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Best Weekend Adventure

Best Weekend Adventure

Mount Lemmon

READERS' PICK: Tucson's answer to the day-to-day blahs, Mount Lemmon fills so many needs it's hard to break them down: You want to see trees? Feel a cool breeze on your sun-blanched skin? A nice view of the city lights? A place to camp, hike, ski, rock climb, or mountain bike? Maybe you're just tired of cars and busy streets and want to get away for a couple of days. This is definitely the place to hit if you're a transplant during the (lack of) fall. Down here, there aren't any trees to turn colors, but 6,000 feet up, the aspen are about to kick bloomin' asp! The possibilities are endless. As Ed Abbey once observed (we paraphrase), it's important to have wilderness, even if we never go there. For Abbey it was Alaska: Even if he never went there, he felt better just knowing it existed. Every stifling morning, Tucsonans should wake up and thank the heavens for putting us near such a beautiful, wondrous place as Mt. Lemmon.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: You say the Old Pueblo's got you down? You're tired of the heat, the traffic? A mere 90 miles to the southeast Bisbee beckons. At first glance the newcomer might pass it off as another disillusioned old copper-mining town. True, the mines closed a few years back, but Bisbee still has its own quirky charm, like a shot of Jaegermeister. Sure, they have all the usual sorts of tourist clap-trap; but there's a unique mojo to the place--especially the nightlife--that'll surprise even the most jaded prospectors. Definitely hit the copper-mining tour, where you get literally shafted on an old railway car; and wash the grit out of your mouth at the Grand Hotel Saloon, which boasts a fine selection of tequilas and a huge pool table. Bisbee also has a world-class Italian restaurant, Café Roka, right down the block. And take off your metaphorical spurs before entering the rough-and-tumble St. Elmo's saloon, where the drinks are poured with some velocity. For those less inclined to night life, there are plenty of shops specializing in antiques, used books, fine arts and lots and lots of coffee. Bisbee boasts that it's home to the country's best climate--which is maybe a stretch--but up in the Mule Mountains (elevation 5,280 feet) it's a good five to 10 degrees cooler than Tucson. With all the friendly people, from loopy artists to crusty old-timers, you can count on something peculiar going on everywhere you look.

STAFF PICK: Just four hours away, on the shores of the Sea of Cortez, lies the magical seaside kingdom of Puerto Peñasco, a veritable vacation paradise. This weekend getaway features beautiful beaches, resort accommodations, budget-gourmet dining, music, dancing and--best of all--really cheap beer in really large quantities. It's a surreal ciudad, isolated yet always perched on the peninsula of quasiconsciousness. No lie: We swear we've been born again here, baptized in the gulf waters, our bodies healed, our spirits repaired. Sure, there's the occasional grump who complains it's a vacation spot only a Bedouin could love, but we'll always see it as God's country.

Case History

1998 Winner: Mount Lemmon
1997 Winner: Mount Lemmon
1995 Winner: Bisbee

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