4-Star Resort near Sprawling South Mountain Preserve
There’s no excuse for boredom at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa. Guests can divide their time between six restaurants, a 20,000-square-foot fitness center, and a 7-acre water park open seasonally and outfitted with a wave pool, two eight-story water slides, and a 25-person hot tub. The sprawling resort fits right in with its southwestern surroundings; with red-tiled roofs, palm trees, and landscaped courtyards, it looks like a Spanish colonial village. An ideal base for exploring the Valley of the Sun, the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa sits just 10 miles from downtown Phoenix and right next door to the 17,000-acre South Mountain Preserve, one of Arizona’s most popular hiking and mountain-biking destinations.
All guests receive a $50 spa credit, which can be used toward select spa treatments including a 50-minute massage or facial. Meanwhile, the resort's massive athletic club offers group fitness classes such as yoga, Pilates, and water aerobics.
Deluxe suites are located near the Oasis Water Park and feature private patios or balconies. In the morning, you can dig into an included breakfast for two. Other dining options vary from wood-fired pizza and rotisserie chicken at the Lobby Grill to mesquite-broiled steaks and barbecued ribs at the onsite western steakhouse, Rustler’s Rooste. Hit up the Marketplace Café for casual sandwiches and homemade gelato.
Phoenix: Bustling Metropolis and Native American Culture Surrounded by Desert
Phoenix enjoys about 300 days of sunshine a year, which has helped it to balloon into the sixth-largest city by population in the United States. It's also one of only 12 American cities with four professional sports teams: the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL, the Phoenix Suns of the NBA, baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks, and hockey's Phoenix Coyotes.
Though the topography of the Phoenix area is all desert, it's by no means desolate. Camelback Mountain is a designated city park with scenic trails that wind past boulders and red sandstone formations. Climb to the top for a view of the entire city. The themed trails at the Desert Botanical Garden are filled with southwestern flora such as huge sonoran cacti and other moisture-hoarding succulents. Plan hikes in the early morning or twilight hours to catch the most stunning sunlit views and to stay cool.
For an in-depth look at the cultures of Arizona’s indigenous population, browse the 12 galleries of the Heard Museum. Here you'll find nearly 40,000 artworks and artifacts ranging from Hopi Kachina dolls to a full-size Pueblo oven. In nearby Scottsdale, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West was the renowned prairie-style architect’s winter home, as well as a campus for his architecture school.