Get Outside!

Written by Celeste Sepessy Category: Lifestyle Issue: March 2012
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of Brockman’s native Hawaii, he’s adjusted well. Brockman is one of Arizona’s pioneers in stand-up paddle boarding, which utilizes a hardwood board and a paddle to glide across water. He makes custom boards and holds Saturday lessons ($45 for 2.5 hours) at the Lake Pleasant Harbor Marina (602-396-8159,

“This is the best full-body, low-impact workout that you can do outside with a smile,” Brockman says. First-timers may want to test the tamer waters at Tempe Town Lake (see previous page) with Tempe Town Lake Rentals (72 W. Rio Salado Parkway, 480-303-9803,

Melrose Street Fair
March 3
The Melrose District has always been ahead of the CenPho curve, especially in the realm of pedestrian-friendly shopping. With blocks of vintage shops, eclectic boutiques and homegrown restaurants, this bowed section of Seventh Avenue resembles a slice of Portland in car-fueled Phoenix. The welcoming community atmosphere peaks during the annual Seventh Avenue Street Fair, which celebrates Melrose’s transformation from dilapidated drive-by to hip ’hood. Visit Melrose on March 3 for an all-day event featuring local vendors and a classic car show. Seventh Avenue between Indian School Road and Highland Ave.,

Coronado Historic District Home Tour
March 4
Since launching 25 years ago, this highly-anticipated open-house walk has grown to attract more than 1,500 annual visitors. In honor of the event’s silver anniversary, the 2012 “Then and Now” tour will feature homes from that first hallmark event, showcasing Coronado’s transformation into one of Phoenix’s most charming residential communities. First, visit the lively street fair and classic car show at Coronado Park. Then take a stroll down memory lane – or, in this case, 12th Street – and step into Craftsmen bungalows, brick Tudors and Spanish Colonial Revival homes to discover the city’s inspiring past and future innovation. 1717 N. 12th St., Phoenix,

Chandler Ostrich Festival
March 9 to 11
Three words: ostrich chariot racing. OK, two more: ostrich jousting. No, it’s not another anthropomorphic heart-warmer from Disney; it’s zany feathered fun at the annual Chandler Ostrich Festival. Going strong since 1989, the event celebrates Chandler’s ostrich-farming roots and draws around 300,000 people each year. Festivities include a 5K “fun run,” a parade, a carnival, music and  ostrich races. For $10, you can experience the state’s best collection of feather dusters, fair food and petting zoos with the world’s fastest two-legged animal. 2250 S. McQueen Rd., Chandler,

Brides of March pub crawl
March 17
Ladies and gentlemen, dig out your vacuum-sealed wedding dress (or head to Goodwill) and join the AZ Cacophony Society – organizer of oddball events like Idiotarod and Epic Superhero Battle – for its third Brides of March, a pub crawl with only one rule: Wear a white wedding dress. Despite its ominous Shakespearean-pun moniker, the event is anything but ill-fated; last year, more than 100 “brides” commandeered the light rail for a day of drinking, with no reported Brutus/Caesar backstabbings. The brides meet at Tempe Beach Park for waterfront bridal party photos, and for the next eight hours, the booze cruise hits six bars along the light rail before kicking off a cake- and champagne-fueled reception. Et tu, brewski?

St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Faire
March 17
Presented with a mile of family-friendly floats, kilted bagpipers, step dancers and Irish pageant girls, what spectator wouldn’t feel lucky at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Faire? Second in size only to the Fiesta Bowl Parade, this culturally-rich procession down Third Street dates back to 1983. The parade starts at Third and Sheridan Streets, and this year’s Grand Marshall is local pub owner Seamus McCaffrey. Post-parade, check out the faire at Margaret T. Hance Park and pay your respects to St. Patrick with an emerald pint.

