Symphony Hall
Want to raise your kid to like Beethoven and Brahms, not just Beyoncé? In Phoenix, at least, you don't have a financial excuse not to instill a love of classical music early, thanks to the fine people at Target. With their assistance, the Phoenix Symphony is able to offer a series of six kid-friendly concerts. Next season's bill of fare, which starts in October, features everything from Tchaikovsky to Bernstein — with some local favorites, including the Grand Canyon Orchestra, thrown in for good measure. Tickets start at just $10. And for every adult subscription you buy, a child can attend free. Don't have a kid? With a deal this good, you may want to start looking for a long-lost nephew.
Symphony Hall
Tired of evenings out that always seem to feature those Valley standbys: flip-flops and cheap margaritas? There's no better cure than a trip to an Arizona Opera performance. It's the one of few things in town that people really do get dressed up for. And while the good seats aren't cheap — the opera wants a $2,500 donation plus $121 a show just to sit in certain areas — you can be frugal, with back-row tickets starting at $34 on weekdays. Even there, though, you're going to feel like a million dollars. Just leave the plastic sandals at home.
Turf Soaring School
If you really want to bond with that special someone — and you and your date collectively weigh less than 300 pounds — a glider ride at Lake Pleasant is the adventure for you.Our spies who've tried the experience say it's a great way to get a little bit closer and check out the beauty of mountains, the lake, and clear blue Arizona skies. For $135, you can take the controls. Not quite so confident? There are plenty of options in which you can let the staff do the work and you and your honey can sit back and enjoy the beauty.
Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza
Instead of the usual dinner, movie, and awkward conversation, we suggest something a little more creative. Get off your butt and get moving. Not quickly; a meandering pace will do. Don't worry, we'll give you something to look at, even if your date's not super-viewable.

Scottsdale is home to some impressive public art, a large deal of it near the Civic Center and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. An early-evening self-guided tour is the perfect way to get to know your date (like whether she's ever been inside a museum).

Start with Knight Rise, one of only three sky spaces by the famed artist James Turrell open to the public in the United States. The space is breathtaking at sunset, when you can sit inside the sky chamber and watch the light change through the skylight at the top. It's quiet and a good place to actually get to know the person you're with.

After that, where you move to depends on your taste. There are more than 20 works of art throughout the Civic Center area to look for. We're partial to Robert Indiana's famous Love sculpture and the Hummingbird Sanctuary Garden a few blocks south.

Scottsdale's public art Web site gives a detailed description of each piece available along the tour so you can choose to plan your route, or just wander around and see what you find.

Afterwards, there are plenty of places nearby to feed your date. We like AZ88 and Orange Table, both located just a short hand-holding walk from the museum.

Arthur Murray Dance Studio
With the popularity of ABC's Dancing with the Stars, you'd think old-school ballrooms would be packed nightly. Sadly, Phoenicians seem to prefer watching the foxtrot on television, rather than trotting their asses out to actually do it. The exception is dance instructor Chad Lakridis' Ballroom Bash night, a monthly social gathering with music, food, door prizes, and dancing — from the Argentinean tango to the West Coast Swing. Lakridis is no Emmitt Smith or Mario Lopez, but his winning smile and rugged 5 o'clock shadow combine for a mug that's easy on the eyes — a saving grace for the ladies because those lacking a partner can always team up with the instructor. A half-hour lesson precedes the dance portion, with Lakridis cheerfully offering newbies tips on how to negotiate the often-crowded, 4,200-square-foot dance floor without getting trampled.
The Vig
As Americans, one of our favorite pastimes is hunting for new trends by shamelessly copying traditions from other cultures. We think the Vig has the right idea with their Euro-inspired bocce ball lawn. On the east side of the bar's fabulous patio is a strip of Astroturf that is the perfect size on which to roll some balls back and forth. The idea is so popular, it's rare to be hanging on a weekend evening without hearing the repetitious thud of bocce balls bouncing into one another. And with such simple rules, anyone can be a pseudo-Euro.
Chase Field
Homers and hotties collide at this swanky nightclub-style lounge located at Chase Field, allowing D-Backs fans to cheer on the Snakes in style. Singles and scenesters needn't worry about cramming into cramped seats with the nacho-eating masses when they can relax at this posh two-level pad. Located above the right field warning track, the club is the first of its kind at a major-league ballpark (take that, Yankee fans) and is steeped in chic. Numerous classy-looking couches and ottomans allow fashionista fans to relax and watch the baseball action unfold in front of them or on seven plasma TVs tuned to the game. There's also a pool table available for a little billiards action between innings, as well as a fully stocked bar and kitchen serving up top-shelf eats and drinks. Admission to the club is $20 (or $30 for more premier games) and can only be gained through the D-Backs Web site with special promotional passwords. It sounds like a hassle, but believe us, it's worth it to kick it in style while your friends have to hang out at Friday's Front Row. Suckers.
The Cactus League has taken an ominous turn in the past decade, what with all of those new bells-and-whistles ball yards sprouting like synthetic weeds in the West Valley. Despite an $8 million partial makeover in 2005, the 1965-vintage Phoenix Muni remains old-school Cactus League, and a trip to the venerable 8,500-seater is about the game, not the place.

