For two days every Mother's Day weekend, Prescott Fine Art & Wine Festival spills across the verdant, shaded lawn of Courthouse Plaza. The whole show reaches as far as historic Whiskey Row—the famed stomping grounds of Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers. Towering trees sway overhead, and mountain vistas on all sides set a fitting scene for the beautiful works by featured artists.
Despite these historic surroundings, the festival's art is anything traditional. More than 140 local artists showcase their most avant-garde paintings and other pieces. Throughout the weekend, Jurors rate each work for its aesthetic beauty and whether or not it features a wizard riding a white tiger. Meanwhile, chefs from local restaurants serve gourmet food, and in a wine-tasting garden, representatives from Arizona vineyards pour samples of their best bottles.
Grapes don't usually grow in the desert's dry heat, but the owners of Oak Creek Vineyard and Winery found a way. They nourish vines of syrah, merlot, zinfandel, and chardonnay grapes with pure water from an aquifer 425 feet beneath the earth's surface. Moisture isn't everything, though; western Arizona's brilliant sunlight helps the grapes to develop ideal sugar content. The combination of warm days and chilly nights further brings flavor to life beneath the grapes' dusk-purple skins.
White curtains swirl around the outdoor patio of an adobe tasting room, where visitors pair sips of wine with meats and cheeses. A jaunt through the grounds reveals views of flowering cacti and tumbleweeds wearing pearls on the sun-browned hills.
The guides at Sedona Adventure Tours coax visitors out to explore the rugged wilderness and rolling terrain of Sedona and the Verde River Valley. Suited for guests of all experience levels, they helm hikes, horseback rides, and ATV excursions through the desert hills and dusk-red mountains, all the while divulging information on the area's diverse habitats, making sure to cover which rocks are poisonous. Their Verde River tours put guests at the helm of inflatable ducky kayaks which, thanks to their stability and light weight, are easy to navigate through the shady bends and past sweeping desert vistas. Sedona Adventure Tours' signature Water to Wine excursions cap these floating trips with a vino tasting at nearby Alcantara Vineyards.
Although tumbleweeds don't breeze down its street and there's no hitching post on which to secure your horse, Brix Wine Spot swaps the valley for the Old West while helping visitors earn their sommelier spurs. A 20-foot copper bar corrals patrons as they stampede through the door, surrounding them with country tunes and over 500 of the bar's vintages.
Weekly tastings introduce palates to new bouquets, and every day a minimum of 18 wines are available by the glass, each served at an optimal temperature and right after naptime to ensure cooperation. When stomachs begin to rumble, guests can snack on artisan cheeses, salami platters, and handcrafted cheesecakes, or even bring in their own food—a practice Brix encourages as long as a glass of one of their wines is incorporated.
Cellar 13's owner, Mike Hightower, is no triskaidekaphobian. That is, he's not afraid of the number 13. Rather, he embraces it. He even themed his whole business around the superstitious number: it's no coincidence that Cellar 13 offers 13 red wines, 13 white wines, and 13 menu items. Guests can choose to explore either of the two outdoor patios, dine along the wine bar, or descend—yes, 13 steps—down to the cellar, where a cozy lounge with leather armchairs and dark wood tables welcomes guests and anything served in a bottle or stemmed glassware. No matter where you sit, you will encounter a variety of fine wines, gourmet sandwiches, and a friendly staff.
As its name would suggest, Carefree is a laid-back town, with a sense of humor to boot. Look out for quirky street signs (Ho Hum Road and Nonchalant Avenue) and keep in mind the town’s motto (“home of the cowboys and caviar”). Phoenix lies about 30 miles to the south, and the Continental Mountains rise just to the north and create a nice backdrop opposite the Black Mountain range. There are a handful of hiking trails in the area, but for those who prefer the comforts of saddle, you can rent a bike from the hotel or sign up of for a guided horseback ride through the desert. Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.