“Rock the Zoo” at the Phoenix Zoo
March 30
What’s the next best thing to rocking out with the Monkees, Phish and Whitesnake? Rocking out with monkeys, fish and white snakes. At the Phoenix Zoo’s “Rock the Zoo” fundraiser on Friday, March 30, two local, popularly-elected bands will rock the night away while attendees sip suds from 30 local breweries and nosh on cuisine provided by 15 of the Valley’s top restaurants and caterers. Tickets ($30, members; $40, non-members) include the run of the zoo, 12 drink samples and food. And it goes to a great cause: the zoo itself. The Phoenix Zoo is the largest nonprofit attraction of its kind in the United States. 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, 602-273-1341,

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Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt
Designed as an urban flood control system, the 11-mile Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt is a lush cluster of parks, paths, lakes and golf courses ribboning through secret sections of Scottsdale. The semi-secluded weald is a haven for pedestrians, runners, dog walkers and cyclists. For a perfectly manicured and peaceful segment, start at Scottsdale’s Mustang Library, then saunter south toward McCormick Ranch. Want some company? The greenbelt at Chaparral Park features bustling sports fields, playgrounds and a dog park. From there, the wash flows south past numerous golf courses into Tempe, eventually ending at Tempe Town Lake. Scottsdale and Tempe,

Real Gardens for Real People Garden Tour
March 31
Want to turn your backyard into a D.I.Y. desert oasis, but your inspiration’s run dry? This self-guided home tour ($25) spotlighting seven environmentally-conscious gardens crafted by master gardeners is sure to plant the seeds of several ideas. Garden-goers can watch interactive demos and get advice from experts like Michelle Anderson, who transformed a leaking horse trough into a raised vegetable patch and concrete pot saucers into stepping stones in her equine-inspired “Territorial Oasis” garden in northeast Scottsdale. “I’m trying to keep things out of the landfill, where they’ll sit in the ground forever,” she says. First stop: Copper Ridge Elementary, 10101 E. Thompson Peak Parkway, Scottsdale,

Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo
March 31 and April 1
Grey hawks, ground snakes and Gatling guns, oh my! This annual hunting-themed expo corrals a herd of activities into one big educational and interactive weekend, courtesy of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The Ben Avery Shooting Facility (the largest public range in the country) hosts the event, which features more than 150 exhibitors presenting information, demos and workshops relevant to both veteran and novice outdoors enthusiasts. Try out the latest firearms, study regional Harris hawks, watch mounted shooters, ride a train around the grounds or hone your kid’s casting technique in the catch-and-release fishing tank – all for free. 4044 W. Black Canyon Blvd., Phoenix,

Girls on the Run
Ladies, lace up your cross-trainers and get ready to leg-out a positive, healthy lifestyle. Girls on the Run mentors girls in third- through eighth-grade with a series of life-skill lessons incorporated into running games and workouts, culminating in a 5K run. With sites all over the Valley, the nonprofit offers numerous opportunities for volunteers to encourage positive body image, eating attitudes and self-esteem during a crucial time in girls’ lives. Women can work as coaches, site liaisons or running buddies for the New Balance Girls on the Run 5K on April 28. The event wrangled more than $60,000 in 2011. The deadline to register is April 13.

Roosevelt Growhouse
In 2008, artists Kenny Barrett and Kelly Placke decided their dirt-riddled Roosevelt Row neighborhood could use some gussying up in the greenery department. So the two transformed their barren, parking-lot “lawn” on Garfield and Sixth streets into the Growhouse, a flourishing cooperative garden. Since then, the urban garden has grown to include chickens and desert-thriving vegetables like carrots, spinach, kale and beets, and supplies organic produce to markets and restaurants across the Valley. The Growhouse encourages community involvement during its Sunday “Garden Days,” when from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., volunteers get dirty for the spring harvest and sharpen their gardening know-how. 902 N. Sixth St., Phoenix,

Ponderosa Stables
Phoenix is now home to more tract houses than tumbleweeds and more snowbirds than steeds, but one reminder of the Valley’s frontier roots remains: Ponderosa Stables. For more than 25 years, Ponderosa has shown city slickers the true ways of the Wild West – with a horseback ride and T-bone cookout. Sure, it’s a little kitschy, but it’s also a lot of fun. Tucked into the South Mountain foothills, the stables provide access to more than 50 miles of desert trails featuring incomparable flora and fauna. Guided trail rides start at $33 for one hour, but we recommend the sunrise ride, ending with a massive cowboy breakfast ($40). 10215 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-268-1261,

