When temperatures plunge during Canada’s long winters, many residents head south for a vacation or to spend most of the winter in a warmer climate. Many go to Arizona, where mild daytime temperatures and sunny blue skies invite easy outdoor living. If you are an expat living in Canada, you may also want a break from the cold Canadian winter. Consider vacationing in Arizona—see why Canadians love it there.
Warm Winters with Plenty to Do
Each year, in anticipation of Canada’s deep freeze, many people in Canada plan their “escape.” Come winter; vacationers head to Arizona in the United States for the warmth and arid landscape that yields a distinctly Southwestern picture of winter—one of the mountains, mesas, riveting rock formations, flowering cacti, and desert.
Arizona beckons you with bright clear days to visit nearby towns, golf and hit the trails for biking and hiking across stunning landscapes. A mecca for exploring and enjoying the Southwest United States, the state is easy to travel in and out of, whether you’re flying or driving, and its cities provide ample housing options and activities.
Many vacationers travel from Canada to the U.S. by car and recreational vehicles, especially those staying for multiple weeks or months. But you can easily fly to Arizona for winter vacations as well. If you’re flying, you have your choice of non-stop routes from Canada to Tucson International Airport,Phoenix Sky Harbor International ,and other connecting flights and surrounding regional airports.
Where to stay
There are plenty of hotels, condo and house rentals, RV parks, and camping grounds can be found in Arizona—though reservations are always recommended. So, think about the length of your stay, if you like amenities or roughing it, what activities you want nearby, and let your budget guide your decision.
Once you know where you want to vacation or what accommodations you’re interested in, some basic online research should yield options from one week to longer. The state’s winter vacation season coincides with its “snowbird” population when many visitors stay for up to six months within the October to June timeframe, so start planning early.
Towns to visit and explore
Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, and Sedona are a few of the favorite Arizona towns that attract winter visitors. Their proximity to Phoenix and Tucson international airports is one reason they’re popular, and they each have attractions that make them great warm-weather vacation spots. However, you should know that Arizona also gets snow—just not like Canada. Typically in January, Arizona’s temps hover in the mid-60°F degrees (18°C) vs. a high of 21°F (-6°C) in Edmonton.
Almost everyone who vacations in Arizona talks about the mountains, deserts, and open sky in all directions. So it’s not surprising many adventures get you closer to the stunning nature around you. Book a hot air ballooning excursion at sunrise or sunset; join a kayak tour on the Salt River, or hop in an off-road UTX vehicle to explore the Sonoran Desert. Can’t wait to visit the Grand Canyon? Sign up for a day trip by van or helicopter that explores this amazing area and its sights.
Activities and events found in Arizona’s popular winter vacation areas
As the capital city, Phoenix and its surrounding neighborhoods offer visitors larger city features like museums and a thriving arts culture. The town’s cowboy heritage and native arts are seen in its architecture, galleries, and cooperative studios. Allow yourself an hour to walk through the fascinating 140-acre Desert Botanical Garden, which also offers dining and special events. And if you’re a baseball fan, you may already know about the Cactus League, Phoenix’s Major League Baseball Spring Training league, and stadiums for 15 teams. Baseball fans can purchase tickets to the pre-season games played at the 10 stadiums in the Phoenix area. And if you like golfing, you’re lucky because there are about 200 courses in the Greater Phoenix area alone.
Just west of Phoenix is Scottsdale where you’ll find championship golf courses, spas, and upscale restaurants. Along with galleries and shopping, the Arts District focuses on Old Western and native art. For western fun, take in the annual rodeos and cowboy events. And for a workout, hike in the Sonoran Desert with its identifiable 40 to 60 feet tall (12 to 18 meter) saguaro cacti that prong the vista.
If you like horses and will be in Scottsdale in February, toss on your cowboy hat and head to the annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, where nearly 2,400 horses from around the world compete annually.
Tucked into the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Tucson offers opera, symphony, and other arts as well as many restaurants. And it’s a very bike-friendly city. With more than 130 miles of paths, the Chuck Huckelberry Loop makes it one of the top cycling cities in the U.S. If you don’t have your bike, Tucson has several bike rental options, and for running errands or sightseeing, the Tugo Bike Share program has over 40 stations across the city.
People visit magnetic Sedona for its thriving arts community, new age vibe, and the 1.8 million acres of national pine forests, canyons, giant red rock formations, and desert wildlife surrounding the town. Many people believe Sedona has energy vortexes and natural geomagnetic points that create an energy center beneficial to all, and Native Americans consider the area sacred. Inside the town, foodies can be happy for days dining at the town’s wide-ranging restaurants. And you’ll find flourishing wineries to visit in the area.
Daytrippers love to explore the dramatic scenery of Red Rock Park where you can hike, bike, go bird watching and explore. Check out the uncrowded, easy 1.9-mile Sugarloaf Loop.
Sending Money Ahead for Pick Up
Before you leave Canada for Arizona, consider transferring money so you’ll have cash available in US dollars for living expenses when you arrive. Sending money from Canada to the U.S. ahead of time with Western Union means you don’t have to be concerned about traveling with all your vacation money. Instead, pick up your cash at one of Western Union’s convenient locations in Arizona. You can transfer money easily and reliably from the Western Union app on your phone or through the website. And you can quickly figure out an estimated conversion from Canadian to U.S. dollars here.