Our Favorite Ways to Spend the Holidays Around Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix. Between the Sonoran Desert, low mountain ranges, and rapid growth, this southwestern city only gets more exciting every year. Between an increasingly young and diverse population and breathtaking landscapes, there’s something for everyone here in the Valley of the Sun. So whether you’re a visiting tourist, returning to see friends and family, or a curious local, read on for our favorite ways to spend the holiday season around Phoenix, and get ready to explore!

Glendale Glitters Spectacular Weekend

Visitors will delight in the festive atmosphere of an open-air marketplace at Glendale Glitters, an inclusive and jolly holiday season event with something for everyone! Get Christmas shopping done in one go, with countless artisans, independent studios, and small businesses offering a variety of one-of-a-kind jewelry, ornaments, crafts, clothing, and gifts, or enjoy the mouth-watering selection of food vendors on-site! For entertainment, enjoy a visit with Santa, a petting zoo, a children’s winter wonderland, a light show, hot air balloons, and live music. This is a great way to celebrate the holidays while getting to see Phoenix’s sense of community, various faces, and taking part in a number of activities great for couples, families, groups, and solo travelers alike. Take the party to Glendale Glitters and enjoy this relaxed, joyful holiday season with the city.

https://www.glendaleaz.com/play/special_events___festivals/special_events

Las Noches De Las Luminarias

With the stunning topography of the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix provides some truly stunning sights. Among these is the beauty of the Desert Botanical Garden, which holds the ‘Las Noches De Las Luminarias’ event every holiday season! Enjoy the garden, live music performances, photo booths, a number of food vendors, art exhibitions, and of course, the Luminarias. The Luminarias are small paper lanterns, usually in a square shape that light up and dot the landscape in an amazing fashion. Whether as a slower-paced activity or for a chance to make an event out of the outdoors and natural beauty of the Phoenix area, visitors will enjoy the Las Noches De Las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden.

https://dbg.org/events/las-noches-de-las-luminarias-2021/2021-12-03/

Holidays at the Heard

The Holidays at the Heard series is a tradition embracing and sharing the Native American cultures of Arizona and North America, providing an inspiring and inclusive opportunity for the public to participate and learn about indigenous cultures throughout the holiday season. This is truly a special event for those in the Phoenix area during the holiday season, and with different shows throughout the holiday season, this is something that visitors can experience multiple times. Enjoy Native American music, dance, instrument demonstrations, crafts, arts, and cuisine as different Native American and First Nation artists come to the Heard. Aside from the variety in shows and appearances, the exhibits of the Heard museum itself and its work with indigenous communities over the world are also a great place to learn while in the Phoenix area.

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Our Favorite Festivals Around Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix. Between the Sonoran Desert, low Mountain ranges, and rapid growth, this Southwestern city only gets more exciting every year. Between an increasingly young and diverse population and breathtaking landscapes, there’s something for everyone here in the Valley of the Sun. So whether you’re a visiting tourist, returning to see friends and family, or a curious local, read on for our favorite autumn events here around Phoenix, and get ready to explore!

Junk in the Trunk

A truly unique experience for those in the Phoenix area is the elusive Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market, a charming hodgepodge where independent artisans, small businesses, and antiques put one-of-a-kind wares on sale. The colorful and varied scene of the Junk in the Trunk makes for a relaxing and interesting stroll, browsing the stalls at the market for the opportunity to take something home like none other. Aside from supporting small businesses and artists from Arizona and across the nation, this is also a good way to get to know the artists and craftsmen of the Phoenix area. Bring the whole group to the Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market to snap some pics and browse a truly eclectic collection.

Arizona State Fair

One of Arizona’s oldest traditions, the Arizona State Fair is a great way to experience a fun day out for any number of travelers! This is one of the biggest events in the state, with so much to do. Play fun games, enjoy festive (and daring) festival fare, go on a number of rides thrilling and gentle, listen to live music, and attend livestock shows, there’s something for everyone here at the Arizona State Fair. Giant turkey legs, deep-fried candy bars, Navajo tacos, Mexican corn, and barbecue are just some of the treats you can find over the fair. This is a great photo op and accommodates travelers of all ages and interests. For an event sure to entertain everyone, catch the Arizona State Fair.