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McDowell Sonoran Preserve: Sunrise Trail
This desert oasis in Scottsdale boasts 50-plus miles of trails, making it a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts craving a sense of solitude. While runners and hikers traipse the preserve’s tamer trails, like the rolling Gateway loop, mountain bikers beeline to Sunrise Trail. The steady, switchbacking uphill slog (1,100 feet in three miles) is a thigh-burner, and a false summit serves up an extra dose of altitude. The good news: All that upward mobility makes for a rip-roaring descent. Via Linda and 145th Way, Scottsdale,

Every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., beach cruisers, fixed gears and mountain bikes alike come together for a good CRAP. The weekly Car Resistance Action Party is just one of the Tempe Bicycle Action Group’s two-wheelin’ activities. And as with most of TBAG’s crazy-popular events, bikes and beer go hand-in-handlebars on the CRAP ride. Dozens of ASU students and professionals of all ages meet up at Tempe Beach Park for a social, easygoing jaunt to a local bar or brewery. A couple of beers later, they’re refueled for the return trip, which is a bit wobblier than the first leg. 54 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe,

Queen Creek Olive Mill and Schnepf Farms
Spring is an ideal time for an agricultural-themed outing, and these Queen Creek farms make a perfect pastoral pair. At Queen Creek Olive Mill, pick up a kalamata sandwich and a sangria from del Piero, the mill’s Mediterranean bistro, then head out to the picnic-tabled olive groves. Visit on March 31 for the Olive Blossom Festival, when the grove is abloom, and live music, wine and food tasting add to the festivities. Nearby Schnepf Farms is famous for peaches (mark your May calendar for the annual peach festival), but throughout spring, the farm offers u-pick produce, and in March, they’ll host a Dog Day Afternoon for Fido owners and a Dinner Down the Orchard for foodies (check website for dates). Queen Creek Olive Mill: 25062 S. Meridian Rd., Queen Creek, 480-888-9290,; Schnepf Farms: 24810 S. Rittenhouse Rd., Queen Creek, 480-987-3100,

Tierra Verde Lake Park
For a town built on rubber tires (it was founded in 1926 by Paul Litchfield, then-president of the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation), Litchfield Park boasts some of the most idyllic urban scenery in the Valley. In addition to its retro houses, palm-lined drives and know-your-neighbors feel, the West Valley town features Tierra Verde Lake Park, a three-acre park encircling a 4.5-acre lake. Full of fish and shored by a 2.5-mile walking path, this sunny pond is perfect for a family fishing trip or a sweetheart stroll. Either way, pack a picnic, and pay no attention to the honking geese. 301 S. Old Litchfield Rd., Litchfield Park, 623-935-9040

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Photos by Richard Maack

Gilbert Riparian Institute
Look, up in the sky – it’s a bird! And another bird! And 198 more birds! More than 200 bird species have been sighted in the community wetlands of the Gilbert Riparian Institute, and birders and nature enthusiasts flock here for bird walks on the third Saturday of each month. This 110-acre wildlife preserve also offers activities like hiking, fishing, stargazing and even archaeological excavating. At night, visit the observatory for monthly astronomy lessons. But if you’d rather tackle nature on your own, bring a book (and maybe a baguette), and enjoy the serene scenery solo. 2757 E. Guadalupe Rd., Gilbert, 480-503-6744,

You probably won’t find gold in the Superstition Mountains, but you can find tchotchkes hidden under rocks via the outdoor treasure-hunting game known as geocaching. In this high-tech scavenger hunt, players enter geographical coordinates into GPS systems to uncover buried (or carefully hidden in plain sight) treasure, then sign the cache’s well-worn logbook. Sure, the “treasure” may be an old matchstick box – and you have to put it back – but it’s the adventure that counts. Log on to to search thousands of urban and rural Valley caches.

