The American Southwest is a diverse and exciting weekend destination where you will find some of the most photographed spots on Earth, including the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Mesa Verde, Zion and Arches National Parks. The area includes desert spaces, lakes, canyons, caves, guest ranches and unique cities like Santa Fe, Tucson, Taos and Sedona. Here are some of the best Southwest vacations.
1. Eldorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe
© Eldorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe
Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe is a romantic getaway with a spa and stylish accommodations. The AAA Four-Diamond-rated hotel has a stylish rooftop swimming pool where you can relax in the sun on your romantic getaway. For extra romance, book a room with a private balcony and wood burning, adobe kiva fireplace. You'll be able to enjoy downtown and the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains views. If you are looking for a luxury Southwest getaway to celebrate a special occasion, the hotel also offers a selection of luxury suites. In addition to the outdoor pool, there is a fitness center with panoramic views of the city. Nidah Spa offers a selection of spa treatments inspired by a diverse range of traditions.
309 W San Francisco ST., Santa Fe, NM 87501, Phone: 505-988-4455
2. Edelweiss Lodge and Spa, New Mexico
© Edelweiss Lodge and Spa
Nestled at the base of Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico, the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa is an ideal accommodation option for families or couples who enjoy a home-from-home environment. The property is comprised of comfortable condos in a variety of configurations from 1 bedroom/1 bathroom to spacious 3 bedroom/3 bathroom units for families or groups. All have a comfortable seating area and a fully equipped kitchen. On-site facilities include a full-service spa (where skiers can treat their tired muscles to a deep-tissue massage), exercise room, hot tub, restaurant and bar. The resort is ideally placed for ski-in/ski-out convenience.
Edelweiss Lodge and Spa, 106 Sutton Place, Taos Ski Valley, NM 87525, 575-737-6900
3. Amara Resort of Sedona
© Amara Resort
Amara Resort of Sedona is located at the entrance to the picturesque Oak Creek Canyon in Arizona. The resort sits next to canyons and huge red-rock formations.
Guests can go trout fishing, take a jeep safari, play a round of golf or sit back and relax by the pool with views of the canyon. Visitors love the sunset and sunrise as they illuminate the area in fiery hues. Abundant sunshine and mild seasons make Amara Resort a great vacation idea for the whole family.
There is a range of rooms and suites to choose from, including patio, courtyard, spa and creek side rooms, as well as creek side suites. The spacious suites are favored by vacationers who like additional space on vacation.
Creek side rooms and suites offer the best views of nature, while the other rooms face the garden and infinity pool. All rooms have balconies or private patios. Creek side suites and rooms have jetted tubs. The use of red and white solid colors in room design reminds you of the red rocks of the desert. The red and orange furniture at Amara Resort is stylish and unique. Relax at the spa after a day of horseback riding, hiking, golfing and fishing. There are 6 private treatment rooms, a separate area for manicure and pedicure, a yoga studio and a boutique store. Popular treatments at the spa include foot and hand rituals, facials and massages. Things to Do in Sedona
100 Amara Lane, Sedona, AZ 86336, Phone: 855-324-1313
4. Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm
© Los Poblanos Historic Inn
Surrounded by 25 acres of giant cottonwood trees, rolling lavender fields, and beautifully manicured gardens, Los Poblanos in Albuquerque is an exquisite example of a typical Mexican ranch. Designed in 1932 by John Gaw Meem, the region’s foremost architect, Los Poblanos is made up of a working organic and lavender farm, a fine dining restaurant, and 20 lovely guest rooms that combine comfort, luxury, and privacy for a perfect country escape.
Guest rooms and suites are designed and decorated in a classic New Mexican style with hardwood floors, carved ceiling beams, ornate wood-burning fireplaces, and antique furnishings. Guests can savor a full organic gourmet breakfast on their Southwest vacation and dine in style at the award-winning La Merienda, which features a creative field-to-fork menu of seasonal and organic cuisine. The historic inn hosts special events throughout the year, including cooking classes, dining events, and weddings.
