Frank Lloyd Wright was in his 60s and had already revolutionized American architecture when he established Taliesin West (franklloydwright.org/taliesin-west), the winter home of his architectural school, in the Scottsdale foothills in 1937. The grounds became his architectural laboratory, with his apprentices building structures and landscapes he designed. Today, these spaces stand as a testament to some of his most profound architectural principles, which you can explore on guided tours, which range from $25 to $70.
Wright’s connection to Central Arizona dates to the late 1920s, when he consulted on the AAA Four Diamond Arizona Biltmore hotel, designed by one of his students, Albert Chase McArthur. Completed in 1929, the hotel’s original structure was built of sandstone blocks crafted on-site in a manner similar to that of Wright’s textile-block homes of the 1920s. The Biltmore Blocks are among the highlights of the guided history tours the hotel offers to the public. Rates from $237 per night. 800-950-0086.
Wright’s influence is apparent at another AAA Four Diamond hotel in downtown Scottsdale, Hotel Valley Ho, whose architect, Edward Varney, also studied under Wright. The Valley Ho became a go-to spot for Hollywood elites when it opened in 1956, and a major renovation completed in 2005 restored the midcentury-modern shine to its rooms, restaurant, and cocktail lounge. Rates from $229 per night. 480-376-2600.
Wright’s touch is also on display at the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. Built after Wright’s death in 1959, the auditorium is based on his plans finalized by a trusted aide. The circular building features a “floating” tier of seats, sublime acoustics, and a pinkish exterior covered in locally quarried rose quartz. The 3,000-seat venue hosts touring Broadway productions and other performances. Tours are available by appointment. 480-965-6912; asugammage.com.
4. Hike among saguaros and sandstone