Showing posts with label Arizona's Christmas City. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arizona's Christmas City. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Aboard The Southbound Polar Express

When the High Plains Drifters set out on our Winter Road Trip early Thanksgiving morning, I’d silently decided we were taking a holiday from the holidays (like that John Grisham book/movie a few years ago about a vacation from Christmas).

As the Pacific Northwest forests gave way to the barren Southwest high plains, I ticked off the list the things I wouldn’t be doing: seasonal decorating, shopping and cooking, cards and gifts, ahh, yes. . .no holidays for us this year!

What I didn’t realize at the time was that we weren’t escaping from the holidays; we were hurtling toward them aboard our own  Polar Express, (it’s the other book/movie that convinces the Scrooge in all of us that the magic of Christmas is alive and well).

082We were headed to Arizona - Christmas Central -  the best place in the world to experience this season, …well,. . . with perhaps the exception of the North Pole.

The Sugar Plum Stations along our route left holiday visions dancing in our heads . . . visions like those in. . .


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Christmas Spirit enveloped us within hours of our arrival in Prescott, “Arizona’s Christmas City”.  This is its Courthouse, a centerpiece in the downtown, which by now is lit up each night just like the Christmas Tree next to it.


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We had a week-long stay in Marriott’s Desert Canyon Villas, five-minutes from the J.W. Marriott Hotel where Christmas decorations began appearing the same weekend we arrived.


With each day the decorations seemed to expand throughout the hotel’s massive lobby. Poinsettias lined the stairways, festive green and red decorations seemed to sprout – as if magically – during the night.


I didn’t think the Land of Oz could be made any more wonderful than the Emerald City that welcomed Dorothy and her friends. But thanks to the Marriott’s culinary team this land of Oz was a Confectionery Convention Center where gingerbread pavers lined the Yellow Brick Road.

108We spent three nights – thanks to a Cyber Monday deal – at the Fairmont Princess Hotel in Phoenix –a place that in December could be mistaken for the North Pole.

Scrooge would have had a difficult time here but not those who are still kids-at-heart. 

080Much time was spent watching their four-story tall Christmas Tree change colors; the changes synchronized to the Christmas Carole’s that ring out over the hotel’s plaza, located just outside its elaborately decorated lobby. 

113Then, down a path to the skating rink. . .yes, real ice, six-inches deep, in the heart of the desert. A large truck/generator  hidden behind one of the buildings brings this frozen wonderland scene to life.  (The rink is open to the entire community, not just hotel guests.)
They rent skates at the hotel.



After a bit of time at the rink it was time to follow a luminaria-lit path through a fairy land of lights and scenes that appear each evening. Any other time of year, the same pathway leads through a beautiful – but not particularly magical – lagoon area.

And if the kid within you allows you to do it, you can hop aboard a miniature train to tour this enchanted land.

In Arizona where everything seems big – even the Christmas decorations are enormous.  The tree below at  the Desert Ridge Shopping Center towered over the palm trees around it.



At Scottsdale’s iconic Pinnacle Peak Patio restaurant we found Santa’s sleigh being hauled by cattle.

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And just down the road this big ol’ bronze mountain lion was decked out for the season as well.


Each evening at the Troon North Four Seasons the pathway between the Hotel and Residence Club wound through a daytime-desert that each evening gave way to a seasonal showcase.
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By the time we reached the Four Seasons I was much like the kids on the Polar Express – I was a believer again.  We may have left the holiday hustle behind, but we’d re-discovered the Magic of Christmas!
Have you visited any magical places this year? What made them magical?

Where ever your travels take you this holiday season we hope you’ll also find some Christmas Magic ~ it’s Travel Photo Thursday – don’t forget to visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair travel.  I’ll resume the High Plains Drifters tales this weekend with a stop in Ely, Nevada . . .

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Arizona: Where “PC” Means. . .

. . .Pure Christmas!

The High Plains Drifters (that’s us, you know) hail from a ‘PC’ state, but in Washington that means, “Politically Correct”.

And that means some stutter and stammer out watered down, lukewarm greetings this time of year for fear of: 1) hurting someone’s feelings, 2) dissing some other holiday, or 3) being sued by someone for not being that kind of “PC”.

I can tell you, that from what we've seen, we much prefer Arizona PC in December!!!

 Our introduction to the season came in Prescott, Arizona, a college town of some 40,000 that’s also  popular with retirees and serves as a weekend getaway destination for those living in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. We spent our third night here on our Southwest Winter Road Trip.

AZroadtrip2012 116We’ve been taken with the town since our first visit  there a year ago, but now I am enchanted by it.  You see, it is Arizona’s Christmas City!

Banners hang on light posts throughout the downtown proclaiming it so. Advertisements fill tourism magazine pages. Residents announce it proudly. Even in Scottsdale they tell you about their neighboring Christmas City to the north.

“Are you in town for the Christmas Light parade?” the clerk asked when  we checked into our hotel in the heart of Prescott.  It was the first of many celebrations this month, he said, describing a series of PC events.

“We are heading to the parade,” we told a couple dining near us shortly thereafter.  “This is the small one,” they cautioned us, “The big one is next Friday. It lasts two and a half hours”

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This one, their Christmas Light Parade, about 45 minutes in duration, brought out hordes of people. They’d been gathering along the route as we strolled to dinner. Even the spectators were in a ‘light’ mood; decorating their own viewing stands with lights or waving lighted wands at the floats as they passed.

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By the time we arrived back to the parade route the sidewalks were filled, in some places, people were standing six-deep, often calling out  and waving to friends who paraded past.

Cheers and clapping erupted as each new display came into view.

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Among the Christmas celebrations scheduled for this month are the 30th Annual Christmas Parade and the 58th Annual Prescott Courthouse Christmas Lighting, (hugely popular events) and the Acker Musical Showcase which features live music throughout the downtown in stores, restaurants, bars and galleries.

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It was music to our PC-dulled ears, when we were told that during the Christmas celebration calendar, there’s also a night when children gather on the courthouse lawn to hear a reading of “The Christmas Story”.

It’s a pretty special time in Prescott, the Poster Child of Pure Christmas.  But Christmas – not “Holiday” -- celebrations are taking place all over Arizona; I’ll tell you about them  as our jolly, pre-holly-day travels through the state continue. And next year we may just be celebrating Christmas in Prescott!

If You Go:

For More Information about the city: Prescott Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Center, 117 W. Goodwin St., 86303, phone, 800-266-7534.

For Christmas events and travel information, click this link: Visit Prescott


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