Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Las Noches de las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden

My favorite thing to do in December is go to Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden. It's beautiful and romantic, sort of like the grown-up version of ZooLights. This year the garden exhibited works by Allan Houser, along with countless plants illuminated nicely by thousands of luminarias. The exhibit changes every year.

You walk along the garden's pathways for what seems like many miles, so comfortable shoes, hot chocolate and warming clothing are a must, as is a camera. Along the way, cheerful musicians, including Native American Cedar Flutist Anthony Wakeman (who plays soothing music that made me want to curl up in a blanket and go to sleep) and cowboys The Hey Boyz, entertain guests.

A group of friends and I tried to use the map of the garden at first, but eventually we just gave up and let the pathways guide us around. Besides, it's too dark to even see the map.

Desert Botanical Garden

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ZooLights at Phoenix Zoo

With hot chocolate in hand, I took a walk through ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo. ZooLights is exactly what it sounds like ... animal-shaped light displays at the Zoo. The lights are accompanied by and in some places synced to Christmas music. It's a good time, although I'm not sure I could bear the cold without the hot chocolate to warm me up. These Phoenix winters are rough!

We even saw a (real) zebra.

Ticket prices range from $10 to $12 for value tickets and $16-18 for any night tickets. You can save a couple of dollars by buying tickets online. Children 2 and younger are free.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lost Dutchman State Park

I have been dying to start hiking again, and now that the weather has finally cooled off I decided to try a hike at Lost Dutchman State Park. Unfortunately, I didn't plan the hike very well. My lack of planning, compounded by the fact that today was unusually windy, kept me from being able to hike far (I couldn't even see the mountain!), but I did enjoy a nice short walk on the Discovery Trail just after sunset.

These signs on the trail made me nervous about seeing wild animals, though I would love to see some wildlife.

The park is beautiful; I can't wait to go back on a sunny day. Have you hiked at Lost Dutchman State Park?

Lost Dutchman State Park

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Arizona State Fair

The annual fall tradition that is the Arizona State Fair kicked off recently. I prefer to check out the food stands and try to win stuffed animals, but this time I was badgered into going on the G Force ride, during which I closed my eyes and screamed the entire time.

I prefer slower, calmer rides like La Grande Wheel.

Next time I'd like to try these:

Arizona State Fair can get expensive quickly, if you like to do a lot. I suggest going on one of the discount days. If you'd like to get out of paying for parking, try parking at the state Capitol and taking the free shuttle to the fairgrounds. It'll save you $5 or $10 that you can instead use to try our fried snacks.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mesa Contemporary Arts

I discovered the Phoenix Library's Culture Pass recently, which gives you free admission for up to four people to such Valley attractions as the Desert Botanical Garden and Phoenix Zoo. The trick is to get to the library as early as possible to check out the pass, which I was told gets snatched up quickly. I managed to grab a pass for Mesa Contemporary Arts.

The center is made up of five small galleries that house works by local, national and international artists.

Mesa Arts Center

Here are my faves, created by Mexican artists:

Mesa Arts Center
Mesa Arts Center

I was deeply touched by "Domestic Arsenal," Eileen Doktorski's memorial to victims of domestic violence. It uses common household items -- phone, chair, candlestick holder, etc. -- and recasts these things as weapons used to inflict pain upon the victims. Newspaper articles on the walls drive the message home.

Mesa Arts Center

Mesa Contemporary Arts

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Phoenix Art Museum

One could easily spend an entire day admiring -- or trying to figure out -- the various works of art on display at the Phoenix Art Museum.

I discovered that I like Philip C. Curtis (although I'm not sure I understand him). I also liked:

Phoenix Art Museum
I especially liked this sculpture, which is made to resemble a real stack of comic books.
Phoenix Art Museum
And this:

Phoenix Art Museum
Take advantage of free admission at the museum each Wednesday from 3 to 9 p.m.