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Best of AZ
Saguaro National Park, Tucson

© Jack Dykinga

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Best of AZ
Unless you're über-omniscient or an arrogant know-it-all, there's no way of putting together a definitive list of the best of everything. Especially in a place like Arizona, where the range of people, places and things is as vast as the Grand Canyon. Nevertheless, in our ongoing effort to steer you toward the state's superlatives, we present our second-annual Best of AZ package. From the beefiest bratwurst to the best place to shack up with the stars, this is our take on the best places to eat, stay and play in Arizona.

By Kelly Kramer

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Best Place to Worship an Icon at Sunset
Saguaro National Park, Tucson
If you're going to make a photograph that represents Arizona, you might as well combine two of the things that most people associate with the state — saguaros and sunsets. When it comes to finding the former, your best bet is the national park with the cactus in its name. Saguaros are protected at Saguaro National Park, where you'll find plenty of the giants waiting to be photographed, as well as 10 species of threatened, endangered or sensitive plants. When it comes to finding spectacular sunsets, all you have to do is sit back, enjoy the scenery and wait. Information: 520-733-5153 or www.nps.gov/sagu.

Best of Arizona

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Best Place to Increase Your Speed
Ramsey Canyon, Sierra Vista
D.H. Lawrence imagined hummingbirds racing down avenues in an otherwise dumb, primeval world, "before anything had a soul, while life was a heave of matter, half inanimate." In Ramsey Canyon, as many as 14 species of hummingbirds buzz about, racing above spring-fed streams and around giant sycamores. Because their wings flutter between 15 and 200 times per second, you'll have to move quickly to capture them on film or in pixels, but with a fast shutter speed, you'll have better luck photographing the tiny fliers. Opt for a slow shutter speed instead, and your avenues will be void of hummingbirds. Information: 520-378-2785 or www.nature.org.
Best Bet for an Odd Experience
Etherton Gallery, Tucson
The Odd Fellows believe in simple principles — friendship, love and truth, to name a few. They're principles that are often celebrated through photography. Thus, it makes sense for Tucson's landmark Odd Fellows Hall to house the Etherton Gallery. The building dates to 1914, and some of the photographs housed therein are vintage, too, including the works of Ansel Adams and Harry Callahan. Contemporary exhibitions feature the work of regional artists such as Luis Jimenez and James G. Davis, as well as Arizona Highways photographer Jack Dykinga. There's nothing odd about that. Information: 520-624-7370 or www.ethertongallery.com.
Best Opportunity for High-Altitude Peer Review
Flagstaff Photography Club
What's so great about Thursday? It's Friday Eve and the day-before-the-day-before-the-weekend. It's the day 30 Rock airs on NBC. It's also the day the Flagstaff Photography Club meets — every third and fifth Thursday of the month, anyway. The club, which has been encouraging local photographers since 1991, sponsors themed critique sessions, quarterly "photo of the month" contests and guest speakers. If you're into high-altitude shooting, TiVo Tina Fey and join the club. Information: www.flagstaffphotographyclub.com.
Best Way to Play the Slots
Arizona Highways Slot Canyons Photo Workshop
Hosted by former Arizona Highways Director of Photography Peter Ensenberger, this four-day workshop explores some of the state's most stunning geologic formations — slot canyons. From Upper Antelope Canyon and the Paria Bluffs to Horseshoe Bend and Waterholes Canyon, photographers will have the opportunity to capture amazing colors and textures. And, thanks to Ensenberger's expert instruction, everyone will walk away a winner. Information: 602-712-2004 or www.friendsofazhighways.com.
Best Place to Shoot in the Shadow of a Legend
Bear Wallow Wilderness Area, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests
It isn't easy being the son of a legend. Just ask Julian Lennon. No matter what you do, chances are, your efforts will fall short of pop's. Josef Muench was a brilliant photographer, and he left a big pair of shoes for his son David to fill, which he did. If you're a frequent reader of Arizona Highways, you know that both men have played a major role in the magazine's legacy. Although their styles differ, their photographs are equally spectacular. There's no guarantee you'll be able to shoot like a Muench, but if you want to give it a shot, head to one of David's favorite places to photograph: Bear Wallow Wilderness Area. Information: 928-339-5000 or www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf.
Best Place to See the Lighting on the Walls
Phoenix City Grille, Phoenix
You'll find cheeseburgers and horseradish mashed potatoes at Phoenix City Grille, along with pot roast and roasted root vegetables. But for photography lovers, the real meat and potatoes at this Central Phoenix hangout is on the walls. Framed photographs celebrate the history of the nation's 48th state. Don your glasses to read the menu, then keep them on to scope out the Grille's great collection. Information: 602-266- 3001 or www. phoenixcitygrille.com.

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