Nearly a half century ago, horticulturist Harrison G. Yocum opened his backyard to the public, displaying a bounteous collection of cacti and palms. After a few relocations, expansions, and the establishment of a nonprofit charter, Tucson Botanical Gardens now spreads 17 distinct plots across more than 5 acres. A delicate rumble hearkens the arrival of the Garden Railway miniature train, which winds through gardens uniquely dedicated to birds, butterflies, wildflowers, and traditional Native American crops. Admission—which is free for garden members and children younger than 3—grants passage to five different tours, and groups of 10 or more can arrange self-guided or docent-led tours at a discounted rate. If visitors awaken their appetites by savoring aromas from the onsite herb garden or by staring at clouds shaped like canned goods, they can dig in at the Gardens' Café, where sun spills through a slatted gazebo onto iron tables loaded with roast-beef baguettes and mexican tortilla soup.
Elemental Artistry's performers play with fire for a living. Blending the fluidity of dance with a theatrical sense of spectacle, the troupe—which includes an NBTA gold-medalist baton twirler—whirls flaming props into fiery vortexes, dazzling spectators at events ranging from the Tucson Celtic Festival to the sweet sixteens of local volcano gods.
In addition to more than 150 performances since 2007—some of which have earned print and television attention in the Arizona Daily Star and on KOLD News—troupe members teach their craft in workshops and classes that lead students of all ages through movements, such as poi spinning, staff and baton twirling, and hula hooping, using unlit props, at least to start. The art form's constant movement and careful coordination can help to tone muscles, awaken ambidexterity, heighten kinesthetic awareness, and occasionally open interdimensional doorways. Elemental Artistry's dance architects can also develop flame-free spectacles using props ablaze with LED lights.
Though some participants choose to run and others to walk, everybody who participates in the Color Dash experiences a transformation. As participants make their way through the 5K Color Dash and UVSplash courses they are subjected to bursts of color; additional events include Zombies by Color Dash, which adds the undead to the equation. Though the color will wash away, the memories will remain forever in the minds of all participants who aren't goldfish. Proceeds from Color Dash events benefit local children's charities and organizations.
Built by George Phar Legler to bring happiness and relaxation to adults and children alike, Valley of the Moon is a historic fantasy site featuring whimsical structures, creatures, and nature areas. Guests can take free fairy tours, visit the bunny theater, or explore areas such as the enchanted garden and gnome city. Storyteller guides offer fun and fantastical narratives to bring visits to life, all part of Legler's original vision to bring more happiness, peace, and gnomes'-rights awareness into the world.
Serial cross-country runner and duathlete Kate Anderson would sometimes trek nearly 100 miles to attend a race, until she decided to start hosting her own. In 2011, she gathered a team of fellow runners around her cause and founded Anderson Racing Adventures. Since then, the company has devised events ranging from cycling and swimming duathlons through rugged natural terrain to seasonally themed costume runs. Anderson's team is always present at each race: a former triathlete distributes medals, a former competitive runner guides participants through the course, and a former coach times the events.
The United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association–certified instructors at Flying Lizard Paragliding share their passion for riding the wind with students of all abilities. Three levels of lessons cover everything from understanding the equipment to handling unforeseen events in the air.