A small group of explorers stands beneath an open dome of night sky as pinpricks of starlight glitter against the expanse's dark blues and blacks. Each spot of light even seems to look much clearer from here—likely because the group is standing 9,157 feet above sea level. At the Stewart Observatory inside Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter at the mountain's summit, scientists guide visitors through the use of gear such as a 32-inch Schulman telescope—the state's largest public viewing telescope—to probe the far reaches of space to learn about celestial phenomena and take in magnified images of the universe just above.
Days and nights at the center bring a slew of learning experiences to budding astronomers. Accompanied by University of Arizona scientists, Discovery Days lead explorations of topics such as tree rings, hummingbirds, and meteorology, frequently beckoning students into the surrounding outdoors. During nightly SkyNights programming, groups summit Mt. Lemmon for a five-hour evening of dining and stargazing at the observatory. One-on-one time with heavenly bodies comes courtesy of Astronomer Nights, wherein site staffers grant singles or pairs lodging, private access to the Schulman telescope, and the chance to contribute directly to the field upon discovering a supernova, nebula, or handlebar mustache on the man in the moon.
Periodically, the scientific team also expounds on specific topics, such as digital celestial imaging, with the public in multiple-day workshops. Each participant builds on the Stewart Observatory's list of achievements since 1970, which include furthering infrared astronomy, surveying the moon for Apollo lunar landings, and searching for near-Earth asteroids.
Offering scenic views of Tucson and the surrounding area, the Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley sky ride (a $9 value for adults and a $5 value for children) allows lounging adventurers to kick back and catch a bird’s-eye view of nature’s bounty without lassoing an albatross. Each sky ride to the summit takes approximately 30 minutes and covers approximately one mile. Departing from an 8,200-foot base, sky riders will climb nearly 1,000 feet into the clouds while soaking in views of the Reef of Rocks, San Pedro Valley, and the mountains of Globe and Phoenix in the distance. Along the way, scan the surroundings for golden eagles, wild turkeys, and more than 200 species of birds, as well as black bears, mountain lions, white-tailed deer, and dodos.
The Golf Club at Vistoso’s PGA Director of Instruction Noreen Chrysler draws from 16 years of coaching experience to sculpt rough-edged swings into smooth, dependable motions that result in tee-to-green success. Opt for a package of one or three private lessons and receive one-on-one swing therapy to correct chronic slices, shore up unreliable putting strokes, or determine whether or not your sand wedge is living a fulfilling life. During couples lessons, divot-tearing duos pulverize orbs in unison under Noreen’s watchful eye, allowing clients to learn from the triumphs and mistakes of their cohorts. With each lesson package, clients receive a commensurate number of sessions at the club’s expansive driving range, where clients sidle up to one of more than 20 hitting stalls to launch practice spheres at distant targets or hovering weather balloons of prey.
As they enter the massive brick building, visitors pass the Watercarrier, a curved bronze statue that lends a first glimpse at a staggering collection of ancient and modern Native American works. Established in 1893, the Arizona State Museum celebrates and records Southwest Indian cultural history with more than 3 million objects, including a collection electrified with more than 25,000 pieces of woven basketry, more than 300,000 catalogued artifacts, 500,000 photographic negatives and original prints, 90,000 volumes of rare titles, 6,000 maps, 1,500 feet of archival documents, and more than 1,000 sound recordings. The collection forays out onto the museum floor in exhibitions such as Ancient Architecture of the Southwest, where striking photographs frame some of the crumbling archaeological ruins of 1,000-year-old cliff dwellings set against a rugged desert landscape while tastefully photoshopping out the ancient satellite dishes. The Pottery Project spans 2,000 years of Native ceramics with more than 20,000 whole pieces and a lab for hands-on pottery testing. Using artifacts, life-size dioramas, and film, Paths of Life explores the history and contemporary lifeways of ten Native cultures, including those of the Yaqui, O’odham, Apache, Navajo, and Hopi.
Museum staff further engage visitors in events that range from talks with museum curators and Native artisans to learning expeditions, which invite guests to tag along with museum and university archaeologists to survey nearby sites, immersing them in the scientific dig experience nearly as effectively as watching Indiana Jones with your nose to the screen. Educational outreach for public-school and university students immerses them in camps and workshops. At the Native Goods museum store, visitors browse a stock of books alongside basketry, jewelry, carvings, and textiles crafted by artists from Yaqui, Hopi, and other nations.
In 1997, Amy Caldwell discovered yoga. As she backpacked through Asia, Australia, and parts of Europe, she stopped to train with yogis she met along the way, exploring the styles of Vinyasa flow, Sivananda, Iyengar, and Ashtanga. As she learned, she blended these styles into her own dynamic flow. Since this nomadic journey, Amy's rapidly developing skills have earned her a spot on two Yoga Journal covers. Today, as owners of Yoga One studio, she and her husband Michael incorporate their own unique yoga and meditation styles into their teachings.
The flexible duo leads a team of experienced instructors, who foster a positive, non-competitive environment and also specialized in different styles of yoga, such as sunrise flow, Vinyasa flow, and gentle flow. Inside the main studio, where natural light from skylights casts a glow onto hardwood floors and saffron curtains, instructors lead groups through classes that cover optimal alignment, breath, and present-moment awareness. They also guide students outside the studio to stretch and align on a sunny rooftop in Little Italy. Inside softly lit massage rooms, therapists help visitors release tension from aching muscles.
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.
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