Value is a many-splendored thing in and around Phoenix.
Striking desert backdrops anchor a thriving agri-tourism scene and a city primed for culture offers myriad group possibilities. Here are a few fun and creative options for exploring this vibe.
These offer one route for exploring the area’s agri-side. Harvesting adventures are typically combined with dining among peach groves at Schnepf Farms, olive oil tastings at the 100-acre Queen Creek Olive Mill or cooking, painting and yoga classes for 20 to 1,500 among the shade of The Farm at South Mountain’s pecan trees and other culinary-focused experiences.
“The agri-tourism experience attracts every type of group because of the uniqueness of the region,” explains James Jessie, senior VP of sales and services for Visit Phoenix. “Most groups will plan a half-day or day trip to visit the farms and olive oil orchard and stay at a local resort or downtown Phoenix hotel.”
Trek Back in Time
Groups can trek back in time to the area’s Wild West days at Rawhide Western Town’s replica frontier village. The 1880s-themed town offers a number of creative venues capable of holding hundreds of thousands when combined and stunt shows based on the antics of the Spanish-American War’s Rough Riders. The Wild West facades, dining and entertainment make Rawhide an interesting buyout option.
Next to Rawhide, Arizona’s American Indian influence (there are 22 federally-recognized tribes) opens the door to indigenous experiences, like the spa treatments found at the Native American-owned 500-room Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass. The Aji spa (and resort overall) reflects the Gila River Indian Community’s heritage and culture—from sacred salt and prickly pear red clay to creation story-inspired treatments. Mind, body and spirit wellness is an overarching theme at the spa, which combines massage with spirit-revving encounters such as marveling at the 1,500 wild mustangs that roam the community during a horseback riding adventure. The resort’s cultural concierge can also arrange storytelling and song programs that share ancient legends or art walks that showcase local pottery.
Groups can kick their heels in a good way at the School of Ballet Arizona, which offers dance classes—from belly dancing and ballroom to flamenco—in the heart of Phoenix to groups of all expertise levels. After mastering the basics, the “Horton Technique” class, focusing on Native American folk dance with Japanese, Javanese, Balinese and Afro-Caribbean elements, is sure to flip it all on its head. Consider kicking this up a notch with a dance-off of dance party.
Creative Event Venues
The city’s urban-chic Warehouse District is also a treasure trove for creative venues. One case in point is Warehouse 215, an early 20th-century linen laundry building with 13,000 sf of indoor/outdoor meeting space. The now full-service venue’s original brick walls, wood beam ceilings and clerestory windows still anchor the space, and it’s just a hop, skip and jump from Chase Field and the Phoenix Convention Center.
Another interesting venue is the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), housing over 16,000 instruments from around the world. During a 30-minute guided tour for 10 to 120, groups are immersed in the stories of the instruments, whether listening to a traditional Beijing Opera or a contemporary Ukrainian wedding procession, while VIP tours take this a step further with a behind-the-scenes look at the instrument collection and Music Theatre. The museum offers catering and entertainment to groups and MIM’s calendar overflows with themed signature events—from Silk Road experiences to Scandinavian music—as well so be sure to check their calendar for piggyback opportunities. MIM also partners with The Camby hotel for immersive musical experiences.