A few weeks ago, while visiting friends in Arizona, I was reminded of the beauty and variety of attractions that lure travelers to the American southwest.
Personally, I jump transatlantically from LHR to one of the international ports of EWR-PHL-JFK every few months, so it seldom occurs to me to write about, well, America. For one thing, traveling to the U.S. isn’t exciting or exotic, it’s home.
For another, I am not inspired by “NYLA,” the top two destinations for foreign tourists visiting the USA, otherwise known as New York and Los Angeles. Here’s why. I’m a former Los Angeleno. Although I consider California in general and L.A. in particular a sun-soaked, drive-thru paradise, the town lacks soul. Style over substance, LaLa land is brimming with pretty-but-vacant people.
As for the east coast rival, New York City does have unique, adrenaline fueled attitude but to borrow a British phrase, NYC is exceedingly “up its own arse.” New Yorkers, who refer to their locale simply as “the City,” insist the five borough conglomerate is the best metropolis on the planet, designating anyone and anything originating in or associated with NYC, ipso facto, awesome. New York is one of many amazing world-cities, but I say, if you don’t have a passport or indeed have never left “the City,” you don’t get a vote in the global best-city-contest.
Essentially, if you visit America from one of the 196-or-so other countries in the world, forget NY and LA. Whilst you deliberate on the remaining 48-state options, here are 12 reasons to consider a holiday in Arizona.
- The Grand Canyon. An awe-inspiring wonder of the natural world, 30 million tourist sail through the Grand Canyon National Park each year.
- A photographer’s paradise. Gawk at the Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Sunset Crater, Red Rock formations, Hoover Dam or dramatic canyons and rapids of the Colorado River.
- Large cities. If you crave urban life, shopping or fine dining, then stop in Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Scottsdale or Tempe.
- Smaller towns. Whether your inclination is Native American culture, exploring remnants of the old wild west or a new-age adventure chasing energy Vortexes, choose to stay in Sedona, Flagstaff, Tombstone, Prescott or Yuma.
- Lake Havasu. “Arizona’s Playground” is also home to England’s famous London Bridge which was shipped stone-by-stone and reconstructed in Lake Havasu City.
- Water-sports in the desert. Lake Mead and Lake Powell are the two largest man-made reservoirs in the U.S.
- Winter-sports. Play like a snowbird and ski the Arizona Snowbowl.
- Spectator sports. Avid fans and amateur enthusiasts can cheer for the home team because Arizona’s resident professionals include baseball (Diamondbacks), basketball (Suns and WNBA Mercury), hockey (Coyotes) and football teams (Cardinals).
- The great outdoors. Nature aficionados can appreciate fishing, hiking, biking and boating, an abundance of National Parks and recreational areas and hundreds of luxury golf courses.
- Historic Route 66. Drive baby, drive; part of the original iconic road runs from Seligman to Kingman, Arizona.
- Four Corners Monument. In Navajo country, stand in four states at once at the quadripoint of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.
- Day-trip south of the border. Bring your passport and say “hola” to Mexico, just seven miles from Yuma.
“Arizona has more parks and national monuments than any other state, more mountains than Switzerland, and more golf courses than Scotland.” Conveniently, British Airways offers direct flights from Heathrow to Phoenix Sky Harbor. www.arizonaguide.com