By Melissa Larsen
Best Arizona Lake Escape: Canyon Lake
Less than an hour outside of Phoenix is Canyon Lake, located at 1,660 feet in elevation and with more than 950 surface acres of water prime for jet skiing, waterskiing and wind sailing. A favorite of camping enthusiasts year round, Canyon Lake is home to 28 miles of shoreline where you will find rock formations, coves, beautiful desert landscape and perhaps a few deer, Big Horn sheep and javelina. canyonlakemarina.com.
Best Arizona Ski Resort: Arizona Snowbowl
Seasoned skiers and boarders, as well as snow-sport novices, take to Arizona Snowbowl in the winter for fresh powder, blue skies and beautiful views. During the 2015 and 2016 season, Humphreys Peak Quad became the area’s first new chairlift in 30 years. Snowbowl’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system installation guarantees ski season from mid-November through mid-April. Come summertime, hop on Arizona Snowbowl’s Scenic Chairlift for a bird’s-eye view of one of the state’s most scenic spots. arizonasnowbowl.com.
Best Northern Arizona Adventure: Havasupai Falls
Havasupai Falls, hidden in the Grand Canyon within the Havasupai Indian Reservation, is a favorite Northern Arizona attraction (with thousands visiting each year) thanks to the stunning blue-green waters. To get to the falls, there is a 10-mile hike each way so visitors should be prepared and understand that Havasu Canyon is fragile and subject to flooding. nps.gov.
Best Northern Arizona Annual Event: Sedona Festival of Lights at Tlaquepaque
Tlaquepaque is a well-adored shopping and dining village in Sedona—and host to one of the area’s most exquisite annual events. In early December, the Festival of Lights kicks off with the lighting of 6,000 luminarias and entertainment from musicians, carolers and dancers, making it the Red Rock region’s favorite way to kick off the holiday season. tlaq.com.
Best Northern Arizona Winery: Alcantara Vineyards
One of the largest vineyards in Central and Northern Arizona, Alcantara Vineyards is a family-owned business that was founded in 2004. Nibble on a cheese plate in the Cottonwood-area tasting room while sipping some of Alcantara’s most prized sips (regular and VIP tasting experiences are available). alcantaravineyard.com.
Best Sedona Resort or Hotel: Briar Patch Inn
Nineteen elegantly rustic cabins along Oak Creek make up Sedona’s Briar Patch Inn. The cabins are free of televisions, telephones and internet service, allowing guests to truly unplug from everyday disturbances and simply enjoy nature—and one another. In the mornings, enjoy a healthy breakfast or home-baked pastries while the afternoon at the inn calls for hot mulled cider in the winter or cool iced tea on a warm summer day, alongside cookies, fresh fruit, crackers and cheese. briarpatchinn.com.
AFM Fave: Best Sedona Resort or Hotel: L’Auberge de Sedona
One of Sedona’s most luxurious spots to settle in, L’Auberge de Sedona is found along the banks of babbling Oak Creek and features 62 luxury cottages, 21 traditional lodge-style guest rooms and an over-the-top, stand-alone five-bedroom Creekhouse. Guests enjoy top-notch eats at the on-site Cress on Oak Creek and Etch Kitchen + Bar and find L’Apothecary Spa to be the ultimate aah-inducing retreat. lauberge.com. Also a 2016 winner!
Best Sedona Spa: Mii amo
Since it opened in 2001, Mii amo, adjacent to Enchantment Resort, has been racking up the accolades, including “World’s Best Spa” by Travel + Leisure and “No. 1 Destination Spa” by Condé Nast Traveler. At the celebrated spa, guests can expect to find Sedona mystique combined Native American wisdom in treatments and activities that promote wellness to mind, body and spirit. The centerpiece of the spa? The Crystal Grotto, a circular space that connects earth and sky where guests confirm their intention for the day. miiamo.com.
Best Southern Arizona Adventure: Kartchner Caverns
In 1974, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts happened upon what is now Kartchner Caverns at the eastern base of the Whetstone Mountains in Cochise County. Today, visitors flock to the site for scheduled tours to explore the majestic caverns, which is home to one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites and the world’s most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk. (Various tour options are available.) azstateparks.itinio.com/kartchnercaverns.
Best Southern Arizona Winery: The Village Of Elgin Winery
One of Arizona’s largest family-owned wineries, The Village of Elgin Winery found in Downtown Elgin, produces close to 30 different wines each year. The winery creates delicious options using grapes grown in Southern Arizona’s Cochise and Santa Cruz Counties and with barrels of various wood types and coopering techniques. The Village of Elgin Winery wines have been sold on six continents. sonoitawineguild.com.
Best Northern Arizona Hike: Havasu Falls & Mooney Falls, waterfallsofthegrandcanyon.com.
Best Southern Arizona Annual Event: Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation’s Blues Heritage Festival, azblues.org.
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