Rainbows Festival

The Rainbows Festival is a celebration of Phoenix’s diverse and storied identity, where the city’s sense of community shines in sharing and enjoying all that makes Phoenix what it is. This event features Phoenix’s LGBTQIA+ community as a focus but is open and welcoming to visitors and residents of all backgrounds. Indeed, in recent years a number of local ethnic organizations representing and sharing the cultures of the various ethnic groups in the Phoenix area have also joined the mix, providing a fun and inviting look into the kaleidoscope of the Phoenix community. Between arts, live performances, live music, food, crafts, and the liveliness that takes over Phoenix’s streets, this is a great way to get to see Phoenix’s downtown personally. Over one hundred and fifty vendors and performers take the stage over two days, with so much to see. Come out and meet Phoenix’s downtown and the people who make it Phoenix, at the Rainbows Festival.

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4 Fun Things to Do with Kids in Phoenix

If you’re looking for your next great family adventure, or someplace different to take the kids, we have you covered. Spending a day out with the kids is a great way to recapture your own childlike curiosity and love of play, so we’ve included plenty of options that will make the adults as happy as the kids. Below are some of the best, most unique, and most beloved things to do with your kids in Phoenix.

Butterfly Wonderland

A one-of-a-kind wonderland and experience – something both the adults and the kids will love. Butterfly Wonderland is the largest butterfly conservatory in the United States. Once inside, you will enter an indoor, interactive rainforest habitat where butterflies flutter all around you. The habitat is also home to several rainforest reptiles. The entire rainforest is an extremely colorful and exciting way to spend an afternoon.

Goldfield Ghost Town

Just East of Phoenix is a reconstructed 1890’s Wild West Town. The Goldfield Ghost Town is known for its Old West gunfights, museum, and gold-mine tours. You can walk down Main Street and explore the shops, pan for gold, take a train ride, and witness an old-fashioned gunfight. When visiting the town, you’ll step into the rich world of the Wild West. Kids will enjoy the sights, attractions, and atmosphere.

Golfland Sunsplash

Waterparks are always a family favorite, and Golfland Sunsplash certainly delivers all you’d want for an exciting day under the sun and at the pool. The amusement park is actually broken into two sections – Golfland is home to three mini-golf courses, go-karts, bumper boats, and an arcade, while Sunsplash is home to water slides, lazy rivers, and water playgrounds. There truly is something for everyone here and a visit to Golfland Sunsplash is the perfect way to get the entire family active. 

Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Located in the heart of Downtown Phoenix is the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. The museum offers dozens of interactive exhibits and special programs designed to help children grow and learn while having a wonderful time. Some of the popular exhibits are “The Market”, a roleplaying town, the “Art Studio” where kids embrace the messy and the creative, and “The Climber”, a massive playground. There is something for everyone at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and it is an especially great place for anyone with toddlers or younger kids.

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Aquariums around Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix. One of the nation’s largest cities, infamously the sunny (and toasty) Valley of the Sun, this Southwestern metropolis might not be the first place to one would look to find a world of aquatic life, but thankfully that is the case. Blessed in rich topography and an exploding population, it would seem humans are far from the only ones to come to Phoenix in large numbers, as a resident population of aquatic animals from all over the world has also settled here in a number of institutions. Whether you are a visiting tourist, returning home for friends and family, or a local looking for something to do, read on for some of our favorite aquariums in the Phoenix area. 

OdySea Aquarium

Our first entry to the list must be the premier attraction, OdySea Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the Southwest! Over 6,000 animals represent more than 370 species in a dazzling number of exhibits, diverse in their populations as they are in the environments they represent and most notably, in their layouts. Visitors travel the world’s oceans in a series of immersive and interactive exhibits, including the Deep Ocean Escalator, Rotating OdySea Voyager, (the only revolving aquarium in the world), and the notable SEA TREK experience.

