest creatures. This live exhibit provides a sensory experience that educates, entertains and connects people of all ages to nature.
Visitors can interact with dolphins on dry land or in the water at Dolphinaris, and journey back to pre-historic time among 80 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs and experience a variety of hands-on activities like fossil digs at Pangea Land of the Dinosaurs. For a limited time, visitors of all ages can explore the human body’s inner beauty in educational and awe-inspiring ways at BODIES REVEALED, where over 200 actual human bodies and specimens are uniquely and respectfully displayed.
Other interactive experiences found at OdySea in the Desert include: Polar Play Ice Bar, Laser + Mirror Maze, Bumper Boats, The OdySea Express Train and Vitality Aqua Massage & Oxygen Bar.
Finish off your entertainment odyssey with good eats, a sweet treat, or a shopping excursion. In the bustling courtyard, you’ll often find FREE entertainment and family-friendly activities. For more information and a schedule of events, call (480) 951-2100 or visit www.odyseainthedesert.com.
OdySea in the Desert, 9500 E. Via De Ventura Scottsdale, AZ 85256 within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community | 480-951-2100 | odyseainthedesert.com
The Top 38 Arizona Campgrounds that made the list for our KEY Guide to Arizona’s Campground are detailed here for you. Try them out on your next ‘roughing-it’ getaway in AZ.
Arizona’s reputation for boundless desert terrain doesn’t exactly cultivate thoughts of most typical camping trips! After all, the collective camping ideal involves relaxing in the shade of sprawling pine trees in a mountainous setting, with squirrels scampering about, ample hiking trails, plenty of wildlife, and a peaceful lake or stream to fish amd swim nearby. Surprisingly, wandering this great state reveals that Arizona actually has ALL of that! Whether you have a sentiment for the saguaros in southern Arizona or a passion for ponderosa pines in the northern parts, Arizonans (and Arizona visitors from near and far) enjoy some of the most picturesque campgrounds in the country. The best part is… you can access them year-round! To ensure that your next Arizona campout is an amazing adventure, we’ve taken the time to list our favorites!
NORTHERN ARIZONAClear Creek Campground (CAMP VERDE)
Just outside the small, but entertaining town of Camp Verde, along the banks of serene Clear Creek, sits this cozy campground where campers can fish, wade, and watch wildlife under the generous shade of the cottonwood trees. Pick your pleasures because there’s a lot to do in the nearby town of Camp Verde, including Cliff Castle Casino, Out of Africa Wildlife Park, or Montezuma’s Castle. Tent and RV accessible. Open year-round, first come, first served, $18/night. 877-444-6777 or https://www.recreation.gov/camping/clear-creek
Dead Horse Ranch Campground (COTTONWOOD)
Pay the ominous name no mind. This campground is known to be a tranquil state park along the meandering Verde Valley river. The centerpiece of several lagoons, Dead Horse Ranch is a scenic area for nature enthusiasts. Best known for bird watching, horseback riding, fishing, hiking, and canoeing, this park has much to offer. Family friendly, with swimming holes, creek walks, and a big playground, your kids are sure to make some fun memories at this one! Centrally located to a variety of nearby attractions including: Sedona, Pink Jeep Tours, Tuzigoot National Monument, Jerome State Park, and Red Rock State Park. Tent & RV camping with hook-ups available. Open year-round. Reservations required at $20-$35/night, 928-634-5283 or https://azstateparks.com/reserve/dead-horse/camping/
Lynx Lake (PRESCOTT)
A popular camping destination, Lynx Lake offers fishing, boating, hiking, wildlife observation, horseback riding, and mountain biking, all within the outskirts of the delightful little town of Prescott. Close by; enjoy restaurants, shopping, arts, and crafts, and regular festivals that take place in town throughout the year. Tent and RV spaces available. Open April 1st – Oct. 31st. Reservations required at $18/$36 night, 877-444-6777 or https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/prescott
Manzanita Campground (SEDONA)
If you were to ask, “Where’s the best campground in Arizona?” Manzanita would be at the top of the list! Shaded creek-side camping, hiking, wading, fishing the trout-stocked creek, and day-tripping to a Slide Rock’s natural waterslide make this a “can’t-miss” family destination. With its mixture of glistening ash and pine trees all near the majestic red rocks of Sedona, Manzanita also offers some of the most spine tingling scenery, especially when the fall leaves appear. Visit nearby Sedona for shopping, restaurants, Red Rock Trolley tours and Sedona Air Tours Tent sites only. Open year-round. Reservations required at $22/night. 928-203-2900 or https://www.recreation.gov/camping/manzanita-az
Lockett Meadows Campground (FLAGSTAFF)
Sitting just below Flagstaff’s alluring San Francisco Peaks, cooler weather and gorgeous surroundings await you. Bring your camera, this campground will not disappoint with a wealth of wildlife photo opportunities. Lockett Meadows is for the bona fide free range camper who delights in the primitive, dry camping experience. Hike to the heart of an ancient volcano, stumble across the occasional porcupine, and relax in fresh outdoor breezes. Tent sites only. Opens in spring. First come, first served at $16/night. 928-523-0866 or https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=55136
