As part of the city of Peoria, Vistancia is only minutes away from several well-respected institutions of higher learning, including the American Graduate School of International Management, Arizona State University, Western International University, Ottowa University and several Maricopa Community Colleges.
Lake Pleasant Regional Park is a 23,662-acre park ideal for boating, camping, water skiing, sailing and fishing. It is located within the city limits and has established the town as the "Gateway to Lake Pleasant." The McDowell Mountain Range, Mummy Mountain, the Continental Mountains, the Camelback Mountains, Tonto National Forest, Lost Dutchman State Park and Granite Mountain State Preserve offer hiking, camping, mountain biking, off-roading and horseback riding. Three lakes in Tonto National Forest, the Salt River and the Verde River provide places to fish, boat, and swim. Whitewater rafting down the Verde River is an exhilarating experience. A more sedate, but equally cool time can be had tubing in the Salt River. The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation offers golf, hunting, cattle drives, hayrides, trail rides, jeep tours and river rafting on their Reservation bordering Northeast Phoenix and Scottsdale.
For sports enthusiasts, the Valley of the Sun is host to the PGA Tour's Phoenix Open, the Arizona Open Golf Tournament, the State Farm Women's Tennis Classic and the Franklin Templeton Tennis Classic. Phoenix is home to the Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), Phoenix Suns (NBA), Arizona Cardinals (NFL), Phoenix Coyotes (NHL), Phoenix Mercury (WNBA), Arizona Rattlers (arena football), and the Fiesta Bowl. The Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres baseball teams run their spring training camps at the world-class Peoria Sports Complex. Fans can watch the teams play practice games in what is known as the Cactus League. For those who want to do rather than watch, there are more than 300 golf courses in the Valley of the Sun along with tennis courts, racquetball courts and swimming pools. Other activities include hot air ballooning and tours by jeep, horse, bike, foot, or helicopter, thoroughbred horse racing and high-speed adventure at the Phoenix International Raceway. An abundance of fairs, livestock shows and rodeos enhance the city's southwestern flavor, and concerts take place year-round.
Arts and culture continue to develop and provide another dimension to Peoria. Indoor entertainment at Frank Lloyd Wright's Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium and the Phoenix Symphony Hall is outstanding. The historic Central School houses the Peoria Museum, where visitors can learn more about their local history. Museums throughout the area celebrate Native Americans, Spanish and Mexican heritage and the Old West with art and artifacts. The Hoo-Hoogam Ki Tribal Museum houses Native American cultural items. The Heard Museum contains large collections of Indian art and cultural items, along with antique and contemporary European art. The Phoenix Art Museum houses contemporary and historic art works from Latin America, Europe, Asia and the West. The Shemer Art Center is in an historic Spanish-style house and features traditional and contemporary art.
Other area museums include the Arizona Science Center with a planetarium and hands-on exhibits, the Deer Valley Rock Art Center with nature trails and petroglyphs, and the unusual Hall of Flame Fire fighting Museum which features fire fighting equipment, photos and memorabilia. The Fleischer Museum is home to more than 200 Impressionist paintings, done in the California school style. Interesting structures dot the landscape at the Consanti Art Studio. Paolo Soleri has his studio here and displays his ceramic windmills and wind chimes. Taliesen West, a National Historic Landmark, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as a winter residence.
Native Americans were the first to inhabit the Valley of the Sun. They farmed the area for more than a thousand years. Ruins can be found throughout Arizona, including a five-story structure used by the Sinagua Indians more than 600 years ago. There are 21 Indian tribes in Arizona today. They continue to live much as their ancestors did. Many sell their wares in galleries and on their Reservation. Some tribes allow visitors at their festivals. The early 1700s marked the influx of Mexican and Spanish peoples to the Valley of the Sun. The Latin influence remains strong today in art, architecture, food, and entertainment. The Old West and the life of the cowboy are preserved throughout Arizona at dude ranches, historical parks and in museums. Rawhide Western Town in Scottsdale features gun slinging street performers, stage shows and an old-time saloon.
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