Monday, November 29, 2004

The New York Times: 36 Hours In Phoenix 

If you want to get away from the snow and chilly air you have to visit Phoenix, AZ

PHOENIX is finally rising. For years, the city sulked in the shadow of sexier 'burbs like Scottsdale, but now it's enjoying a culture boom — with a young, raw arts scene, well-cooked food and world-class spas. Despite the rumor that "it's a dry heat," the weather is generally pleasant from October to April, and yes, it does rain. If so, ditch the outdoor activities and head to the Heard Museum where, for $7 admission, you can see an expansive collection of Indian art. (The museum shop is also the best place in town to buy gifts.) With a citywide light-rail system still years away, you'll need to rent a car to get around, but Phoenix is built on a grid, so even a first-time visitor won't have trouble navigating.


5 p.m.
1) The Beard-ed Chef

Chris Bianco, a James Beard award winner, mans the open-flame pizza oven at Pizzeria Bianco (623 East Adams Street, 602-258-8300) on most nights. The Sonny Boy pizza (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, salami and Gaeta olives; $12) is wonderful, but the local favorite is the Wise Guy (onions, house-smoked mozzarella and fennel sausage; $13). The wait is outrageous, so put your name on the list and begin at Bar Bianco (602-528-3699) next door. Catch some bootleg jazz from another restaurant across Heritage Square as you wait on Bar Bianco's porch with a Rio Salado pilsner lager ($3.75), brewed in nearby Tempe.

8 p.m.
2) Friday Night Sights

There have always been galleries scattered throughout downtown Phoenix, but in the last year, two art districts, Roosevelt Street, just north of downtown's high rises, and Grand Avenue, to the west, reached critical mass. Now, Friday night art walks draw crowds as diverse as the local art: Goth kids mix with seniors, with a toddler or two thrown in. On the first Friday of each month, lines at galleries can be out the door, but the scene is really outside. On Roosevelt, you'll see fire breathers and a band called the MadCaPs playing from the bed of a moving pickup truck. Grab a treat from the Arizona Roller Derby girls' bake sale outside Holga's, a commune-gallery at Third and Garfield Streets. And it's actually worth going inside Modified Arts (407 East Roosevelt Street, 602-462-5516), eye lounge (419 East Roosevelt Street, 602-430-1490) and monOrchid (214 East Roosevelt Street, 602-253-0339). Galleries are open till 10 p.m.; see www.artlinkphoenix.com for information.

Read more: The New York Times > Travel > Escapes > 36 Hours: In Phoenix


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