SEA LIFE Arizona

The colorful SEA LIFE Arizona exhibit is a great option for families and visitors wanting to make the most of a single visit, with a variety of exhibits that inspire and entertain the imaginations of visitors of all ages. Here, icons such as the zebra shark, southern ray, green sea turtle and the bamboo shark reside among other species. The highlight exhibit, however, is the 360-degree Ocean Tunnel, putting you in the center of the action, a walk through a colorful tropical sea community of exotic flora and fauna. 

https://www.visitsealife.com/arizona/

Wildlife World Zoo

On the western side of Phoenix’s metro is another unique attraction- the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park. Indeed, while this may not specifically be an aquarium, the Wildlife World Zoo’s attention to aquatic animals cannot go ignored, for its scope and depth of coverage. Visitors looking for a true variety of experiences with aquatic animals and more will enjoy the Wildlife World Zoo. Here, Nile crocodile, alligator snapper turtles, arapaima, giant Pacific octopus, and Asian small-clawed otter are only some of the famous faces resident. However, the stars of the show here are undoubtedly the sea lions, with their eccentric antics for all to see.

Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo’s roster also is worth a spot on our list, combining a mission of education and conservation with animals from land and sea. Families of stingrays, the Aldabra tortoise, and the majestic Asian elephant have their presence with visitors and have graced the Phoenix community for generations. Also of note here are the number of hands-on experiences, feedings, and Q&A sessions, as well as the number of tours at different speeds, with safari experiences and calm strolls all available. 

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5 Quirky Date Night Destinations in Phoenix

Date night doesn’t have to be the same each time. While we all love cuddling up at the movies or trying new restaurants or embracing a bit of high culture at museums, every once in a while, date night needs to be shaken up. Each city has a hidden world of strange, quirky, and delightful things to do. Try any one of these on your next date night and embrace the weird, whimsical part of life.

The Mystery Mansion Dinner Theater

Murder Mystery Theater provides a wonderful twist on a night out at the theater. The Mystery Mansion Dinner Theater is interactive and hilarious, taking you on a wonderful “whodunnit?” journey while providing a delicious dinner. Upon arriving you’ll be given a character of your own and you and your date will have a marvelous time trying to nail the culprit, only to find you’re both completely wrong.

Medieval Times

Why not enjoy a good joust while feasting and tossing back a goblet of wine? Medieval Times is a restaurant that embraces its own strangeness. Knights battle in a glorious tournament that will make you and your date feel like you’ve stepped into King Arthur’s court. It is pure, guilty pleasure-style fun and definitely not your typical dinner date. Dinner itself is a four-course feast befitting the royalty you’ll become when you pass through the castle doors. 

Desert Wolf ATV Tours

Get your adrenaline pumping and take a wild ride instead of spending date night trying a new restaurant. Desert Wolf ATV Tours will take you off-road and off-course through Arizona’s desert. One of the best tours for couples is the TomCar Scorpion Hunt Sunset Adventure. It is a tour that combines the romance of sunset with the adrenaline and excitement of riding an ATV while keeping an eye out for scorpions. If you and your date are adrenaline junkies or are looking to add excitement to date night, then give this tour a chance. 

Wonderspaces

An art show crafted to inspire curiosity and wonder. The art installations/exhibits/interactive pieces at Wonderspaces are not the usual pieces of artwork you’d expect in a gallery or museum. Right now, you can wander through an exhibit called Shadowplay, where you and your shadow become the art and you’ll feel like Peter Pan chasing his own shadow. Or take a seat at the exhibit, Human Study #1, where three robots will sketch your portrait.

Queen Creek Olive Mill

Sign-up for Olive Oil 101 for a unique afternoon/early evening date. You and your date will learn, taste, and create olive oil in a beautiful outdoor setting. A visit to Queen Creek Olive Mill is perfect for a slower, yet different type of date and especially great for any couple that enjoys cooking together. You are sure to leave with a bunch of ideas for new recipes, featuring a uniquely-flavored olive oil, of course.