Rio Salado Audubon Center
Just two miles south of Downtown Phoenix’s high-rise heart lies the lifeblood of the city’s rural-urban preservation efforts: the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area. This former industrial dump zone spans more than 600 acres, and the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center is the transformation project’s crown jewel. The riparian habitat offers refuge to more than 200 species of birds and wildlife, while providing interactive education about Sonoran ecology. Take advantage of the preserve’s 16 miles of trails, take a birding class or enjoy the center’s always-packed Birds ‘n’ Beer event sponsored by Four Peaks Brewery. 3131 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-468-6470,

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Photos by Jason Millstein

World Adult Kickball Association
Since the 1920s, P.E. teachers have used kickball as a low-risk, low-hassle alternative to baseball. But over the past several years, the stepchild of “America’s Pastime” has become a league of its own. Now, kickball is serious business, especially to the World Adult Kickball Association, which has seven leagues across the Valley. For $70, players score seven weekly games, a playoff tournament and – maybe most importantly – drink specials. In the West Valley, check out Glendale’s AZ Victory league, the only club that boasts an on-site bar to celebrate your win (or drink away the losing blues). Seasons start approximately every three months. Check the WAKA website to see where each local team’s kicking it every week.

Bocce Ball
There are two types of bocce ball players – and two prime courts – in the Valley. The die-hards, with brimmed hats and dangling cigars, throw at the Arizona American Italian Club. This four-court facility would make any oldie gelosa, and it’s open to the public (Italian or not) on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. But the traditional social game is making a hip comeback with youngsters thanks to The Vig, where you can toss a pallina in Phoenix’s sweetest Arizona room over brunch or happy hour. With a single recessed bocce pit, The Vig may not be the best for a 16-team tourney, but it’ll give you more time for Vignature cocktails, like the Blackberry Manhattan ($9). 6015 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-633-1187,; 7509 N. 12th St., Phoenix, 602-944-3090,

Yoga in the Park with Sutra Midtown
The serenity level of a setting can make or break your Zen-ness. After all, it’s hard to feel one with the earth when an air-conditioning unit’s buzzing in your ear. So once a month, midtown’s favorite yoga studio/juice bar/hangout leaves the brick-and-mortar compound behind and heads outside. “When you hear the birds instead of music, it really elevates your practice to another level,” Sutra Midtown owner Rebecca Fritz says. Everyone is welcome to join Sutra’s all-star cast of instructors at the nearby Coronado Park for a free, all-level flow class. Bring your mat, but leave your shoes at home – or at least in the car. 1717 N. 12th St., Phoenix, 602-253-9525,

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Arizona Falls and Arizona Canal
Since the 1800s, Phoenicians have been picnicking and mingling in the cool environs of Arizona Falls, site of the city’s first hydroelectric plant. In 2003, SRP and the Phoenix Arts Commission restored the urban waterfall – created by a natural 20-foot drop on the Arizona Canal between 56th and 58th streets –  adding splashes of art and history. The public-works gem features the “WaterWorks at Arizona Falls” project by acclaimed Boston artists Lajos Heder and Mags Harries. Visitors can walk across a bridge underneath three waterfalls, peer into antique gears of the historic plant, and enjoy a novel urban picnic. Pair your picnic with  a promenade or pedal along the Arizona Canal past the Arcadia neighborhood.  5802 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix,

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Frisbee Golf at Fountain Hills Park
Frisbee golf. Disc golf. Frolf. This game of many names – in which players throw flying discs into baskets or targets – also boasts numerous local courses. But throwers agree that one Valley venue stands out: Fountain Hills Park. Lush and challenging, this disc golf park offers 18 lakeside holes. Study each hole’s map (no really, it’ll help), then tee off and hope for the best. While the lake demands precise play, it also provides a feature no other course can claim – the country’s largest fountain, spraying water 300 feet high every hour. So bring a disc retriever and watch out for power-walking grannies as you putt on one of Arizona’s most pristine disc golf courses. 12925 N. Saguaro Blvd., Fountain Hills,