Ashurst Lake (FLAGSTAFF)
Secluded in the back hills of Flagstaff sits a campground flecked with ponderosa and aspen pines. Set back 18 miles off the main road, you’ll find fishing, seasonal hunting, bird and wildlife watching, and even windsurfing! The road to Ashurst Lake also offers ample disbursed camping opportunities, extremely popular with off-roading adventurers. Exploring the area, we stumbled upon a man-made off-roading track that draws ATV’ers and dirt bikers alike. Right around the corner, get a good glimpse of the stars and planets at Lowell Observatory astronomical research center! Open season: Mid-May – Mid-Oct.. Free disbursed camping on the road to Ashurst during off-season provided roads are clear. For the campground, tent & RV sites available, dry camping only. First come, first served at $18/night. 928-527-3600 or https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=5494
Kaibab Lake Campground (WILLIAMS)
Among the pines and grass-lined shores, colored with wildflowers in the spring, lies Kaibab Lake. This campground is popular for its successful fishing, significant hiking, and family picnicking. Williams is an excellent “center point” destination between Flagstaff’s cultural and historic sites and Grand Canyon’s memorable views. Take a walk on the wild side encountering live bears at Bearizona Wildlife Park or take a train ride on the Grand Canyon Railway! Tent & RV sites available, dry camping only. Opens April 27th. Reservations required starting at $24/night. 928-699-1239 or https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/kaibab/recarea/?recid=11659
Lee’s Ferry Campground (PAGE/LAKE POWELL)
Pitch a tent or park your RV at this hidden gem located on the banks of the Colorado River. Relax under the stars with cool breezes and the sound of flowing water! This well-rounded campground offers fishing, swimming, hiking, climbing, kayaking, rafting, tubing, and boating. Great location for a “home base” to surrounding historic and geologic attractions such as the extraordinary Horseshoe Bend. No hookups. Open year-round. First come, first served at $20/night + park admission. 928-608-6200 or https://www.nps.gov/glca/planyourvisit/camping.htm
Along the Arizona-Utah border, immerse yourselves in the iconic Monument Valley’s impressive sandstone buttes. Considered THE “poster child” of western films, this area is one of the most photographed and filmed points in Arizona. Tent and RV sites available, although, only Goulding’s offers full hookups. Full restrooms with showers accompany both parks, convenient stores, and even a pool (Goulding’s only) accommodate guests. View it by air with Arizona Scenic Tours. Open year-round, Fees $30+, reservations required for both. The View Campground, 435-727-5802, Goulding’s Campground or 435-727-3235
Mather Campground/Trailer Village/Kaibab Camper Village/ North Rim Campground/Havasupai Falls (GRAND CANYON)
If camping near one of the seven wonders of the world is on your bucket list, the Grand Canyon has you covered! Pitching a tent in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon isn’t just a camping trip… it’s a life-time experience! With so much to do, plan to stay for several days. Shopping, restaurants, museums are ample in the small village. Biking trails, hiking trails, and some of the best photo ops the world has to offer, are just a few other activities included. So, which campground is the best to camp at while taking in the magnificent sites? The area is so well kept it feels like the “Disneyland” of nature, so you really won’t go wrong with any pick. However, depending on what you have in mind for camping, i.e. tent vs. RV is another story…We break it down for you here:
Mather Campground (SOUTH RIM)
The largest, most popular, “keeps you in the mix” campground on the South Rim is Mather campground. THE only campground offering shuttle stops to and from the magnificent Grand Canyon and area’s amenities, keeping you fully immerged in the experience. Tent and RV sites available. Open year-round. Reservations required from Mar. 1st – Nov. 30th. First come, first served during non-peak season. Fee depends on type of site starting at $18 & up/night. 928-638-7888 or https://www.recreation.gov/camping/map_of_Mather_Campground
Trailer Village (SOUTH RIM)
Is camping completely “plugged in” the only way to camp in your book? Then this is the place park it! Trailer Village is the ONLY campground that offers full hookups on the South Rim! Electric, cable TV, and water & sewage hookups available. Open year-round. Reservations required from Mar. 1st – Nov. 30th. First come, first served during non-peak season. Fee depends on type of site starting at $36 & up/night. 877-404-4611 or https://www.visitgrandcanyon.com/trailer-village-rv-park
North Rim Campground (NORTH RIM)
If you like to visit attractions minus all the crowds, the North Rim is the answer to your prayers! Still boasting its vast beauty among the ponderosa pines and aspens disbursed throughout, you get the best of both worlds with this park. Hiking, biking, and snowshoeing are popular activities. Tent and RV’s welcome. Reservations required from May 15th – Oct. 31st. Weather permitting, first come, first served during non-peak season. Fees $18-$25/night. 877- 444-6777 or https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/cg-nr.htm
