Southwest Sojourn

The fast-growing desert metropolis of Phoenix pulls in plenty of business travelers, but it's the bounty of spa resorts, cutting-edge restaurants, and intriguing cultural offerings that keeps visitors coming back for more.



1025 TRAVEL PHOENIX 03 x390 (courtesy) | ADVOCATE.COM

Meal Plan On the edge of downtown, in the up-and-coming Roosevelt Row arts and retail district, Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar (1326 N. Central Ave.; 602-307-0022) was established by openly gay Arizona state senator Ken Cheuvront, serving up plates of hard-to-find artisanal cheeses, globally inspired tapas, and well-chosen wines by the glass, flight, or bottle. Next to the vaunted Italian sandwich shop Pane Bianco (4404 N. Central Ave.; 602-234-2100) is Lux Coffee Bar (4404 N. Central Ave.; 602-696-9976), modern Phoenix's answer to a Beat Generation java café, complete with organic espresso of the bracingly potent variety, edgy art exhibits, and the best people-watching in town.

In Scottsdale some of the hottest chefs in the Southwest turn out innovative, high-concept fare. Try the scene-y Cowboy Ciao (7133 E. Stetson Dr.; 480-946-3111), a Wild West-meets-Far East spot in a hip SouthBridge urban village.

Take a Hike There are more than 200 parks within Phoenix, and dozens more in the outlying cities and towns, offering visitors a chance to satisfy their desert wanderlust. On your own, it's simple to tackle South Mountain Park and Preserve (10919 S. Central Ave.; 602-534-0527), a 16,000-acre landscape laced with some 51 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback trails. Hike to Dobbins Lookout (reached from several trails), the park's highest trail-accessible point (elevation: 2,330 feet), for a dandy view of the valley. For a guided ramble through some of the region's most alluring wilderness, book a half- or full-day tour through Take a Hike Arizona (866-615-2748), a gay-friendly, eco-minded outfitter offering nature strolls suited to all abilities.

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