Phoenix rising

You'll find a new downtown, spring hikes, and baseball

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DAY 1 Friday

This month, art aficionados should plan a trip to coincide with the annual Art Detour (Mar 4-6; free; schedules and self-guided tour maps available at www.artlinkphoenix.com or 602/256-7539), which includes the monthly First Friday gallery and studio tour.

Museum morning. Start an art-tour day at the ever-expanding Phoenix Art Museum (10-5 Tue-Sun, until 9 Thu; $9; 1625 N. Central Ave.; www.phxart.org or 602/257-1222), where in March you can view paintings by American impressionist Theodore Robinson and French impressionist Claude Monet. Look also for works by notable artists with Arizona ties, such as Philip Curtis and Max Ernst.

Diner deluxe. Elbow your way into the Welcome Diner ($; breakfast and lunch Mon-Sat; 924 E. Roosevelt St.; 602/495-1111), a nine-seat, recently restored vintage diner that has quickly become a downtown hit. Ignore carb counts and have a BLT and a root-beer float.

Gallery hop. Enter Studio LoDo/Phoenix Center for Contemporary Art (12-5 Thu-Sat; 15 E. Jackson St.; www.lodopcca.org or 602/200-8790) through its south-side patio and have fun with the March exhibition, Translucent Transcendence. Nearby Bentley Projects (10-5 Tue-Sat; 215 E. Grant St.; www.bentleyprojects.com or 602/340-9200) is an ambitious gallery complex, set partially in a 1910 laundry building.

Sample the fare. Pizzeria Bianco ($$; dinner Tue-Sat; 623 E. Adams St.; 602/258-8300) offers exquisitely simple pizzas and salads. Ever since chef-owner Chris Bianco won a 2003 James Beard Foundation Award, waits for seating in his intimate restaurant can be long. A great nearby alternative is Ruby Beet Gourmet ($$$; dinner Tue-Sat; 628 E. Adams; 602/258-8700), where a small bowl of roasted ruby-beet salad pairs well with entrées such as chicken stuffed with duck and pancetta sausage.

Stay up late. Continue in art mode at the Paper Heart (1 p.m.- 1 a.m. Tue-Sat; admission varies; 750 N.W. Grand Ave.; 602/262-2020), where the first Friday of the month might feature live music or poetry, plus art exhibits. If you dare, cap off the night at Bikini Lounge (1502 Grand Ave.; 602/252-0472), a smoky, dive-y tiki bar untouched since its 1947 opening. It has become the hangout for artists and gallery-goers.

 

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