I saw that you’re teaching at the Bead Expo in Phoenix. It was kind
of cool to see a “friend” from Orchid in their class catalog.
There’s the Mining & Mineral Museum and the AZ Science Center nearby
- the Science Center is the closest, literally only a couple of
blocks away. It’s more of an activity/hands on type museum, but it’s
got some cool exhibits on geology/mining, including a demo of how
copper plating works. The Mining& Mineral Museum is a little further
to the west, near the Capitol. There’s also a kind of neat museum IN
the Capitol. Backtracking a bit, there is the AZ History Museum near
the Science Center. It used to be almost a “grandma’s attic” kind of
place, but since it’s moved, it’s improved considerably.
There’s the Heard Museum (Native American history and artifacts)
also closeto downtown, with the Phoenix Art Museum also in the
downtown area. Further afield (west), there’s the Bead Museum in
Glendale. Lots of galleries, etc in Scottsdale.
If you are interested in geology and natural history, I could really
overload you with sources from my days as a “Paleo Babe”. To the
east, there are museums in Tempe (ASU has a decent - but small -
geology museum). Mesa has the Arts Center and the Mesa Southwest
Museum in downtown Mesa. The Mesa Southwest Museum (MSM) is arguably
one of the best little natural history museums in the west. They
have a good collection of mineral specimens and meteorites as well
as a “flash flood” and dinosaurs, too. I have “friends” at both
places - at ASU is the partial skeleton of what I fondly call the
4th of July Mammoth that my son and I helped the ASU team & other
volunteers to excavate about 10 years ago. At MSM are “Little Tooth”
(a raptor) and his friend Zuniceratops from NM. I held “Little
Tooth’s” skull literally seconds after it was found and a few months
later, one of my daughters found some of his hand bones. I could
bore you to tears with “namedropping” all of the critters I’m well
acquainted with at MSM. Back in my Paleo Babe days, I did a lot of
behind the scenes volunteer work at MSM and in the field.
If you have time for a drive, you can go east on the Apache Trail.
There’s the Dolly - a steamboat cruise on Canyon Lake. Or, you could
visit Goldfield - which used to be a big gold producing mine.
Goldfield is a little “tourist trappy”, but it’s kind of neat - they
have mine tours and train rides as well as a museum about the Old
West’s ladies of the evening! If you don’t get as far as the Dolly,
there is also the Superstition Mountain museum. There is all kinds
of memorabilia there - from the chapel that was in an Elvis Presley
movie to blocks of marble from the construction of Roosevelt Dam.
(Teddy Roosevelt stuff, too.)
You can do rockhounding just about anywhere in the state - except on
the reservations. The Native American police don’t care for
rockhounds (pot hunters to them) at all! The only things that are
absolutely off limits in AZ are Native American artifacts (no pot
shards, no points, no charred bone) and vertebrate fossils, and, of
course, the entire Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon. There might be
restrictions in the National Parks and Forests as well as BLM land -
it’s been so long since my Paleo Babe days, things might have
changed drastically since then!
If you head far enough east to get to Apache Junction, PLEASE stop
by and see us at our bead store - AZ Bead Depot. We’ve only got
1,000 sq ft, so we don’t have a big store, but we have a lot of
stuff. The coffee pot is always on and I might even be persuaded to
break out some ice cream bars or popsicles! Besides, DH Mike and I
would welcome a chance to “pick your brain” for suggestions about
adding a metal working studio if/when our plans to expand come to
If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call!
Deb & Mike Weller