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Arizona Byways

Arizona is a wonderful place for a visit, especially if you're a golfer (140 courses in Phoenix metropolitan area) or an outdoors person. From the Grand Canyon to Tombstone, from Flagstaff skiing in winter to Canyon Ranch in Tucson at any time of year, there's something for everyone. A partial list of major natural wonders would include the Petrified Forest National Park, Painted Desert, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal park, Canyon de Chelly, Lake Mead, Saguaro National Monument and the Navajo Reservation on the Hopi Mesas. Wow! - is an understatement.

For architecture lovers, Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West on the edge of Scottsdale is a fabulous pilgrimage. Under construction north of Phoenix is Paolo Solieri's Arcosanti and at Cosanti, on Doubletree Road, you can see and purchase his famous bells. The Heard Museum is one of the finest in the country, dealing with Native American arts, crafts and culture. Don't miss it!

The gourmet thrives in Arizona as well, with some of the finest dining in America available in Phoenix and Tucson. At the top of our list is Janos in Tucson, the equal of a Michelin two star in France, and Mary Elaine's in Scottsdale, consistently at the top, including, if you're lucky as we were, a lightning storm viewed through the glass, distant over the mountains. What an accompaniment to the magic made in the kitchen. Phoenix is also the home of Fairytale Brownies, winner of competitions and a special treat for the family.

Resort hotels, all with spa facilties, are abundant, outstanding and come in a range of price categories. They often offer special packages, so be sure to inquire. There are comfortable inexpensive motels as well, where you settle for a swimming pool and morning coffee. Camelback Inn, now a Marriot property, is quite reasonable, beautifully located and possesses fine views and superb facilities, including a great spa.

If you're from the Northeast, Midwest or Northwest, the best time of year is from November through March. Temperature is quite pleasant. Unless you love the heat (and it isn't as dry as they like to claim), avoid the summer, even into September and early October. We hit a spell of temperature in the 90's the first week in October. Getting there is not difficult, and if you pay attention to the fare wars or use some form of consolidator, not expensive. We've flown Delta and America West, but other carriers are available as well. You can fly into Phoenix and home from Tucson or vice versa, and if you have the time, fly to Arizona, take a short, inexpensive hop to Las Vegas or L.A. and from there, back to your, hopefully happy reality.

We hope this reminder of a fabulous destination whets your various appetites. Our Arizona contributing editor, Sharon Solomon, nutrition and fitness expert, will be providing us with frequent updates from that state.

Cautionary Notes:

If you're going to be exercising in Arizona, mild, moderate or extreme, keep well hydrated.If the humidity is low, you won't be aware of sweating, but you'll lose fluid. Treat yourself like a garden. Keep well watered.

If you're driving across the desert highway, and there are miles and miles of it, be sure to carry abundant drinking water for you and your family. Auto breakdown in Arizona heat can be dangerous to your health and your children. If back-roads are included in your itinerary, carry water for the car as well.

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