December is here, and like many people, I’m already dreaming of warm weather. Luckily for me, my family lives in Phoenix, Arizona, so I get to escape the cold for a week and visit a warm-weather destination during my holiday vacation. With average winter temperatures in the 60s, the Phoenix metro area has so much to offer. I’m already planning my week of activities, so I thought I would share some of my favorite things to do while in Arizona.
Shop ’til You Drop
If you enjoy shopping, Phoenix and Scottsdale are some of the best vacation spots in Arizona. Be prepared to drop some coin because Scottsdale and Phoenix are home to a number of great indoor and outdoor shopping promenades. In Phoenix, your best bet is Biltmore Fashion Park, a luxury outdoor retail and dining plaza located in the upscale Biltmore area of Phoenix. In Scottsdale, you have a number of options. Kierland Commons is an upscale sidewalk shopping center located on the border of North Scottsdale that offers fabulous restaurants and a bustling bar scene. If you head south to downtown Scottsdale you’ll find one of the Southwest’s premier shopping destinations, Scottsdale Fashion Square, which houses many luxury retailers. If high-end designers aren’t your thing, there is a little something for everyone along the 5th Avenue shopping district. You’ll find a mix of trendy boutiques, art galleries, jewelry stores, and Native American gifts. With all the options, you might need to bring an extra suitcase to bring home all of your loot from your Arizona vacation.
Grab your clubs and take advantage of the mild winter temps. The abundance of golf courses is one of the reasons Phoenix metro is a great Arizona vacation spot. The Phoenix metro area has more than 250 golf courses, making it one of the top golf destinations in the United States. A few notable golf courses in Scottsdale include Troon North Golf Club, Talking Stick Golf Club, and TPC. You don’t need to be Phil Michelson to enjoy the beautiful golf courses. If playing golf isn’t your thing, TPC is also home to “The Greatest Show on Grass,” the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which will be held January 28 through February 3, 2013. The Phoenix Open is the most attended PGA Tour tournament and is well known for rowdy spectators, who flock to the Bird’s Nest for nightly concerts during the tournament.
Take a Hike
If you can pull yourself away from all the shopping and golf, Phoenix has great city hiking. There are three great hiking options within the city of Phoenix: Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Peak, and South Mountain. Camelback is the highest peak in Phoenix at 2,706 feet. There are two trails at Camelback; Echo Canyon is 2.2 miles to the summit and back, and Cholla Lane is 2.8 miles. If you’re looking for a longer hike, you can hike trailhead to trailhead and back for a five-mile hike. Piestewa Peak is another popular option, located in the heart of the city with seven trail options for every skill level. A third option is South Mountain, which offers more than 25 trail options that can be combined for longer hiking options. All three mountains offer breathtaking views and make for great photo opportunities so you can flaunt your Phoenix vacation on Facebook.
Watch Some Football
The great weather makes Phoenix a prime location to host college football bowl games. The Phoenix metro area is home to two college football bowl games: the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl is a BCS game usually hosting the Big 12 Champion and the number one BCS at-large team. The game will be played on January 3, 2013, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, and this year will host Kansas State and Oregon. The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl hosts a Big 12 and Big 10 team. This year’s game will feature Texas Christian University versus Michigan State and will be played on December 29, 2012, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. Bowl games make Phoenix metro a popular Arizona vacation spot for the New Year. Both events generally draw large crowds to Arizona for New Year’s Eve and make Phoenix a very lively city to ring in the New Year.
Whether you are trying to rejuvenate after a week of outdoor activities or detox from your New Year’s celebration, no Phoenix vacation would be complete without a trip to a top-rated spa. Phoenix is home to many top-rated spas, and two of my personal favorites include the Alvadora Spa at the Royal Palms Resort and the Centre for Well-Being at the Phoenician Resort. Both offer a variety of signature services. I highly recommend the Orange Blossom Scrub at the Alvadora Spa. For those seeking a unique spa experience, in addition to standard spa therapies, the Centre for Well-Being also offers tarot card reading, astrology, and hypnotherapy. Whichever spa you choose, you are sure to leave your Arizona vacation feeling relaxed and refreshed.