An Oasis of Culture in Arizona
AN ARCHITECTURAL GIANT
Frank Lloyd Wright began building Taliesin West, his winter retreat and studio, in 1937. The way he integrated nature into his design was so inspiring that Taliesin West soon became the site for the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, not to mention a bevy of high-class soirees. Tours of the property give visitors insight into a man whose passion still inspires artists to this day. Perhaps the best part of the tour is FLW’s private movie theater, which once held regular screenings of films that hadn’t yet been released in Hollywood.
STOP TO SMELL THE (DESERT) ROSES
Since 1939, the Desert Botanical Garden has offered nature lovers the opportunity to explore the beauty of the Southwest. Taking the heat into consideration, morning is the best time to visit and enjoy the wide variety of rare and endangered plants, as well as a collection of fine art inspired by nature. I opted for a tour guide (Tom), one of the most knowledgeable and passionate volunteers I have ever met, but visitors are also invited to explore the garden’s 145 acres on their own.
MUSIC TO YOUR EARS
The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) has received rave reviews from patrons, not to mention a few famous musicians, since it opened its doors in 2010. Musical legend Tony Bennett referred to it as his “favorite museum in the world.” The MIM houses an impressive collection of more than 3,000 musical instruments, but what makes it truly exceptional is how patrons are able to immerse themselves in cultures through the sound of music. Equipped with a censor-controlled headset, I listened to the musical ensembles that accompanied each display and watched musicians from across the world perform. Instruments on display range from a Honduran shaker made from the lower jawbone of a horse to the piano John Lennon used to compose “Imagine.”
JEWEL OF THE DESERT
Dubbed the “Jewel of the Desert,” the Arizona Biltmore has been synonymous with luxury since bouquets of roses and a single key to the front entrance were dropped from the skies as part of the hotel’s opening ceremony in 1929. Famous guests have included Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra, who is rumored to have rustled up a few noise complaints during a late-night impromptu musical duet. The property’s beautifully manicured grounds and Art Deco architecture make the Arizona Biltmore a classic work of art.
Unwind in secluded bliss at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. Nestled in the foothills of Pinnacle Peak, the resort allows guests to come face-to-face with the beauty of the Sonoran Desert without sacrificing the luxurious amenities Four Season Resorts are known for. Whether you prefer to join the “Downhill Dash” and mountain bike through the McDowell Mountain Regional Park or enjoy a romantic dinner for two under a blanket of stars, this resort has all that you could imagine and more.
A SLICE OF HISTORY
Originally built as a winter retreat for the Midwest-based Goodyear executives, The Wigwam Resort has done more than withstand the test of time—this Arizona landmark and Historic Hotel of America has left its mark on history. Throughout the property, you can find mementos of “simpler” times when monthly rates were $100 and guests checking in were given a key and a horse to ride to their rooms. They have done quite a lot to update the resort, but more importantly, they have done an incredible job of keeping history alive.
Located at The Westin Kierland Resort, Deseo enlivens the senses by offering a lively dining and cultural experience. Led by award-winning Chef Douglas Rodriguez, Deseo serves up an innovative Nuevo Latino Cuisine with choices like the kobe vaca encebollada and yucca wrapped dorado al ajillo. While dining, you can watch Nelson Garcia-Miranda, renowned Cuban painter and resident artist, create masterpieces before your eyes. Garcia-Miranda’s vibrant paintings celebrate the heritage and culture of Cuba, a country whose government forced him to seek
refuge in America.
CLASSIC COOKING, SOUTH OF THE BORDER STYLE
Make your way to La Hacienda, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess’ latest dining option, for a true “South of the Border” experience. La Hacienda reinvents classic Mexican recipes using timeless European cooking techniques, serving up dishes like Mexico City fajitas and camarones al chipotle. Tequila lovers are sure to appreciate La Hacienda’s signature flaming coffees and their extensive tequila collection. Stop in during the weekend to learn more about each tequila label from the Tequila Goddess, Danielle Griffin, who is just one of seven in the entire world to have earned a diploma from Mexico’s Tequila Regulatory Council.
STORIES TO BE HEAR
The Heard Museum’s collection of American Indian fine art and artifacts paired with first-person narratives makes it one of Phoenix’s most celebrated cultural attractions. Personal stories weave along the gallery walls, providing a unique perspective about the history and culture of Native people. From exhibits featuring up-and-coming Native American artists to stories telling the trials of young children forced to abandon their heritage, the Heard Museum tells the story of a population whose influence on our culture is powerful but rarely explored. Like the rest of Arizona, it’s worth exploring.