Kaibab Camper Village (NORTH RIM)
Camping with comfort… this park is the ONLY North Rim park offering full RV hookups! Tent sites and cabin rentals available in the Kaibab National Forest adjacent to Jacob Lake surrounded by beautiful meadows. A lodge with restaurant, lounge, and gift shop on also the premises. Reservations required from May 14th – Oct. 15th. Weather permitting, first come, first served during non-peak season. Fees $18-$25/night. 928-635-5251 or https://kaibabcampervillage.com/
Havasupai Falls (SUPAI VILLAGE – GRAND CANYON)
If your physical capabilities permit, Havasupai Falls is an essential! This camping expedition is for the experienced “pack it in/pack it out” camper because you will be hiking to your camping destination! An 8-mile hike to Supai Village and another 2 miles to your destination will land you at the foot of one of the most stunning backdrops you could ever imagine! Set up camp along the aqua blue banks of Havasu Creek and take a swim in the crystal-clear waters, while under the stars. You’ll be left feeling as though you were a part of something supernatural! Area also accessible by mule & helicopter for extra charge. Reservations required. Fees starting at $57/person/night. 928-448-2141 or https://www.havasupaireservations.com/
SOUTHERN ARIZONACatalina State Park (TUCSON)
Catalina State Park earns its popularity due to its flourishing desert gardens, canyons, streams, and striking display of the Santa Catalina Mountains located in the Coronado National Forrest. The park is loaded with 5,000 saguaros and desert plants that invite wildlife from near and far. With over 150 species of birds, birding is a favorite activity at this park. If time permits, plan a visit to a world record setting, artificial ecological system experiment known as Biosphere 2. Although the project was not as successful as desired, the remaining compound is truly something to behold. Tent and RV sites with full hookups available. Open year-round. Reservations required at $30/night. 877-697-2757 or https://azstateparks.com/catalina
Gilbert Gray Campground (TUCSON)
Located in Tucson Mountain Park, this campground is a popular area due to its proximity to Tucson. Offering many activities from hiking to biking, archery, hunting, shooting range, equestrian access, and wildlife viewing, boredom is an impossibility. Be sure to allow time for the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum during your stay. Tent and RV sites with full hookups available. Open year-round. First come, first served at $10-tent/night $20-RV/night. 520-724-5000 or http://webcms.pima.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=1327
Rose Canyon (MT. LEMMON)
The Catalina Mountains are home to many 4.5 star and higher campgrounds. Rose Canyon takes the cake, not for its overwhelmingly peaceful, beautiful surroundings, but because they really hold the idea of, “customers first!” The camp hosts are some of the most accommodating people you will ever come across, which is nice to know you’ll be well cared for. Rose Creek meanders through the area, settling in Rose Canyon Lake where ample fishing awaits. A canopy of tall ponderosa pines and lush green Gamble oaks shelter the area making it a great way to beat the heat of the valley below. Tent and RV sites without hookups available. Open mid-Apr. to late-Oct. First come, first served at $22/night. 520-576-1477 or https://azstateparks.com/reserve/patagonia-lake
Kartchner Caverns State Park (BENSON)
Indulge your curiosities of the mysteries of stalagmites and stalactites with this unique camping experience. Kartchner Caverns is the world’s longest living cave, hosting 2.4 miles of passages! Especially popular with families, this campground offers tent and RV sites with full hookups. Do some cave exploration, hit the Discovery Center and dine at the Bat Cave Café for an afternoon of fun! Reservations required at $30/night. 520-586-4100 or https://azstateparks.com/reserve/kartchner/camping/
Patagonia State Park (NOGALES)
Photos of this park do not do it justice! Nestled in the hills of Southern Arizona lies an enchanting lake with an enticing sandy beach. Boat, kayak, or canoe under the charming bridge enjoying the greenery that engulfs the area. Take an afternoon stroll along the babbling Sonoita Creek, swim, hike, or bike to your heart’s content. Reservations required. Fees starting at $27/night. 520-287-6965 or https://azstateparks.com/reserve/patagonia-lake
WESTERN ARIZONALake Havasu State Park (LAKE HAVASU)
Kick back and enjoy some fun in the sun. Beach access, swimming, fishing, boating, grassy areas, playgrounds, lighthouses, and a direct path to the London Bridge keeps campers coming back to this park! Tent and RV sites available with full-hookups. Open year-round. Reservations required at $40+/night. 877-697-2757 or https://azstateparks.com/reserve/lake-havasu/camping/
Cattail Cove State Park (LAKE HAVASU)
Tucked away among the hills, resting along the shores is one of the prettiest campgrounds Lake Havasu has to offer. Relax on the beach, take a swim, go for a hike, fish, rent a boat, jet skis, or jeep; the sky is the limit, so plan to have a great time! Open year-round. Tent & full hookup RV sites available. Reservations required at $30/night. 928-855-1223 or https://azstateparks.com/cattail-cove
