Thomas J. Story
In Phoenix, when locals wax poetic about the Farm, they're talking about the Farm at South Mountain, a 12-acre organic oasis with restaurants and a wellness retreat.
Here, as well as in the craggy hills of nearby South Mountain Park/Preserve, you can enjoy a break from the everyday.
The Farm at South Mountain is about 8 miles south of downtown Phoenix. Exit I-10 at University Dr./32nd St., then go south on 32nd St.
The South Mountain Park/Preserve can be accessed from several points, but the main entrance is on Central Ave., south of Dobbins Rd.
South Mountain Park/Preserve Roam through the Sonoran Desert and see its February-blooming brittlebush at the 16,000-acre preserve. Get trail maps, a list of ranger-led activities, and some natural history at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center. INFO: Park: 10919 S. Central Ave.; 602/495-0222. Education center: Closed Mon-Tue; 10409 S. Central Ave.; 602/534-6324.
The Farm at South Mountain At this haven, you can make your day as busy (with the activities below, all found here) or as simple (a nap alfresco?) as you want. INFO: Closed Mon; 6106 S. 32nd St.; 602/276-6360.RELAX
The Retreat at the Farm Book a Thai massage or a facial, or join in on weekend yoga and tai chi classes. Call for a schedule. INFO: By appointment only; 480/326-0658.
Maya's Farm At this weekly farmers' market, look for winter greens, plus local cheese, honey, and handmade garden accessories. INFO: 9-1 Sat; 480/236-7097.
Morning Glory Café Start the day with Belgian waffles, sprinkled with local fruit and pecans, on the patio. INFO: $; closed Mon; 602/276-8804.
The Farm Kitchen Lunch on a grilled vegetable sandwich or a raspberry goat cheese salad, served in a picnic basket. INFO: $; closed Mon; 602/276-7288.
Quiessence Restaurant and Wine Bar Farm ingredients go into seasonal dinners like braised lamb with mashed sweet potatoes. INFO: $$$; closed Sun-Mon; 602/276-0601.
Explore South Mountain Park/Preserve the cowboy way ― on horseback ― with Ponderosa Stables (rides from $28 for an hour; 10215 S. Central Ave.; arizona-horses.com or 602/268-1261), whose wranglers will take you through dry washes or up along view-grabbing ridges. Book ahead for an evening
ride ($37; ages 12 and up) that winds up with dinner at old-timey T-Bone Steak House ( $$; 10037 S. 19th Ave.; 602/276-0945).