4803 Rio Grande Blvd N.W., Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM 87107, Phone: 505-344-9297
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5. The Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant
© The Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant
The Bavarian Lodge is a German-style lodge and restaurant located at the base of Kachina Peak in Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico that offers comfortable accommodations, excellent cuisine, and a variety of outdoor activities throughout the year. The lodge features luxury suites and a private chalet that are decorated with authentic Bavarian antiques and objets d'art, carvings, and paintings by local artists.
Suites boast beautiful furnishings and deluxe amenities, including a spa-like marble bathroom and whirlpool soaking tubs with magnificent views over the vast Kachina Bowl. A full gourmet breakfast is included while the on-site Bavarian restaurant provides a menu of traditional German fare served by lederhosen-clad staff. Winter activities at the lodge include an array of snow-based sports such as skiing, snowboarding, sledding, sleighing, and cross-country skiing, while the summer months present breathtaking landscapes to explore by hiking, biking, horseback riding, white water rafting, and fishing.
100 Kachina Road, Taos Ski Valley, NM 87525, Phone: 575-776-8020
6. Southwest Vacations: Bishop's Lodge
© Bishop's Lodge
Bishop's Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa is located on 450 private acres ten minutes from Santa Fe, New Mexico. The resort is one of the best family vacations in the U.S., offering many activities, a relaxing spa and beautiful surroundings.
In the summer, there is horseback riding, tennis and hiking. Relax by the outdoor pool, get a massage or visit the nearby town for shopping, performances and historic attractions. In the winter, the resort provides a complimentary shuttle to the nearby Santa Fe Ski Area. The resort is set on 450 acres adjacent to the Santa Fe National Forest. You can go on a self-guided nature walk using a detailed hiking map and following the marked trails. The lodge also has its own bird list and is a member of the Audubon Co-operation Sanctuary System.
111 guest accommodations are situated in 15 separate lodges. The rooms feature New Mexican and Spanish Colonial decor in a traditional ranch setting. The restaurant serves delicious Southwestern dishes with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients. The resort Bar and Cafe serves casual meals with outdoor dining available during the warmer months. The lodge is ten minutes from Santa Fe's galleries, shops, restaurants and museums. The most popular season is summer when temperatures are in the 70s and 80s. Skiing is available nearby in the winter. Albuquerque International Airport is about 1.5 hours by car. You can rent a car at the airport or book a shuttle (ask the hotel when making room reservations).
1297 Bishops Lodge Road, Santa Fe, NM 87506, Phone: 505-983-6377
7. Conestoga Ranch
© Conestoga Ranch
Resting on the edge of Bear Lake, “the Caribbean of the Rockies,” the luxurious Conestoga Ranch lies on 18 private acres in Garden City with beautiful views over the tranquil waters of the lake. This contemporary tented camp offers an array of comfortable accommodation in the form of Grand and Traditional camping tents and Conestoga Wagons, all of which are arranged with comfy furnishings and boast beautiful lake views.
The family-friendly Campfire Grill restaurant serves a straightforward menu of American food, ranging from gourmet pizzas and wood-fired chicken to succulent grilled steaks and burgers. Bear Lake’s turquoise-blue waters call for all kinds of fun activities, and visitors can partake in a host of watersports on the lake, from sailing, waterskiing, and jet skiing to swimming, snorkeling, and fishing.
427 N. Paradise Parkway, Garden City, UT 84028, Phone: 844-464-5267
8. The Grand America
© The Grand America
Marked by a timeless grace and elegant appeal that can only be described as being fit for kings, The Grand America in Salt Lake City exudes historical elegance, colonial beauty, and old-world charm. Located in a prime downtown position in the heart of Salt Lake City, the hotel features glorious architecture, exquisite interiors, luxurious accommodation, and award-winning cuisine that create a tranquil and secluded haven from the hustle and bustle of the city outside.
Beautifully appointed rooms and suites are spacious with high ceilings and large windows that let natural light flood in. Fusing classic style with modern functionality, suites feature handcrafted Richelieu furniture, Italian marble bathrooms, and deluxe amenities, including air-conditioning, LCD TVs, and wireless high-speed Internet. Savor contemporary American cuisine at the hotel's signature restaurant, The Garden Café, and delectable pastries at La Bonne Vie, while the exclusive Grand America Spa offers a variety of indulging treatments and massages and has a spa, sauna, and indoor swimming pool.
