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Arizona

Signature City Phoenix-Scottsdale

Program No. 21299RJ
Get an insider’s view on Arizona’s Valley of the Sun as you join experts to explore world-renowned cultural institutions, unique desert landscapes and historic Old Town Scottsdale.
Length
6 days
Rating (4.86)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,799

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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We want your Road Scholar learning adventure to be something to look forward to—not worry about. Learn more

Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
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Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jan 29 - Feb 3, 2023
Starting at
1,899
Feb 4 - Feb 9, 2023
Starting at
1,899
Nov 5 - Nov 10, 2023
Starting at
1,799
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jan 29 - Feb 3, 2023
Starting at
2,569
Feb 4 - Feb 9, 2023
Starting at
2,569
Nov 5 - Nov 10, 2023
Starting at
2,389

At a Glance

Explore Arizona’s Valley of the Sun on daily adventures spotlighting the history and culture of the Southwest’s most dynamic city and its environs — from iconic Camelback Mountain to the copper-domed State Capitol. Discover the region’s prehistoric and modern Native American cultures with a visit to the famed Heard Museum. View the city’s mix of architectural styles including Frank Lloyd Wright and Paolo Soleri. Experience the music of the city and the world at Phoenix’ newest sensation — the Musical Instrument Museum. Stay in Old Town Scottsdale where its true western roots are juxtaposed against its modern and upscale new Southwest style.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to a one-half mile and standing in museums for up to two hours.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Visit the Phoenix Art Museum, Musical Instrument Museum and Wright’s Taliesin West.
  • Explore the Desert Botanical Garden and sit under the stars around a campfire following dinner on a ranch.
  • Enjoy world-class galleries and a Western-themed ambiance while strolling Old Town Scottsdale.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Bob Doehnert
Bob Doehnert grew up in Basking Ridge, N.J. and earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky. He attained an International M.B.A. from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, AZ. In his ‘retirement’ Bob continues to pursue lifelong learning, especially with his passions for skiing, hiking and competitive bridge. He has participated as a group leader for Road Scholar in the greater Phoenix area and enjoys sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for Arizona and the greater Valley of the Sun.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Bob Doehnert
Bob Doehnert View biography
Bob Doehnert grew up in Basking Ridge, N.J. and earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky. He attained an International M.B.A. from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, AZ. In his ‘retirement’ Bob continues to pursue lifelong learning, especially with his passions for skiing, hiking and competitive bridge. He has participated as a group leader for Road Scholar in the greater Phoenix area and enjoys sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for Arizona and the greater Valley of the Sun.
Profile Image of Mary Best
Mary Best, a native Vermonter, has lived since 1977 in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she raised three sons and attended Northern Arizona University, earning a B.A. in anthropology with a minor in Spanish. She served on the staff of NAU Road Scholar for eight years before retiring in 2015 to spend time with grandkids. Mary enjoys opportunities to coordinate Road Scholar learning adventures, sharing her love of the desert and national parks. Her interests include the culture and arts of native peoples, Southwest plants, and music.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis
by Glennon, Robert
In the middle of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas casinos use billions of gallons of water for fountains, pirate lagoons, wave machines, and indoor canals. Meanwhile, the town of Orme, Tennessee, must truck in water from Alabama because it has literally run out. Robert Glennon captures the irony—and tragedy—of America’s water crisis in a book that is both frightening and wickedly comical. Unquenchable reveals the heady extravagances and everyday inefficiencies that are sucking the nation dry.
Arizona: A Panoramic History of a Frontier State
by Trimble, Marshall
Written by Arizona's state historian, this book looks at the Indian tribes, the Spanish, and the Anglos who have played major roles in the history of Arizona and surveys the state's startling physical contrasts, unusual wildlife, industrial development, and politics. 404pp
The Southwest
by Lavender, David
A historical and cultural overview, including discussions of present-day racial, conservation, and economic problems. Easy reading, fascinating history. 364pp
A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert
by Patricia Wentworth Comus (Editor)
"Once in a generation, a guide to understanding a major North American landscape comes along. This book is such a touchstone, sure to become a classic. The emphasis here is on biodiversity, mutualism, co-evolution, and, especially, ethno-relationships—the long history of connection between desert peoples and their homeland, on both sides of the border.
Explorer's Guide Phoenix, Scottsdale, Sedona & Central Arizona: A Great Destination
by Christine Bailey
Imagine all the adventures you’ll have in Arizona— touring the mountains and red deserts, seeing one spectacular natural wonder after another: the Grand Canyon, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument...Discover the art galleries, museums, resorts, and cuisine that help make Phoenix and Scottsdale such hot destinations. Full-color photographs throughout.
PHX: Phoenix 21st century city
by Booth-Clibborn, Edward
After Berlin, Brooklyn, and Moscow, Phoenix is the ideal fourth city to be explored in Booth-Clibborn Editionss fascinating series about cities that are emerging creatively. Thanks to its majestic desert setting, appealing climate, and abundant economic opportunity, the Phoenix metropolitan area is the fastest growing in the U.S. Along with its population growth, the city has seen a flourishing of expressive arts of all kinds. Phoenix 21: Desert Metropolis captures the historic movement and youthful energy of the region as it evolves into a vibrant world-class metropolis with a unique character. 240pp
Phoenix Then and Now
by Scharbach, Paul and John H. Akers
From the moment it became Arizona's capital in 1912, Phoenix has enjoyed steady population growth and commercial expansion. Today, Phoenix continues to expand, due to mass migration, and has the distinction of being one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. Phoenix Then and Now looks at the development of the city, with historical photographs placed side-by-side with contemporary views of the same locations revealing a vibrant city, benefiting from wave upon wave of Easterners seeking sunshine in a culturally rich, urban setting. Amazing pictorial history of Phoenix, and the surrounding areas, filled with archival photographs of key locations paired with specially commissioned photographs of the same scenes as they are today. See the Heard Building, used for the opening shot of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. One of Phoenix' first sky scrapers, the building is now used for stores and offices.
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6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 3 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Scottsdale Old Town
D
Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale Old Town

