This summer we took our family vacation to Phoenix, Arizona. I know what you’re thinking. Phoenix? In the summer? Yes, it may be 105 degrees, but with an average of 6% humidity it’s quite pleasant!
There’s quite a bit to see and do in the Phoenix area, but our main reason for going was to play some of the best golf courses in the nation! Phoenix and its neighboring communities are home to nearly 200 golf courses in a variety of styles—far more than we could hope to play in just one visit!
Where we Golfed
Quintero Golf Club
Quintero is located about an hour NW of Phoenix in Peoria and offers a world-class golfing experience in every detail. Carved out of the pristine natural desert, the lush course is perfectly groomed, and designed by Reese Jones in the tradition of the most celebrated courses in the world. Quintero is nestled in a pristine section of the lush Arizona desert and is particularly strategic and challenging for even the best golfers. In other words, I visited at least one bunker on each hole and lost at least 1,000 golf balls.
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club
With two award-winning golf courses set in the thriving Sonoran Desert, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club delivers one of the best golf experiences in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. Scott Miller designed the Cholla Course, while Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw teamed up to create Saguaro. Offering breathtaking views of the McDowell Mountains, Red Mountain, Four Peaks and the Superstitions, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club lies on Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation land that will never be commercially developed.
We played both of We-Ko-Pa’s two courses, Cholla and Saguaro. Both are meticulously maintained and both offer a fun and challenging golf experience free of houses and roads, thus preserving the unobstructed mountain views of the Sonoran Desert. The Cholla course is recognized as the reference course for the quintessential target style desert golf course. Whereas, the Saguaro course was designed as a more traditional style golf course where greens are close to tees, ideal for walking, and the course follows the natural movement of the land.
We-Ko-Pa’s two courses were definitely my favorite out of the courses we played. Playing 36-holes in one day was exhausting, but well worth it for the stunning views. Lucas made it through about 20 or so holes before he called it quits – not bad for a six-year old!
Grayhawk Golf Club
Grayhawk offers two courses, Raptor and Talon. The Tom Fazio-designed Raptor course offers a thrilling challenge over gentle hills and across shaded natural washes typical of this picturesque corner of the Sonoran Desert. Raptor’s fairways are generous, and the greens tend to be large, with a fair amount of undulation.
Designed by former U.S. Open and PGA Champion David Graham and golf course architect Gary Panks, Grayhawk’s Talon Course provides breathtaking views of the nearby McDowell Mountains as well as the Phoenix/Scottsdale skyline. Talon’s back nine was built around a series of deep box canyons with a handful of holes skirting steep drop-offs and thick stands of Mesquite, Palo Verde and Ironwood trees. The fairways appear smaller than their true size and most of the greens are quite large and multi-tiered.
Things to Do in Phoenix
Phoenix’s perpetual sunshine is obviously perfect for your golf game but there’s plenty to explore in the city – serene desert gardens, one-of-a-kind museums and picturesque mountain ranges for some of the best hiking.
Desert Botanical Gardens
The Desert Botanical Garden offers a collection of arid plants, over 55 acres of cultivated land, from deserts of the world in a unique outdoor setting. The Garden has more than 50,000 desert plants on display throughout five trails that illustrate topics such as conservation, desert living, plants and people of the Sonoran Desert, and desert wildflowers. The Gardens are a perfect location to experience and learn about the desert terrain.
The Phoenix Zoo is one of the nation’s largest non-profit zoos, committed to conservation and providing experiences that motivate people to care for the natural world. If you’re visiting Phoenix in the summer, definitely hit the zoo first thing in the morning. As the day wears on, the less animals you may see as they retreat to whatever shade they can find!
Goldfield Ghost Town
Situated atop a small hill between the Superstition Mountains and the Goldfield Mountains, the settlement of Goldfield got its start in 1892 when very rich, high grade gold ore was found in the area. A town soon sprang up and on October 7, 1893 it received its first official post office. Today, Goldfield is filled with authentic looking buildings, including underground mine tours, and the only narrow gauge railroad in operation in Arizona. Numerous shops and buildings include a brothel, bakery, leather works, a jail, livery, and more.
Definitely the highlight of the day in Goldfield was the train ride. Especially when the European mother practically hit me with her boob when she whipped it out to breast feed her toddler. 😬
Pima Air & Space Museum
Sitting on 80 acres, the Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the largest non-government funded aviation and space museums in the world, featuring over 350 historical aircrafts, from a Wright Flyer to a 787 Dreamliner.
The Pima Air & Space Museum is the exclusive operator of the “Boneyard” Tour aka the 309TH Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) Facility on the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Davis-Monthan AFB’s role in the storage of military aircraft began after World War II, and continues today. It has evolved into “the largest aircraft boneyard in the world.” With the area’s low humidity in the 10%-20% range, meager rainfall of 11″ annually, hard alkaline soil, and high altitude of 2,550 feet allowing the aircraft to be naturally preserved for cannibalization or possible reuse, Davis-Monthan is the logical choice for a major storage facility. The geology of the desert allows aircraft to be moved around without having to pave the storage areas.
Davis-Monthan is today the location of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), the sole aircraft boneyard and parts reclamation facility for all excess military and government aircraft. Aircraft from the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, NASA and other government agencies are processed at AMARG, which employs 550 people, almost all civilians. It is the largest airplane boneyard in the world. Another role of AMARG is to support the program that converts old fighter jets, such as the F-4 Phantom II and F-16, into aerial target drones. It also serves as an auxiliary facility of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, and stores tooling for out-of-production military aircraft. AMARG’s typical inventory comprises more than 4,400 aircraft, which makes it the largest aircraft storage and preservation facility in the world.
The photos do not even begin to capture the magnitude of aircraft stored at Davis-Monthan AFB!
We had an amazing time and really didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all there is to see and do in the greater Phoenix area. Phoenix is charming, unique and has become a place we would definitely visit again!
For additional ideas for things to do in Phoenix, visit https://www.visitphoenix.com.