This is not to say that there are no creature comforts. The winter home of the Oakland Athletics has everything a true baseball nut requires: warm sun, cold beer, a perfectly groomed field, and cozy environs with not a bad seat in the house. If you like the real thing, go Muni.

Sun Devil Stadium
Until December 29, 2006 — and the stupefying football game that put it on the map — the Insight was second-tier all the way. It started life as the Copper Bowl in Tucson in 1989, enduring a decade of lame, forgettable matches that even Old Pueblans couldn't give a hang about. In 2000, the game moved to Phoenix's Chase Field. A baseball stadium. Mortifying.

Finally, with the Fiesta Bowl's departure to Glendale's new University of Phoenix Stadium in early '07, the Insight got a real home of its own. And, man, did it make the most of it. In its first year at Sun Devil, the Insight hosted the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Minnesota Golden Gophers in what looked to be a just-okay matchup. Uh, nuh uh. The Gophers led 38-7 in the third quarter when the boys from West Texas kicked it into overdrive and cranked out the biggest comeback in NCAA Division-I postseason history with a 44-41 win.

As delightful as the game was, we old-schoolers took even more satisfaction knowing that the Fiesta's now ensconced in Bill Bidwill's $200 zillion pinball machine and the Insight's in an honest-to-gosh open-air college-football stadium, with all the tradition and rah-rah (and ready access to Mill Avenue's bars) that entails.

What can we say about Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash, except that he's the greatest?

Here's a guy who runs about 40 miles a night on the basketball court as he enters his mid-30s, all the while shucking and jiving with the ball, passing to this teammate and that. Making the art of basketball assists look like child's play. Never has anybody who looked so un-athletic been so, well, athletic! Experts say boxers are the greatest athletes, but the way Steve Nash handles the basketball, the way he cuts through defenders is truly phenomenal.

The Suns didn't win the championship last year, but it wasn't because of Nash. He did everything in his power to push his team ahead, even getting pushed gang-style by the Spurs' Robert Horry into the scorer's table in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. That turned out to be the cheap shot heard around the world. Two Suns, Amaré Stoudemire and Boris Diaw, were suspended for the next game — which would have been a momentum contest under normal circumstances — and the Suns ended up losing the series. See, Stat and Three-D made a move toward the melee, which warrants an automatic one-game suspension under NBA rules. But we digress. Little Stevie jumped up from the floor after Horry's cowardly push and tried to go after the 6-foot-11 thug.

Thing is, Nash's so athletic that we'd like to see him in the boxing ring someday, and we're pretty sure that if the referee hadn't gotten in the way, and Stoudemire and Diaw hadn't made their advances, our hero would've leapt into the air and landed one on Big Shot Rob's sneering kisser. With his foot! Did we mention that Nash's even better at soccer than hoops?

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