Membership in the Reid Park Zoological Society grants you and your family (two named adults and any children under the age of 18) full access to the zoo for an entire year (open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas). Being a card-carrying member opens up numerous doors, behind which lie benefit after benefit, and sometimes tigers. From June through August, you'll get early-morning entry to the zoo grounds—a calm, crowd-free time to view feedings and animal care firsthand, as well as a chance to lick and groom one's own fur in peace. The "Zoo & You" newsletter will arrive quarterly in your mailbox, keeping readers up to date on all zoo-related happenings. You'll also receive advance notice, discounts, and VIP entry to all after-hours events. If travel plans are in the cards, use your family membership as a veritable Jedi mind trick to receive discounts of 50% to 100% off at 165 different zoos and aquariums throughout the United States. Concerned number-noshers and pachyderm pals should also note that this membership donation is completely tax deductible, and that a portion of the donation will support the construction of Expedition Tanzania, the new, expanded elephant habitat set to open in the fall of 2011.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum encourages conservation of the Sonoran region’s wildlife, facilitating human contact with as many as 300 animal species and 1,200 types of plants. The museum, which is approximately 85% outdoors, features living exhibits that re-create the Sonoran Desert region’s natural landscape. Fascinated foursomes wander the nearly 2 miles of paths spread across 21 acres of desert, searching for mountain lions, prairie dogs, men wearing bear costumes, and around 20 endangered or threatened species, such as the Mexican wolf, the ocelot, and the thick-billed parrot.
Served by the flight, glass, or bottle, the wine at Bear Track Bistro & Winery makes for a tasty accomplice to the eatery's gourmet Mediterranean-style food. À la carte menus feature specialties from the sea, such as smoked oysters and sturgeon, and from the land, including all-natural artisan-cured meats seasoned with organic spices. Visitors can also share platters of cheese—feta, asiago, and smoked edam, among others—all handcrafted by a fourth-generation Wisconsin cheese maker. To go along with its food and wine, Bear Track also hosts special events throughout the week, highlighted by ladies nights and live music every Saturday.
Founded by an Ironman athlete and staffed by a stable of knowledgeable sportspeople, TriSports outfits triathletes with cycling, swimming, and running gear. Outfit feet with a pair of hot-pink women’s Saucony ProGrid Kinvara kicks ($79.95) or treat tender toe-holders to a pair of men’s Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11 running shoes ($99.95), the winners of a Runner’s World Award in the Best Update category in 2010. Legs jealous of their pampered nether-neighbors can dry their resentful tears on the soft chamois cloth of men’s Louis Garneau Comp tri shorts ($59.95), ideal for cyclists and frequent sitters. Aquatic athletes can improve underwater vision with TYR Velocity goggles ($14.95) and reduce coif-induced drag with a De Soto neoprene swim cap ($25.95), which provides 3 millimeters of insulation from chilly waters and the cold-hearted taunting of sea otters.
Tohono Chul Park is an oasis of botanical gardens where guests can explore and learn about the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert. The park, which has received numerous awards for botanical excellence, houses a huge collection of night-blooming cereus, amongst other brilliant blossoms. A host of trails, threads across the park, through beautiful gardens, and art exhibits that represent the Southwest’s nature and culture. The park also features its own geocache for GPS-equipped treasure hunters. Discover what happens in the desert when the sun goes down with free admission to Bloom Night and Park after Dark or release an inner child from your knapsack while listening to traditional tales during Stories in the Garden for Children.
The FAA-certified commercial pilots at the helm of Southern AZ Balloons have glided groups across Tucson for more than two decades. During aerial adventures, the luxurious, wind-blown aircraft float as low as the treetops and as high as 2,000 feet depending on conditions. Varying heights present extravagant photographic opportunities, including of mountain ranges and of Catalina. Finally, after traveling anywhere from four to 15 miles, balloons coast to a landing for celebratory champagne brunches.
Picasso. Matisse. Grandma. Regardless of the artist, Borealis Arts treats each piece like a priceless heirloom. Its Borealis Arts' continued dedication to the high-quality work that they produce that enables them to celebrate their fifth anniversary in business this month. Though much of the frame shop's handiwork can be found in museums, customers don't need to buy a ticket to get a look at Borealis Arts' resumé. They need only step inside the store to find walls lined in local artwork, including prints made using woodcuts or acrylic engravings. All the artwork is framed, of course, by the staff's preservation experts. The skilled framers use museum-approved techniques and computer-aided mat cutting to protect family portraits, precious artwork, and 3-D items, such as a trophy or the family's ancestral garden gnomes.