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Photos by Madison Kirkman


Hash House Harriers

For more than 70 years, hashing has appealed to fit and fat alike as a hare-and-hounds-style outdoor romp. But let’s set the record straight: It’s not a race. It’s a non-competitive, beer-fueled run filled with inappropriate chalk drawings and lots of shouting. Unsurprisingly, this “drinking club with a running problem” has a mandatory hydration policy; expect a few formally-informal beer stops along the course. The Phoenix HHH group meets on Mondays and Wednesdays for smaller runs, but participate in one of its monthly themed hashes for the all-out experience. 602-230-JERX,

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Arizona Climbing and Adventure School
If you want to literally “rock your body,” scale some slate or clamber up giant boulders. The Arizona Climbing and Adventure School will instruct you in a variety of techniques and levels of extremeness. From canyoneering and rappelling to free-form bouldering and multi-pitch climbing, this 23-year-old school teaches technical courses for adventurers of all abilities. New climbers can sign up for the Beginner I Rock Climbing Course, held every Saturday in the McDowell Mountain Preserve. The $135, full-day class supplies you with “ground school” basics before you conquer top-rope climbs soaring 150 feet. More than 30,000 students have jumped, belayed and grunted through ACAS courses; why not climb to the top with them? 480-363-2390,



Dog Yoga at The W Scottsdale Hotel
Is Princess suffering from pent up pooch tension? Head to the W Hotel’s patio for dog yoga, or doga, on the first Tuesday of each month. You’ll massage your pet and put it into a series of postures modified from yoga. It’s official: Downward dog has gone to the dogs. 7277 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale, 480-970-2100,

The Farm at South Mountain
Families picnicking at weathered tables beneath 90-year-old pecan trees. Golden Retrievers romping on cushy grass. Acres of organic produce. Norman Rockwell would have a field day at The Farm. The pet-friendly idyllic vibe doesn’t end there: You don’t even have to pack a picnic. Instead, pick up a Tuscan chicken sandwich, farm-fresh salad and mini pecan pie from the Farm Kitchen. 6106 S. 32nd St., Phoenix, 602-276-6360,

Friendship Park Dog Park
Upgrade your next puppy play date with a field trip to Avondale’s Friendship Park, a Disneyland for dogs. In addition to multiple well-maintained, seemingly never-ending dog runs, the park offers top-notch agility equipment. The obstacle course, a donation from Nutro Dog Supplies, includes some killer teeter totters, a dog walk and tire jumps. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? 12325 W. McDowell Rd., Avondale, 623-333-2400


Great Arizona Beer Festival
March 3
One three-ounce mug, two dozen tastings. But with more than 200 craft brews to choose from, sampling only 24 can be agonizing. This annual competition and festival showcases the Southwest’s best selection of independent beers, including boutique brands with limited release batches. Look for the gold stars, which won top honors at last year’s competition. 54 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe,

Surprise BBQ Festival
March 3
Kansas City sweet, South Carolina mustard, Kentucky black – every known American barbecue style will report to the West Valley for the Surprise BBQ Festival. This throwdown-style food fest will attract nearly 40 teams to serve the best smoked, shredded and sauced meat in the Valley. Join 5,000 of your carnivorous peers, then eat your way around Surprise Recreation Complex for $2 a sample. 15960 N. Bullard Ave., Surprise,

Arizona Aloha Festival
March 10 and 11
Say aloha to a new belt notch. This free Hawaiian festival is one of the Valley’s most popular, drawing 150,000 visitors in 2011 to celebrate and eat like islanders at Tempe Beach Park. The manapua pork buns and Spam musubi sandwiches will definitely give you a hula-worthy physique. 54 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe,