Just want to have a down-right good time in a laid-back atmosphere? Fish by day and play all night; with social events including movie nights, restaurant and deli, ferry rides, and a casino onsite, Havasu Landing is all about that! Open year-round. Reservations required at $20+/night for tent and $35+/night for full-hookup RV sites. 760-858-4592 ext. 242 or http://www.havasulanding.com/campground.html
River Island State Park (PARKER – COLORADO RIVER)
Just off the Colorado River, sitting below the scenic mountains, is a little cove known for its fun water sports including swimming, boating, kayaking, and fishing. Bask in the sun while taking in the gorgeous scenery in this well maintained and exceptionally spacious campground offering both tent and RV sites with full hookups. Bathrooms & showers available. Open year-round. Reservations required at $30/night. 328-667-3386 or https://azstateparks.com/reserve/river-island/camping/
Squaw Lake Campground (YUMA – COLORADO RIVER)
Escape the desert heat and spend the day in the comfortable, cool waters of the Colorado River. Offering direct access to the river, Squaw Lake is known for its water recreational activities including: boating, fishing, jet skiing, swimming, and hiking. RV and tent sites available. Open year round. No reservations required at $15/night. 928-317-3200 or https://www.blm.gov/visit/squaw-lake
CENTRAL ARIZONALost Dutchman State Park (APACHE JUNCTION)
The first “desert” campground we fell in love with! Just below the towering Superstition Mountains is this meticulously kept campground with sprawling campsites, a ton of hiking trails, and quail families galore that are quite entertaining to watch. Legend has it, still to remain, is a mine full of gold. The story kept our kids on the lookout the entire time we were there! Within a mile, you will find plenty to do with the kids at Goldfield Mine Ghost Town and Superstition Mountains Museum. Take a scenic drive just 10 minutes up the road to take a swim or fish at Canyon Lake. Tent and RV sites available with full hookups. Showers onsite. Open year-round. Reservations required at $20+/night. 480-982-4485 or https://azstateparks.com/reserve/lost-dutchman/camping/
Canyon Lake Campground (APACHE JUNCTION)
One drive into this campground and you’ll feel like you’ve just encountered the best family reunion ever! Patrons are incredibly friendly and seem like they’ve been going there for years. Sites are situated along the grass-lined shores of the emerald waters with beautiful mountains displayed behind. Definitely make some time to take a ride aboard The Dolly Steamboat for a grand tour of the lake where you’ll encounter layers of cliffs and canyons, with thriving plant and animal life. Both tent and RV sites available with hook-ups. Open year-round. Reservations required at $35 – $65/night. 480-288-9233 or http://www.canyonlakemarina.com/campground/index.htm
White Tanks Regional Park (WADDELL)
With 30,000 acres of rugged mountain terrain, the White Tanks, hands down, win the prize for most hiking! If you hit the park at the right time of year, you’ll witness a waterfall in the middle of the desert! Bring the kids because the geological finds and the natural desert flora surrounding this area are an fun to explore! They offer quite a few events and activities that take place throughout the week at their wonderful library and nature center on the premises. Just fifteen minutes east, experience Arizona’s largest exhibit of wild animals at the Wildlife World Zoo Aquarium Safari Park. Campsites are spacious and inviting. Both tent and RV sites with hook-ups available. Bathroom and showers onsite as well. Open year-round. Reservations required at $32/night. 623-935-2505 or https://maricopacountyparks.org/white-tank
Lake Pleasant Regional Park (MORRISTOWN)
A frequent favorite, Lake Pleasant is a great “staycation” escape during both the summer and winter months here in Arizona. Rolling mountains, clear water, lots of hiking, fishing, swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, or just floating, you’ll feel relaxed and refreshed the entire day. Be prepared to see their local families of mules that routinely grace the campsites with their presence. Tent and RV sites..
We are mesmerized every time we catch a glimpse of colorful hot air balloons dotting the Arizona skies. Their captivating beauty and peacefulness feels almost otherworldly. If you haven’t been on a hot air balloon ride in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona we highly recommend adding this to your list of must-do’s. Why? We’re giving you 9 great reasons to add this to your Arizona Bucket List.
#1 Get a Load of this Sunrise… enough said.
#2 You Don’t Always Have to Get Up Early
Not a fan of getting up at 5:00am? No problem! Hot Air Expeditions offers daily hot air balloon rides in the morning, year-round, and also offers sunset balloon rides seasonally, from November through March. So, if you’re a repeat snooze offender, plan your ballooning excursion for the Fall/Winter months.
#3 Phoenix, AZ has the Best Ballooning Weather
Phoenix, Arizona is home to the most flyable days per year for hot air balloons in the country! Why? The Arizona skies provide consistently calm and stable weather conditions, 300+ days of sunshine per year, and boast an abundance of launching/landing locations for hot air balloons.
