Phoenix: Like No Place Else

These destinations make Phoenix and the surrounding area unique.
By: Amy Silverman
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6433 E. Doubletree Ranch Road, Paradise Valley
Most people who’ve heard of visionary architect Paolo Soleri know him for Arcosanti, his futuristic community north of Phoenix that never quite succeeded. Few know Soleri makes his world-famous wind chimes at Cosanti, a foundry tucked in a corner of Paradise Valley. You can tour the site, buy a bell and learn about Soleri’s vision for the future of development: He says ecology must become a fundamental part of architecture and that housing developments must be more dense. Ironic, given Soleri lives in sprawling Phoenix.

Taliesin West
Cactus Road and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, Scottsdale
Frank Lloyd Wright wintered in Scottsdale throughout his life, and today the foundation established in the famed architect's name offers tours of his residence and work space. You can walk through the master personal house and gardens.

Heard Museum
2301 N. Central Ave.
The Heard the very best place to buy Native American wares; its gift shop stocks everything from turquoise jewelry to Katsina dolls to hand-woven rugs. It's also considered the world’s leading museum on Native cultures. You can still see the traditional collection, but in recent years the Heard has boldly branched out and now features exhibits by modern Native artists, including locals like Hector Ruiz, a master wood carver and mixed media artist. His 20-foot papier-maché woman recently hung from the museum ceiling during a daring show.

Out-of-Town Day Trips

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show
The second week of February, Arizona’s sleepy second city, Tucson, is transformed into a sparkly wonderland as the Gem and Mineral Show hits town. Billed as the largest gem and mineral show in the country, it caters to serious wholesalers and lookie-loos alike. Check the website for location information. You can spend the day looking at crystals, fossils and precious gems, or digging for beads and all the tools you need to make your own jewelry.

Skiing in Flagstaff
Yes, there’s skiing in Arizona. As long as there’s snow, and that’s a big “if." To date, an effort to manufacture snow on site has been blocked by Native Americans who oppose it for spiritual reasons, but if the white stuff falls, you can carefully make your way up I-17 for a day on the slopes at Snowbowl.

Shopping in Nogales, Mexico
It’s a stretch to make it all the way to Mexico and back to Phoenix in a day, but many before you have done it. Take 1-10 south past Tucson and follow the signs to the border town of Nogales. Be sure to leave your car on the U.S. side (the Burger King just next to the border has the safest, cheapest parking) and walk across for an afternoon of shopping. Warning: It used to be easy to bring prescription drugs back across the border, but the authorities have really cracked down on that in recent years. Stick to the tin mirrors and the ceramics.  

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