There aren't many desert cities where you can get esoteric over art, aerobic over a steep hill, and poetic over baseball ― all in one weekend. Phoenix, however, with its newly revitalized downtown, offers a great sampling of culture, outdoor adventure, and sports.
Prowl downtown and you'll find a booming contemporary art scene that has grown amid old warehouses and storefronts. Residential loft projects have sprung up nearby, and new, sophisticated restaurants are catering to the creative crowd and urban dwellers.
The art scene is at its height now, with exhibit openings and organized gallery and studio tours. Plus it's peak season for baseball's spring training and hiking in one of the nearby desert parks. The best way to get to know sprawling Phoenix is to divvy it up into sections and spend time soaking up the very different character of each.