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Our favourite ways to spend summer in Phoenix, AZ

In Phoenix, there is a union of Western, Mexican and Native American cultures that find a unique balance in the sun-drenched landscape. Its dramatic landscapes and growing activity has seen a recent boom in population, today a Metropolis of nearly five million. Between its history, rich heritage, distinct neighbourhoods and phenomena, Phoenix’s character continues to inspire. Read on for some of our favourite ways to spend the summer in the Valley of the Sun. 

Heard Museum

The Heard Museum is a special experience for those in the Phoenix area, as one of the largest missions dedicated to the advancement of Native American art and expression. Ran in close tandem with the Native Nations and Tribes of Arizona and the United States, the Heard Museum is a unique opportunity to see how these communities articulate themselves in profound beauty. Across the campus of the Heard Museum, you can find Indigenous Artwork from around the globe, one of the largest private collections of Native American dolls, the tragic story of boarding schools and the Native American community, the records and work of George Catlin, and reflections into the lives of the Native American Southwest. At times the Museum also hosts seminars and lectures on a variety of topics involving the Native American community. 

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

A half hour’s drive from Downtown Phoenix, is a very fun way to escape the Arizona sun- Six Flags Hurricane Harbor! Sink into cool, calming waves over three hundred kilometres inland at Hurricane Bay and Paradise Island, or float down the Adventure River.  For groups and families, enjoy the thrills together in the Big Kahuna, Tornado or Mammoth Falls. Teams of two can take on the Anaconda, or compete against each other in Wahoo Racers, Anaconda, Bonzai Pipelines or the Bahama Blaster. For younger travellers, there is Coconut Bay, and multiple Splash Park / Playgrounds that take the refreshment a little less intensely. We recommend plenty of sunscreen for this trip!

Phoenix Fan Fusion

Phoenix Fan Fusion is a gathering of everything Pop Culture, from horror to anime, manga, animation, video games, card and tabletop competitions, novels, tv shows and cinema. Every year in the early summer, enthusiasts of these genres come together to enjoy their interests in company and get exclusive chances at Celebrity Panels, tournaments and travelling vendors. Some of the famous faces that have appeared at Phoenix Fan Fusion include Stan Lee, Danny Glover, Jason Momoa, Karen Gillan, Danny Trejo, Adam Savage and George Takei.

Downtown Phoenix Fourth of July

Celebrate America’s birthday with the people of Phoenix and enjoy music, shows, good food and fireworks. Nothing better exemplifies Phoenix’s sense of community than this once-a-year event, and is open to all. Catch the Diamondbacks ball game before the fireworks, stop by Lake Pleasant for the gathering of Food Trucks and inflatable rides, or just enjoy an All-American night of live music and Fourth of July fare in the town. Phoenix’s sense of sharing and celebration makes the city a great place to spend the Fourth of July.

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The Best Parks of #Phoenix

Don’t have a lot of money but you want to get out of the house? See nature? Have fun? Go on a walk? Have a picnic? Let’s check out the best parks in Phoenix. This city is known as the Valley of the Sun, however, there are also some gems of nature in this city and you’ll be happy to visit them all.

Papago Park

This park boasts sweeping vistas of red sandstone formations all around, making it one of the must-see parks in all of the Phoenix area. If you’re in town, you’ll definitely want to visit this park at least once for the glory of it. This park is home to the Hole in the Rock as well as Hunt’s Tomb. If you climb the sandstone, you’ll get a glorious view of the downtown Phoenix skyline, as well as take in the beauty of a desert sunset. This park also houses the Phoenix Zoo as well as the Desert Botanical Gardens. Whatever your taste for visiting the sights of Phoenix, Papago Park is your one-stop shop.

Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden is located in downtown Phoenix. This park is deliciously peaceful for anyone who is overwhelmed with the chaos of everyday life. Dedicated to bringing the beauty of Japan to the acrid desert, this garden is lush with Japanese flora native to Japan, and also boasts Japanese art and sculptures created by various Japanese artists. Of course, they have a pond dotted with koi fish and tea ceremonies on site. If you’re looking for a tranquil and lovely day in the city of Phoenix, the Japanese Friendship Garden is the perfect choice.