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously).

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:30-5:15 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the hotel meeting room to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Orientation: 5:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. All lectures will be led, as indicated, by either local experts or our Group Leader. Exploration of museums and other sites on field trips will be led by experienced docents or our Group Leader. Transportation to off-site locations will be provided primarily by motorcoach, unless otherwise specified. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may be changed due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Desert Botanical Garden, Arizona Biltmore
Scottsdale Old Town
B,D
Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale Old Town

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 20 miles, about 1 hour total riding time with stops for field trips. Walking up to 2 miles total throughout the day; flat, paved terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: We’ll pull out our maps and become acquainted with the Phoenix Metropolitan Area – nicknamed the Valley of the Sun – pinpointing our destinations over the upcoming days and getting a sense of the Valley’s extent. Still at the hotel, we’ll learn about water in the west through a presentation given by a representative of the Salt River Project, the utility and water provider for much of central Arizona. After boarding the motorcoach, we’ll transfer to the Desert Botanical Garden (DBG), for a docent-led exploration. A valuable community resource, the garden aims to educate and conserve the wonders of the desert with a focus on plants of the Southwest. Since a Swedish botanist planted a sign “Save the desert” in his yard in the 1930s, community members came together to create, develop, and expand the garden as the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to have what you like at either of the two eateries on the Garden grounds.

Afternoon: Continue to explore the Desert Botanical Garden on your own wandering through the garden’s 50 acres in search of the 139 rare, endangered, or threatened species of plants from across the globe. Before returning to Scottsdale, we will take time to explore the Arizona Biltmore, designed by Albert Chase McArthur, a former student of Frank Lloyd Wright who served as consulting architect on the project. Opened in 1929, the Biltmore was immediately crowned the “Jewel of the Desert” and has been a preferred resort for celebrities, heads of state, and business scions. After a brief orientation to the Biltmore by our group leader, we will have the opportunity to explore the grounds on our own.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a local expert for a presentation on a topic of local interest. Our topic will vary by week and feature a local author, artist, or regional expert.

DAY
3
Wright's Taliesin West, Musical Instrument Museum
Scottsdale Old Town
B,L,D
Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale Old Town

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 45 miles throughout the day, approximately 1.5 hours total riding time with stops for field trips. Walking about 1.5 miles total for the day; ramps and elevators available.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Our day will begin with a field trip via motorcoach to Taliesin West (pronounced “tal-ee-es-en”), Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio, and architectural campus. Wright began building this masterpiece in 1937 and lived here until 1959. It is located on 600 acres of Sonoran Desert in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains in northeast Scottsdale. An expert on Wright and his work will assist in our exploration of this unique architectural wonder. Wright and his apprentices gathered rocks from the desert floor, and sand from the washes to build this great desert masterpiece. From the beginning, this remarkable set of buildings astounded architectural critics with its beauty and unusual form. Today, it is the main campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Next, we’ll transfer to the Musical Instrument Museum for lunch.