555 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84111, Phone: 800-304-8696
9. Yonder Escalante
© Yonder Escalante
Yonder Escalante offers guests a unique, fun-filled alternative to regular camping. The resort features several Airstreams that guests can stay in and RV sites for those with their own vehicles. Eight well-appointed, custom designed, Hollywood-themed airstreams feature fully equipped kitchens, comfortable bedrooms, private bathrooms with showers, and climate control, while the RV sites have full hookups for power, water, and dumping.
The resort boasts a variety of amenities, including an outdoor theater that shows films on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings; a classic Snack Shack selling snacks and drinks; and a Resort Store for gifts, memorabilia, and merchandise. Hike into the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from the resort or visit the Escalante Slot Canyons and the towers of Devil's Garden.
2020 West Highway 12, Escalante, UT 84726, Phone: 435-826-4440
10. Majestic View Lodge
The Majestic View Lodge is your gateway to the ultimate experience of Zion National Park. Nestled on a picturesque knoll at the mouth of Zion Canyon, the Majestic Lodge is a charming two-story lodge with just 69 rooms available to guests. Comfortable and cozily decorated rooms offer basic amenities like complimentary beverages in each room, televisions, and refrigerators, while the lodge offers relaxation amenities through an outdoor hot tub and seasonal swimming pool. One of Majestic View Lodge’s most popular attractions is its Trading Post – one of the biggest and finest gift shops in the Southern Utah region. Meanwhile, apart from Zion National Park, the lodge is also a great home base for travelers who want to visit The Grand Canyon and the Bryce Canyon National Park.
2400 Zion Park Boulevard, Springdale, Utah 84767; Phone: 432-772-0665
11. Southwest Vacations: Alta Lodge
© Alta Lodge
High up at 8,600 feet on the slope of the mountain, at the heart of the Wasatch National Forest, Alta Lodge has it all: spectacular panoramic views, cozy common room with a crackling fireplace, friendly Sitzmark Club with excellent margaritas and Collins Lift that will bring you from the slopes right at the door.
There is also a gourmet breakfast and multi-course dinner included in the stay, and 57 comfy, homey rooms in which modern amenities such as wifi go together with what really matters like boot driers. It is one of the last traditional European-style ski lodges, where tradition matters as much as the amenities - they have been around since 1940.
10230 UT-210, Alta, UT 84092, Phone: 801-742-3500
12. Southwest Vacations: Capitol Reef Resort
© Capitol Reef Resort
Escape to paradise at Capitol Reef Resort, a 58-acre private property that offers an incredible respite thanks to stunning mountain views and refreshing air. Capitol Reef Resort offers indulgent and luxurious rooms nestled between the mountains of Capitol Reef National Park. Guests that want to experience glamping Capitol Reef style can book a Conestoga Wagon or a Tee Pee that sits alongside the incredible Red Rock Cliffs. Guests at the resort also have direct access to exciting adventures like Lamma Adventures, Horseback Trail Rides, and exciting Jeep Safaris, as well as attractions like the Utah Scenic Byway 12. Back at the resort, guests can enjoy amenities like the heated outdoor pull or hot tub while reveling in the view of Utah’s natural beauty.
2600 E Highway 24, Torrey, Utah 84775; Phone: 435-425-3761
13. Red Mountain Resort, Southwest
© Red Mountain Resort
Your next adventure awaits at the Red Mountain Resort, a relaxing, renewing, and gorgeous destination in St. George, Utah. The resort sits at the food of southern Utah’s stunning red rock cliffs and offers guests a choice between staying at one of eighty-two beautifully designed suites or one of twenty-four grand villas. All of the resort’s rooms are situated thoughtfully within the fifty-five-acre property of the resort, with black lava gardens and fragrant mesquite making the stay even more pleasant and relaxing. Whether guests want to relax or rekindle their love for adventure, there’s an activity for everybody thanks to fantastic amenities like the Sagestone Spa and Salon, and the neighboring Snow Canyon State Park.
