Casa Grande Ruins National MonumentApproximately 56 miles southwest of Phoenix off State Route 87
Built by the Hohokam Indians more than 700 years ago, Casa Grande once stood four stories tall and had 11 rooms. Archaeologists and historians have differing opinions about the structure's purpose. Some say it was a house, others a temple, a watchtower or a food storage area. Others claim it was an astronomical observatory built to track the movement of the sun, moon and stars. Abandoned about 550 years ago, the structure now has a permanent protective awning to shelter it from the elements.
Information: 520-723-3172; www.nps.gov/cagr
Soaring at Estrella Sailport25 miles south of Phoenix off State Route 238 West
For a bird's-eye view of the Arizona landscape, ride the thermals on a glider at Arizona Soaring. First-time gliders will probably want to take the 20-minute basic ride, but thrill seekers might be tempted to try the "Aerobatic Deluxe," a rollicking roller coaster ride in the sky.
Information: 520-568-2318; www.azsoaring.com
Titan Missile Museum1580 W. Duval Mine Road, Sahuarita
Take a tour of the Titan Missile Museum and see the underground missile site, 3-ton blast doors, 8-foot thick silo doors and get a peek at a genuine missile in the launch duct. If you really want an adventure, the museum has created a Titan Overnight Experience, which allows up to four people to spend the night in the crew quarters, just feet away from a Titan II missile. The museum only offers this special program four times a year, so plan ahead.
Information: 520-625-7736; www.titanmissilemuseum.org
Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory Visitors CenterFrom Tubac, take Interstate19 north to Exit 48, Arivaca Road/Amado.
Drive north on the east frontage road to Elephant Head Road. Turn right and drive east, crossing the bridge over the Santa Cruz River. One mile past the railroad tracks, turn right onto Mount Hopkins Road. Drive southeast about 7 miles to center) If you're interested in astronomy, take a ride out to the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, located in the Santa Rita Mountains at the base of Mt. Hopkins. Exhibits include models of multiple mirror telescopes, 3-D models of the galaxies in the universe, a topographical map of the Santa Rita Mountains and a history of the optical telescope. Be sure to check out the wide-field binoculars and 20-power telescope on the outdoor patio to get a closer look at the Santa Rita Mountains and the Coronado National Forest.
Information: 520-670-5707; www.cfa.harvard.edu/facilities/flwo/visit_center.html
Amerind Foundation Museum60 miles east of Tucson off Interstate 10
This anthropological and archaeological museum houses an extensive collection of Indian art and artifacts ranging from ancient to contemporary objects. Exhibits include Pueblo and O'odham/Yaqui pottery, Hopi paintings, kachinas and a variety of textiles and jewelry.
Information: 520-586-3666; www.amerind.org
Chiricahua National Monument120 miles east of Tucson. Exit Interstate 10 at Willcox and follow State Route 186, 36 miles to the monument.
Unusual rock formations and 17 miles of maintained trails make Chiricahua National Monument a favorite destination for hikers. Tour Faraway Ranch, a pioneer homestead once inhabited by Swedish immigrants, Neil and Emma Erickson and family. The ranch house features historic artifacts and a good glimpse into Arizona pioneer life in the early 1900s.
Information: 520-824-3560; www.nps.gov/chir
Dos Cabezas Ghost TownApproximately 95 miles east of Tucson, 15 miles southeast of Willcox on State Route 186
To get a taste of the Old West, stop at Dos Cabezas ghost town to see an 1885 Wells Fargo station, pioneer cemetery, post office, dance hall, mine office and many other historic buildings.
Cochise StrongholdFrom Tucson, take Interstate 10 east 72 miles to U.S. Route 191. Turn right (south) and drive 12 miles to Ironwood Road. Turn right (east) on Ironwood Road
Visit the striking canyon in the Dragoon Mountains where Apache Indian Chief Cochise took refuge from his enemies. The Cochise Stronghold is situated in a cross-section of the Upper Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts and has an unusual range of vegetation. To get a closer look, stick with the easy .4-mile Stronghold Nature Trail. For a more strenuous hike, the 4.5-mile Cochise Trail follows the route that Cochise and his people used in the 1860s.
Information: 520-388-8300; www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/forest/recreation/camping/sites/cochise_stronghold.shtml
Fort Bowie Vineyards and Orchard Products110 miles from Tucson off Interstate10 at Exit 362
This boutique winery produces 11 different wines ranging from burgundy to chardonnay on 40 acres in Bowie. Located on a working farm with 450 acres of pecan trees and 30 acres of walnut, peach and cherry trees, Fort Bowie Vineyards has a tasting room and a store that sells their own farm fresh products, including wine, chocolate pecan clusters and dried fruits.
Information: 520-847-2593; www.fortbowievineyards.net
Bisbee Mining & Historical MuseumNo. 5 Copper Queen Plaza, in Bisbee
Partnered with the Smithsonian's Affiliation Program, this rates as one of the premiere mining museums in the country. Don't forget to cruise (and hike) Bisbee's historic downtown.
Information: 520-432-7071; www.bisbeemuseum.org
Ramsey Canyon Preserve90 miles southeast of Tucson, near Sierra Vista
A spring-fed stream and high canyon walls make Ramsey Canyon a desert Southwest rarity, harboring uncommon plant and animal species. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays year-round.
Information: 520-378-2785; www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/arizona/preserves/art1973.html
San Pedro Riparian and Conservation AreaFrom Sierra Vista, take State Route 90 east 6 miles to Monson Road. Turn left and go 1.2 miles to the signed turnoff to Murray Springs
Designated by Congress as a National Conservation Area in 1988, this nature preserve contains about 40 miles of the upper San Pedro River, a rare desert riparian ecosystem.
Information: 928-458-3559; www.recreation.gov/detail.cfm?ID=595