#4 The Best in the Biz are Here in Arizona
Hot Air Expeditions is the best there is in ballooning. This local, woman-owned outfit has been ballooning in Arizona for over 27 years. Their pilots and staff are all friendly and charming, the cuisine that accompanies all flights is delectable, and they have been rated the “Best Balloon Flight in Phoenix” by Fodor’s Travel for 23 consecutive years. We couldn’t agree more!
#5 It’s Completely Safe
Hot air ballooning is one of the oldest forms of flight, and is also one of the safest! When looking for a hot air balloon company to take you up, up and away you will want to make sure the company you choose employs FAA-certified hot air balloon pilots, has the appropriate insurances, has a good safety record, and that their equipment is regularly inspected by an FAA-approved facility. Hot Air Expeditions fits the bill on all of these, but it is important to investigate this regardless of what company you go with and where you choose to take flight.
#6 Views that Won’t Quit
On a typical Arizona hot air balloon flight, you can expect to soar anywhere from 2,000-5,000 feet in the air, and let’s just say, the views are absolutely spectacular. The Sonoran Desert and surrounding mountain ranges look even more breathtaking from up in the air, when glancing over the top of a sturdy wicker basket.
#7 Have No Fear… It’s Pure Tranquility
Afraid of heights? You will do just fine on a hot air balloon ride! Since there is no sense of perspective (like you get when you look down the side of a tall building) it’s hard to tell whether you are 300 feet or 3,000 feet off of the ground. Hot air balloon rides are also very calm and peaceful, almost as if you are simply floating above the ground. Those with motion sickness aren’t usually impacted either, since you are flying with the wind speed and direction, so there is very little or no sense of motion.
#8 The Perfect Arizona Photo Op
Even for those who just carry a smartphone up in the air, it is impossible not to get an Instagram-worthy photo. The beautiful Sonoran Desert landscape and other hot air balloons flying in the area do all the hard work for you! We recommend bringing a selfie stick and/or GoPro to capture some great shots, otherwise, just hold on tight while you grab that selfie up, up and away.
#9 There’s a Celebration Afterwards
After conquering the skies, you’ll be treated to gourmet cuisine — including bubbly — to celebrate your once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Upon landing, Hot Air Expeditions serves up mouth-watering fare from the award-winning Vincent’s on Camelback restaurant. Dining right in the heart of the desert, surrounded by nature including majestic saguaro cacti, the post-flight dining experience feels as though you have been transported into a dreamland.
Ready to take flight and check off this Arizona bucket list experience?
For more information and reservations, call (480) 502-6999 or visit their website:
Labor Day is not just a typical day off from work in Arizona; it’s much more than that! It’s a bidding farewell to our scorching hot summer days and a welcoming in of our sensational fall season! Now that’s something to celebrate!!! AZ KEY has some great weekend ideas in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Sedona, Prescott, Flagstaff, Tucson, and everywhere in between to help you choose how to celebrate — everything from concerts to festivals, Hawaiian Luaus to fairs, and more! Check out our “2018 Labor Day Activities in Arizona” guide and start planning your escape!
2018 LABOR DAY EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES IN ARIZONA GUIDE (for a complete list check out our full guide here)
SEPTEMBER 1 | 1PM | LABOR DAY REGGAE FEST @ CLIFF CASTLE (CAMP VERDE)
Cliff Castle Casino’s Stargazer Pavilion presents 5 bands to help you get your party on! Local favorite Kill Babylon kicks things off, followed by Maka Roots, the Ras Jahge Band, Through the Roots, and headliner Uhuru! Tickets: Advanced|$25 Door|$30 Cliff Castle Casino Hotel | 800-381-7568
SEPTEMBER 1-3 | 10AM-5PM | SPLASH BASH & LABOR DAY LUAU (SCOTTSDALE)
Are you ready to celebrate the BIGGEST end-of-summer bash this side of the Mississippi? OdySea Aquarium is going all out with a beach party luau in the desert including giant water slides, character meet & greets, beach party games, and the best foam party ever! Stick around for a chance to win 2 OdySea Aquarium admission tickets in an ice cream eating contest! Frozen Penguin pulls out all the stops in this FREE-for-all ages (including adults) contest between 12pm-2pm on the upper level of OdySea in the Desert. Signups begin at 10am and space is limited!!! Splash Bash located in the outdoor courtyard, water shoes recommended. Tickets|$5/person + general admission. OdySea in the Desert | 480-291-5082
SEPTEMBER 1-3 | 33RD ANNUAL FAIRE ON THE SQUARE (PRESCOTT)
Prescott + Labor Day = One Great Time! If the cooler weather among the pines doesn’t draw you, the hotspot of restaurants, shopping, and breweries will! Downtown Prescott is where it’s happening with its boutique style shopping, galleries, museums, microbreweries, and let’s not forget Whiskey Row, home to over 20 live music venues! Labor Day weekend, Prescott hosts its 33rd Annual Faire on the Square – One of the most outstanding arts and crafts shows in the southwest, featuring 180 artisans and crafters. Enjoy the show under the cool American Elm trees around The Historic Courthouse Plaza. Cool off and head up north for another great idea in our, “Labor Day Events in Arizona” Guide! Visit Prescott | 928-445-2000
AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 2 | LIVE MUSIC & LABOR DAY FIREWORKS EXTRAVAGANZA (CAVE CREEK)
Harold’s Corral does Labor Day up right in 2018! Live music both Friday and Saturday nights with “Young Country Band.” Finish out the weekend, Sunday, September 2 with an outdoor BBQ & bar, live music featuring Mogollon, and finish off the night right with a fantastic firework display! A mobile gaming truck will be onsite for those gamers out there, face painting, and more! 5pm-11pm Tickets| 2/$15, 4/$30, 10/$60 Harold’s Corral | 480-488-1906
SEPTEMBER 1 & 3 | EXPERIENCE WILLIAMS (WILLIAMS)
At the end of the legendary Route 66 resides the last of the small towns known as “The Gateway to the Grand Canyon.” While it might be a small city by day, come night, it roars with big city bustle! As the evening cools, neon lights and music from street-side patios flood historic downtown as cars cruise up and down Route 66. Come on out on Saturday for the Historic Yellow House Garden Sale & Home Tour, featuring arts, crafts, jewelry, food and more, from 9AM-1PM. On Monday, join in on the 8th Annual Mountain Man Run at 7am at the Community Stage & Recreation Center. Experience Williams | 928-635-4061
SEPTEMBER 1 | 11AM-5:30PM | 30TH FIESTA DE SEPTIEMBRE (WICKENBURG)
The Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce is once again the proud sponsor of its Fiesta de Septiembre in historic downtown Wickenburg. The colorful event is located within and just outside the Wickenburg Community Center in the downtown historic district. Adults|$5, kids free. Wickenburg Chamber | 928-684-097
Looking for even more fun events and things to do this Labor Day Weekend? Check out our guide…
If you’re looking for ways to escape Arizona’s hot summer temps, take a day (or more) to play in Arizona’s White Mountains.
“Hon-Dah,” in the Apache language, means “welcome to my home.” Guests from every corner of the globe are welcome at Hon-Dah Resort Casino & Conference center in the heart of Arizona’s White Mountains. Hon-Dah Resort Casino & Conference center is owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
Outdoor recreation is as diverse as the land in the White Mountains, ranging from hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, and rafting in summer; to downhill and cross country skiing in winter; to hunting in season and abundant fishing year ‘round.
For whatever amount of time you choose to spend indoors, Hon-Dah Resort’s 128 oversized rooms provide a lodge-style atmosphere that allows you to unwind and relax in comfort. Each room offers a wet bar, refrigerator, satellite TV and phone. Banish stress with a visit to the hot tub, sauna, or heated all-season pool.
For evening play time, Hon-Dah Casino features over 800 slot machines, live Poker and Blackjack. In the Spirits Bar and the Timbers Lounge, nationally known entertainers provide plenty of action six nights a week including the ‘Monday Funday’ Comedy Club.
If your catch was small, simply stop in Hon-Dah’s Indian Pine Restaurant which features daily buffets, 7 days a week. Meeting rooms are also available, and are suitable for a wide variety of conferences and events. The 9,000 square foot conference center can accommodate many diverse meeting needs.
Across the highway from the casino and hotel, is the Hon-Dah RV Park. With over 500 spaces, the RV Park is a perfect option for ‘snowbirds’ looking for the ideal summer setup nestled among the Ponderosa Pines. The RV Park offers full service facilities including: 24-hour security, full power, satellite TV connections, phone hook-ups, laundry room, and showers. The nearby Hon-Dah Convenience Store stocks gas, beer, soft drinks, groceries, and reservation permits for fishing, camping, and hunting.
And, check out Hon-Dah Ski and Outdoor Sports – providing all types of fishing, hunting, and outdoor supplies. During the winter, this is the best place for all of your skiing equipment, rentals, sales, and tune-ups. For more information and reservations, call (928) 369-0299 or (800) 929-8744 or go online to www.hon-dah.com.
We at AZ Key Magazine were recently treated to a restaurant tour of the beautiful town of Carefree which proved to be quite the cultured experience! It was a delicious evening adventure that took our taste buds all the way from Modern American, in and out of Italy, a restful treat in Britain with a few more pit stops, and ended with the ultimate in Modern Latin flare. Anyone looking for a unique foodie experience hidden away from the big box restaurants, should know that Carefree holds many gems around each and every corner.
First stop – Modern American: At Café Bink, we were greeted with delicate plates of tomato, basil and hand-pulled mozzarella and a tangy pickled beet with arugula, jalapeño, pine nut, and chipotle mayo. The new restaurant owner worked for the original owner for 12 years and has kept some of the special staples on the menu along with new dishes. Café Bink strives to use local farmers for all of their fresh ingredients.
