Usually my three-day weekends consist of jam-packed weekends of travel, barbeques or weekend warrior projects that turn into weeknight warrior projects. But this Memorial Day weekend I found myself without plans and feeling relaxed. By Sunday however, I felt the itch to get out of the house to do something. Anything that would make me feel a little better about not jamming my precious off-time with new experiences and activities. 

Realizing I had just finished two seasons of the Walking Dead, I shut off the TV, opened my laptop and started searching for things to do. Since it was already noon I needed something that was close enough to do in a few hours.

Shopping? Movie? Visiting my family? None of these would suffice; I wanted to say I actually did something Memorial Day weekend. So I went online an stumbled upon Boyce Thompson Arboretum—the largest Desert Botanical Garden in the state of Arizona—just about 62 miles east of Downtown Phoenix on the US 60. The images I saw were stunning. I had to learn more. With just over 323 acres of natural desert foliage to explore, it would be the perfect solution to my three day weekend woes. So I hopped in the car (with a little John Denver playing to set the mood for my solo road trip) and headed east. 

On the drive, I was reminded of the amazing cliffs of the SuperstitionBotanical_Garden_2_FINAL.jpg Mountains and the beautiful natural desert landscape just outside of Phoenix Metro. And before I knew it, I had arrived—just about an hour after I set out.

Upon arrival the, temperature was around 95 degrees farenheit, so I was a little worried about overheating. I walked up to the booth, paid my entrance fee of $10 and grabbed a bottle of water and started walking the grounds. 

What I found was not only a comprehensive glimpse into the native desert landscapes and folliage of Arizona, but also other worldly folliage, such as the ‘Australian Walkabout’ section where you can find some interesting desert plant species beyond the familiar eucalyptus. There were also a number of placards that showed the natural human benefits of the plants and their connections to modern medicines. But best of all was the constant shade that seemed to take the edge off of the heat. I was in full relaxation mode. 

After about an hour and a half, I decided to head back to Phoenix—back to where I started in less than four hours. My mission was accomplished and best of all, I had something to say when my coworkers asked me, “so what did you over the weekend?”

Patrick Murphy is a native of Phoenix, Arizona and attended Arizona State University. Having traveled and lived in places like New York, Valencia, Spain, and Seoul, he enjoys exploring the most unique and under discovered destinations and cultural events Arizona has to offer.