If you enjoy searching out deals at factory-outlet stores, then you'll be in heaven at the Outlets at Anthem, 4250 W. Anthem Way (tel. 623/465-9500; www.outletsanthem.com). Among the offerings are Ann Taylor, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Levi's. Take exit 229 (Anthem Way) off I-17.
Some 13 miles farther north is the town of Rock Springs, which is barely a wide spot in the road and is easily missed by drivers roaring up and down I-17. However, if you're a fan of pies, then do not miss exit 242. Here you'll find the Rock Springs Café, 35769 S. Old Black Canyon Hwy., Rock Springs (tel. 623/374-5794; www.rockspringscafe.com), in business since 1918. Although this aging, nondescript building looks like the sort of place that would best be avoided, the packed parking lot says different. Why so popular? It's not the barbecue or steaks or even the "mountain oysters." No, this place stays packed because of its legendary pies, which many people claim are the best in the state. So popular are the pies here that every year, the Rock Springs Café sells upwards of 50,000 of them. If one slice isn't enough, order a whole pie to go.
If you appreciate innovative architecture, don't miss the Cordes Junction exit (exit 262) off I-17. Here you'll find Arcosanti (tel. 928/632-7135; www.arcosanti.org), Italian architect Paolo Soleri's vision of the future -- a "city" that merges architecture and ecology. Soleri, who came to Arizona to study with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West, envisions a compact, energy-efficient city that disturbs the natural landscape as little as possible -- and that's just what's rising out of the desert here at Arcosanti. The organic design built of cast concrete will fascinate both students of architecture and those with only a passing interest in the discipline. Arcosanti has been built primarily with the help of students and volunteers who live here for various lengths of time. To help finance the construction, Soleri designs and sells wind bells cast in bronze or made of ceramic. These distinctive bells are available at the gift shop. Arcosanti is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and tours are held hourly (except at noon) between 10am and 4pm ($10 suggested donation). If you'd like to stay overnight, basic accommodations ($40-$100 double) are available by reservation. There's also a cafe that serves buffet meals to overnight guests.
East of I-17 between Black Canyon City and Cordes Junction lies Agua Fria National Monument, which is administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Hassayampa Field Office, 21605 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix (tel. 623/580-5500; www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/blm_special_areas/natmon/afria.html). The monument protects the region's numerous prehistoric Native American ruin sites, which date from between 1250 and 1450 (at least 450 prehistoric sites are known to exist in this area). There is very limited access to the monument, and there are no facilities for visitors. If you have a high-clearance vehicle, preferably four-wheel-drive, you can enter the monument from I-17 at the Badger Springs exit (exit 256) or the Bloody Basin Road exit (exit 259).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.