The semester is over, finals are completed and what better way to celebrate than to go on a day trip to some of the best places in Arizona?
Grab your time machine and head back to the wild West, where cowboys didn’t resemble Luke Bryan and bars were called saloons. Tombstone, Ariz., located an hour south of Tucson, is a place that transports you to a different era, one in which cowboys have shootouts in the middle of the dusty, dirt road. Worth the drive and quite the experience, once in Tombstone one can drink in the history and walk the same paths where famed Western cowboys like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday are said to have walked 130 years ago. There are many attractions and activities and most won’t break the bank. Stop at Can Can Old Time Photos and take pictures with old western garb and props. Then head to the Big Iron Shooting Gallery and shoot guns that won the West. See the haunted sights of Tombstone with the Gunfighters and Ghost tour. Don't miss out on the OK Corral and Historama to learn about all the happenings that led to Tombstone’s creation.
Kartchner Caverns State Park is located in Benson, Ariz., about two and a half hours south of Phoenix, and is home to many outstanding features including remarkable minerals and formations in a massive limestone cave. On your visit, take a guided tour for an intimate experience with the incredible underground world. It's a great opportunity to view the limestone caves that often remains a well-kept secret. Be sure to get a look at the world’s longest known “Soda Straw” stalactite, quite the spectacle, before the end of your visit.
Want to see some scenic views with a small-town feel? Take the three-hour drive south to Bisbee, Ariz. this winter break. A quaint little town with many attractions, Bisbee is a gem most Phoenicians seem to forget. Upon entering the town, one is met with a long stretch of road lined with big, beautiful trees changing their colors (a view most students don’t often get to see.) Bisbee, nestled in the Mule Mountains, has maintained an Old-World vibe with a creative and friendly atmosphere that beckons travelers from around the West. It’s a laid-back vibe perfect for unwinding after a stressful semester. While in Bisbee, don’t miss its most famous attraction: the Queen Mine Tour. Take a trip down into a now-inactive copper mine. Along with the tour, be sure to stop in the various art galleries and restaurants as you stroll down the sidewalk.
Looking for some cool air, but not quite looking for all that snow? Look no further than Prescott, Ariz. A little less than a two-hour drive from Phoenix, Prescott offers a unique small-town feel and a beautiful downtown that one just doesn't see in the city. Head into downtown Prescott and prepare for a leisurely day of eating and shopping. Head into all of the stores that line the downtown streets, most of which are antique shops, each offering a different selection. Be sure to stop at Grandma’s Bakery, Prescott’s hidden gem where Grandma herself hands you your goodies. (Tip: the blueberry pie is the best thing ever and Grandma is the sweetest.)
It doesn't look real. It looks Photoshopped or like something out of a National Geographic magazine, but this place is right here in Arizona. Antelope Canyon, located in Page, Ariz., about a four and a half hour drive from Phoenix, is a place everyone must see in their lifetime. It’s a natural wonder. With curved walls that go high into the sky, the canyon is a magnificent sight. The curvature of the walls and the way the light hits them creates beautiful and awe-inspiring hues of orange and yellow. The tour guides explain the origins of the canyon and how it got its name as you walk through the canyon. They also tell you the perfect place to capture the best picture. This place is a must-see. Tours range between $30 and $40, a little pricey but totally worth it.
Take some time and get a little fresh air since the long hours spent indoors doing an ample amount of homework are on hold. As some student's exercise routines were thrust to the wayside this past semester, sometimes it is necessary for one to redeem himself or herself. It's time to lace up the hiking boots and make your way to Devil's Bridge. Hike the bridge and enjoy the multitude of greenery below, while standing on the red rock arch. If hiking's not for you, tour the ruins, shop the boutiques and dine at local restaurants instead. So grab some friends and take a winter road trip to Sedona.
Zoolights in Phoenix
It’s that time of year again. Pull out those Christmas lights and put on the holiday music, just like Phoenix Zoo. See the zoo come to life at night with Christmas lights all around. Take a sip of hot chocolate as you watch the light show and listen to the carols. Ride a camel under the stars or play games under the white glistening lights. For those unable to get out of town, this is the perfect place to go. Take time and feel the crispness in the air as the holidays draw near.
Lava River Cave
Gather your hardhats, headlamps and flashlights, it's time to step on the underground scene. This is the experience of the Lava River Cave, located in Flagstaff, Ariz. Enter through a small opening, and the journey begins. The weather becomes chilly but quickly subsides as you embark on some rough terrain. The ground can be rather rugged at times; thus, comfortable shoes are a necessity. Enjoy the sound of laughter and voices echoing across the cavern as you experience the cave with your closest group of friends. Be prepared for some tight spaces and low ceilings upon finding the path. Shine a flashlight on the cave’s walls and see the glimmering rocks. Don’t be afraid to touch the cold cave walls and feel the rough edges as you delve into the cave. Get in touch with your adventurous side over break and explore the Lava River Cave.
With school being out for the holidays, take advantage of the freedom and venture into the colder weather of a city that actually participates in winter. Grab hot chocolate and stroll the streets of downtown Flagstaff. Neon signs may light up the dimly lit historic town; however, the people bring this city to life. Hear the sounds of cars rushing by upon passing the older buildings. Peruse the small quaint shops selling a plethora of items including clothing and candy to find the perfect holiday gifts. Dine at one of the old town’s restaurants. Embrace the chill in the air and spend an evening in Flagstaff.
Looking for a unique place to reminisce on this past semester? There’s no better dwelling for thought than the Grand Canyon. The brown-colored, textured rocks spread for miles and disappear into the horizon. There is so much to take in and a plethora of things to do. For the early risers, watch the sunrise over the canyon as you discuss your favorite fall-semester memories with your best friends. The sunrise may be too early for fresh-off-finals college students. So the sunset may be the better option. Experience the immaculate view of the sun going down behind the canyon. Regardless of what one chooses, take a seat on those rocks and feel on top of the world.
Whatever you do this winter break, let the stress of school melt away and relax. You don't have to worry about school until January.
Reach the writers here: Alexa at Alexa.Dangelo@asu.edu or via Twitter @andangelo15. Shelby at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @ShelbyHyde.