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By Michael Hammett Day trips Peoria is the perfect starting point for some Arizona's most well known attractions. While Arizona is well known as the home of the Grand Can-yon, our nation's 48th state also boasts the largest Ponderosa pine forest in the world, a historic Route 66 town, the London Bridge, water playgrounds and so much more. And it's all just a short drive away from Peoria — all you need to do is decide which direction you want to head. Northern exposure: 2.5 hours Williams, Arizona, is easy to find. Just take Interstate 17 north un-til you reach Interstate 40 and head west. Known as the " Gateway to the Grand Canyon," this Route 66 town is like a postcard from the past, with great restaurants and museums. It's also where you catch the train to the Grand Canyon for a two- hour ride each way. " The train ride is phenomenal," said Donna Eastman, president and CEO of the Williams Chamber of Commerce. " It's a great way to experience history." The Canyon's newest offering is the Skywalk – a glass bridge suspended 4,000 feet above the Canyon floor and located in the Hualapai ( Wall- uh- pie) Nation. " It's absolutely breathtaking," East-man said. But getting there isn't easy. You can drive or catch a quick flight – but you'll need an extra day. While up north, don't miss Sedona, known for its magnificent " red rocks" and fabled vortexes, and Jerome, a former mining town turned artists colony. Stop by the Jerome Winery – located on a hill high above town – for a glass or two, cheeses of the world and one heck of a view. Far East experience: 90 minutes From Phoenix, take U. S. Highway 87 ( the Beeline) through Pay-son to U. S. Highway 260 East, and drive 17 miles east to Kohl's Ranch Lodge. " Everyone comes for the snow," said Greg Hart, general manager. " People think Arizona is all cactus, but we are at almost 6,000 feet." The ranch is set amid the largest Ponderosa pine forest in the world. One benefit of the forest is some of the purest air in the world – think of it as a vacation for your lungs. It's just a 45- min-ute drive to the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park where you can explore the world's largest travertine bridge. You'll wonder why it's not considered a natural wonder. Ask for directions. Going south: 2 hours Take Interstate 10 south to Tucson, Arizona. It's a lot like Phoenix was back in the 1970s – less of a metropolis, more a large desert town. There's plenty to see and do and it's close to other great places to explore, like Tubac, home to the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, the first state park in Arizona. You can walk in the footsteps of Captain Juan Bautista de Anza ( circa 1774) and tour the Tumacacori Mission, just a few miles away. Tubac is also an artist colony offering great shopping, restaurants and more. " Our motto is: ' Where art and history meet,'" said Victoria Sikora, a member of the historical society. Go west: 3.5 hours Take I- 10 west to US 95 ( roughly two hours), travel north to Park-er Dam and follow the signs to Lake Havasu City. Featuring 450 miles of shoreline and every kind of water sport you can image – even a paddleboat adventure – Lake Havasu is the second home of the historic London Bridge. It was relocated from England in the late 1960s. There's also a water shuttle that will deliver you to a California casino in less than 20 minutes. Feel like winging it? Visit Peoria's Turf Soaring School for a tranquil glider flight. Or lift off in a hot air balloon at Deer Valley Airport for an amazing bird's- eye tour of the area. For motorized flight, take off at any one of the nearby general aviation airports, including Deer Valley and Glendale Municipal. If you prefer your engines on the ground, rev up a stock car or bomber car on Canyon Speedway Park's dirt track, or watch the action from the stands. Get up and go! TOP: The u- shaped Skywalk platform, suspended 4,000 feet above the Colorado River, is perhaps the most spectacular way to view the Grand Canyon. ABOVE: A great many talented artists call Tubac, Ariz., home. www. visitpeoriaaz. com • PEORIA, ARIZONA 23