1275 Red Mountain Cir, Ivin’s, Utah 84738; Phone: 435-673-4905
14. Southwest Vacations: Amangiri
Amangiri translates to “peaceful mountain” and this resort has 600 acres of land in Canyon Point overlooking the Grand Staircase known as Escalante National Monument. There are a total of 34 suites divided into two wings and each of these has air-conditioning as well as under-floor heating. Guests enter their suites via a private courtyard with a dining table, chairs, and sculptured light. The bedroom flows seamlessly into the living area. There is also a sitting area, a lounge with a central fireplace, dressing rooms, rain showers, and soaking tubs with gorgeous views. Guests don’t have to leave Amangiri to go for a hike – there are many different trails to choose from on property. There are numerous hiking maps or you can go on a complimentary short, one-hour “taster” hike led by an experienced guide. The Aman Spa covers 2,322 square meters in a serene setting with pavilions, a private courtyard, individual dressing rooms, the Water Pavillion, outdoor terraces, a Fitness Center, the Yoga Pavilion, the Amangiri Salon, and flotation therapy. The Pavilion houses the Library, Living Room, Gallery, Dining Room, Private Dining Room, and Cellar. Have a meal in the Dining Room while watching the chefs prepare your dishes in the open kitchen.
1 Kayenta Road, Canyon Point, UT 84741, Phone: 435-675-3999
15. Park MGM
Monte Carlo resort is located on the Strip near MGM Grand and New York-New York and the Bellagio fountains. There is a casino, a luxury spa, tennis courts, and a 21,000 square-foot pool area with cascading waterfalls and lush landscaping. The pool complex features a wave pool with waves that reach 30". There is also the Easy River Ride down the 400-foot slow-flowing river, Lagoon Pool, Kiddie Pool and a heated spa. Book a relaxing treatment on your weekend getaway.
The Tennis Club offers morning tennis clinics, lessons, ball machine, racquet rental and other tennis services.
There are 3,002 guest rooms, including 259 luxury suites. The accommodations feature Italian marble and granite finishes, brass fixtures and cherry furniture.
The hotel has several restaurants, including a buffet, a steakhouse, a French restaurant and an Asian restaurant, giving you many dining options.
3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, NV 89109, Phone: 702-730-7777
16. Inn and Spa at Loretto
© Inn and Spa at Loretto
Check into the romantic Inn and Spa at Loretto for a weekend of great dining, shopping and museums. Santa Fe is a beautiful city with stunning architecture, unique art galleries and many events year-round. In this diverse city, you can find nearly everything your hear desires, from painting classes to yoga and Feng Shui workshops.
211 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501, Phone: 866-582-1646
17. Southwest Vacations: El Monte Sagrado
© El Monte Sagrado
In a rich, timeless blend of cultures - Mexican, Native American, Spanish, and the American West – and only a few blocks from Taos Plaza, El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa offers guests a luxurious, magical retreat from the modern world of stress and pressure. Surrounded by timeless mountains and mystical high desert, along a burbling cool stream, tropical flora and calming waterfalls, El Monte Sagrado offers 48 Taos Mountain rooms, 18 Native American Suites, six historic Casitas and 12 luxurious Suites.
All rooms are beautifully and tastefully decorated to recreate atmosphere of a particular theme or country. Private bathrooms, balconies, fireplaces, hand-crafted furniture, local art, and much more make this resort a unique, delightful surprise and an experience that is hard to forget. De La Tierra gourmet restaurants and quirky Anaconda bar provide opportunity for socializing with fellow guest and soothing, serene spa provide healing for the body and soul.
317 Kit Carson Rd, Taos, NM 87571, Phone: 575-758-3502
Places to visit with kids: 25 Best Family Vacation Ideas in the Southwest.
