Native Americans were the first to inhabit the Valley of the Sun. They farmed the area for more than 1,000 years. Ruins can be found throughout Arizona, including a five-story structure used by the Sinagua tribe more than 600 years ago. There are 21 tribes in Arizona today. They continue to live much as their ancestors did. Many sell their wares in galleries and on reservations. Some tribes allow visitors at their festivals.
The early 18th century marked the influx of Mexican and Spanish peoples to the valley. The Latin influence remains strong today in local art, architecture, food and entertainment. The Old West and the life of the cowboy are preserved throughout Arizona at dude ranches and historical parks and in museums.
Museums throughout the area celebrate Native Americans, Spanish and Mexican heritage and the Old West with art and artifacts. The Hoo-Hoogam Ki Tribal Museum houses Native American cultural items. The Heard Museum contains large collections of Indian art and cultural items, along with antique and contemporary European art. The Phoenix Art Museum houses contemporary and historic artwork from Latin America, Europe, Asia and the West. The Shemer Art Center is in a historic Spanish-style house and showcases traditional and contemporary art.
Other area museums include the Arizona Science Center with a planetarium and hands-on exhibits, the Deer Valley Rock Art Center with nature trails and petroglyphs, and the unusual Hall of Flame Fire Fighting Museum, which features fire fighting equipment, photos and memorabilia. The Fleischer Museum is home to more than 200 Impressionist paintings, done in the California school style. Interesting structures dot the landscape at the Consanti Art Studio. Paolo Soleri has his studio here and displays his ceramic windmills and wind chimes.
Taliesen West, a National Historic Landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, houses his architectural foundation. Frank Lloyd Wright's influence can also be felt at the exclusive Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. Nestled on 39 acres at the base of Squaw Peak Mountain in the Biltmore Fashion Park area, the hotel features striking architecture influenced by the world-famous architect.
Residents of and visitors to Desert Ridge and Desert View enjoy almost unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation. The sprawling beauty of the Sonoran Desert allows for an assortment of activities. For instance, Desert View residents can explore the Cave Creek Wash, Union Hills and its neighboring unnamed mountain range, Cave Buttes Recreational Area and Reach 11 Sports Complex. Additionally, residents have access to a great system of trails for hiking, biking, and walking.
McDowell Mountain Range, Lake Pleasant, Bartlett Lake and the Tonto National Forest offer hiking, mountain biking, boating and horseback riding. Three lakes in Tonto National Forest, the Salt River and the Verde River provide places to fish, boat, and swim. Whitewater rafting down the Verde River is an exhilarating experience. A more sedate but equally cool time can be had tubing in the Salt River. Birdwatchers often see heron, egrets and eagles near the lakes and rivers. The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation offers golf, hunting, cattle drives, hayrides, trail rides, jeep tours and river rafting on their reservation, which borders Northeast Phoenix and Scottsdale.
For sports enthusiasts, the Valley of the Sun hosts the PGA Tour's FBR, formerly the Phoenix Open, the Arizona Open Golf Tournament, the State Farm Women's Tennis Classic and the Franklin Templeton Tennis Classic. Phoenix is home to the Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), Phoenix Suns (NBA), Arizona Cardinals (NFL), Phoenix Coyotes (NHL), Phoenix Mercury (WNBA), Arizona Rattlers (arena football), and the Fiesta Bowl. Major League Baseball teams hold Spring Training in the valley. Fans can watch teams play practice games in what is known as the Cactus League.
For those who would rather play than watch, there are more than 300 golf courses in the valley along with tennis courts, racquetball courts and swimming pools. Other activities include hot air ballooning and tours by jeep, horse, bike, foot, or helicopter.
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