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PEORIA, ARIZONA 21 TOP: Blackstone Hacienda Clubhouse, in northern Peoria, overlooks the gorgous Jim Engh- designed golf course. ABOVE: Peoria has more than 35 miles of hiking trails offering spectacular views. RIGHT: Lake Pleasant, which offers many outdoor activites, is one of Arizona's true treasures.

Nearby attractions While there's plenty to do in Peoria, there's no reason not to check out some of the other Valley points of interest. The Desert Botanical Garden Visitors will marvel at the masterfully designed and landscaped Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Nary a rose nor a nasturtium can be found in this 50- acre garden park; instead, the red buttes of Papago Park form a fascinating backdrop for one of the world's best collections of exclusively desert plant life. Neatly marked trails lead visitors along winding paths that showcase a kaleido-scopic collection of colorful cacti, succulents, agaves, endangered species and other flora and fauna on display in their native habitat. 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008 • 480- 941- 1225 Heard Museum West When it comes to Native American lore and legend, Arizona and metro Phoenix are proud of their history as the setting for many of the early tribes that flourished here hundreds — even thousands — of years ago. Nowhere are these tribes' historical artifacts and original artwork better preserved than at the great Heard Museum. The Heard's main campus is in central Phoenix and definitely worth a visit, but if time and distance are a factor, you can take advantage of the Heard Museum West, one of the Heard's newest satellite facilities, located in Surprise, less than a 10- minute drive from downtown Peoria. 16126 N. Civic Center Plaza, Surprise, AZ 85374 • 623- 344.2200 The Phoenix Zoo The balmy Arizona winter is the perfect time of year to visit one of the Valley's most cher-ished attractions— the Phoenix Zoo. With 150 spacious acres and more than 1,200 animal species on exhibit, the zoo is a great place to spend a leisurely afternoon wandering along the 2.5 miles of trails and viewing some of the animal kingdom's most interesting wildlife. 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008 • 602- 273- 1341 Rawhide at Wild Horse Pass The history of the Old West lives large in Phoenix. If you want to experience a taste of how the west was won, then a visit to the frontier town of Rawhide in Chandler is in order. The 160- acre western town is located at Wild Horse Pass on the Gila River Indian Community in the Southeast Valley. Rawhide offers recreated gunfights, stagecoach and train rides, burro rides, sundown cookouts, gold panning and a shooting gallery. General admission is free, so don't forget to bring the family, if they're in town with you. 5700 West North Loop Road, Chandler, AZ 85226 • 480- 502- 5600 Taliesin West Frank Lloyd Wright arguably was the most famous architect this country has ever produced. His Scottsdale- based studio, Taliesin West, was established in 1940, as the repository of Wright's life work. It was also his home up until his death in the late 1950s. Today, Taliesin is the setting for The Frank Lloyd Wright Founda-tion, which carries on the master's ideas and work related to ad-vancing the cause of organic architecture. The studio offers tours and lectures, providing visitors a fascinating glimpse into the life and works of this giant among American artists and thinkers. 12691 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85259 • 480- 860- 2700 Wildlife World Zoo Located just south of Peoria in Litchfield Park you'll find some of the most exotic ani-mals — white tigers, zebras, white rhino, dromedary camels and African lions — in the world. The zoo boasts the largest collection of exotic animals with more than 2,400 and more than 400 exotic and endangered species. In addition, Wildlife World Zoo will soon be home to a new 250,000- gallon aquarium and a 1,500- feet- long log- flume ride. 16501 W. Northern Ave., Litchfield Park, AZ 85340 • 623- 935- 9453 By Bruce Farr weight, dance/ aerobics and game rooms. Outdoors, Rio Vista Community Park offers a walking/ jogging path, play-ground, picnic areas, volleyball courts, softball and multipurpose fields, a splash park, well- stocked fish- and- keep lake and skateboard area. For two-footed skating on blades and wheels try Polar Ice and the Rollerplex. Practice your swing! Arizona's reputation for spectacular golf courses is legendary, and Peoria is no exception, with Trilogy Golf at Vistancia, Westbrook Village, Country Meadows and nearby Legend at Arrowhead leading the way. Swing your tennis racquet on lighted courts at neighborhood parks. Improve your batting average at Rio Vista Community Park's Chili Davis Premier Baseball Club ™ , complete with batting cages, pitching tunnels and a Starbucks. The Baseball Club is " a great place to receive additional professional instruc-tion to take your skills to a higher level," said Haines. It's also a great place to pre-pare for competing in tournament and championship ballgames at the Peoria Sports Complex ( which is in the process of building another training facility). ? For more information For information about Peoria's parks and facilities, recreation programs, swimming pools and Sports Complex, click on About Peoria and select from the popup menu at www. peoriaaz. gov. For information about Lake Pleasant go to: www. maricopa. gov/ parks/ lake_ pleasant; Pleasant Harbor Marina: www. pleasantharbor. com; Scorpion Bay Marina: www. scorpionbaymarina. com. The skate park at Rio Vista Community Park is one of the state's finest. RECREATION 22 PEORIA, ARIZONA • www. visitpeoriaaz. com