18. Arizona Grand in Phoenix
© Arizona Grand
Arizona Grand Resort is a luxury resort with a diverse choice of rooms & suites, a scenic 18-hole golf course and a spa. A unique feature for kids, the 7-acre water park offers slides, pools and plenty of water fun for the whole family. Enjoy seven unique dining venues on your holiday in Arizona.
Measuring 38,000 square feet in size, the spa offers a selection of massage therapies and desert-inspired body treatments. At the fitness center you can work out on your own, or attend one of the 40 weekly exercise classes available to resort guests on vacation.
With many activities to choose from it will be easy to stay active on your weekend getaway.
The Oasis is one of the largest resort water adventures in the United States. It features the Slide Canyon Tower, a 83-feet high tower with three different slides with speeds up to 35 mph. The Oasis Wave Pool has two-foot action waves simulate open water swells, a waterfall and an area where you can play water volleyball and basketball. The Zuni Active River is a 950-foot long, 12-foot wide side-by-side river for double inner tubing.
The Phantom Horse Golf Club features a par-71 18-hole course and an indoor golf training center where you can work on your game on your golf vacation. The resort has 640 all-suite accommodations with a private patio or balcony, private bedroom and separate living room and a queen size sleeper sofa in living room. Room rates start at $180 per night. Read more
8000 S. AZ Grand Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85044, Phone: 877-800-4888
19. Broken Spur Inn and Steakhouse
Looking for the best deal in town? You’ll find it at Broken Spur Inn and Steakhouse, one of the best value-for-money lodging in Capitol Reef National Park. The inn offers cozy rooms and basic amenities that are perfect for winding down at the end of a day filled with adventure out in the rugged beauty of the national park. While the inn has standard and comfortable rooms, unique and memorable lodging is available to care of Conestoga Wagons outfitted with a spacious queen size bed and a bunk bed. Guests are also welcome to make use of a great hot tub and covered pool, dine on mouthwatering steak at the Steakhouse Dinner Restaurant, and capitalize on great recreational opportunities at Capitol Reef.
955 East SR24, Torrey, Utah 84775; Phone: 435-425-3775
20. Harrah's Laughlin
© Harrah's Laughlin
Overlooking the vibrant Colorado River is the equally vibrant Harrah’s Laughlin, a beachfront casino resort that boasts 55,000 square feet of casino space. A premiere destination for waterfront gaming in Nevada, the resort is Laughlin’s second-largest property with a whopping 1,500 guest rooms and 104 suites available to guests. When patrons aren’t trying their luck at the casino, they can enjoy soaking up the sun at the hotel’s private soft sand beach or one of two large pools. Meanwhile, Harrah’s Laughlin also offers fantastic dining options care of The Range Steakhouse, Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho, and the Beach Café.
2900 S. Casino Drive, Laughlin, Nevada 89029; Phone: 702-298-4600
21. Aquarius Casino Resort
© Aquarius Casino Resort
There’s nothing simple or ordinary about a stay at the Aquarius Casino resort. With 1,900 guest rooms, more than 90 one or two-bedroom suites, and a whopping 57,000 square feet of casino space, Aquarius Casino Resort is the largest property in Laughlin and could give some of Las Vegas’ resorts a run for its money. The resort’s casino has got the latest and greatest in the casino industry and will keep guests busy for days on end. For those who want to enjoy more of the resort’s facilities, the Aquarius Casino Resort has a great pool, a fitness center, and an entertainment lounge to enjoy. Meanwhile, there are also fine dining restaurants and casual restaurants that will satisfy any guest's tastebuds and bellies.
1900 S. Casino Drive, Laughlin, Nevada 89029; Phone: 800-662-5825
22. London Bridge Resort
© London Bridge Resort
Lake Havasu is one of Arizona’s most gorgeous and underrated destinations, and when it comes to enjoying vacations in this beautiful locale, there are not many that can compare to the London Bridge Resort. Welcoming, stylish, and absolutely relaxing, the resort is absolutely extraordinary in its attractions and amenities. This Tudor-style resort features comfortable guest rooms and suites right by the water that come with free Wi-Fi, kitchenettes, and charming decorations. Meanwhile, London Bridge Resort is also home to a 9-hole golf course, a glittering marina, and access to the Southwest’s most popular club, the Kokomo Havasu. Boat tours and hiking tours are also great options for guests who want to enjoy the great outdoors while great dining opportunities await guests who want to explore Lake Havasu’s local flavors.
