Three Days of Elevated Adventure in Superior, Arizona
“Adventure, elevated” is exactly right—and it’s exactly what we all want right about now. As you look into 2021 and beyond for your next getaway, raise your sights a little higher to Superior, Arizona.
The ultimate—Superior—mountain town vacation combines welcoming, small-town vibes with epic, accessible adventures and wraps them up in tasty local food and breathtaking views. Tucked against Picketpost Mountain, this high-mountain desert town has piles of character and even more outdoor recreation in store. “Adventure, elevated” is exactly right—and it’s exactly what we all want right about now. As you look into 2021 and beyond for your next getaway, raise your sights a little higher to Superior.
This story was created in partnership with Superior, Arizona.
Day 1: Superlatives in Superior, Arizona
Rise early and pick up breakfast at Buckboard City Cafe. Pair a big breakfast of biscuits and gravy with a visit to the World’s Smallest Museum, located on site. Learn a bit about the world’s largest Apache Tear—a naturally forming stone known for bringing good luck—before starting your adventure. Today, you’ll get the lay of the Superior land on the LOST (Legends of Superior Trail). Nearly 12 miles long, you can opt to hike or bike it, and you can also choose any number of the five segments of trail to suit your energy level and time. Learn about the mountains and history that surround you as you cover the trail and get to know Superior, especially if you take the Superior Town Center Segment or the Miners and Ranchers Segment.
Rest your feet while you enjoy lunch at Porter’s Cafe, or grab and go from Superior Farmer’s Market. Where are you going next? To another superlative attraction: the largest and oldest botanical garden in all of Arizona. The Boyce Thompson Arboretum in the Sonoran Desert is 392 acres of beauty beneath the Picketpost Mountain. Spend some time learning about desert flora and about the history of Superior.
After a day that big, you’ve earned a world-class meal at The Ladle at Hotel Magma. If you’re lucky enough to have booked a room here, your last walk of the day is a short one from your table to your bed!
Day 2: Reach New Heights in Superior, Arizona
The most important meal today will be a breakfast burrito from the Superior Farmer’s Market, as you’re headed out for some adrenaline! If you’re a rock climber, point the car in the direction of Queen Creek. Slowly becoming a not-so-well-kept secret among climbers, this area boasts a plethora of bouldering problems and still-innumerable sport climbing routes. Bring your chalk and your strength, as well as snacks, water, and sunscreen.
If heights don’t really appeal to you, best to stay safe and sound in your car … or Jeep … or golf cart! Book a tour with a local guide and explore the landscapes of Superior with an expert. Superior Tour Company offers all kinds of packages, based on your interests … right down to ghost hunting and star gazing. Of course, you can always take the wheel (or throttle) yourself and hit the off-roading routes. Whatever you choose, remember to Leave No Trace so you can keep coming back to enjoy Superior.
After your chosen morning adventure, grab lunch at Miner’s on Main for a retro dining atmosphere. Your afternoon will start right outside the door, as now is your time to mosey about the very walkable town to take in some art. Look for murals about town, and be sure to step into local shops to peruse art and goods by local artists. Take a mid-afternoon break at the Bruzzi Vineyard Tasting Room, and be sure you’re walking down Main during the Golden Hour of dusk. The views of Picketpost Mountain will stop you in your tracks. The evening may even include live music from Porters or Music in the Park. Take your time and enjoy the charming feel of Superior.
If you’re not staying at Hotel Magma, make your way to your campsite in the Tonto National Forest or Box 8 Ranch for stargazing as you drift off, or stroll across town to the artistic Casita Azule Bed and Breakfast or the funky Copper Mountain Motel.
Day 3: The Arizona Trail, Elevated
You can’t adventure in Superior without spending some time on The Arizona Trail. Pick up a cup of joe and a slice of the daily bread at Juan’s Central Bakery and make your way to the Picketpost Trailhead to explore up to 41.5 miles of “One of the best AZT segments. Hands down,” according to MTBProject. Roll past saguaros, through tiny green oases, over rocky sections and up to Red Mountain before enjoying the ride back down to the trailhead. Ride as far and as long as your heart—and legs—desire before making your way back to town for one last celebratory meal to top off your stay.
Return to your favorite restaurant or try something new. In the morning, pick up a souvenir, as well as a coffee and pastry at Mountainside Coffee to savor as you drive out of town and plan your return.
Casey A. Traveler, writer, editor