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There are some great places to see in the sun-baked state of Arizona, including one or two sites that you won’t find in the guide books. We start and end with a couple of attractions that are essential for movie fans.
1. Jefferson Hotel – Phoenix
109 South Central, Phoenix, AZ
Everyone knows the class Hitchcock movie Psycho from 1960. But I guess your first thought would be the Bates motel, the creepy building where that nice, nervous Norman looked after his mother. But, if you remember, the opening shot of Psycho featured a panoramic shot of downtown Phoenix and then homed in on Janet Leigh and John Gavin enjoying a lunchtime tryst in a steamy hotel – the Jefferson.
It was a pivotal scene because it explained Marion’s (Leigh’s) motivations to steal $40,000 and drive to California before her doomed meeting with Bates.
Today, the Jefferson is no longer a hotel and is now called the Barrister Place Building. But, never mind, the building now houses the Phoenix police museum. Set in only one suite (Suite 100), the museum holds tons of pictures, facts/figures, memorabilia and antique finds like handcuffs from the 1880s, a one-room jail, a police motorcycle, and much more.
So in a sense – and excuse the pun – because Norman Bates was a taxidermist, you’re killing two birds with one stone by visiting this site!
2. Arizona Science Center
600 E Washington St Phoenix, AZ
This is well worth a visit and, thankfully, just in time to celebrate a general free admission weekend over September 14-15.
This is a great place to find the answers to those life-altering questions you have always wanted to ask. Like, why do sidewalks have seams or why we get red-eye in photographs?
Permanent exhibits include one that enables you to learn how your body works and functions from the inside out! Walk through an enormous “working” stomach, complete with sights, sounds and smells of the digestive process. Explore the systems of the human body – from defense and immunity to cardio and pulmonary, digestive and skeletal. You can also hear your actual heartbeat as it is translated into sound on a bass drum. A truly great place for children – of all ages!
3. Desert Botanical Gardens
1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ
Arizona is a great, endless arid state where giant cacti bestride the sun-baked desert and summer temperatures easily top 100 degrees in the shade. But the early autumn is a much more comfortable time to visit.
The Desert Botanical Garden is a 140 acres botanical garden, established in 1939, that showcases some of the state’s top vegetation. It now has more than 21,000 plants, one-third of which are native to the area, including 139 species which are rare, threatened or endangered.
4. Arizona Capitol Museum
1700 W Washington St Phoenix, AZ
There’s no better way to learn about the history of Arizona, from territorial days and into the current century. Visit the first Governor’s Office, the original Congressional chamber and other great places. This museum lies in the government complex near downtown Phoenix. Nearby are memorials to various historical figures, individuals and organizations, as well as a 9/11 memorial.
5. Old Tucson
201 S Kinney Rd ,Tucson, AZ
In Old Tucson, just an hour-long drive from Phoenix, and 15 minutes from the city of Tucson itself at the base of the Tucson Mountains, is a preserved slice of Americana. Passing through the gates of a western frontier town, you find yourself in the center of streets right from those old cowboy movies. And, of course, it was a theme that resonated with the public because it was the setting for more than 300 movies and television productions filmed in the area since 1939.
John Wayne’s last collaboration with director Howard Hawks, Rio Lobo was, largely shot in old Tuscon. Lee Marvin, the great tough-guy actor, lived nearby and filmed several movies here, notably Monte Walsh – a gentle authentic Western with Jack Palance. An absolute must for movie-lovers!
We hope you enjoy all these wonderful sites! And the good news is that the best car rental rates are within easy reach.