“In Arizona we salt margaritas not sidewalks.
We love Arizona for many reasons: the saguaro cactus in Tucson, the wonderful college town of Flagstaff, the sublime Grand Canyon, and the beauty of the Painted Desert. Not to mention the beautiful sunshine, especially in the winter when much of the United States is shoveling snow or salting sidewalks.
What doesn’t normally make our list is the metropolis of Phoenix and its surrounding suburbs. So it surprised even us when this area came up tops on our list for a new inline skating tour location – thanks to the hundreds of miles of paved, flat, smooth, and car-free trails that run along water canals in the region.
But it took us months of online research and two trips to the area to figure out both the best skating paths and the most desirable communities to visit for our Arizona Inline Skating Adventure. The result is a five-day skating tour (bicycles are welcome) with up to 126 miles of skating (if you choose the long route each day), the ability to rarely get in a van shuttle thanks to the network of connected trails, and stays in what we consider the two best cities in the Phoenix metro area.
We start in the city of Tempe, home to Arizona State University and, as such, a true college town with a vibrant restaurant scene, hopping night life, and tan and fit population of young folks exercising on the local trails. And the trails are excellent. We skate on the Rio Salado bike path along Lake Tempe on Day One and then skate from Tempe to Gilbert to Mesa on a network of canal paths on Day Two, passing mostly through rural areas. Our hotel is right in the heart of town with easy access to the trails and the nightlife.
On Day Three we skate from Tempe to Scottsdale. Scottsdale is one of the wealthiest cities in the area and the green parks and golf courses along the trails reveal this. It also, along with Tempe, is one of only three Gold Level bicycle-friendly communities in Arizona as designated by the League of American Bicyclists. What’s more, 43% of the city land is designated as Open Space.
Our path takes us across a pedestrian bridge over Tempe Lake and north through a series of these parks and golf courses, a vibrant green oasis in the desert, before we make a sharp turn along the Arizona Canal Trail to Old Town Scottsdale. The historic center is chock full of restaurants, shops, bars, and even wineries and our hotel is nestled between the canal trail and the center of Old Town.
On our fourth day we skate from Scottsdale through Papago Park, home to the Botanical Gardens and Phoenix Zoo, before making a long jaunt into Phoenix itself – the fifth municipality we skate in on the tour. Our final morning we do a “Skate for Breakfast”, which your guides will set up for you in Mountain View Park.
Our Arizona Inline Skating Adventure is centered on the skating, which is excellent, and the beautiful winter weather. But you will be pleasantly surprised by the fun cities of Tempe and Scottsdale, by the outstanding cuisine and fun night life, and by the many activities to do in this region of the world.
This itinerary has been organized as an inline skating tour. Cycling is also an option, and non-skaters are welcome to join.
Private Tour Info
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- Dates: February 9 - 13, 2024
- Cost Per Person: $3,150
- Single Supplement: $900
- Private Tour Minimum: 8
- Activities: Inline Skating or Biking
- Difficulty: Intermediate Skating Skills Required
- Guides: Allan Wright, Owner and Founder
Other Info: -> This is an inline skating tour. Bicyclists are welcome.
-> Optional bike rental for the entire tour is $35/day.
-> Private tour can be biking only.
- Enjoy one of the country's most incredible network of paved, flat, and car-free bicycle paths
- Skate up to 126 miles over five days if you choose the Long Route each day (short and medium routes always available)
- Stay in the fun college town of Tempe, home to Arizona State University
- Explore Old Town Scottsdale, chock full of restaurants, shops, bars, and wineries
- Skate (or bicycle) along canals, through the desert, past rural landscapes, and along green parks and golf courses
DAY 1: A Recreation Paradise
We meet after lunch at our hotel in Tempe, Arizona for a quick round of introductions and a preview of our vacation before starting off on our first skate (or ride). We begin at Tempe Lake, a dammed area of the Rio Salado (Salt River), where we skate both east and west on the south shore of the lake. The trail is either concrete or asphalt, you always have water on one side, and you can choose your own distance to skate or cycle. This is one of the more popular recreation areas in Tempe so you will see walkers, runners, and cyclists on the path and kayakers and paddle boarders on the lake. After our skate you can check into our downtown Tempe hotel, which we consider the finest resort-style hotel in the center of the city, and then we'll walk up Mill Street (center of nightlife for the town) and eat dinner at a lively local restaurant that features very flavorful (and not typically American) Mexican food in addition to delicious mixed drinks.
