Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 18, 2017

© Visit Phoenix

Mill Street, Tempe.

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Phoenix

What to do if you’re under 40

Get on top of things

The city has some of the best urban hikes in the country, through rugged desert teeming with saguaro cacti and even the odd rattlesnake. Many trails, particularly to mountain peaks, are fairly strenuous, so bring lots of water and sunscreen. There are several different parks and entrances, but you can start from the Phoenix Mountains Recreation Area (2701 East Squaw Peak Drive; phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/piestewapeak), where the view at the top of Piestewa Peak is worth the climb. Further south across the Salt River, explore equally dramatic views from the summit of South Mountain Park (10919 South Central Avenue; phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/south). For a short hike over massive rocks to a geological oddity, check out the Hole-in-the-Rock at Papago Park (625 North Galvin Parkway; phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/papago).

Cruise Mill Street

Tempe, 10 minutes from the Sky Harbor International Airport and home of Arizona State University, is a good base for the Greater Phoenix area. Mill Avenue has a small-town feel and the zing of collegiate energy. Stop in at Slickables (699 Mill Avenue; tel: 480-409-4591; slickables.com) and make your own US$2 ice cream sandwich with house-made cookies; how ‘bout white chocolate macadamia with black cherry vanilla ice cream? Stroll down the tree-lined street, past dozens of hip shops, bars and cafés.

Bike the canals

Miles of shimmering canals are not what most people think of when they conjure Phoenix's scorching heat, subdued earth tones and occasional oasis. But the canals, built to divert water from the area's Salt River in the late 1800s, are a scenic way to navigate the city by bike and avoid heavy traffic. Palm trees, ranches, waterfowl and joggers abound. Print out an online map at srpnet.com/water/canals/distances.aspx or pick up a free, more detailed map at the city government offices (302 North 1st Ave, suite 300). The canal paths are packed gravel and crossroads are often unmarked.

Glass globules and curious cacti

Acclaimed glass artist Dale Chihuly has installed a series of dramatic glass pieces amidst the Desert Botanical Garden's (1201 North Galvin Parkway; dbg.org, adults US$18, teens US$10, kids under 13 US$8) eclectic collection of cacti and other desert plants. The succulents themselves are a wonder to behold, and the brilliantly coloured, extravagant glass sculptures seem to have finally found their vegetal soulmates. It’s a true collaboration between plant and animal.

Take the tots

If you have kiddos in tow, small ones will have a blast at the Phoenix Children's Museum (215 North 7th Street; tel: 602-253-0501; childrensmuseumofphoenix.org; US$11), which is really a fantastic three-story jungle gym complete with noodle forest. Go after three to avoid the crowds and beware the "free night" Friday where wait times are often over an hour. Older kids and parents alike will love the Musical Instrument Museum (4725 East Mayo Boulevard; tel: 480-478-6000; mim.org, adults US$18, teens US$14, kids US$10, under four free) with instruments from all over the world, many of them handmade out of recycled materials. Plan for a minimum of three hours, and perhaps lunch at the museum’s Cafe Allegro, which has a daily-changing menu and entrees made with fresh, local ingredients for about $10.

Be a cowboy (or girl)

If rootin' tootin' gun-firin', tomahawk-flingin', rope-slingin' authentic cowboy action is on your Arizona to-do list, Western Destinations (21424 North 7th Avenue, suite 12; tel: 623-374-5245; westerndestinations.com)can scratch your itch. You choose from a list of old Western activities. The basic tour, at US$75, includes a gentle scenic hour-and-a-half long horseback tour through rugged cowboy country and a stop at a "genuine old western town" where you fire a pistol, throw a few tomahawks, and try your hand at rope tossing. Wrap it up with a drink at the saloon or, for a little extra, stay for a barbeque lunch. Canyon Creek Ranch, where it all goes down, is 60 kilometres north of town.

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