Why go now: In a word, flowers. In late April, saguaros pop little white blossoms that look like Easter bonnets. Trust us, it's cool.
Brake for cactus: Tucson is home to the world's largest regional cactus and succulent society (tucsoncactus.org), and montly meetings are open to the public.
Go native: Desert Survivors (Closed Sun, 1020 W. Starr Pass Blvd., 520/791-9309) is your spot for super-rare natives like red barberry.
Stranges souvenir: Living rocks (Lithops) resemble tiny sea cucumbers and are great for a lonely windowsill. Browse the mother lode at Plants for the Southwest (closed Sun, 50 E. Blacklidge Dr., lithops.com).
Oodles of noodles: The 17th Street Market (closed Sun, 840 E. 17th St., 520/792-2588), in the Warehouse Arts District, specialized in ethnic groceries, including more than 50 types of instant-ramen bowls.
Three times a farm: If you miss the Friday farmers' market, there's another one Saturday--and a third on Sunday (times and locations at farmersmarkettucson.com).
An amusement park of plants: Located 10 worth-it miles north of downtown, Tohono Chul Park is a 47-acre botanical oasis with paths, nine gardens, galleries, greenhouses, and shops. See the wildflower displays of the Sonoran Seasons Garden, then hit the tearoom ($, 520/797-1222) for lunch. The dish to try: sinus-clearing red posole, best enjoyed on the rear patio so you can watch the action in the Hummingbird Garden. $7, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte, tohonochulpark.org