What’s So Great About Arizona?
Saguaro in the Sunset
Years ago, my husband and I made a few trips to Arizona to visit my parents, and every time we left I expressed my dislike for the state and told him I could never live in such a place. Fast forward to today and you will see someone who not only enjoys Arizona but has lived here for almost 14 years. So why did we move here and what has made us stay?
First, let me say that the last place I thought I’d ever be was Arizona. When my husband was offered a job there I physically flinched. But since my parents lived there, I thought it might be a good chance for my son to get to know them better. That was my only reason for agreeing to a move.
We moved from Kansas to Arizona during the hottest month of the year. August! Not only was it around 120º, it was also humid. I thought I had lost my mind making such a decision. When September came and it was a little bit cooler, I thought okay I can kind of handle this. Then came October and that was cooler still. By December I understood the appeal of living in the valley of the sun. Temperatures normally range from 50º to 70º with occasional swings down to freezing. We probably would have been knee deep in snow Back in Kansas.
Over the years, Arizona has become home for us, and believe it or not every summer gets a little easier to handle. Winters here make the hot summer worth it. Only 3 1/2 months of heat for the reward of 8 1/2 months of wonderful. Having said that, let me add that there is a lot to do in Arizona in the summer. We have waterparks, ice skating, large indoor malls, lots of pools to swim in and so much more! There are even more fun places to visit all year round.
Here are just a handful I have visited since I have been here.
- Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek – Is a place where you can pick your own peaches from the orchard. There is something very satisfying about choosing your own fruit from the trees. I had picked apples and pears before, but never peaches. We also really enjoy a tasty baked treat from their little country store and bake shop. In the autumn, they also have pumpkins.
- Butterfly Wonderland and the Mirror Maze are located side-by-side in Scottsdale. I have only been to Butterfly Wonderland as the other venue only recently opened. It is “the largest butterfly conservatory in the country with over 3,000 fluttering butterflies.” This was a neat experience. In the first room, you get to examine all the chrysalis and hatching butterflies. The butterflies land on you quite often and it is fun to see your friends walking around with butterflies on their backs while they wonder why there are no butterflies near them.
- Another cool place is called Sea Life Aquarium in Tempe. It is in Arizona Mills Mall, which also houses some pretty cool other places. It is one of the best little aquariums around. My brother-in-law from Honolulu, Hawaii said it was better than the one they have.
- A few other Arizona Mills Mall attractions are a LEGOLAND Adventure Center, a Rainforest Café, and many outlet stores. They also boast a merry-go-round and have things like trampolines in the halls of the mall.
Sedona is a destination many people travel to just for its beauty. Arizonians love to travel to this destination. The landscape has some of the most beautiful red hills you have ever seen. The town is great for walking. It is an artist’s town and there are a variety of shops reflecting their work. Of course, there are some nice little places to eat, and an interesting chapel set far up on one of the hills. The surrounding area is great for adventurers who can fly high on helicopter tours, hike and camp, and take off-road jeep tours.
El Tovar Hotel
The Grand Canyon National Park
One of the most awesome sites people have ever seen. Full of geological history. I lived in Arizona for 9 years before I finally visited this awesome place. Why? Too many drive the 3-4-hour trip from the valley only to look at it and drive back down. That was not appealing to me. I wanted to do it right. So, we planned a trip. My husband and I drove up to Williams, AZ which is south of the canyon. We stayed the night at the Grand Canyon Railway hotel, which has a morning western show and then took the train up to the south rim. When we got off the train we took one of the buses, (fueled by natural gas) that drives to all the overlooks. You can no longer drive to these overlooks yourself because auto pollution was getting to be too much for the wildlife and plants of the area. You must take the bus or walk to enjoy it. We then spent the night in the El Tovar Hotel. The oldest hotel in the area. Let me just say the canyon views are awesome during the day, but the night skies were stunning!
My family's next adventure? A new feature, The Zip Line at Grand Canyon West. They have a 3,500-foot zip line that soars 1000 feet above the canyon!
I must mention Canyon Lake because it is only a 45-minute to an hour drive from the valley and is a huge attraction in the summer. We try to go there in the morning when the temperatures are a tad cooler and leave about 1:00 in the afternoon. The lake was created by the Mormon Flat Dam built in 1925. It is the perfect getaway on a hot summer day. It is the smallest of 4 lakes created by the dams, but it is a beauty! The water butts right up to high canyon walls. People camp there, swim, kayak, boat, and ski. I don’t know why, but it is a very cold lake for such a warm place, which makes it ideal in the summer!
Tempe is home to the Arizona State University (ASU) and like any college town, there are a lot of neat little restaurants, bars and shopping areas in and around the town.
Tempe Town Lake
Tempe Town Lake is not technically a lake it all. It is a reservoir. This man made lake is just what the city of Tempe needed. Water is always an attraction in the desert. The surrounding area of the lake has the Tempe Center of the Arts, a hotel, Segway tours, volleyball and many a concert, race, and festival. They also use the lake for kayaking, sailing and ASU students practice rowing on the lake.
What I haven’t mentioned are all the pleasing things there are to see and experience outdoors. Did you know Saguaro Cactus grow more in Arizona than any other state? There are forests of them in some areas. And much of the wildlife need them to survive. In the winter, there are also snowy mountains within a few hours’ drive, and during summer they are great retreats from the heat. Interesting things like Indian cave dwellings are in the area, as well as lakes, and lovely camping areas. There are hiking trails, areas for off-roading, and skiing.
I have not even touched the surface of all Arizona has to offer. I can only offer a tiny view. There are many more places I would love to visit and things I want to do. Things like, go tubing down the Salt River, stopover at Tombstone Arizona to see the OK Corral and visit Litchfield Park to check out the Wildlife World Zoo. There is just so much to do I have not had time to fit it all in. That’s one of the things that is so great about Arizona, there is always something to do.
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© 2018 Lorelei Nettles