A break for tea and treats at the English Rose Tea Room was a wonderful choice to settle the palate and enjoy the charming and relaxing ambience of this one-of-a-kind sweet spot. Open for 16 years, many have come to know this place as a unique bit of ‘whimsy’ with darling gifts and trinkets, a great setting for small parties, and even a locale for etiquette classes. On May 19th, they are hosting a very special full day of activities surrounding the Royal Wedding that is sure to be an elegant affair!
A few doors down we were greeted by the casual and fun atmosphere of Venues Café, a two-story space where the downstairs was full of family and friends enjoying a meal classified as ‘upscale comfort food’ where they host weekly karaoke on Sunday evenings. Upstairs is a wide-open meeting and event space that doubles as a beautiful art gallery. The space overlooks the Carefree Desert Gardens down below. Definitely a great place to view the sunset!
Next Stop, Sundial Café! We had the pleasure of meeting Owner and Chef, Shawn Jaynes who specializes in creating a ‘Modern European/ Traditional American’ cuisine. Our tasting of shrimp with Asian apple slaw was amazing! They offer both indoor seating and outdoor patio seating, making it a pet-friendly spot right across from the locally famous sundial monument. And they even offer a BYOB for a minimal corking fee!
Whew!! Time for a coffee break! Around the bend we were welcomed with fresh coffee and homemade cinnamon rolls at Black Mountain Coffee Shop…don’t judge, of course we still had room! The husband and wife owners offer a great variety of coffee and espresso drinks, as well as a full breakfast and lunch menu. And we got to hear all about their son’s recent Olympic experience in South Korea. I could tell this would be a great place to hang out with friends and neighbors!
After our coffee reset, we were ready to go!! And what better way to restart our foodie adventure than to be greeted by the jovial and warm welcome of Mr. Alberto himself, owner of the Italian Mediterranean Cuisine restaurant called Alberto Ristorante. As one review on their website says, “The food is the closest to authentic Italian cuisine that I have experienced anywhere in this area.” The food was both beautiful and plentiful, and Mr. Alberto provided a wealth of entertaining knowledge!
Our very last stop on this taste bud trek was the most unique Modern Latin eatery, Bacán Restobar, nestled within a lovely courtyard with an incredible indoor and outdoor atmosphere, including a glorious upper deck. It was like being truly transported! Bacán is a word used in Spain for ‘Awesome’ – the owner’s daughter was inspired by her studies in Barcelona by the flavors and interior design, and came back to Arizona to work with her Dad and brother to create what was a wonderful experience all around! We shall certainly return!
This month we celebrate our mothers. Why not take advantage of the lovely Arizona weather and all the amazing things there are to do with Mom. If you’re short on ideas, here are a few of our best!
TAKE TO THE SPA
A classic choice is to treat mom to a day of pampering. We’ve got some great suggestions when it comes to planning a luxurious spa day. Spa Lamar in Scottsdale offers massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and a full service hair salon as well as a yoga studio and sauna & steam room. If you’d like to relax among the red rocks, the Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa offers first class massage, esthetic services, and wellness & intuitive discoveries.
GO ON A SHOPPING SPREE
If the mom you’re celebrating (which could be yourself of course!) loves to shop till she drops, consider checking out a few shopping destinations off the beaten path. For instance, Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village in Sedona provides an ecclectic collection of artistic shops to endlessly browse. In Cave Creek, The Town Dump(despite it’s name) abounds with kitschy souvenirs and unusual tchotchkes, and is a delight for those who love flea market style shopping. In Scottsdale, check out the unique resale shopping boutique, High Society, which boasts brand name bargains and other upscale second hand finds. Complete with designer clothing and unique accessories, you’re sure to find a treasure.
MAKE MEMORIES IN A HOT AIR BALLOON
Give mom the opportunity to truly get away from it all with a sunrise flight above the Sonoran Desert. The unobstructed views are breathtaking, the flora and fauna below are stunning, and the feeling of flight is a one-of-a-kind experience. At Hot Air Expeditions, you’ll be treated to a gourmet breakfast in the desert and a ceremonial celebration upon landing — what an amazing way to make memories!
TEA FOR TWO
If antique tea rooms appeal, Carefree’s English Rose Tea Room is a special treat. Highlighted in our Taste of Carefree article that starts on page 32, this little bit of Britain boasts delightful macaroons and a cardboard cutout of the Queen Mum for a photo op. The Spicery in Our 1895 Home in Glendale is a charming restaurant set in multiple rooms of — you guessed it — an 1895 home. Tables are elegantly set in each room for you to enjoy high tea, including scones with lemon curd and chantilly cream, finger sandwiches, and bite-sized desserts (reservations are required).