Distances: 10, 14, or 25 Miles
DAY 2: Rural and Suburban Arizona
We start the morning with an optional short hike up Hayden Butte (also known as A Mountain thanks to the large A representing the local university) followed by a walk through campus. ASU is large but surprisingly compact, with a lovely central walking core. We then gather to begin our skating/biking for the day. If yesterday was about an urban recreation highlight, today is about rural skating as we use a series of canal paths to skate from Tempe to Gilbert to Mesa. The skating is almost entirely smooth concrete (with small lines between slabs) and flat as a pancake with no motorized vehicles allowed. Much of it is through rural areas or past suburbs. We'll end up in Gilbert for lunch, which has a shocking 30 restaurants in its downtown Heritage District, a surprisingly quaint town for a Phoenix suburb. You'll have the option to return the way you came for the Short Route or continue on a series of other canal paths to extend your skate. This evening, we dine at Zephyr owner Allan's favorite Arizona restaurant, which bills itself as a "healthy restaurant specializing in Greek, Mediterranean, Lebanese, Middle Eastern, vegetarian and vegan dishes made from fresh ingredients." If you have energy after dinner, we can visit the Mill Cue Club for pool or the "Low Key Piano Bar" with dueling pianos.
Distances: 10, 18, 26, or 36 Miles
DAY 3: Scottsdale's Greenways
This morning you have a non-skating choice to make. We'll offer two activities: a hike in the South Mountain Park Preserve to experience the desert landscape or kayaking on Tempe Lake. We will then check out of our hotel; lunch is on your own in Tempe. In the afternoon, we'll start our skating and biking for the day. Scottsdale is often considered the best of the Phoenix region's cities. It has a ton of preserved open space, beautiful sandstone buttes, a fantastic historic Old town, and an incredible network of bicycle paths situated in long greenways. We again skate right from Tempe, cross Tempe Lake on a pedestrian bridge, and travel through a long series of parks and golf courses on a paved path the entire way. Honestly, except for the sunshine and tanned faces, you might forget you are in a desert. Our path ends up in Old Town Scottsdale, where you can check into our central hotel (the area favorite with a great outdoor pool and bar) before showering and relaxing by the pool before we head out to dinner.
Distances: 13, 20, or 25 Miles
DAY 4: A Day of Adventure
After breakfast at our hotel, we'll skate right from our hotel onto the Arizona Canal Path that runs through Old Town Scottsdale. We'll then veer off when it connects with the Cross Cut Canal Path, heading south into Papago Park. Papago Park is actually located in both Phoenix and Tempe and is home to the Phoenix Zoo, Desert Botanical Garden, and beautiful sandstone buttes. Our canal trail takes us right along the eastern edge of the park and then straight into its central area. You can choose to turn around here for the short route or continue on, where the real adventure begins. We come to one of the only hills on the trip, an uphill paved path that brings us up Papago Buttes, where you will enjoy an outstanding view of the scenic park and the surrounding region. (Advanced skaters can skate this. Others might want to walk this short stretch.) We continue on through some urban connections to the long Grand Canal Path that takes us into suburban areas of Phoenix. We'll return to Old Town Scottsdale for lunch, where you can choose one of the approximately 100 restaurants in the compact central area. You can then shower, enjoy the pool, and wander the streets to check out the art galleries and shops of town. Before dinner, we'll visit the local Goldwater Brewing or do a short wine-tasting walking tour of Arizona-based wineries with downtown tasting rooms. This evening, we'll enjoy our final dinner at the Tortilla Factory, known not only for its homemade specialty tortillas but for excellent and creative Mexican food.
