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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.
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.
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.