In 1984, Space Biospheres Ventures purchased a few unassuming acres north of Tucson in the shadow the Santa Catalina Mountains. There, the company expanded its sci-fi-sounding activities—the development of space-colonization technology—and built what would evolve into Biosphere 2.
Designed to re-create Earth's ecosystems, the gigantic glass enclosure (some 7.2 million cubic feet and 91 feet tall in some parts) is famous for housing biospherians in the 1990s. The researchers lived completely sealed inside for extended periods, giving scientists groundbreaking data on human survivability and interaction with particular bionetworks.
The University of Arizona had the 40-acre Biosphere 2 campus donated in 2011, maintaining it as a hub of serious research while expanding its mission to encompass interactive educational outreach. Each year, thousands pass through the on-site labs and classrooms as well as stroll the Biosphere 2 interior to view films, experience multimedia exhibits, or embark on guided tours. Tours venture into the actual ecosystems, allowing earthlings to note biodiversity, smell fresh precipitation in the rain forest, and savor the softness of savannah grassland underfoot until the resident grumpy old man yells at you to get the heck off his lawn. Before their dramatic conclusion at a million-gallon ocean tank, tours delve into the basement to explore the technosphere, where visitors can witness the deep inhales and exhales of the sphere’s respiratory system.
At Danzon! School of Dance, professional dancer and dance instructor L. Perez gets toes tapping for beginners and advanced students with his expertise in more than 20 different styles of partner dances, including ballroom, Latin, swing, and salsa. Single dancers or dancing pairs claim the entire studio space during private lessons, twirling and gliding across the floating Brazilian-cherry-wood floor uninhibited by other dancers or rogue leg warmers.
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.
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.
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.
Lady of America has designed its fitness centers, which are equipped with strength-training and toning equipment, specifically for women. Personal training grants expert advice, and the centers’ included on-site childcare frees up moms to attend group classes, such as Pilates, Zumba, and yoga, without their children interrupting their asanas to ask for financial advice. The staff also proffers senior programs and plans for weight loss and improved nutrition, and maintains an array of cardio equipment.