Backyard Discoveries: Unexpected Beauty at Arcosanti

Part of the fun of traveling is doing something unplanned.

I was driving back down from Northern Arizona where I had just gone snowboarding (aka, falling on my behind allllll the way down a small hill) for the first time, and I saw the sign for Arcosanti.

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From what I knew about Arcosanti, which was admittedly very little, it was small artistic community. Already late in the afternoon, I wasn’t sure if they’d be open. WERE they even open to the public? If so, would they be open now – did art even HAVE hours?

I shrugged and took the exit anyway. I had time and nothing to lose.

The exit made way to a dirt road which eventually wound its way to the entrance (I took a little longer than usual to make some excited noises at a few cows on the side of the road who continued to not care about my existence).

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I was greeted by a sign that gave me pause. An urban laboratory? What kind of diabolical experiments could be taking place here? Completely unsure what that meant, I continued on (bravely, stupidly or both) to meet my fate.

And I was pleasantly surprised by a light breeze, blowing through the open plateau of space that the Arcosanti visitor center sits on, the bronze and ceramic bells hanging around the property awake with noise.

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The bells are everywhere across Arcosanti, created by artists-in-residence (and sold on-site and online if you want to get your paws on ‘em). No bell is quite the same – different shapes, sizes and designs – but all of them bear the mark of Paolo Soleri.

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Soleri was the founder, the dreamer, the architect of Arcosanti. You learn more about Paolo and how they’ve kept his hope of a self-sustaining and eco-friendly community alive if you take the tour. Tours run about an hour starting at 10 a.m. and are donations-based, so BE NICE. Check their website or call to be sure, because they do charge for specialty tours (non-English, etc.). I also 100% recommend the tour because if you don’t join a tour, you’re not allowed to wander. Which means you’re stuck at the visitor’s center and miss all the history, learning about how the Arcosanti runs now and seriously cool architecture.

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The next time you find yourself driving (up or down) the I-17 in Arizona, pop over to Arcosanti for some artistic inspiration (and then stop at Rock Springs Cafe for some pieeeeeee). Or, wherever your travels may take you, think about doing something a little out of the ordinary – it might just end of being one of your favorite parts of the trip.

Stay weird!

xx,
Katie

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50 Comments

    • tigasngulo

      they’re so pretty! and each one is different. i think that’s why they also make great gifts, because you won’t find something similar anywhere else.

  1. kage2015

    Now aren’t you glad you took the time to check this out. Sounds like a place I would enjoy.

    • tigasngulo

      i’m so glad! if you’re ever around northern arizona, you should definitely take time to check it out.

  2. I love the flow of your writing. It seems like you stumbled upon a cool place. Great pictures!

    • tigasngulo

      thanks sarah! : )

      definitely like a little artistic oasis in the desert.

  3. brookegrasso

    I love the artistic and architectural elements here! Plus, Arizona is great! Love this post.

    • tigasngulo

      thank you! not only is it captivating artistically and architecturally, but learning how the community tries to live a communal and eco-friendly lifestyle is really interesting.

  4. Amber

    This place looks so cool! I’d love to check it out.

  5. Looks like a great place!

  6. So Arizona is a place where I really want to go. I keep telling my husband we need to do a road trip. Those bells look huge. Are they or is it a phot trick?

    • tigasngulo

      i love arizona! and maybe i’m biased as a resident, but there’s a lot of stuff like this to be found here, plus really great outdoor adventures.

      and the bells aren’t that huge, haha. just a close-up photo.

  7. Neha Saini

    I have never visited Northern Arizona but glad to see all the pictures. you really had fun 🙂

    • tigasngulo

      i really did! i’m still discovering new places in az, and i’ve been around here for most of my life.

  8. That’s really cool that you were able to find an awesome place right near you! I live in New Mexico so I know all about these hidden gems <3

    • tigasngulo

      i’ve never been to new mexico – but i’ve heard good things! i need to put that on my travel list next, especially since you’re our neighbor state.

  9. bruceschinkel19

    Love discoveries like this one! I’ve never stopped at Arcosanti while visiting AZ, but i’ll now need to the next time 🙂

    • tigasngulo

      i would! and if you’re feeling like you want a taste of how community-living at arcosanti would be, they actually do have guest rooms available.

  10. Sounds like such a cool find! Love spontaneous activities like that!

  11. wow!!! That is so pretty. I’ve only been to Arizona once but I saw a lot of it by bus. There is so much to see!

    • tigasngulo

      there really is! hopefully the next time you’re in az, you get to explore on foot and not just by bus. : )

  12. I am headed to AZ this summer I am going to add this to my list. What a wonderful find:)

    • tigasngulo

      ooh, then think about staying at arcosanti if you have time! they have guest rooms and i’m sure it’s fun experience. maybe i’ll be reading your post then, haha.

  13. Haven’t been to northern Arizona or in Arizona per se. And I agree wiyh you that most spontaneous trips are the most memorable.

    • tigasngulo

      you should think about visiting – especially if you’re a fan of the outdoors! just watch out for our summer, because as i’m sure you’ve heard, it can be brutal. az is in the desert, after all.

  14. Love that you explored somewhere unexpected – those are often the best places!! 🙂 Xx Eleonore

    http://www.eleonoreeverywhere.com

    • tigasngulo

      totally agree! i think that if you don’t give the weird roadside stands, dives and more a try every so often, you could be missing out on something great.

  15. Ooh what a cool place! Looks like a great place to relax and spend some time.

    • tigasngulo

      it’s also worth noting that the area arcosanti is in tends to be cooler than phoenix, so if you need a break from (some) of the desert heat, it’s a good place to go.

  16. That sounds so interesting! I love finding random places like this, and love your sense of adventure! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • tigasngulo

      random finds often lead to the most pleasant of surprises! thanks for reading!

  17. This looks really cool! It’s always good when people highlight these places you might not find on your own. Thanks for posting!

    • tigasngulo

      you’re welcome! i’m just trying to give arizona some love – there’s a lot to explore here.

  18. Woah, prior to this post, I’ve never heard of this beautiful place before! This makes me want to pay a visit! 🙂 Great blog post!

    Ressa
    @ressamazing

  19. This is great discoveries of local place. You must be pleased with what you found there.
    ♥ Fillia@thereforewego

  20. filliabarden

    You must be pleased with what you found there. This is a great local discoveries.
    ♥ Fillia@thereforewego

    • tigasngulo

      i was! you don’t always have to travel across the globe to find something great.

  21. This is what I love about taking an adventure, the beautiful and inspirational finds along the way. I absolutely would love to visit here, your photography is fab!

    • tigasngulo

      what’s also special is that the residents of arcosanti really make it their own – little sprinkles of quirky decorations here and there. thanks for stopping by! : )

  22. Great article, I hadn’t thought of visiting Arizona before! Love the part about the cows too haha

    • tigasngulo

      thank you! az has a lot to offer, you should take a trip out here when you have the chance. (maybe just not in the summer, haha).

  23. Architecture, the bells and the artistic side of those photos and places is incredible! It seems you had a nice time, and your photos are just so making justice to it!

    • tigasngulo

      you can here the bells all around arcosanti when the wind blows through – it’s a lovely sound. thanks for reading!

  24. Ro

    a great find…pays off to explore little places. i imagine they make for great gifts since they are so original!

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