Distances: 9, 16, or 26 Miles
DAY 5 Skate for Breakfast
This morning we start off directly from our hotel and skate on the Arizona Canal Path and the Indian Bend Wash Trail to reach Mountain View Park. There, your guides will have prepared a nice continental picnic breakfast to reward your efforts. Return is via a different route, making a nice "Popsicle Stick" loop ride. We'll shower back at the hotel and check out before you can choose to head to the airport or extend your stay in Arizona.
Distances: 6 or 14 MilesBook this Tour
NIGHTS 1 & 2 >> TEMPE MISSION PALMS / TEMPE, AZ
The Tempe Mission Palms is a "retreat" hotel where you will get lost in the expansive courtyard, the palm trees, and the outdoor pool. Yet the hotel is located in the heart of the vibrant Mill Street area of Tempe, within a short walk to Arizona State University, Hayden Butte, and our skating paths along Tempe Lake. Tempe Mission Palms is an AAA Four Diamond rated hotel and will make you feel like you are on vacation in Arizona - which you are! (Note: This is a very nice hotel and not inexpensive in the Arizona tourist months but we think it is worth it.)
NIGHTS 3 & 4 >> HOTEL VALLEY HO / SCOTTSDALE, AZ
The Hotel Valley Ho is perfectly located between the Arizona Canal Path and the heart of Old Town Scottsdale. It provides us with ideal access to the network of skating trails we use on this tour and to Scottsdale's many restaurants, bars, and shops. Billing itself as "historically hip", the four-star hotel opened in 1956 and features an incredible pool with an indoor - outdoor bar and restaurant. This is an unusual hotel in Old Town Scottsdale - a combination of style, comfort, and luxury - that is a rarity and worth the extra cost.Book this Tour
Arrival & Departure
We meet you just after lunch in Tempe, Arizona. If you arrive that day, you might not be able to check into your hotel and so we suggest you be dressed for skating or biking. After short introductions and a preview of the tour, we are off on our first skate of the week. On the last day of the tour, we'll have time for a morning skate/ride and a quick shower before we check out of the hotel. You will be free to catch a ride to the airport or extend your stay in Arizona.
- At least two Zephyr guides accompany each trip and a third is added as necessary.
- Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are coming on a trip solo, you have two options: 1) Pay the single supplement to receive your own room. 2) Ask us to try to find you a roommate of the same gender to share a room with; if we are not successful you will be charged the single supplement and receive your own room.
- All of your dinners and breakfasts are included. Gratuity for these meals is also included. In general, we leave lunches open so that you have time to explore and enjoy the local flavors en route.
- All your transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day.
- All trail fees and permits are included.
- NOT INCLUDED Beverages, desserts, lunches, gratuities to your guides, personal expenses and travel to and from the destination.
February in this part of Arizona is beautiful. The average historical daytime high is 72 degrees while the overnight low is a brisk (but not for most of the country) 40 degrees. The area sees on average only four days of rain in the month. So you can expect warm, sunny days perfect for outdoor exercise but be prepared for the occasional rain storm or cold spell.
Extending Your Stay
We like the idea of arriving a day early to avoid any travel mishaps. Spending an extra night in Tempe is a good option in this case. For longer extensions of your vacation, Arizona has much to offer. However, keep in mind that the highlands (Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, for example) are much colder than the Scottsdale/Tempe area. We still love visiting the Grand Canyon in February when crowds are lower but pack accordingly. Sedona is a beautiful town (if a bit full of tourists). Tucson can provide you with a real desert experience if you visit the twin segments of Saguaro National Park.
Changes to Your Itinerary
While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance! We will attempt to keep our website itinerary as current as possible and communicate any major changes with you in the weeks prior to the tour.
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