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.
Located in Oro Valley, Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort is in the mountains and close to Catalina State Park and Oro Valley Marketplace. This 4-star resort is within the vicinity of Tohono Chul Park and Stone Canyon Club.
Make yourself at home in one of the 428 air-conditioned rooms featuring minibars and CD players. Your room comes with a pillowtop bed. Rooms have private patios where you can take in golf course and garden views. Premium TV channels and video-game consoles are provided for your entertainment, with wired and wireless Internet access available for a surcharge. Private bathrooms with shower/tub combinations feature designer toiletries and hair dryers.
Rec, Spa, Premium Amenities
Take time to pamper yourself with a visit to the full-service spa. While the golfer in the family is out on the course, you can enjoy above-par recreational amenities such as a golf course and outdoor tennis courts. This resort also features a concierge desk, gift shops/newsstands, and shopping on site.
Enjoy a meal at a restaurant, or stay in and take advantage of the resort's 24-hour room service. Relax with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge or a poolside bar.
Business, Other Amenities
Featured amenities include a business center, a computer station, and business services. Event facilities at this resort consist of a conference center, conference/meeting rooms, and small meeting rooms. A roundtrip airport shuttle is provided for a surcharge (available on request), and free self parking is available onsite.
Aiming to turn the museum concept inside-out, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum contains two miles of paths spread across 21 acres of desert, where animals such as sun-bathing lizards, bobcats, porcupine, and grey fox make their home. However, it is the fusion experience of a zoo, botanical garden, natural history museum, aquarium, and art gallery that has earned it a top-5 museum honor by TripAdvisor.
The museum's exhibits intend to display the shared natural habitats of plants, animals, and geology. As many as 230 native live animal species and 1,200 types of plants fill the museum's many exhibits, such as mountain lions, prairie dogs, and river otters, and nearly 20 endangered or threatened species. Birds of prey that roam the skies are the subject of a twice-daily seasonal presentation. The gardens feature over 56,000 individual plant specimens native to several biomes and ecosystems of the Sonoran Desert. Also exhibited is the skeleton of a Sonosaurus, recovered in southern Arizona.
After their stint outdoors, visitors can wander innovative indoor exhibits. Inside a cool, dark replica of a limestone cave glimmer more than 14,000 minerals and fossils, which includes a moon rock on loan from NASA. Amongst an underwater view of beavers' habitat and a venomous reptile presentation, the Warden Aquarium showcases the region's marine residents, and an art institute aims to promote conservation through dynamic visual art.
Nearly a half century ago, horticulturist Harrison G. Yocum opened his backyard to the public, displaying a bounteous collection of cacti and palms. After a few relocations, expansions, and the establishment of a nonprofit charter, Tucson Botanical Gardens now spreads 17 distinct plots across more than 5 acres. A delicate rumble hearkens the arrival of the Garden Railway miniature train, which winds through gardens uniquely dedicated to birds, butterflies, wildflowers, and traditional Native American crops. Admission—which is free for garden members and children younger than 3—grants passage to five different tours, and groups of 10 or more can arrange self-guided or docent-led tours at a discounted rate. If visitors awaken their appetites by savoring aromas from the onsite herb garden or by staring at clouds shaped like canned goods, they can dig in at the Gardens' Café, where sun spills through a slatted gazebo onto iron tables loaded with roast-beef baguettes and mexican tortilla soup.
Before getting married, Tony and Marcy Brown both held impressive fitness records. Tony moved from a personal-training career to teaching yoga, and Marcy—a seasoned law-enforcement officer and former owner of a personal-training studio—kept her finger firmly on the pulse of gym trends. The pair decided to captain CrossFit Purgatory after becoming convinced of CrossFit's superiority over other popular health regimens. Now, they welcome guests of all ages and abilities to participate in their WODs (Workouts of the Day), emphasizing the values of community and commitment for those trying to rewrite their physical limits.
CrossFit Purgatory rejects superfluous furnishings in favor of a tough, minimalist vibe, decked out in functional training equipment such as kettlebells, Olympic rings, medicine balls, and mammoth bones. The gym's industrial feel is offset by the warmth of its occupants, who welcome new members to tackle the day's routine with open, sweaty arms. Because CrossFit maneuvers are universally scalable, anyone can adjust them to suit their strength level—the coaches have guided patrons from sports competitors to complete newbies to 2010 Biggest Loser contestant Jessica Delfs.
Elemental Artistry's performers play with fire for a living. Blending the fluidity of dance with a theatrical sense of spectacle, the troupe—which includes an NBTA gold-medalist baton twirler—whirls flaming props into fiery vortexes, dazzling spectators at events ranging from the Tucson Celtic Festival to the sweet sixteens of local volcano gods.
In addition to more than 150 performances since 2007—some of which have earned print and television attention in the Arizona Daily Star and on KOLD News—troupe members teach their craft in workshops and classes that lead students of all ages through movements, such as poi spinning, staff and baton twirling, and hula hooping, using unlit props, at least to start. The art form's constant movement and careful coordination can help to tone muscles, awaken ambidexterity, heighten kinesthetic awareness, and occasionally open interdimensional doorways. Elemental Artistry's dance architects can also develop flame-free spectacles using props ablaze with LED lights.