Like many of the desert’s visitors, Frank Lloyd Wright came to Arizona seeking a reprieve from the harsh Wisconsin winters.
He soon fell in love with the region’s rugged beauty and decided to put down roots here with Taliesin West, his winter camp and desert laboratory in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. As snowbirds and tourists alike descend on the Valley of the Sun this season, show them the desert through Wright’s eyes with these must-see destinations.
For the Design Aficionado: Taliesin West
Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright—the innovative designer behind New York’s Guggenheim Museum—began crafting his one-of-a-kind getaway home at the foot of the McDowell Mountains in 1937-38, melding it into the desert landscape that surrounds it. Today, it’s home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the School of Architecture at Taliesin West, and offers a variety of docent-led tours that give visitors an up close and personal look at his living quarters, drafting studio, and private office, among other spaces. The Behind the Scenes tour even offers guests tea and snacks in the colorful Taliesin West Dining Room.
For the Avid Gardener: Desert Botanical Gardens
The beauty of Wright’s beloved desert is on full display at the Desert Botanical Gardens. Stroll the gorgeous grounds where more than 50,000 plants are on display—both for your viewing pleasure and for research and conservation efforts. Every Monday morning, join expert birders and get use out of your binoculars. On weekends, gardening experts are available for a Q&A session.
For the Art Lover: Phoenix Art Museum
Take in the visual wonders of the Phoenix Art Museum, the largest art museum in the Southwest where some 18,000 pieces are on display. Originally designed by Alden B. Dow, a former student of Wright’s, the building itself is a work of art, with a series of expansive galleries that spotlight European and contemporary masters, Asian gems, photography, and an internationally renowned fashion collection. The littlest visitors will enjoy the “Please Touch” children’s gallery.
For the Outdoors Enthusiast: McDowell Sonoran Preserve
The mountains surrounding Taliesin West are home to some of the region’s best trailheads. For a different view of Wright’s desert laboratory, take the Lost Dog Wash trail. An old Jeep tour route, the popular 5-mile trek affords spectacular views of the building from above, as well as neighboring mountains like Camelback and Pinnacle Peak.
For the Spa-Goer: Spa Biltmore
Located inside the famed Arizona Biltmore Hotel, Spa Biltmore offers treatments and therapies inspired by the local ingredients and native traditions of the Southwest. After a relaxing day at the spa, take some time to explore the stunning grounds of the hotel, which was built in 1929 with Wright as a consulting architect, and tuck into The Wright Bar for a glass of wine or craft cocktail.