1477 Queens Bay, Lake Havasu City, Arizona 86403; Phone: 928-855-0888
23. La Posada Hotel
© La Posada Hotel
A gorgeous southwestern masterpiece designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, the La Posada Hotel is the ultimate resting place for weary folks looking for a relaxing getaway in Winslow. Not only is the exterior of the hotel gorgeous, but the interior of La Posada is also equally striking with beautiful décor, wooden accents quintessential to southwestern style, and hues of terracotta and red dominating the spaces. This beautiful and historic hotel has played host to some of the United States’ most famous names with past guests including Amelia Earhart, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Wayne, and even Albert Einstein.
303 E. 2nd Street, Winslow, Arizona 86047; Phone: 928-289-4366
24. Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel
© Dogora Sun/stock.adobe.com
When it comes to casino resorts in Santa Ana Pueblo, one of the most popular options is undeniably the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel. Home to over 12,000 square feet of event space, 204 well-appointed rooms, and a casino on-site, the hotel is perfect for travelers who are looking for a quick weekend getaway to relax and enjoy games of luck. Guests can choose from Queen, King, Executive King, and Suites, and enjoy fantastic amenities and treat such as complimentary breakfasts, an in-room Keurig coffee machine, and access to the resort’s indoor heated pool, hot tub, and fitness center.
54 Jemez Canyon Dam Road, Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico 87004; Phone: 505-867-0000
25. Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces
© Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces
True to its name, Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces is a gorgeous and enchanting destination in New Mexico. This beautiful destination hotel exudes the best of the best when it comes to Spanish and Mexican colonial traditions and is decorated in honor of these cultures’ history and traditions. Apart from gorgeous rooms and magical amenities, what makes Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces such a great place to stay is its proximity to the remarkable and unusual gypsum sands of the White Sands National Park. Guests can explore the largest gypsum dune field in the world with over 275 square miles of unique desert flora and glittering white sand to behold.
705 South Telshor Boulevard, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88011; Phone: 575-522-4300
What are the 25 Best Southwest Vacations?
The 25 Best Southwest Vacations according to local experts are:
Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe is beautiful, historic, artistic, festive and great fun regardless of what you like to do. Art lovers will be thrilled with the half-mile long Canyon Road Arts trail that winds through the area at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The city is home to more than 100 galleries, art studios, quirky boutiques, unique jewelry shops, and original furniture stores. Another must-see for art aficionados is the New Mexico Museum of Art, the oldest New Mexico art museum, with significant collections of regional, traditional, and contemporary art. The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian focuses on historic and contemporary Native American art. Santa Fe Farmers Market with its 150 vendors, some of which include famers, bakers, and flower and fruit growers, is a wonderful place to spend Saturday morning. Try to catch a performance of the Santa Fe Opera at the spectacular open-air Crosby Theatre.
Moab is small town in Utah surrounded by more than its fair share of spectacular natural beauty, and it is where all the trails and adventures to the surrounding national parks start and finish. Start with the Dead Horse Point State Park, a state park not far from Moab that will take your breath away with magnificent desert landscapes and dramatic views of the Colorado River and the Canyon lands National Park. Take the 1.5-mile Corona Arch hiking trail to see the magnificent sandstone Corona Arch. Another fun trail is Hell's Revenge, perfect for biking, rock hiking, or exploring in the comfort of a 4WD. Take in spectacular views of Moab Valley, the La Sal Mountains, and the Colorado River canyon. The Museum of Moab is a great place to learn about the unique culture, geology, and history of the area. Let Dan Mick's Guided Jeep Tours take you on an exciting 4x4 trip and an adventure through the Moab desert you will never forget.
