BY Andrew Collins
March 04 2009 12:00 AM ET
Convention Exit Strategy Sneaking away from downtown corporate confabs is as simple as hiking several blocks up Central Avenue (take the new light rail if you'd rather not walk) to the Heard Museum (2301 N. Central Ave.; 602-252-8848), which was established in 1929 as a means to preserve and exhibit Native American artwork. The museum has succeeded far beyond its modest beginnings and now holds nearly 40,000 works. In the city's saguaro cactus-studded Papago Park, the Desert Botanical Garden (1201 N. Galvin Pkwy.; 480-941-1225) brings together the Southwest's mesmerizing flora with the whimsical work of an American glass artist: "Chihuly: The Nature of Glass," through May 31.
Enigmatic architectural icon Frank Lloyd Wright wound down his later years at his desert compound, Taliesin West (12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd.; 480-860-2700), his winter home and school in northern Scottsdale, which today is open for exceptionally insightful guided tours lasting from one to three hours, depending on the theme. Wrap up a day of exploring with cocktails at Amsterdam Bar (718 N. Central Ave.; 602-258-6122), a trendy downtown gay entertainment complex comprising a popular after-work lounge, a pulsing disco, and a laid-back patio bar.