Flagstaff Nordic Center's snowy trails wind gently through the Coconino National Forest and snake up the scenic San Francisco Peaks. Before making tracks into the wilderness or across the wilderness's carpet, guests visit the Nordic Nook pro shop in downtown Flagstaff to slip into Salomon boots and lock into Fischer skis, or get strapped into snowshoes by Yukon Charlie or Tubbs. Skiers are then ready to glide along 25 miles of nonredundant, groomed cross-country trails studded with classic downhill slopes and an absence of chairlifts. A thrilling descent and views of Humphrey's Peak reward experts that hike up Peak-A-View Trail, and a smooth surface running through aspen groves and a nearby pillow factory coaxes wobbly novices to test the mountainside. Snowshoers trek along a network of paths that begins with easier trails close to the main lodge, and stretches outward, past a warming yurt with a wood stove, in loops of increasing difficulty.
The public sought exciting new entertainment in the Roaring Twenties, and as the storytellers of the Golden Age of Hollywood labored at myth making, theaters for the newfangled moving pictures were popping up across the nation. It was in this spirit that the Orpheum Theatre opened in 1929, though the Spanish Medieval– and Baroque-style building was one of the city's last major projects before the great stock-market crash. Regardless of its less-than-auspicious beginnings—not to mention nearly a century of hardships to follow—the theater avoided the wrecking ball. In the '60s, the Orpheum introduced Broadway theater to the city and staged such productions as Annie, Caberet, and Barefoot in the Park. Decades later, the theater was renovated and reopened once more, its majestic interior landscapes restored to their former glory.
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.
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.
Spinning fire creates a haze of smoke. A giant dances through it. There's no stage around, no velvet seats to remind audiences they're watching a show, so the scene feels like hallucination, or like a portal has opened up and granted eyes a glimpse into another realm. And such is the effect Flam Chen has sought to create for nearly 20 years. Through pyrotechnic displays tinged with technology and made more daring with acrobatics, the circus troupe's performers create a dramatic playground where dark and light forces—at once human and animal—feed off each other.
Outside of performing a dozen original shows across the globe, the troupe performs custom performances for public causes and private commissions. Their theatricality has attracted the attention of masters of spectacle such as Tim Burton and Stan Lee, and made them shoe-ins to serve as the flyers during the Scream Awards. Yet their performances have also served a greater good: they've raised funds for local charities and communities, and worked with the non-profit Many Mouths One Stomach to create public celebration and ceremony.