Valley Offers Wealth Of Winter Activities

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There are times when we get itchy feet and want to do something. We often drive down to the Valley for some event or other pursuit. And we have family living in Scottsdale and visit with them including two grandchildren, ages 11 and 13.

Fortunately, the fifth largest city in the United States boasts a wealth of activities, especially in the cold and slushy Rim Country winter months. We will outline in this article a few of the varied activities that are available to us in the Valley.

Aquarium

You can embark on an interactive journey through fantastic ocean habitats at Sea Life Arizona Aquarium. It transports visitors into the amazing ocean world, providing close encounters with a vast array of creatures like starfish, seahorses, sharks, rays and tropical fish. The aquarium includes a 360-degree ocean tunnel, 30 display tanks, and more than 5,000 sea creatures. You can take an underwater journey from Arizona park lakes, through river canyons and caves to the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean.

This aquarium is actually geared to young people, but people of all ages will enjoy this educational activity.

Admission for adults is $19.67 each. For information phone 1-877-526-3960.

Science Center

We have taken the grandkids to the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix, which opened in 1997 and now has more than 40,000 square feet of gallery space with more than 300 hands-on exhibits. You will also find the giant-screen IMAX® theater here as well as a planetarium and gift shop and cafeteria.

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Performers and glass sculptures this weekend drew a sold out crowd to the Phoenix Botanical Gardens’ Luminarias.

The Arizona Science Center, at 600 E. Washington St., celebrates Snow Week 2013 from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 — How about turning the tables and going to Phoenix to see the snow? — There will be 30-plus tons of snow in Heritage and Science Park, ice sculptures, gingerbread houses, candy day, IMAX® Penguins 3D and more.

Space Center

The Challenger Space Center opened in 2000 and is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution. The center hopes to inspire space exploration and related scientific pursuits, with simulated flight missions for space-based learning for all ages. The Challenger Space Center also features an indoor planetarium, space camps, lectures, telescope classes and space storytelling available to all age groups. The Center is located at 21170 N. 83rd Ave. in Peoria. Phone (623) 322-2001.

Home and Garden Show

The next Home and Garden Show happens in Phoenix Jan. 10, 11, 12, 2014 at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. This event is very popular with Rim Country folks and will give you ideas on what your garden could look like next spring. Here, you will receive a lot of information on how to make the homestead much nicer and perhaps show-off a new look for the neighbors. At this event you can meet home and garden experts that are ready to impart information and yes, sell you their wares.

Taliesin West

If you are into architecture you may enjoy a visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, the legendary architect’s world-famous home and architectural laboratory. A tour offers guests the unique experience of a powerful and extremely personal National Historic Landmark.

Located just minutes from downtown Scottsdale, Taliesin West is Frank Lloyd Wright’s desert masterpiece of 1937. Wright and his apprentices built an architectural wonder out of the stone and sand that surrounded them in the Sonoran desert on the foothills of McDowell Mountains. Many of those apprentices known as the “Fellowship” and who worked alongside Mr. Wright still live at Taliesin West, as do the current students and facility of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. It is located off Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in Scottsdale.

Heard Museum

You might enjoy visiting the Heard Museum on south Central Avenue in Phoenix, with its unique exhibits showcasing the art and history of Southwestern Native American Tribes. Don’t miss the Barry Goldwater collection of Kachina Dolls. In February the museum sponsors the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest as well as the Indian Fair Market each March.

Desert Botanical Gardens

The Desert Botanical Garden has one of the world’s finest collections of desert plants and one of only 44 botanical gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums. The 50 acres of outdoor exhibits shelter 139 rare, threatened and endangered plant species.

Located in Papago Park in Central Phoenix, the Garden in December stages Las Noches de las Luminarias, this year augmented by the beautiful Chihuly glass sculptures. The art exhibit continues through May 18, but the Luminarias ends Dec. 31. Artist Dale Chihuly is credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the perception of the glass medium from craft to fine art.

Musical Instrument Museum

Another favorite of ours is the Musical Instrument Museum in north Phoenix. If you are a music lover, this place is for you. It’s a colorful and impressively design­ed museum for the musically inclined of all ages. There is also a 300-seat, acoustically perfect theater. Plan lunch at the museum’s cafeteria, one of the best you will find in the Valley. It is located just one block south of Highway 101 in northeast Phoenix. There is not another museum like this anywhere else in the world.

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