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.
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.
Flagstaff nature trails feature scenic cross country skiing and hiking, set in the wilderness of Coconino National Forest. Unlike a jaunt around the world's largest Cheerio, the facility features 40 km of nonredundant trails, all traversable by classic and skating skis, or a pair of snowshoes. There are trail passes for adults, children, and students/seniors. Flagstaff's equipment rentals include pulk sleds and ski packages.
Each year, Flagstaff Blues & Brews Festival spreads across a grassy lawn at the Continental Driving Range for a day-long celebration of music. An eclectic lineup of blues performers entertain guests until the sun begins to set. Meanwhile, tented outdoor beer gardens provide fuel for the celebration in the form of craft brews and food while benefiting local school music programs. To accommodate guests of all ages, there's also a children's area filled with bounce houses and games; kids 12 and under are admitted to the festival for free.
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.