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Advanced reservations for the Dolly Steamboat are recommended during holiday weekends. East of Phoenix, less than an hour’s drive, an refreshing lake is a favorite with locals. An oasis in the desert, it’s a great place to cruise, ski, sail, swim or picnic. An restaurant serves up food when you’re hungry (camping areas and fishing sites allow you to settle down for long-term recreation). Along the banks you’ll find trails for hiking and exploring. You can even schedule a ride on the Dolly Steamboat and look out across gorgeous vistas of water and mountains. A great escape for the weekend or the afternoon.

If you’re looking for an romantic outing, you can’t miss with a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden. Great weather, beautiful desert scenery and big city sophistication make Phoenix a great place to stoke the fires of romance. The garden’s stunning display of wildflowers and cacti, meandering brick pathways, and a farm-to-table restaurant on-site make this a good first date destination. Head to South Mountain Park, if you’re looking for one of the most romantic look-out points in the city (taking the main road up the mountain to Dobbin’s Lookout, where families and couples gather in the evening to watch the sun go down over the valley).

You can go to the Tempe Beach Park and Town Lake in nearby Tempe (the college town’s top recreational destination features a two-mile lake that visitors can explore via pedal boat). Enjoy a romantic picnic on the waterfront, grab a cup of gelato from a nearby kiosk. For a day of urban sophistication, head to central Phoenix for a visit to the Phoenix Art Museum (are a must-see for art lovers, and couples will enjoy exploring the museum’s galleries, gift shop, and enjoying lunch at Palette, the museum cafe).

Tours depart from the Visitor Center, where guests ride aboard a tram for a tour of the property’s 44 acres before arriving at the castle. Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights is open for public tours. The iconic castle-like mansion (some say it resembles a tiered wedding cake), dazzles from miles away on its hillside location on Van Buren Street. Now, the historic structure is open for ticketed public tours. Tours are approximately two hours (and include access to the main floor and basement, extensive grounds and cactus gardens).

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