After learning to fly in college, Arizona native Rob Norberg flew to Alaska, where he spent 20 years traversing mountains, streams, and valleys as a fishing guide and seaplane pilot. But the Arizona climate eventually beckoned him back. Norberg now leads tours five times a day in his Cessna Caravan seaplane, carrying passengers high above sights including the Salt River Canyon, Roosevelt Dam, and Tonto Indian Ruins and providing passengers with thought-provoking facts and history. His nine-passenger plane ensures a window seat for each passenger, and comes equipped with personal headsets so they can each listen to the plane's adorable heartbeat.
Though a pilot mans each of Hot Air Expeditions balloon flights, the excursions are really guided by Mother Nature. The colorful balloons simply follow the wind, hovering above the cacti and coyote that call the Sonoran desert home before gently climbing breezes to give passengers a full view of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Groups can take morning flights year-round or afternoon flights from November through March, both of which offer spectacular photo opportunities, as well as time-sensitive challenges to any still-life painters on board.
The mutable nature of the flights mean they last anywhere from 45–90 minutes, after which, passengers will enjoy sparkling beverages and catered snacks, such as pastries. Each guest is awarded an official flight certificate as a memento of their aerial journey before boarding a courtesy van that returns them to the launch point. Though the actual flights last up to 90 minutes, groups should allow up to four hours for the entire trip.
The experienced tour guides at Segway of Scottsdale Segway Tours lead fleets of two-wheelers through one of two scenic Arizona cities during an extensive schedule of rides. Guests gear up for either of the 90-minute tours by hopping aboard a segway, whose self-balancing technology allows riders to tilt handlebars gently for turns or quickly for back flips. Each session begins with a 30-minute orientation, followed by a narrated jaunt past the towering opulence of the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Scottsdale or around the city-flanked oasis of Tempe Town Lake. During the summer months, groups traverse the town's bridges and boulevards at dusk, stopping by landmarks such as Arizona State University and Sun Devil Stadium, whose eponymous student-athletes practice under solar-powered stadium lights to escape the chill of night.
Versed in vintages from around the globe and down the block, Vino 100's aficionados personally curate the shop’s collection of more than 150 wines. Blond wood shelves display bottles stacked into tidy pyramids and sporting labels from wineries such as Oberon, Coppola, and Toad Hollow. In addition to gracing home wine cabinets with new vintages, the shop rewards oenophiles with membership to the grapenutz Wine Club, which unlocks perks including discounts and complimentary bottles. In addition to special events such as live music, wine-pairing dinners, and Bartles and Jaymes look-alike contests, Vino 100 invites patrons to informative wine classes covering topics ranging from tasting tips to wine-production secrets. In the spirit of Dionysian goodwill, the shop helps support a roster of community partners such as schools and animal rescues.
Arizona Outdoor Fun lets riders whip around winding lakes, trails, and tight canyons the way nature intended—atop landscape-chewing wheels. When not busy peddling a cache of extreme all-terrain Honda vehicles and dirt bikes, Rhino UTVs, and agile sport quads, their expert guides lead fun, scenic ATV tours around the Verde River and Bradshaw Mountains, sharing tidbits about local Native American culture, plants, fossilized cowboy hats, and wildlife. They also deal in aquatic sports with boat rentals including wakeboard boats, pontoon boats, and fishing boats, small vessels such as jet skis, and kayaks and canoes that run on man power. Master mechanics at the shop’s garage keep all vehicles ready for adventure, drawing on more than 25 years of experience to repair personal ATVs and other recreational crafts, including scooters and go-karts.
By their estimate, Kelly and Steve Fischer have taught thousands of people how to scuba-dive. As the course director and IDC staff instructor, respectively, at Phoenix Scuba, they draw from more than a decade of expertise to lead a team of master dive instructors, certified open-water instructors, and assistant scuba instructors. These coaches all follow the PADI curriculum to teach students basic through advanced diving skills, such as navigating underwater or bartering with dolphins. Open-water and advanced open-water certification courses lead the way with hands-on lake dives, and can open the door to specialized courses such as rescue diver or NITROX enriched air certifications.
Phoenix Scuba's instructors don't just limit their instruction to local waters: the school has also led extended trips to dive sites in the waters of Belize, Grand Cayman, and Fiji, among others.