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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

By Michael Hammett Day trips Peoria is the perfect starting point for some Arizona's most well known attractions. While Arizona is well known as the home of the Grand Can-yon, our nation's 48th state also boasts the largest Ponderosa pine forest in the world, a historic Route 66 town, the London Bridge, water playgrounds and so much more. And it's all just a short drive away from Peoria — all you need to do is decide which direction you want to head. Northern exposure: 2.5 hours Williams, Arizona, is easy to find. Just take Interstate 17 north un-til you reach Interstate 40 and head west. Known as the " Gateway to the Grand Canyon," this Route 66 town is like a postcard from the past, with great restaurants and museums. It's also where you catch the train to the Grand Canyon for a two- hour ride each way. " The train ride is phenomenal," said Donna Eastman, president and CEO of the Williams Chamber of Commerce. " It's a great way to experience history." The Canyon's newest offering is the Skywalk – a glass bridge suspended 4,000 feet above the Canyon floor and located in the Hualapai ( Wall- uh- pie) Nation. " It's absolutely breathtaking," East-man said. But getting there isn't easy. You can drive or catch a quick flight – but you'll need an extra day. While up north, don't miss Sedona, known for its magnificent " red rocks" and fabled vortexes, and Jerome, a former mining town turned artists colony. Stop by the Jerome Winery – located on a hill high above town – for a glass or two, cheeses of the world and one heck of a view. Far East experience: 90 minutes From Phoenix, take U. S. Highway 87 ( the Beeline) through Pay-son to U. S. Highway 260 East, and drive 17 miles east to Kohl's Ranch Lodge. " Everyone comes for the snow," said Greg Hart, general manager. " People think Arizona is all cactus, but we are at almost 6,000 feet." The ranch is set amid the largest Ponderosa pine forest in the world. One benefit of the forest is some of the purest air in the world – think of it as a vacation for your lungs. It's just a 45- min-ute drive to the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park where you can explore the world's largest travertine bridge. You'll wonder why it's not considered a natural wonder. Ask for directions. Going south: 2 hours Take Interstate 10 south to Tucson, Arizona. It's a lot like Phoenix was back in the 1970s – less of a metropolis, more a large desert town. There's plenty to see and do and it's close to other great places to explore, like Tubac, home to the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, the first state park in Arizona. You can walk in the footsteps of Captain Juan Bautista de Anza ( circa 1774) and tour the Tumacacori Mission, just a few miles away. Tubac is also an artist colony offering great shopping, restaurants and more. " Our motto is: ' Where art and history meet,'" said Victoria Sikora, a member of the historical society. Go west: 3.5 hours Take I- 10 west to US 95 ( roughly two hours), travel north to Park-er Dam and follow the signs to Lake Havasu City. Featuring 450 miles of shoreline and every kind of water sport you can image – even a paddleboat adventure – Lake Havasu is the second home of the historic London Bridge. It was relocated from England in the late 1960s. There's also a water shuttle that will deliver you to a California casino in less than 20 minutes. Feel like winging it? Visit Peoria's Turf Soaring School for a tranquil glider flight. Or lift off in a hot air balloon at Deer Valley Airport for an amazing bird's- eye tour of the area. For motorized flight, take off at any one of the nearby general aviation airports, including Deer Valley and Glendale Municipal. If you prefer your engines on the ground, rev up a stock car or bomber car on Canyon Speedway Park's dirt track, or watch the action from the stands. Get up and go! TOP: The u- shaped Skywalk platform, suspended 4,000 feet above the Colorado River, is perhaps the most spectacular way to view the Grand Canyon. ABOVE: A great many talented artists call Tubac, Ariz., home. www. visitpeoriaaz. com • PEORIA, ARIZONA 23