Phoenix rising

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

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DAY 3 Sunday

You can revel in wildflowers and home runs all in one day in the Papago Park area, but first grab a fast espresso and fruit pizza for breakfast at Vincent's Market Bistro ($; 3930 E. Camelback; 602/224-3727), chef Vincent Guerithault's centrally located take-out cafe. Watch the desert bloom. Drought or not, there are always wildflowers blooming at the Desert Botanical Garden ($9; 1201 N. Galvin Pkwy.; www.dbg.org or 480/941-1225). Hit the easy, 0.3-mile Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Trail, then look for blooming cactus throughout the rest of the 145-acre garden.

Lunch alfresco. Continue your botany lessons with an early lunch at the garden's on-site restaurant, Arcadia Farms Garden Patio Café ($; breakfast and lunch daily; 480/941-1225). Try strawberry-chicken salad with prickly-pear iced tea, and relax under the mesquite trees.

Batter up. Head a few blocks south to Phoenix Municipal Stadium ("Muni"), spring-training home of the Oakland A's, to catch an afternoon game (from $7; through Mar; 5999 E. Van Buren St.; www.oaklandathletics.com or 602/ 392-0074). Between innings, check out Muni's contemporary facelift, completed last year, and the historic tidbits etched into walkways, commemorating feats such as Willie Mays hitting the first spring-training home run here in 1964.

Indulge. End your visit at T. Cook's Restaurant ($$$$; at Royal Palms Resort and Spa, 5200 E. Camelback; 800/672-6011), known for its romantic setting and sophisticated Mediterranean menu. Savor cod with linguisa-stuffed clams or lamb tagine, but save room for the sculptural pistachio torte with lemon-chocolate mousse.

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