Walking desert gardens, one hour east of Phoenix.
Home to some 3,200 plants, this preserve is the place to see the Sonoran’s botanical greatest hits. Most can be seen along the 1.5-mile main trail, but the 320-acre expanse also has a gardens dedicated to cacti, eucalyptus, herbs, even legumes. Guided tours are offered each day; don’t miss the High Trail for panoramic views of the desert.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
This is one of the prime spots in Arizona to witness the Desert in Bloom—a spectacular, acres-encompassing display of blossoming Indian paintbrush and Mexican poppy—especially in March and early April. Daily guided tours last 90 minutes and are included with admission.
Buckboard City Café
The restaurant serves terrific omelettes and charbroiled burgers; it’s also the de facto canteen for the adjacent “World’s Smallest Museum” (exhibiting a hodgepodge of curios, from an 1850s frying pan to a 1984 Compaq computer).
Copper Mountain Motel
There’s not much luxury at this hotel, but at three miles outside the Arboretum it’s the closest safe bet.