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Only a few more days to have a dino-mite experience at Phoenix Zoo

They’re baaaaack, and this dino-mite experience is leaving a BIG impression on visitors to the Phoenix Zoo through Sunday.

Grab your junior paleontologist(s) and get up close and personal with two dozen larger-than-life animatronic beasts at Dinosaurs in the Desert, an interactive exhibit that will take you back in (prehistoric) time to an era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

Prepare yourself to come face-to-face with a Giganotosaurus, saber-toothed cat, sea scorpion, terror bird and more. Take a self-guided tour, dig into an interactive fossil experience and feast on dino snacks (and merch).

Check it out before the dinosaurs go extinct … again.

– Hannah Van Sickle, The 100 Companies

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Mid-winter zen moment at Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

Take time out this winter, whenever the mood strikes, at the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix.

Named RoHoEn, the garden’s name stems from a trio of Japanese words: RO (heron) + HO (mythical Phoenix bird) + En (garden) = a serene, 3.5-acre oasis – hidden in plain view of downtown.

In keeping with the garden’s mission – to provide a beautiful place of serenity, peace, education and cultural engagement – the tranquil setting features more than 1,500 tons of hand-picked rocks, 50 varieties of plants, flowing streams, a towering 12-foot waterfall and a pond brimming with over 300 colorful koi fish.

No date needed.

– Hannah Van Sickle, The Arizona 100

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All eyes to the sky for the Arizona Balloon Classic

Hot air balloon lovers are welcome to rise to the (literal) occasion at the 12th Annual Arizona Balloon Classic, Feb. 3-5 at Goodyear Ballpark near Phoenix.

The event takes flight Friday evening with the first of two Desert Glow & Laser Shows, featuring a field filled with illuminated, tethered hot-air balloons glowing and swaying to the music. Early-morning ascensions begin on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. – considered peak flying time – followed by hot air balloon rides (both tethered and untethered) until 10:00 a.m., weather permitting.

Watch as the 4th Annual Desert Kite Festival flutters overhead for a truly elevated experience.


– Hannah Van Sickle, The Arizona 100

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Touchdown for Arizona tourism

A veritable oasis, in the midst of Arizona’s desert, is on the horizon for the Grand Canyon State – slated to open in time for Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

Amenities at the one-of-a-kind development – VAI Resort, the state’s largest hotel and entertainment destination – include a 52,000-square-foot private island (smack dab in the center of the 60-acre property), a Mattel Theme Park and massive lagoon. It also boasts 1,200 luxury accommodations, a 360-degree concert stage and 13 elevated fine-dining destinations.

Plus, enjoy flowing white-sand beaches and pristine Caribbean-blue water. It only looks like a mirage.

– Hannah Van Sickle, The Arizona 100

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Summer swimming holes across Arizona

Get out and beat the heat with these scenic swimming escapes across the Copper State:

Sycamore Canyon, Phoenix – A pleasant 3.5-mile round-trip hike along a perennial stream leads to several swimming holes at Summers Spring and Parsons Spring.

Mormon’s Crossing, Sedona – Several swimming holes, a rope swing and shady trees along Oak Creek in Cornville make this a great place to cool off.

Roper Lake, Tucson – Dubbed a poor man’s Palm Springs, for a $10 fee you can camp, hike desert trails and swim in the cool, clear lake with a mountain view or enjoy a natural hot spring soak.

– Margaret Willard, The 100 Companies

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State’s first mountain coaster opens

Looking for a scenic summer outing the whole family can enjoy? Canyon Coaster Adventure Park is now open in Williams, Arizona. Located about 33 miles west of Flagstaff, the park features the state’s first and only mountain coaster.

The unique thrill ride offers steep descents, dips, twists, hairpin turns and 360-degree corkscrews along a mile-long track that overlooks the mountain canyon. Riders are even able to control the speed of their descent, with a built-in distance control system to keep carts safely spaced apart.

Other park attractions include summer mountain tubing, winter snow tubing and an on-site bar and grill.

– Margaret Willard, The 100 Companies

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Arizona spas and resorts for self care

May is full of end-of-the-year activities that can cause burnout. Luckily, Arizona is home to fabulous retreats and resorts to help you relax and recharge:

• Canyon Ranch Tucson is a transformative retreat in the Sonoran Desert where you can revitalize and renew, so you can get back your energy and form healthier habits.

Canyon Hot Springs, also located in the Sonoran Desert, offers a natural, relaxing experience for all.

Mii Amo is located in red-rock Boynton Canyon and centers around Native American traditions and culture.

L’Auberge de Sedona is a great place to reconnect with yourself, your partner or nature.

– Amanda Fox, The 100 Companies

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New Year’s Day hikes around Phoenix

Whether you’re looking for an easy New Year’s Day stroll, or a challenging trek to kick off your resolutions, these hikes are just a short drive from Phoenix:

Judith Tunnell Accessible Trail (easy) – Paved paths, water fountains, shady benches and educational signage  make these half-mile loops ideal for families.

Pinnacle Peak Trail (medium) – Well-maintained trails and panoramic views make this 3.5 mile out-and-back trail perfect for soaking up desert scenery.

Tom’s Thumb Trailhead (hard) – Steep switchbacks ascend 1,300 feet in just 2.5 miles as you weave through rugged boulder fields to reveal the preserve’s unique butte rock formation at its peak.

– Margaret Willard, The 100 Companies

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Phoenix’s winter outdoor activity guide

Winter in Phoenix finally means cooler weather, and an opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoors once again. Here’s a list of experiences to put on your to-do list for December:

Desert Botanical Garden – Discover more than 50,000 arid plants from deserts around the world as trails weave through the 140-acre venue.

Phoenix Zoo – View over 3,000 animals, from Bornean orangutans to Komodo dragons, and enjoy outdoor cafes, shops, gardens and more.

Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park – Enjoy a 2/3 mile trail through a prehistoric Hohokam archaeological site, which features a platform mound, ball court and replicated houses.

– Margaret Willard, The Arizona 100

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Phoenix museum remembers Arizona veterans

Founded in 1980 and sponsored by the Arizona National Guard Historical Society, the Arizona Military Museum memorializes the deep history of veterans in Arizona.

Exhibits tell stories about numerous wars that Arizona troops have been involved in – from the Mexican-American War, Indian Wars, WWI and WWII, Vietnam War and even modern events like the War on Terror. It also houses a replica of the U.S.S. Arizona, which sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Although the museum is located on a military reservation in Phoenix, anyone can visit with a valid state ID and admission is free.

– Margaret Willard, The Arizona 100