With its captivating landscape, resort-like temperatures, booming business sector and growing art community, Arizona is a prime location for a fresh start. Boasting wide open spaces, majestic mountain ranges and sunsets that can’t be beat, Arizona is truly an oasis in the southwest. Mountains and plateaus comprise more than half the state and Arizona is home to the largest Ponderosa pine forest in the country. There is something for everyone here: world class resorts, backpacking or hiking in remote areas and family friendly communities. The cactus, orange blossoms and Palo Verde trees provide a unique backdrop for new adventures and experiences. Bordering on California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada, The Grand Canyon state encompasses a wide range of influences geographically, culturally, and politically. Formerly a mining and cattle territory, Arizona is now a contemporary industrial state with modern farms, large cities and emerging technologies.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Home to the Sonoran Desert, the Coconino Forest and the Kaibab National Forest, Arizona offers a wide spectrum of landscapes and things to do. Residents can ski in Flagstaff, boat on Lake Powell, visit caverns in Benson, hike in Scottsdale, kayak on Tempe Town Lake, wine taste in Sonoita, and to a mine in Bisbee. Arizona is rich in natural wonders such as the Petrified Forest, Monument Valley, Saguaro National Park, the Painted Desert, Sunset Crater and Havasu Canyon. Arizona’s wildlife population is another draw for new residents. A variety of species, such as coyotes, javelina, bob-cats, and roadrunners can be found roaming the desert. The Grand Canyon State also boasts more parks and national monuments than any other state.
SUNNY AND MILD
Temperatures range widely from North to South but Arizona averages 306 sunny days per year. Arizona residents needn’t worry about changing their clocks backward or forward. The state observes Mountain Standard Time year round. Most of Arizona’s rain occurs in the summer months but there is sometimes a short rainy season mid-winter. Summer monsoon storms are often precipitated by dust storms.
Although unpleasant sounding, dust storms are generally harmless and visually stunning. The rainy seasons are vital to recharge the riparian areas like the Upper San Pedro River Basin. Surprisingly, Arizona has 3,928 summits and mountain peaks which make it a great location for hiking, biking and other outdoor sports. Moderate winters allow for an exceptionally long period of time residents can engage in alfresco activities. Golf is immensely popular in Arizona and ample courses provide for a variety of playing options. Perhaps the best things about Arizona weather are the things it’s missing – no humidity, no blizzards, no frozen windshields and no tornados. Every morning of the year wake up and go.
A STATE OF CELEBRITY
A number of celebrities hail from Arizona including folk singer Michelle Branch, baseball star Curt Shilling, musicians Alice Cooper and Chester Bennington, comedian David Spade, actress Emma Stone, television star Lynda Carter and music maven Stevie Nicks. Acclaimed architect Frank Lloyd Wright lived in Arizona and his influence is seen in real estate throughout the state. Taliesin West was built on 600 acres of Sonoran Desert and still houses an architectural studio and school.
Another famous architect, Paolo Soleri, spent time with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West and went on to create Arcosanti which is based on his concept of “arcology” (combining architecture and ecology). Best selling author and first lady of household humor, Erma Bombeck made her home in Arizona until her passing in 1996. Pioneers of the old west era, Cochise, the Apache Kid and Geronimo were all born in Arizona. The infamous Gunfight at The O.K. Corral took place in Tombstone, Arizona.
JEWELS IN THE DESERT
Arizona’s two largest cities, Phoenix and Tucson, each have their own charm. Phoenix is home to over 20 Native American tribes, communities and nations. Public art reflects the history of the city and it’s clear that its roots haven’t been forgotten. Tucson lies an hour north of the Mexico border and as expected, there is a strong Hispanic influence in this smaller but vibrant desert oasis. Metropolitan Phoenix is quickly becoming a foodie destination. Up-and-coming chefs are pleasing the palettes of Phoenicians in a wide array of culinary genres. A James Beard finalist two years in a row, Kevin Binkley has restaurants in Cave Creek, Carefree and Central Phoenix. Residents can enjoy inventive menus and cocktails at Lon’s At the Hermosa located in scenic Paradise Valley.
James Beard winner chef -owner Chris Bianco offers three locations for diners to delight in his Italian influenced fare. Metro Phoenix is also home to many family owned restaurants featuring cuisine from El Salvador, Peru, India, Greece, Cuba, Germany and Japan.
Phoenix is also a mecca for public art. Because it’s a relatively new city, urban developers understand the value of art in everyday places. Highways, overpasses, bus stops and parks feature art work, sculpture and design. It adds beauty and also effortlessly blends this fair city into its natural environment.
The feel of the old west is more palpable in Tucson than anywhere else. Day or night, summer or winter, Tucson is casual. Jeans and sandals are apropos almost anywhere. It operates at a slower pace than Phoenix and has the feel of a small town. Residents can visit the San Xavier Mission which is thought to be the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States.
Tucson also offers the very unique but interesting The Mini Time Machine of Miniatures Museum where visitors can take a self-guided tour through an interactive experience. Experience Old Tucson Studios – a set for countless Western movies as well as a theme park. Built in 1938, it was revamped in 2011 with new sets, streets and buildings. While it’s still a must-see for any western diehard, it also features living history presentations that feature educational programs about Hispanic, Chinese and Native American culture.