South Mountain Park

This park is massive, with over 17,000 acres, making it the largest park in the entire United States. If you’re looking for an adventurous hike, Camelback Mountain and Superstition Mountain are waiting for you to conquer them. If you take the time to climb South Mountain, you’ll enjoy amazing views of the city as well as the horizon, where you can sit and watch the sunset if you so choose. Petroglyphs are located on South Mountain, carved by the Hohokam Indians hundreds of years ago, as well as stone structures they built around the mountainside. Picnic tables and BBQ grills are available everywhere you look, making South Mountain Park the perfect place for that BBQ picnic. Come on down and have a blast in this park.

Dreamy Draw Recreation Area

If you want to experience the Arizona desert in all its beauty and fullness, look no further than Dreamy Draw. With its mountain peaks and hidden valleys, Dreamy Draw is the perfect place to experience the local wildlife, such as coyotes, lizards, snakes, and all kinds of sagebrush for miles. You’ll enjoy dirt trails for hiking or biking, as well as some paved trails for the less adventurous adventurers. Here and there you’ll find quiet picnic areas where you’ll be able to enjoy the stillness and serenity of the open desert. Phoenix is dry but delightful and you won’t regret exploring all of her local parks.  

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5 Great Places to Have a Picnic in Phoenix, AZ

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Phoenix.

Granada Park

Puescana Lake and Pholx Lake cover a large portion of Granada Park. Settling yourself next to them for a picnic offers lovely water views with palm trees and mountains towering in the distance. There are several picnic facilities, a playground, and tennis courts at the park as well. The majority of Granada Park is open land with trees dotted throughout for shade, making nearly every portion of the park a great place to picnic.

Papago Park

One of the largest parks near Phoenix, home to the Phoenix Zoo and Botanical Garden as well as the famous Hole in the Rock Formation. Papago is perfect for hiking and picnicking. Hiking up to the Hole in the Rock Formation can be difficult with the rocks and elevation, but the trails are well-marked and the view at the top is incredible. There are also covered picnic tables near the zoo and the bottom of several hiking trails that offer fantastic views of the Rock Formations throughout the park.

Steele Indian School Park

A well landscaped park with a large pond at the center. The Circle of Life monument, surrounded by three historic buildings from the old Phoenix Indian School, is one of the must-see sights in this park. 24 interpretive columns depict the history of the school and a poem on the water cistern at the center explains the Native American design of the park. Its picnic facilities are beautiful, nestled under ramadas. Overall, the park is stunning and carefully designed, full of rich history and rich nature.  

South Mountain Park and Preserve

A 16,000 acre park with fabulous trails up and down the mountain. And, it you’re looking for stunning views and a mountain top picnic, but don’t want to walk the long trails, there is a drivable road to a lookout with city views. Some of the great places to stop for a picnic and a picture are Dobbins Lookout, Holbert Lookout, and Piedras Grandes Picnic Ground. 

North Mountain Park

The crowning jewels of this park are two summit peaks that offer dramatic views of the city and wild landscape of Arizona for as far as the eye can see. At the bottom of the mountain are picnic tables and along the trails there are several benches to stop for a rest or a bite to eat. Whether you’re at the bottom of the mountain or the summit, the scenery of this park cannot be missed. 

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Fun Summer Things To Do In Phoenix, AZ

Summer is finally here!  The kids are out of school, and backyard barbecues are taking place all over the nation.  After the year we had in 2020, and most people having chosen not to take a vacation, you can almost rest assured that families will be out in full force this year.

With this in mind, we thought we would offer a few great vacation ideas to help you plan, as well as some places that would be great for just a few days away.  We all need time to recharge and some well-deserved play in the sunshine.

Here are some of the best places to check out this summer!