Surrounded by high desert, Albuquerque is both ancient and modern, both exciting and cultured; it is the city of contrast sand is great fun to explore. Stroll through the historic Old Town centered around the Old Plaza and feel the true spirit of Albuquerque with its lovely adobe houses, galleries, shops, restaurants, music, and festivals. Visit the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum to learn about the history of hot air balloon flight. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center will amaze you with the vivid examples of the traditional and contemporary Native American Pueblo art of New Mexico. Take the 15-minutes trip on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, the longest aerial tram in North America, to enjoy spectacular views of the city, the desert, and the Sandia Mountains. Kids will love Explora, a “touch and learn” interactive science center with 250 fun and fascinating displays and exhibits about art, math, and science. A ride on the unique, open, old-fashioned trolley operated by ABQ Trolley Co. is not only a great way to see the city, but also to hear the stories and lore about Albuquerque.
Colorado Springs, CO
There is much more to Colorado Springs than admire the magnificent red rocks and spectacular mountain scenery. Check out Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the only mountain zoo in the States, and see 950 animals of 180 species, many of which live in the surrounding mountains. Take a tour of the imposing Glen Eyrie, an English Tudor 1871 castle built by General William Jackson Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. Drive to the 14,115 feet Pikes Peak, one of the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains and feel like you are on top of the world. Learn how to mountain climb from the experts at the First Ascent Mountain School or take a climbing tour with the Front Range Climbing Company if you are already an experienced climber. Travel back in time at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, an open-air living history museum, and see the way of life in the Pikes Peak area of the past.
Fascinating Taos captures the imagination of everyone who visits, from Conquistador Hernando de Alvarado to Georgia O'Keefe and Aldous Huxley. Explore 1000-year old Taos Pueblo, the living Native American community where people still maintain the way of life of their ancestors. Stroll through the 300-year-old Taos Plaza, the city heart in the Historic District surrounded by quaint shops and galleries, and have a cup of coffee at the historic Hotel La Fonda. A visit to the home of the famous frontiersman Kit Carson will introduce you to the way of life in a frontier town. This small museum is a great example of Spanish traditional architecture and is full of period memorabilia and antiques. You have seen it in many movies, but nothing will prepare you for the magnificent beauty of the 650-foothigh Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. A scenic High Road to Taos will introduce you to many of the area's fascinating villages, traditional craftsmen and artists, churches, and galleries.
Scottsdale, Arizona is a beautiful, modern town on the edge of the Sonoran Desert that is rich in culture, full of parks, and surrounded by magnificent scenery. Walk through the historic Scottsdale downtown with its numerous galleries and famous public artworks. Take one of the popular walking tours of the city's landmarks ordiscover the magical world of butterflies in theButterfly Wonderland, a live exhibit located in the tropical jungle in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. You can also check out the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art to see one of the ten constantly revolving exhibits of modern art from all over the world. Learn about the Sonoran Desert ecosystems at the 30,000-acreMcDowell Sonoran Preserve.Catch a show at the nationally-renowned Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.
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Salt Lake City, UT
There is so much to see in Salt Lake City, you might want to take a shortcut byhopping on the city's popular Salt Lake Trolley,which will take you through the most popular attractions. To continue your exploration, check out the beautiful Temple Square with the magnificent Mormon temple and the dome-shaped auditorium that hosts Salt Lake City's renowned Tabernacle Choir. If you are interested in genealogy, visit the Family History Library with the extensive research center run by the Mormon Church. Try to catch a performance of the nationwide-known Ballet West, one of the country's best ballet academies. Wheeler Historic Farm is a living history museum that will give you an idea of the way of life of Utah's 20th century settlers. Take a one-mile hike to the Ensign Peak for a breathtaking view of the city, Salt Lake Valley, and the Great Salt Lake.
Set in the heart of the magnificent Sonoran Desert, Tucson is a modern, vibrant city that offers a lot to see and do. Take a walk through the98-acre Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum with more than 230 animals and 1,200 plants species that thrive in a completely natural setting. Visit Saguaro National Park to see the American West icon: the giant saguaro cactus. If you're feeling hungry, try the fresh produce and locally made treats at the St. Philips Farmers Market. The best place to learn about the rich history and culture of the Southwest is the Arizona State Museum. Bring the kids to the Children's Museum Tucson to have fun with exhibits such as Bodyology, Pet Vet, Build It, the Art Studio, and Public Safety.
