For those who live in areas where winters are long, cold and cloudy, or have snow on the ground most of the time, it sounds like you need a winter vacation to break up that yearly uncomfortable routine. It’s not an impossibility if you book a vacation somewhere in the southwestern United States, preferably Arizona. There are reasons that thousands of people either have second homes in The Grand Canyon State or rent properties there during the winter, especially in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area.
The average daytime temperature is 73 degrees between November and March. During that same period, Chicago averages 26 degrees, Montreal averages 24 degrees, and Minneapolis averages 16 degrees. This begs the question: Would I rather (a) freeze in the north all winter under a pile of blankets with basically no interesting outdoor activity or (b) try to spend some time in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area playing outdoors under clear skies and balmy temperatures? If you said (b) you are in for a great taste of the Southwest which could include the following paragraphs and more.
A popular activity for many visitors is a Jeep tour through the desert. The four wheel drive Jeeps travel rough back roads while guides explain details about the habitat. Many tours also offer a desert cook out to complement the experience. I have been on these tours and can tell you from personal experiences, they are a great time.
Have you ever dreamed of wearing shorts in December and January? You won’t do that in cold northern cities but it is typical in Arizona. Be sure to bring your tennis racket and golf clubs if you play those sports and if you enjoy attending a PGA Tour golf event, there is the Phoenix Open. Do you like to hike or jog? The area is full of great trails along with every hiker’s dream: climbing Camelback Mountain.
How about spring training baseball? Games begin in early March for the 15 major league teams who train in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area. While your friends back home are still enduring winter you can watch major league baseball in the warm sun of Arizona.
For those who enjoy more subtle activities, there are museums such as the Heard Museum which explores American Indian Cultures of the Southwest. The Musical Instrument Museum celebrates the cultures of the world through music. Also notable are the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and the Phoenix Art Museum. For a really unique experience, there is the Butterfly Wonderland located on the Salt River Indian Reservation just east of Scottsdale. It is the largest butterfly pavilion in America.
When dinner time arrives, you can choose from a variety of cuisines including popular Mexican restaurants, many of which have outdoor patios for eating or having a cocktail as you watch a beautiful sunset on the Sonoran Desert. There is more but the above is enough to keep you happily busy if you decide to leave winter behind either for a short stay in the Southwest or for the entire season.
Winter golf in Arizona
Let’s compare the Sonoran lifestyle you could be enjoying this winter to that of your friends huddling together next to a potbellied stove somewhere in the northern climes: you are driving a convertible with the top down in Scottsdale. They are driving a snow covered SUV with the heater turned to “high.” You are having dinner and a cocktail on the outdoor terrace of a high end restaurant. They are eating a microwave hot dog at home because the roads are too icy to go out. After dinner you are going to the Musical Instrument Museum to see a show. They are hoping the roads are clear enough to get to the smoky bowling alley where they attend their mixed couples beer league. The next morning you dress in a tee shirt and shorts and go for a morning run. They put on a parka, wool trousers and boots to brave the cold while they chip ice off their windshields.
Please don’t misunderstand; we all have our favorite activities and if you enjoy being outdoors in a freezing winter climate, that’s entirely up to you. I have known people who take vacations in the winter to go skiing or ice skating in places like Colorado. As for me, that is never going to happen. If I have the choice of living in a place that includes sun, sand, and cactus versus snow drifts, ice, and salted roads, you can win a bet if you pick me to take the former.
To paraphrase the late writer Thomas Wolfe: “You can’t go home again once you have had a taste of the Southwest.”
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