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Phoenix, Arizona - Travel Off the beaten path - Unique Places To Visit

Updated on May 22, 2009

Visit Arizona Off the Beaten Path

Sometimes one of the most enjoyable parts of a vacation is taking advantage of visiting the more unusual places that an area has to offer. Anyone can go to a professional sporting event or a popular tourist attraction in almost any major city in the United States, but it takes an imaginative and creative traveler to set out to purposefully choose visiting the more unusual attractions in the area. Phoenix, Arizona is a perfect example of this. The city offers great shopping opportunities, wonderful outdoor recreation possibilities, and first class resorts to entertain and occupy travelers that head its way, but it also offers some truly unusual and interesting attractions to. Here is a small sampling of just some of those more interesting sites available in Phoenix.

Hall of Flame Fire Museum. Photo by: lonnydub

One of the oldest firefighting museums in the United States, the Hall of Flame Fire Museum first opened in 1961. The museum is dedicating to the preservation and display of firefighting equipment that has been used on the job by firemen through the years. The items displayed include artifacts from more modern times, wild land firefighting equipment, and items used in the battle against fires dating as far back as the early-to-mid 1700s.

Papago Park



Papago Park is famous as an area with unique red sandstone formations, including the famous Hole in the Rock formation. The park has a number of featured attractions including the Phoenix Zoo, the Desert Botanical Garden, picnic and recreation areas, a golf course, and more. One of the more interesting facts related to the history of Papago Park was that during World War II it was used as a German prisoner of war camp. There are numerous small animals that populate the park including jackrabbits, mice, squirrels as well as a number of different species of birds.

Chase Tower in Arizona. Photo by: danshouse

Chase Tower is not only the tallest building in Phoenix, it is also the tallest building in the state of Arizona. The building was completed in 1972 and stands at 483 feet tall. It has housed financial institutions since its completion. The building has a well developed underground concourse that is home to a number of retail shops and eating establishments. Though there is no observation platform, there is a restaurant on the 38th floor that allows a great opportunity to view the skyline of Phoenix.

Salt River

The thing that makes the Salt River unusual is that for much of its course, including the stretch through the city of Phoenix, the river bed is dry or almost dry due to most of the water being used upstream for irrigation purposes. It isn't often that travelers can view an empty river bed and get a look at land that was once covered by water, so this opportunity is one that should be taken when given the chance. Water does fill the river bed during times of heavy rain or flash flooding.

Vulture Mine

The most productive gold mine in the history of the state of Arizona is the Vulture Mine located in Maricopa County, Arizona. The mine and settlement was established during the heart of the American Civil War, in 1863, and was productive until the middle of World War II in 1942. Today the mine has been left largely unrestored and rests within private hands, but for a fee it is open to the public and offers self-guided tours.

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Off the beaten path - Try some Historic Buildings

Phoenix, Arizona is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the American west for a very good reason, it simply offers an incredible amount of things to do. After enjoying the sun, the tourist attractions, the sporting events, and the outdoor recreation opportunities, there are still other great attractions worth seeing and visiting in the area. One of the most unique and interesting things about Phoenix is its history. The city has a number of historic sites and museums that document the fascinating history of the area, but one of the best ways to experience it first hand is by visiting the historic buildings that still stand there today.

Here is a look at just a few of the historic buildings of Phoenix, Arizona, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Arizona State Capitol. Photo by:

kenlund

While it once served an actual governmental purpose, hosting both the Territorial and State Legislatures of Arizona, the Arizona State Capitol Building now serves the state as a museum. The building opened in 1901, after breaking ground in 1898, and hosted the State Legislature until 1960 when the new house and senate buildings were built and moved into. The original capitol building continued to host the office of the governor until 1974 and then the building reopened in 1981 as a museum dedicated to the history of Arizona. One of the most interesting aspects about the building is that it is beautifully constructed out of materials that are found within the state of Arizona. A visit to the Arizona State Capitol Building is a great opportunity to view some exquisite early 1900s architecture and also learn a great deal about the history of the state as well.

Hotel Westward Ho

From the time it was completed in 1972 until it was surpassed in 1960, the Westward Ho was the tallest building in the entire state of Arizona. The building was an operational hotel, quite luxurious in its early years, until 1979 when it was converted into a housing development for senior citizens. Residents of Phoenix saw their beloved Westward Ho building on the big screen in 1998 in Gus Van Sant's remake of the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho.

Westward Ho Video

Orpheum Theater. Photo by:

combusean

The Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix was constructed in the late 1920s and originally hosted a wide variety of vaudeville acts in its early days. The theater is on the small side, seating just over 1,300 spectators, but has beautifully intricate and unique architectural designs. Following an extensive remodeling campaign, the Orpheum Theater is now home to the Phoenix Metropolitan Opera and host a number of other performances as well.

Tovrea Castle



Tovrea Castle sits as one of the primary focal points of the Phoenix parks system. It wasn't built for this purpose though as it was originally intended to be the main structure in a fantastic resort and was then later incorporated into a private residence. The city has replanted and further expanded the cactus garden that once accented this unique building so well and Tovrea Castle is again today one of the most beautiful architectural structures in the city of Phoenix.

Dr. Roland Lee Rosson House

This Victorian style home was constructed in 1895 and has been largely restored to its original appearance. Commonly known as the Rosson House by locals, it now serves as a museum and is one of the visually more interesting sights to see in downtown Phoenix as it definitely stands out from the surrounding buildings.

William Wrigley, Jr. Winter Cottage

Known to locals as the Wrigley Mansion, this fabulous home was constructed between 1929 and 1931 and sits at 2501 East Telewa Trail. The home was built by chewing gum company owner William Wrigley, Jr. and consists of more than 16,000 square feet. It is available for company meetings, organizational conventions, and other similar events.

St. Mary's Church



The official name of this popular and well known Phoenix landmark is The Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and construction of it was completed in 1914. The church was visited by Pope John Paul II during his visit to the city in 1987. St. Mary's Church celebrates mass every day of the week and welcomes visitors and architectural enthusiasts all year long.

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    • ClaytonDaily profile image

      ClaytonDaily 3 years ago

      Perfect. I have family in the Gilbert area which is real close to Phoenix. I'll keep these places in mind next time I visit them.