The boys of summer are back to work. The 2019 season is underway in Arizona for the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s. Travel enthusiast Dan Rebmann says catching a spring training game is an easy getaway, and it comes with some surprising desert perks.
Like kayaking. Yes, kayaking in the desert. Not a bad way to beat the heat in between spring training games. There are half-day trips on the Lower Salt River and they often come with some extra special company. If you’re lucky, you just might meet some wild horses while you’re floating along. Also keep your eyes open for egrets, juvenile bald eagles, and cormorants. ($145 kayak, less for larger groups)
How about a hot air balloon ride over the Sonoran desert? Yes, you have to get up early. Dana’s flight came with a 6:15 hotel departure, departure, but it’s worth it.
Balloon flights give you a whole new perspective of the desert terrain and they are one of those bucket list items. It’s quiet and still in between the hot air bursts of the balloon’s propane burners. And those propane burners put off heat, so wear a hat to keep your head from getting hot. After many of the rides, you’re welcomed back to solid ground with a champagne toast and tasty picnic-style breakfast in the desert. ($179 p/p)
Frank Lloyd Wright is a name well known in the Bay Area. He left his mark in the desert as well. Taliesin West is worth a visit, and easy to squeeze in around game times, because you only need a couple hours for a tour.
Built in the 1930s, but constantly expanded and changed throughout his life, the famous home and architecture school was built by Wright and his apprentices so that it would blend in with its surroundings. So rocks, sand, and other desert items, played a large role in construction.
The Mesa and Scottsdale area is known for fantastic hiking options. There’s miles and miles of trails to choose from. Camelback Mountain is the name recognized by most, but workouts with a view are plentiful in the desert. Usery Mountain Regional Park offers nearly 30 miles of trails ranging from easy to strenuous. The Wind Cave Trail is one of the park’s most popular hikes. It’s a moderate to difficult hike that will take most two to three hours round-trip. But there’s also a number of shorter and easier trails, if you’re looking for more of a stroll than a workout. (The park entry fee is $7 per car.)
If you start craving air conditioning, head to the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). Before you say “oh no.. no museums”, give this a chance. There are musical instruments and artifacts from around 200 places around the world. They have 6,800 instruments. You can see them, hear them, and in some cases even give them a try. They’ll be plenty you’ve never heard of, then they’ll be ones that strike a chord, like the piano that John Lennon sat at when he composed “Imagine.” ($20).
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