Lunch: At the Musical Instrument Museum.

Afternoon: At the Musical Instrument Museum, we’ll engage in this one-of-a-kind experience for music lovers of any stripe. Opened in 2010, the museum allows the visitor to view videos and hear music from around the world in galleries organized by continent and country. Every visitor receives headphones with which to listen and learn about music from all genres. Enjoy an exploration of some of the museum's acquisitions with knowledgeable docents, many who are themselves trained musicians. Among the many instruments of note displayed in the MIM is the piano on which John Lennon wrote “Imagine”. There is also a room devoted to instruments that you can play. We’ll return to the hotel late afternoon.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a local expert for a presentation on a topic of local interest. Our topic will vary by week and feature a local author, artist, or regional expert.

DAY
4
Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, Heard Museum
Scottsdale Old Town
B,L
Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale Old Town

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 30 miles throughout the day, approximately 1 hour total riding time. Walking up to 2 miles total throughout the day; some periods of standing in each museum with stairs; elevators available.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Continuing our exploration of the vibrant art and culture in Phoenix, we’ll go on a field trip to the Phoenix Art Museum (PAM) where we will be led by a docent, followed by time to explore individually. The museum is one of the largest art museums in the Southwest, and within its labyrinth of halls and galleries is an impressive collection of works that span the major artistic movements from the Renaissance to the present. Changing exhibits may cover decorative arts, historic fashions, Spanish-colonial furnishings, religious art, and of course, works by members of the Cowboy Artists of America.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: After travelling a short distance from the PAM, we’ll head to the internationally acclaimed Heard Museum where a docent will introduce us to the many exhibits followed by time to explore independently. The Heard is one of the best places to experience the myriad cultures and art of Native Americans of the Southwest. The museum's 11 spacious exhibition galleries and beautiful outdoor courtyards feature outstanding traditional and contemporary Native American art. Since its founding by Dwight and Maie Bartlett Heard in 1929 as a small museum in a small Southwestern town, the Heard has grown in size and stature. A living museum giving voice to truly American people, the Heard is now recognized internationally for the quality of its collections, educational programming, and festivals. We’ll then return to our hotel in late afternoon.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy local fare. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. There is a free trolley that runs in the Old Town Scottsdale District M-F until 7:45pm.

Evening: At leisure. You may wish to enjoy a stroll on your own through the streets, shops, and art galleries in Old Town Scottsdale, just a short distance from the hotel. A list of nearby restaurants as well as walking maps and Old Town's free shuttle schedule are available at the hotel front desk.

DAY
5
Western Spirit Museum, Western Cookout
Scottsdale Old Town
B,L,D
Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale Old Town

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving approximately 40 miles throughout the day, less than 1 hour total riding time. Walking up to 1.5 miles during the day; some periods of standing in the museum with stairs; elevators available.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Setting out from the hotel, we’ll walk through Scottsdale's Old Town and Art District to one of Scottsdale's newest museum offerings, Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West. Transportation will be provided for those who require it. For our morning field trip, we’ll enjoy a docent-led exploration as well as time for independent exploration. The museum offers high-quality exhibitions, educational programs, and community outreach addressing regional history, particularly as reflected by the arts and the dynamic cultural exchanges that have marked the transition of the Old West into the New West. Changing exhibitions keep this museum experience fresh and dynamic. Afterwards, we’ll walk back to the hotel.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: In the late afternoon, we'll depart for a BBQ cookout and campfire as the sun sets amidst towering saguaro cacti, icon of the west. Don’t forget your jacket, as desert nights cool off quickly. If you plan to take photographs, be mindful of the cactus and uneven ground. Cowboy boots are optional! Share favorite experiences and enjoy camaraderie with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: Watching the sun set we'll see the stars emerge as the campfire crackles. Then sing a song or two under the western sky. This will wrap up the week's experiences in the Valley of the Sun -- Scottsdale and Phoenix. After returning to the hotel, we’ll reconvene for a brief program wrap-up and farewells.Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Scottsdale Old Town
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.