West of the Mississippi
In six featured states west of the Mississippi River, you’ll find intriguing spring vacation destinations and new retirement communities in enticing locations.
WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI DESTINATIONS TO EXPLORE
Arkansas offers a number of unique visitor attractions, from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville to Murfreesboro’s Crater of Diamonds State Park, the world’s only place where the public is invited to dig for the precious stones. Driving tours include the 300-mile Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway and the Talimena Scenic Drive, which meanders along the ridgetops for 54 miles through the spectacular 1.8 million-acre Ouachita National Forest. In Hot Springs, you can luxuriate in the natural thermal waters, enjoy the spring blooms at Garvan Woodland Gardens, and tour historic sites where, from the 1880s through the 1930s, gangsters like Al Capone gambled and baseball legends like Babe Ruth played spring training games.
Everything’s big in Texas, including the list of vacation destinations that range from relaxing beach towns on the Gulf of Mexico coast and historic sites in San Antonio like The Alamo to the the vibrant multi-cultural nightlife in Houston and the funky arts-and-music scene in Austin. Natural adventures include kayaking in Big Bend National Park, exploring huge underground caverns, and saddling up at a guest ranch for an authentic Western experience. And you’ll never lack for sustenance on your travels because Texas restaurants serve up some of America’s juiciest steaks and spiciest ribs, washed down with wine from the state’s 20 vineyards and craft beers from microbreweries in nearly every city and town.
Utah is a four-season destination with ski resorts like Alta and Snowbird near Salt Lake City, where you can take a guided tour of historic Temple Square. Park City has its own ski slopes and annually hosts the acclaimed Sundance Film Festival. Visits to the Dinosaur National Monument and the new Natural History Museum of Utah highlight the state’s fascinating past, while southern Utah in springtime is the ultimate outdoor destination: St. George is the gateway to the unparalleled Mighty 5 National Parks and other natural wonders in Snow Canyon State Park and Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. Drive along the scenic byways, bike on mountain trails, kayak on hidden streams, and camp out under star-filled skies.
The energetic and culturally rich city of Denver is the first stop for most Colorado visitors on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park. Along the Front Range and beyond, you’ll find hot-springs resorts, mile-high golf courses, dude ranches, fly-fishing streams, and top-of-the-world trails for hikers and bikers. In the state’s central region around Colorado Springs are historic Pike’s Peak, inspiring drives on the Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway, and kayak adventures on the Arkansas River through Browns Canyon National Monument. To the southwest is the Four Corners area near Durango, which features Mesa Verde National Park, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, and the 116-mile parkway that connects them.
From parasail races and dinner cruises along the Lake Tahoe shoreline to boating and fishing in the nation’s largest reservoir at Lake Mead—plus the man-made wonder of Hoover Dam that created it—Nevada is filled with cool places and activities for springtime travelers. Among them are kayaking expeditions on the Black Canyon Water Trail, off-road driving treks in the Mohave Desert, and late-night ventures on the Extraterrestrial Highway just outside of top-secret Area 51. And with lively Reno in the north and iconic Las Vegas in the south, Nevada is in a class by itself for luxurious spas, top-celebrity shows, and destination casino resorts.
Start your Arizona spring adventure at breathtaking Grand Canyon National Park, but be sure to include on your itinerary other natural wonders like the Petrified Forest, Kartchner Caverns, Monument Valley, and Meteor Crater. You can hike, bike, or ride a horse on one of the 43 passages of the 800-mile Arizona Trail or cruise with the top down on legendary Route 66. Explore historic mining towns and witness a gunfight at the OK Corral, then mosey over to the Phoenix-Scottsdale area for trendy food and beverage venues, major-league sporting events, and more golf courses than you can shake a club at.
WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI EVENTS TO ENJOY
CLARK COUNTRY FAIR & RODEO CCFair.com
The town of Logandale just north of Las Vegas hosts this annual Western-style celebration that includes professional rodeo competitions, main-stage entertainments, hundreds of arts & crafts exhibitors, and Midway rides, games, and food.
SCOTTSDALE CULINARY FESTIVAL ScottsdaleFest.org
An Arizona spring staple since 1978, this year’s event features a kick-off party, the finest dishes from more than 35 local restaurants, beer garden, vodka lounge, wine and chocolate tastings, and live bands on three Scottsdale Civic Center stages.
ST. GEORGE ART FESTIVAL SGArtFestival.com
This Southern Utah tradition since 1980, set amid the fountains and gardens of St. George Town Square, showcases original works by more than 100 of America’s finest artists in a dozen mediums, plus live music and special events for the kids.
DURANGO WINE EXPERIENCE DurangoWine.com
A full weekend of fine food and drink in downtown Durango, CO, features top-chef cooking demonstrations, libations from some of the world’s best wineries, breweries, and distilleries, and a Grand Tasting finale event.
KAABOO TEXAS KAABOOTexas.com
Enjoy all the comforts inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington for performances by 20 all-time favorites like Sting, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The B-52s, plus comedy from Dennis Miller to Brad Garret, art shows, spa services, and skybox dining with fine wines and craft beers.
HOT SPRINGS MUSIC FESTIVAL HotMusic.org
This two-week festival in Arkansas features classical music performances by the110 artists from around the world, including rare sneak-peek open rehearsals, creative-mix chamber ensembles and full-orchestra symphonies in churches, ballrooms, and open-air settings.
West of the Misssissippi Communities to Visit
Hot Springs Village is America’s largest gated community, with amenities that include nine golf courses, 11 recreational lakes, and 30 miles of nature trails, plus a performing arts center, 100+ clubs, and a new 14-court pickleball complex.
Elements at Viridian is a new age 55+ community in Arlington that features single-level homes with expanded outdoor living spaces and lifestyle extras like an amenity center with pools, tennis courts, and walking/biking trails.
The Glacier Club features homes and sites with spectacular mountain views, plus two top-ranked golf courses with clubhouse dining and a complete spa/fitness center with indoor pool in a southwest Colorado location just north of Durango.
SunRiver in St. George is a premier active-adult community featuring amenities like a picturesque golf course with fine clubhouse dining, fitness facilities with indoor/outdoor pools, 50+ social clubs, and new pickleball courts at the tennis center.
Red Ledges is a mountainside residential community near Park City that features play on its award-winning Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and unique golf park with 12 par-3 holes, plus an equestrian center, and ski trips to nearby slopes.
Cordero Ranch offers low-maintenance Freedom Homes by D.R. Horton, age-55+ lifestyle amenities like a community clubhouse, and a fully equipped fitness center with two pools in a convenient location south of Las Vegas in Henderson.
Ovation at Mountain Falls in the town of Pahrump near the California border is a new active-adult community with its own private recreation center and Mountain Falls amenities like award-winning golf and a huge pool complex.
Mountainside at Victory in the Verrado community near Phoenix welcomes age 55+ residents with home styles inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and lifestyle extras like resort pools and spa, hiking trails, clubhouse dining, and golf access.
Victory at Verrado features energy-efficient homes and fairway homesites with play on two golf courses, community clubhouse, fitness center, and water park in Buckeye near the attractions and services in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.