Heard Museum

2301 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004

The Heard Museum presents the stories of American Indian people from a first-person perspective, as well as exhibitions of traditional and contemporary art by American Indian artists and artists influenced by American Indian art. The Heard Museum collaborates with American Indian artists and tribal communities on providing visitors with a distinctive perspective about the art of Native people, especially those from the Southwest. The Heard Museum’s mission is to be “the world’s preeminent museum for the presentation, interpretation, and advancement of American Indian art, emphasizing its intersection with broader artistic and cultural themes.” The central Phoenix location of the Heard Museum has been designated as a Phoenix Point of Pride.

Musical Instrument Museum

4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050

The Musical Instrument Museum is located in Phoenix, Arizona. Opened in April 2010, it is the largest museum of its type in the world. The collection of over 15,000 musical instruments and associated objects includes examples from nearly 200 countries and territories, representing every inhabited continent. Some larger countries such as the United States, Mexico, India, China, and Brazil have multiple displays with subsections for different types of ethnic, folk, and tribal music.

Camelback Mountain

Phoenix, AZ

Camelback Mountain is a mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. The English name is derived from its shape, which resembles the hump and head of a kneeling camel. The mountain, a prominent landmark of the Phoenix metropolitan area, is located in the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area between the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix and the town of Paradise Valley. It is a popular recreation destination for hiking and rock climbing.

OdySea Aquarium

9500 East Via de Ventura Suite A-100, Scottsdale, AZ 85256

OdySea Aquarium in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a marine aquarium and the largest aquarium in the Southwest United States. It holds more than 2,000,000 US gallons of water and spans over 200,000 square feet. There are over 6,000 animals and 370 different species in over 65 exhibits. The aquarium offers educational, interactive, and entertaining experiences for guests of all ages.

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#Roadtrip Ideas from Phoenix, Arizona

There’s nothing like the Great American Road Trip! And given continued travel restrictions preventing Americans from taking their vacations abroad in many countries, more and more people are turning to road trips when they need to get away from it all.

If you’ll be in Phoenix, Arizona and are looking for scenic drives or road trips to take, read on for some fun ideas.

Sedona

Taking the two-hour drive up to Sedona is rewarding both in terms of the drive and the destination. Sedona is a beautiful desert city surrounded by red rock formations, canyons, buttes, and pine forests. It also has a vibrant arts community, which means there’s plenty to see and do once you get there.

As for the drive itself, the last part of your route from Phoenix will be on SR 179, also known as the Red Rock Scenic Byway. After you turn left off of I-17 onto the byway, you’ll soon be in the Rd Rock Scenic Corridor within the Coconino National Forest. The drive is surrounded by towering, jaw-dropping rock formations with optional stop-offs at a visitors’ center (at the time of writing, it’s temporarily closed due to COVID-19), several trailheads, petroglyphs, a chapel, and a state park.

The Apache Trail

Ready to put your driving skills to the test? About two hours east of Phoenix lies the Apache Trail, an ancient route used by the native Apaches, which then became a stagecoach route. For a while, this mostly unpaved road was considered the most dangerous road in the US! Also known as Arizona State Route 88, the road is safer now, but you’ll still be facing tight turns and steep drop-offs (the speed limit remains 15 mph).

The drive will take you 40 miles through the Superstition Mountains and Tonto National Forest. Stops include Goldfield Ghost Town, Theodore Roosevelt Dam, Canyon Lake, Tortilla Flat, Lost Dutchman State Park, Tonto National Monument, and Fish Creek Hill Viewpoint.

Desert Foothills Scenic Drive

If you have less time to devote to your road trip but still want magical scenery, there’s a great drive near Scottsdale, Arizona, which is only half an hour from Phoenix. It’s called Desert Foothills Scenic Drive and is located on the stretch of Scottsdale Road between Carefree Highway and Happy Valley Road (don’t both of those names make it sound like a relaxing place to be?).

The drive is about 6 miles long and will only take you about an hour (at a maximum) to complete while doing the stops. There are around a dozen signs posted along the road that you can stop and read for information about native vegetation and other natural features. It’s kind of like a museum you can drive through! And you’ll have great views of nearby mountains from the road.

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