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.
After you hike a 10-mile descent through Hualapai Canyon—past the Supai Village and breathtaking ancient geological formations—you arrive at Havasu Falls. Follow the sound of the water and you’ll find the falls, where rapids cascade 100 feet to a dazzlingly blue-green, travertine pool below. It’s one of the world's most remote and beautiful swimming holes, and Pygmy Guides’ backpacking guides, who are medically trained as wilderness first responders or wilderness EMTs, lead groups there regularly.
Havasu Falls is just one of many destinations that you can explore with Pygmy Guides, a company that was founded by people who have spent more than 10 years living in and exploring Grand Canyon National Park. They lead groups to hike below the rim to see ancient rock art, hidden fossils, and california condors, walking in the footsteps of horse thieves on the Tanner Trail or along routes on the Bright Angel Trail once tread by ancestral Pueblo peoples. At Dripping Springs, water drips from the roof of a sandstone alcove so you can dilute Gatorade that tastes too sweet.
Sightseers who prefer the comfort of a plush SUV can see the canyon's expansive vistas through high-powered telescopes during day tours. Each all-inclusive trip includes park fees and gourmet meals and is limited to small groups for comfort and convenience.
The experienced tour guides at Segway of Scottsdale 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.
At La Bocca Urban Pizzeria, preparations for pizza crusts start a full day before they hit the brick oven. Chefs knead organic dough by hand, watch it rise for 24 hours, and then top the crusts with gourmet, locally procured ingredients such as Queen Creek Olive Mill olives, Schreiner’s Fine Sausages meat, and housemade pulled pork.
The rest of the Mediterranean-inspired menu proves equally indulgent. Chefs layer bruschetta planks with fig and smoked prosciutto and toss pastas with housemade sauces and meatballs molded from grass-fed beef. To grant molars breaks from the rigors of chewing, servers are happy to recommend pairings from the drink menu, which features handcrafted cocktails, European and Arizonan wines, and award-winning sangria.
Urban Dare Adventure Race is a fast-paced competition that challenges two-person teams to decipher clues, navigate the city, and perform playful stunts. A dozen trivia-based clues lead contestants to checkpoints all over Phoenix, where they must use a camera to document their presence and, in some cases, complete challenges, such as scaling a wall or solving a puzzle. In addition to running and walking, contestants may use public transportation to move from checkpoint to checkpoint, though taxis, cars, and bikes are off-limits. Races generally last less than four hours, and the winning team receives free entry to the Super Dare, a cruise-based take on the Urban Dare concept that features a $5,000 grand prize. Proceeds from the race will be used to help battle breast cancer.
Even after prohibition's repeal on December 5, 1933, no whiskey was legally made in the Phoenix-metro area until Arizona Distilling Co came along in 2013. Far from changing local history overnight, the distillery's team spent seven years refining their technique, sourcing local grains, and parsing plenty of legalese. The fruit of all that labor is Copper City Bourbon, barrel-aged for at least two years and named for an Arizona brewery that was shut down during prohibition. Though bourbon remains the micro-distillery's cornerstone, lead distiller Jason Grossmiller has already begun branching out into small-batch gin made with local botanicals and Desert Durum Wheat Whiskey, locally-sourced grain whiskey. In addition to being poured as samples in the tasting room, the company's libations grace stores and restaurants throughout the state, as well as speakeasy bars hidden inside desert mesas.