With great museums, a fascinating art scene, and magnificent scenery, Phoenix will satisfy you whatever your interests are. The Phoenix Art Museum will show you what the Southwest artists have been up to for the last 55 years. The only museum of its kind in the world, The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) will fascinate you with more than 15,000 musical instruments from around the globe. Kids will love to see tigers, giraffes, and elephants at the fantastic Phoenix Zoo. The Heard Museum, another renowned establishment, promotes understanding of the America's indigenous peoples. Sports fans might want to take a private tour of Chase Field, the home to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Mesa is a modern city set in the heart of the ancient and timeless Sonoran Desert. Learn about the city's past at the Mesa Historical Museum established by the Mesa Historical Society. Try to catch a baseball game at the lovely Hohokam Stadium. The Arizona Museum of Natural History has more than 60,000 exhibits exploring the Southwestern culture, anthropology, history, and art. You cannot miss the Mesa Arizona Temple, a LDS Church temple surrounded by beautiful gardens that is known for its imposing architecture. Go on a scenic tour of Saguaro Lake with Desert Belle Cruises and take the kids to the Superstitious Farm where they can play with animals and take hayrides. The i.d.e.a. Museum is a fascinating kids' museum that teaches young people how to use their imagination and creativity to see the world in a different way.
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Where do I go in the Southwest?
There are many great options for travelers, depending on your choice of activities, budget, length of vacation and where you are traveling from. What may be a weekend getaway for someone living on the West Coast may turn out to be a longer trip that requires a plane ride for someone else.
How do I get there?
If you are arriving by plane, choose from four major airports, depending on the sites that you plan to visit.
- Las Vegas (LAS) is well connected with other U.S. and international cities and a hub for Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines and US Airways.
- Phoenix (PHX) is the largest hub for Southwest Airlines and US Airways, so you will probably find some great deals on airfare, especially during the off peak times.
- Albuquerque (ABQ) offers flights both domestically and internationally.
- Salt Lake City (SLC) is a Delta Airlines hub with service to many United States and international destinations.
If you are planning a road trip and traveling by car, there are major highways from Texas, Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming. Another option Is Amtrak which connects the East Coast and the West Coast with the Southwestern states.
Some of the top spots to visit in the area including national parks, towns, cities, lakes, caves and other unique attractions. There is a great variety of activities to choose from, including hiking, mountain biking, guided tours, hot air ballooning, caving, river rafting and more.
- The Grand Canyon: Featured in countless movies and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, the Grand Canyon is a destination that everyone dreams of visiting at least once in their life. Several companies offer tours, although you can just drive there and enjoy the view.
- Carlsbad Caverns: this UNESCO World Heritage Site is located near Carlsbad, New Mexico. The main attraction is the Big Room which is absolutely enormous – there is an elevator from the visitor center or you can hike down a short trail.
- Monument Valley: This is the home of the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and huge red-sandstone monoliths which tower hundreds of feet above the desert. If you are a fan of old cowboy movies, you will love this place. Enter Monument Valley from Utah (although it is actually located in Arizona).
- Acoma Pueblo: Enjoy a scenic drive to this historic pueblo and the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. Stop at the Cultural Center and Museum to learn about the history of the area.
- Las Vegas: Visit this iconic city for spectacular attractions, extravagant shows and great restaurants.
- Santa Fe: This historic Southwestern town offers museums, theater, cafes and several great places to stay.
- Bryce and Zion National Parks: Located in the southwest Utah, the parks are an outdoor paradise for hikers, bikers and campers.
- Lake Tahoe: A popular weekend getaway spot, Lake Tahoe offers nature as well as casinos and restaurants.
- Rocky Mountain National Park: Enjoy wildlife watching, hiking and scenic drives in this beautiful park in Colorado.
- Mesa Verde: Take the scenic drive and stop to admire the cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan people.
- Taos Pueblo: This United Nations World Heritage Site is the home of Taos Native Americans.