North Pole Experience shovels in family fun with an interactive trip to Santa’s toy-building workshop. Personalized golden tickets, written by Santa, arrive in the mail ahead of time to beseech young ones to visit the wintery world of elves. Ticket holders drive up the 8,500-foot White Mountains the day of their North Pole Experience, where they can board the Candy Cane Express for a quick transport to the North Pole. Once inside Santa’s inner sanctum, children learn trade secrets and build toys under the tutelage of crafty elfin foremanship. The intricate décor allows kids to live out their fantasies of the snowy holiday without the burden of submitting blueprints to the city council for a building permit.
Cradled by Tonto National Forest, Cherry Creek Lodge provides nature lovers access to the outdoors, offering guided activities, meals, and a place to snooze amid ponderosa pines and rocky washbasins. Heads rest on beds in selected rooms that host up to seven occupants and are each equipped with private bathrooms and free WiFi. Upon waking and reading juicy excerpts from each other’s dream journals aloud, tandem adventurers can fuel up for alfresco endeavors with a breakfast of fresh-baked breads and coffee. Visitors then immerse themselves in the ranch lifestyle as they embark on a two-hour guided trail ride that snakes along paths etched into the lodge’s 55,000 acres of land. Savvy pony pilots customize a scenic tour based on guests’ equine experience and comfort levels to ensure an enjoyable, stress-free outing. Nestled in the saddle of one of Cherry Creek’s fleet of well-mannered, oat-powered vehicles, riders can drink in jaw-dropping vistas of majestic canyons and mountain ridges whilst rekindling the centaur-reminiscent connection between horse and human.