For our White Day celebration, we headed to the small town of Carefree, Arizona. Carefree’s official town motto is “The Best Small Town in Arizona,” and after doing a bit of research it’s not surprising why: this town has a crime rate 84 percent lower than the state average and an average household income of $87,000. Its unofficial description is “Home of Cowboys and Caviar, Where the Old West Meets the New,” which pretty much describes its upscale residential area and idyllic views of rugged Southwest beauty. The Town of Carefree was the brainchild of 1950s KT Palmer and Tom Darlington’s desires to “live in harmony with the Arizona desert” but the street monikers such as Easy Street, Lazy Burro Lane, and Ho Hum Drive, was just pure marketing. They even built a private airstrip to attract potential high-roller homeowners. Celebrities such as Bob Hope, Dick Van Dyke, Hugh Downs and Orson Welles called Carefree home at one point.
Along Easy Street is the English Rose Tearoom, a charming tea house with a wide selection of loose-leaf teas and classic British dishes. The proprietress, an English immigrant, opened her own tea room when she discovered that there was a serious lack of tea in the state of Arizona. Decorations are dainty and whimsical, the petite fours and scones are scrumptious, and the tea is spot on.
After our tea, we took a stroll around the town center garden. Filled with rare and fascinating desert plant specimens. One prized plant not to be missed is the crested saguaro. The rare saguaro with the fanlike or lumpy top is said to occur in only 1 in 20,000 saguaros. Scientists debate as to why such a formation occurs on a saguaro; be it genetic mutation, lightning strike or frost damage, it’s a rare sight to behold.
Our next stop of the day was Cave Creek Regional Park, where the new nature center is designed to be fully functional, sustainable and energy efficient while minimizing the disturbance to the natural landscape and maximizing the design compatibility with the natural surroundings. Though its small, they had a few animal exhibits featuring a Gila monster, diamondback rattler snake, several kinds of local spiders and scorpions. Outside is a nice small interpretive trail with native plants and a desert tortoise pen. A fun lazy walk with stunning desert wildflowers in full bloom.