Thursday, May 24 , 2018, 4:03 am | Overcast 58º


Judy Crowell: America’s Aptly Named Paradise Valley

Arizona's premier tourist destination, encompassing a mere 15 square miles, features luxury resorts, fine dining and mountain views

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from Paradise Valley.]

Encircled by America’s volcanic past and ringed by mountains, Paradise Valley in Arizona encompasses a mere 15 square miles, primarily residential. Within this area rest 12 luxury resorts, making it one of the country’s premier tourist destinations.

Perched on Camelback Mountain to the south is the trendsetting, rock-star favorite Sanctuary Resort & Spa. While there, don’t miss Elements for spectacular nighttime dining and mountain views.

The Royal Palms, a Fred Unger do-over, oozes Old World charm and boasts the nationally acclaimed T. Cook’s restaurant, one of the most romantic restaurants in the United States.

I chose the intimate, boutique hideaway The Hermosa Inn, another Fred Unger redo, and fell in love with its tranquility, its dichotomy of native cactus plantings and crayon-colored flower beds, peaceful pool and understated décor punctuated with charming artwork by famed Western artist Lon Megargee, the original owner and builder of the adobe brick home and studio.

Named Lon’s in his honor, the award-winning restaurant employs the freshest produce from its one-acre organic garden, right outside the kitchen door.

For dining, here are some of the best: Roka Akor, for super char-edged grill and stylish sushi; Vincent on Camelback, combining French and Southwest ingredients; Chelsea’s Kitchen, for brunch; Zinc Bistro, for a Parisian feel; Cowboy Ciao, for quirky Old West ambiance and a delicious Stetson chopped salad; La Grande Orange Grocery, for a bustling carryout, quick lunch or unique shopping experience — it has it all; and El Chorro, casual patio dining ‘neath Camelback.

Real estate is the name of the game here, followed closely by art. I never really liked Western art, but after browsing through several galleries, including The Legacy Gallery and Trailside Galleries, I realized it was because I’d only seen a lot of bad Western art. A visit to the Heard Museum took care of that — such treasures are at every turn!

Roam through the residential areas. Marvel at the avant-garde architecture placing sprawling estates on the edges of mountains and creating rock dining room walls out of the sides of mountains. Stand in wonder before one of the thousands of saguaros, tree-sized cacti native only to this area. Growing about a foot per year, it takes them 75 years to grow their first “arm.” Don’t be surprised to see what looks like a line of hundreds of ants climbing up Camelback Mountain, the latest fitness craze for healthy-kneed, SPF-70 sunscreen-covered masochists.

Plenty of less strenuous activities abound: Barrett-Jackson, the world’s greatest collector car auction; the extraordinary Musical Instrument Museum, a treat for the ears and the eyes; Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Taliesin, a few miles away; Kierland Commons for fabulous mall shopping; hot air ballooning; and golf.

Life in the desert has appealed to various and sundry folks: Muhammad Ali, Hugh Downs, Kurt Warner, Dan Quayle and Barry Goldwater, who donated more than 300 Hopi Kachina dolls to the Heard Museum. It’s said that one is either an ocean person or a mountain person. I know I’m an ocean person — probably always will be.

But a visit to this part of our vast country opened my eyes to the majesty and beauty of the desert mountains, and I hope to return very soon.

— Judy Crowell is a Noozhawk contributing writer, author, freelance travel writer and part-time Santa Barbara resident. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >