Phoenix rising

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

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DAY 2 Saturday

A great place to fuel up for a day of hiking and exploring the many gems tucked into the city's old South Mountain neighborhood is the Morning Glory Café & Bakery ($; breakfast Tue-Sun; 6106 S. 32nd St.; 602/276-0601). Order the pecan granola or omelets to enjoy on the patio.

Hit the trail. The nearly 17,000 acres of desert mountain terrain at South Mountain Park/Preserve (free; 10919 S. Central Ave.; www.phoenix.gov/parks/hikesoth.html or 602/495-0222) offer miles of trails and spring-blooming brittlebush. There's a good 4.2-mile loop that starts by heading south on Kiwanis Trail, turning west on National Trail, north on Ranger Trail, then east on Las Lomitas Loop. The route gives you views of downtown, plus a good workout. Stop at the park's South Mountain Environmental Education Center (9-5 Mon-Sat; 10409 S. Central) for trail details and exhibits.

Chow down. Los Dos Molinos ($; lunch and dinner Tue-Sat; 8646 S. Central; 602/243-9113) caters to hikers by serving up carne adovada ribs and chiles rellenos in a 1920s Santa Fe-style building that was the former home of silent-film star Tom Mix.

Unravel a mystery. Tour Mystery Castle (11-4 Thu-Sun Oct-May; $5; 800 E. Mineral Rd.; 602/268-1581), a quirky, folk-art landmark built in the South Mountain foothills during the 1930s and '40s out of recycled materials and found objects.

See and be seen. Head to central Phoenix for dinner at Tarbell's Restaurant ($$$; reservations recommended; 3213 E. Camelback Rd.; 602/955-8100), Mark Tarbell's sleek, friendly bistro. Sample wines by the glass and try the signature grilled salmon served on a crispy potato cake.

 

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