Pipeline Canyon Trail
Come spring, colorful desert wildflowers garnish Lake Pleasant, making the shoreline as much of a destination as the water. Before your next boating adventure, ramble along the easy, four-mile out-and-back Pipeline Canyon Trail across the Pipeline Cove bridge. On Saturdays, wrangle up seasoned Ranger Terry Gerber, who leads hikes along the flourishing trail. 41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Rd., Morristown, 928-501-1710,

Wind Cave Trail
On Usery Mountain’s Wind Cave Trail, hikers traverse a surprisingly green desert floor to encounter wildflowers where you least expect them: overhead. The 1.6-mile trail ends at a shallow alcove, where water trickles through the cave’s ceiling to form the hanging Rock Daisy garden. Up for more? Tack on some steep – but manageable – climbs to the summit for unparalleled views of Valley mountaintops. 3939 N. Usery Pass Rd., Mesa, 480-984-0032,

White Tank Mountain Regional Park
Rainy Arizona winters set the West Valley’s White Tank Mountains ablaze with blooms. For a relaxed, family-friendly outing, follow the park’s signature Waterfall Trail, passing bursts of poppies, violet lupine and countless cactus blooms along the way. 20304 W. White Tank Mountain Rd., Waddell, 623-935-2505,


Movies in the Park at Biltmore Fashion Park
If you’re not exactly champing at the bit to see Vin Diesel’s newest, um, cinematic masterpiece, upgrade your dinner-and-a-movie routine at Biltmore Fashion Park. While theaters charge ten bucks for a mediocre “blockbuster,” the Biltmore offers free screenings of tried-and-true crowd-pleasers (e.g. Back to the Future) with immediate access to top-notch restaurants. Movies run Fridays, March 2-April 27.
2502 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-955-8400,

Movies in the Park at Kiwanis Park
For a kid-friendly outdoor film experience, head to Tempe for its 32nd annual Movies in the Park. This free weekly series in late spring and fall showcases classics and blockbusters on a massive inflatable screen (previous showings in October included Rango and Gnomeo and Juliet). Movies start around dusk, so plan on being there by 6 p.m. with a plush blanket and lots of snacks. Screening dates and times TBA. 5500 S. Mill Ave., 480-350-5200, Tempe,

Moonlight Movie in the Park at Steele Indian School Park
Central Phoenix has City Councilman Tom Simplot to thank for its pre-summer outdoor film event at Steele Indian School Park. And parents, rejoice! The screenings mercifully stray from the cutesy, animated norm with all-ages film classics like Rudy, The Goonies and Jurassic Park. Screening dates and times TBA. 300 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-262-7447,

Balls Out: Spring Training Itineraries
For a schedule of games, visit

Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Desert Botanical Garden
Your snowbird guests are here to see two things: the Cactus League and cactuses. Satisfy them in one fell swoop. Swing by the Desert Botanical Garden, where you can stroll through desert flora, visit the butterfly exhibit, purchase a succulent at the plant sale (March 17-18), watch artists paint en plein air on Saturdays, or catch the spring concert series on Friday nights. Nearby Phoenix Municipal Stadium – a minimalist but comfy venue with a throwback appeal – hosts Oakland A’s spring training games. Desert Botanical Garden: 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, 480-941-1217,; Phoenix Municipal Stadium: 5999 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix,

Camelback Ranch, Glendale Drive-In
With both the Dodgers and White Sox calling Camelback Ranch home, games are on tap every day. Pre-game, stroll around the lake nestled between the stadium’s 13 training fields. Afterward, visit the Glendale Drive-In for a double-feature, the vintage way: eating Red Vines in front of the Valley’s last 65-foot screens. Camelback Ranch: 10710 W. Camelback Rd., Glendale,; Glendale Drive-In: 5650 N. 55th Ave., Glendale,

Goodyear Ballpark, Old Pueblo Cafe and Taps
Ohio fans have much to cheer for at Goodyear Ballpark – a recessed playing field, roomy concourse, whiffle ball. Yes, whiffle ball. For adults. After a Cleveland Indians or Cincinnati Reds game and a torrid game of whiffle, hit Old Pueblo Cafe and Taps for brews and burritos on the palm-flanked patio. Goodyear Ballpark: 1933 S. Ballpark Way, Goodyear, 623-882-3130,; Old Pueblo Cafe and Taps: 102 N. Old Litchfield Rd., Litchfield Park, 623-935-5059