GET SOMETHING SPARKLY
For mamas who love bling, why not plan a jewelry shopping spree? As unique as the mom in your life certainly is, there are enough distinctive Arizona jewelers to suit every taste. With a bold contemporary flair, the pieces at Cornelis Hollanderare sure to be a fit for lovers of clean and modern design. Custom designs are also available for that special gift. Sami Fine Jewelry in Fountain Hills features an American Gem Collection of US mined gemstone designs — specifically amethyst, peridot and garnet from Arizona. If Native American and southwestern pieces are the style you desire, Gilbert Ortega Gallery is sure to please. With authentic turquoise and silver jewelry as well as an impressive array of Native American art, decor and furniture, there is much for mom to love. For those with classic taste in jewelry, the many designers carried by, and on staff at London Gold in Scottsdale will help you find the perfect statement piece.
TAKE A SCENIC BOAT TOUR
Cruising one of Arizona’s beautiful lakes on a sightseeing tour is a smooth way to appreciate mom. Try a 90-minute excursion aboard the Desert Belle for a fully narrated cruise on Saguaro Lake where you’ll learn about the exotic Arizona wildlife, towering canyon walls and dramatic desert vistas that surround you. Two bathrooms, a shipboard snackbar, and an air conditioned cabin add to your comfort. On Canyon Lake, the Dolly Steamboat cruises the secluded inner waterways to give passengers a unique look at Arizona wildlife and the surrounding scenery. Twilight dinner cruises allow for a sunset dinner with special ambiance.
BRING MOM TO A MUSEUM
Arizona’s museums offer a lovely outing for cultured mums. The internationally recognized Heard Museum is dedicated to the advancement of American Indian work and showcases the beauty and vitality of both traditional and contemporary art. Western Spirit: Scottsdale Museum of the West allows for exploration of the history, art, and rich cultural heritage of the west, including Hopi pottery masterworks and rare posters from western cinema. A Smihthsonian afilliate, Wickenburg’s Desert Caballeros Western Museum focuses on world class art and historical exhibitions that tell the story of the explorers, miners, cowboys and others who lived and worked in the American West. For music loving moms, the Musical Instrument Museum is a supreme opportunity that will absolutely provide a memorable museum experience. Rated among the top 20 museums of any genre, the MIM is the only museum in the world that specializes in global musical instruments.
SAVE THE DRAMA FOR YOUR MAMA
Performing arts buffs will enjoy a night of theatrical proportions at Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria with professional dinner showings of audience-favorite musicals like The Bridges of Madison County and Mary Poppins. Phoenix Theatre is the largest producing regional theatre in the Valley and offers over 400 performances on mutiple stages each year such as this spring’s productions of Godspell and Little Shop of Horrors.
SCHEDULE A FAMILY (OR MOMMY AND ME) PHOTO SESSION
What better way to prove your love to Mom than to give her the gift of preserving her family in the form of wonderful ‘family art’ for her home, her computer, everywhere! Find a local photographer and let Mom schedule a time and location that she loves. It will make her heart leap to know everyone is on board, ready to make those lasting memories!
The central location of Verde Valley makes Cliff Castle Casino Hotel the perfect spot to vacation from.
It’s a Perfect ‘Destination for Exploration!’
The newly opened 6-story hotel sits atop a hill overlooking the main highway that traverses Central Arizona. Just an hour north of Phoenix, in the cool Verde Valley, you’ll find Cliff Castle Casino Hotel. With their newly opened resort-style hotel, Cliff Castle is a family friendly destination that provides the perfect central starting location for all your exploration of Arizona. Stay, Play, and explore all Arizona has to offer from there.
The kids will have a blast in Orbits Arcade and in the Kids Quest supervised childcare center. Spend some quality family time at Shake Rattle and Bowl, the 20-lane bowling center located just off the casino floor. And enjoy multiple dining options from Johnny Rockets The Original Hamburger, to Mountain Springs buffet where kids 3-10 years old eat for half price. If it’s a steak or seafood you’re looking for, the award winning Storytellers Steak House offers an amazing dining experience with the freshest, most delicious dishes in the region. Chef Andres DeLuca serves up extraordinary flavors in the unique ambiance of a Native American cliff dwelling.
Spend the night in luxurious rooms and suites, complete with rainfall shower heads, a large screen tv, in-room Keurig coffee makers, and quality amenities that bring true comfort. The multiple configurations of rooms and suites allows for families of all sizes to spread out and relax at affordable prices.
Stay and play packages give you options for golfing, dining, guided tours and more. Live entertainment including music and comedy performances in their outdoor (Stargazer Pavilion) and indoor (The Gathering) venues will keep you entertained for your entire visit.
Cliff Castle Casino is located in the heart of Verde Valley wine country and just minutes away from some of the area’s most popular tourist destinations including Out of Africa Wildlife Park, Montezuma Castle National Monument, the Verde Canyon Railroad and the majestic red rocks of Sedona. Stay at this perfect new destination to explore by day and play at night.