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For the first time ever, Phoenix is playing host to the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament and championship game (a.k.a. March Madness) March 31–April 3. If you’re lucky enough to score tickets for the games at the University of Phoenix Stadium, here’s a handy-dandy guide to enjoying the best of the city.

RELATED: 8 reasons to love Scottsdale, AZ

Get your game on
From rock climbing to youth clinics, from autograph signings to a special Kids Zone, head for the Phoenix Convention Center for 24 hands-on experiences related to game weekend. Highlights include  a one-hour practice before the semi-finals on March 31 and also the free three-day March Madness Music Festival with headliners like Pitbull, Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna, the Zac Brown Band, Imagine Dragons, Maroon 5 and Kenny Chesney.

Catch the end of Cactus League                                                                           Yep, there’s still spring training baseball games happening in the area through April 1. Catch a last-minute game before the baseball season officially gets into full swing. The World Series Champions Chicago Cubs play their last game at Sloan Park on March 29.

It’s great to meet the players up close and personal at Spring Training | Photo courtesy of Visit Phoenix

Take a walk around  a desert garden
Statuesque saguaros, sky-high cacti and bright desert flowers all bloom in the desert. Come take a walk in the Desert Botanic Garden and observe desert plants as well as their new butterfly exhibit.

Find adventure around every curve
Phoenix provides the ultimate in outdoor recreation. Go hiking, mountain biking, hot air ballooning or take in the exquisite backdrop of the mountains on a thrilling, off-road Pink Jeep Tour. Can’t decide what to do? Let the Phoenix Rising Tours help you decide between a city tour, coffee crawl, bike, trolley or more.

Echo Canyon, Camelback Mountain | Photo courtesy of Visit Phoenix

Heard Art Museum of Native American Art
The world-class collection of art and artifacts at the Heard Art Museum of Native American Art will keep you enthralled with the history and art of the native tribes of the Southwest.

Stay
Like desert flowers, new hotels keep springing up in the Valley of the Sun.

Feel like you’re spending the night in an art museum at the hip new FOUND:RE Phoenix. It offers a one-of-a-kind experience inspired by contemporary art, culture, fashion and music. Taste eclectic, globally-inspired street food at MATCH Cuisine & Cocktails.

The Camby Hotel is Arizona’s first and only hotel from the Autograph Collection, and is reflective of the city’s iconic Camelback Mountain. Here you’ll find 277 luxury guest rooms, three innovative restaurants, rooftop pool, boutique spa and state-of-the-art fitness center.

The Camby Hotel  overlooks the Camelback Mountains | Photo courtesy of Visit Phoenix

It used to be a bank, but the new Hilton is a historic Art Deco property housed in the old Professional Building, now called the Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Downtown.

For desert luxury, the historic Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, or the newly-renovated Phoenician are top notch choices.

ALSO: Thirsting for desert discounts? Sign up today for Orbitz Rewards and start saving!

Eat
Influenced by traditional Mexican tastes as well as hearty steaks, Phoenix is one town that won’t let you go hungry. For breakfast, head to the Phoenix Public Market Cafe and try a frittata or baker’s quiche from award-winning chef Aaron Chamberlin. The Henry is perfect for brunch, offering specialties like caramel apple French toast and carrot cake pancakes. Enjoy an authentic taste of Mexican cuisine at Barrio Café, elevated by multi James Beard nominee female Chef Silva Salcedo Esparza. For a taste of pizza from an award-winning chef, Chris Bianco’s Pizzeria Bianco in downtown Phoenix will give you a whole new reason to come back.

Phoenix Market Cafe is an urban market eatery | Photo courtesy of Visit Phoenix

Drink
Bitter and Twisted
, housed in Arizona’s former prohibition office, is an award- winning cocktail bar downtown. Check it out for bar bites and late night menu and flip through their book of cocktails for your favorites.

Smashed chips at Bitter and Twisted | Photo courtesy of Visit Phoenix

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Tagged: Arizona

Mira Temkin

Mira Temkin

Lover of lore with a thirst for adventure, Mira has her bags packed -- ready to go in a flash. She writes with spirited soul about destinations, hotels and spas.
Mira Temkin

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