Hohokam Stadium, Inside the Bungalow
Beer is baseball’s customary beverage, but you’ll tick that score sheet more precisely if you perk up pre-game with a latte at Inside the Bungalow, a historic estate with a sweeping patio. Nearby Hohokam Stadium’s outfield lawn is ideal for lounging, but true Chicago Cubs fans snatch behind-the-plate seats. Inside the Bungalow: 48 N. Robson, Mesa, 480-844-2353,; Hohokam Stadium: 1235 N. Center St., Mesa, 480-644-4451,

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Salt River Fields, Degree 270 at Talking Stick Resort
With daily spring training games, a posh casino, high-class dining and a golf course overlooking the McDowell Mountains, choosing what to do at the Talking Stick Resort can be tough. Any combination is a winning one, but here’s our suggestion: Root for the D-Backs at the brand-spankin’-new Salt River Fields, then soak up 14-story panoramic views over a glass of pinot on Degree 270’s balcony. Salt River Fields: 7555 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale,; Talking Stick Resort: 9800 E. Indian Bend Rd., Scottsdale,



Crescent Ballroom
Most music venues boast a meager patio lined with chain-smoking 20-somethings. But at the newly-opened Crescent Ballroom, you’ll find a spacious outdoor “scene” with a live soundtrack provided by the elite indie bands inside. Order a craft brew, an El Tejano burrito ($6, courtesy of chefs Doug Robson and Chris Bianco), and take advantage of the best seats in – or out of – the house. 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix, 602-716-2222,

The Coffee Shop at Agritopia
Put some spring in your step on your next visit to Agritopia with a caffeinated concoction at the urban farm community’s on-site coffee shop. This family-owned oasis offers copious tasty beverages – try the Peppermint Patty Monsoon – with a flawless breakfast and lunch menu. For a sugary boost, grab a Coconut Glam cupcake ($2.75) on your way to the bright, rose garden patio. 3000 E. Ray Rd., Gilbert, 480-279-3144,

At this Italian villa mega-replica, diners can sip Prosecco in the secluded wine cellar, nosh handmade butternut squash ravioli in the farmhouse kitchen, or – for an almost-authentic Italian countryside experience – dine on the patio. The latter’s always the best choice in the Arizona springtime, and in the right light (plus a few glasses of vino), Pinnacle Peak can look a lot like a Tuscan hillside. 10455 E. Pinnacle Peak Parkway, Scottsdale, 480-502-9095,

The Clarendon Hotel Rooftop Lounge
The Clarendon Hotel’s lobby level boasts some serious sensual appeal: glistening water wall, acclaimed nouveau-Mex restaurant and all-around swanky vibe. But climb five stories to the boutique hotel’s rooftop lounge, and you’ll quickly realize you’ve reached the top in more ways than one. Grab a perfect margarita and some good company and drink in 360-degree views of Phoenix’s midtown at sunset. 401 W Clarendon Ave., Phoenix, 602-252-7363,

R Bar Patio at Camelback Inn
With an arsenal of oversized lounge chairs, fire pits and ambiance enhancers (think twinkling lights and bubbling waterfalls), R Bar boasts Paradise Valley’s best patio – and perfects the al fresco nightcap. So bring your friends (or your honey), and sip a Thyme Stands Still cocktail ($12) under a silhouetted Camelback Mountain. 5402 E. Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley, 480-948-1700,

Los Dos Molinos
Mild? Not at Los Dos Molinos, where everything is curling-iron hot, from the salsa to the decor. The family-owned New Mexico-style restaurant has four Valley locations, but visit the South Mountain joint for a flavorful outdoor dining experience. Order a pitcher of margaritas to subdue the green chile heat, and enjoy mountain vistas from the bustling, colorful patio. 8646 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-243-9113,