No one is going to scold you if you want to join us sports writers in Arizona this month and just take in baseball. After all, 15 major league teams come here to the desert for spring training, and the Cactus League stadiums are within an hour's drive of one another, give or take. But on the chance that you want to take a break from sunning yourself in the bleachers, here are our ideas for getting away from the diamond for an hour, an afternoon or a day.

Admire architecture

The legendary Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built Taliesen West as his winter residence. This Scottsdale center now houses the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. Tours are offered daily. You also can admire Wright's work on the ritzy Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. Details: www.franklloydwright.org.

Eat at a hot spot

Locally popular chef Franco Fazzuoli recently returned to Arizona after six years in New York. His new Scottsdale restaurant, Franco's Italian Caffe, is drawing rave reviews. Details: www.francosscottsdale.com.

Ride the rails

With model railroads, train rides, playgrounds and a carousel, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is a great stop for those with kids. The Scottsdale park is open every day in the spring. Details: www.therailroadpark.com.

Wear the green

On March 16, the annual Phoenix St. Patrick's Day Parade will start at 10 a.m., heading south on Third Street from Sheridan to Moreland. A fair will follow at Margaret T. Hance Park. Details: www.phxirish.org. At 3 p.m., a St. Patrick's Day Block Party with live music and Irish fare will get under way in Old Town Scottsdale. Tickets: http://scottsdalesultimateblockparty.com.

Or play the greens

The Scottsdale-Phoenix area is one of the nation's premier golf destinations, with about 200 courses -- from local nine-hole courses to the Tournament Players Club. The dry climate assures that you can get on the course as the sun rises or as it is setting.

See other-worldly plants

The Desert Botanical Garden may be less than a mile from the A's digs at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, but it's another world, given over to the flora of the desert. Details: www.dbg.org.

Watch (gasp!) another sport

It's basketball and hockey season, so you can always go check out the Suns or the Coyotes if you need a break from baseball. Be warned that it's easier to score hockey tickets than basketball ones in this area. Details: www.suns.com; http://coyotes.nhl.com.

Get some culture

In central Phoenix, the Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art combines art and history, meshing centuries of handicraft from Native Americans. Some of the collections were donated by former presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, and there's a gallery dedicated to retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Free guided tours are offered most days. Details: www.heard.org.

Hang out with kindred spirits

The quintessential spring training restaurant, Don & Charlie's, has walls covered with signed baseballs and photos of athletes, and jerseys hanging from the ceiling. You're likely to be sharing the dining room with broadcasters, coaches and a steady stream of active and retired ballplayers. Owner Don Carson is around most nights, too. You can't go wrong with the ribs/schnitzel combo. Details: www.donandcharlies.com.

Hit the trail

A good day trip is to drive the Apache Trail from Apache Junction to Roosevelt Lake. It takes you through the Superstition Mountains, past the Lost Dutchman State Park and Goldfield Ghost Town.

Shop, dine, shop

Small in size, Scottsdale's Old Town packs a punch. The shopping is high end and unusual (bejeweled knives hang in the windows of some jewelry shops), and you can't beat the food selection. Bandera is a reasonably priced spot for fish, and The Mission, FnB and Citizen Public House are very popular.

12. Climb a mountain

If you are into climbing, Camelback Mountain, a huge rock on the northern side of the city, is climbable. Even a semi-avid hiker can give it a shot, but Camelback is steep enough to require a decent set of legs. If you want a little longer climb, try Squaw Peak, recently renamed Piestewa Peak.

13. Go for a scenic run

Most in search of a good hike head to Camelback, but Papago Park provides the same terrain, albeit with easier trails and smaller crowds. Papago, a municipal park co-owned by Phoenix and Tempe, is an excellent place for a short run or beautiful views.

14. Visit a revered spot

In Guadalupe, a town just on the southern edge of Phoenix, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is a little-known gem -- except in the Latino community, where the church is revered. There are restrictions on photography taken on the grounds during religious ceremonies, but it's well worth a visit.

15. Make a night of it

With Arizona State University only a short drive away, Scottsdale is a prime nightlife spot for some of the best DJs in the world. From Afterlife to Wild Knight and every scene in between, you can find a marquee show every weekend and often on weekdays, too. Details: www.scottsdaledowntown.com.

16. Take a culinary break

Every year, top chefs, artisans, vintners and brewers converge in the sculpture garden of the Phoenix Art Museum for the city's high-end food festival, the Devoured Culinary Classic. This year's event, March 9-10, is expected to sell out. Details: www.devouredphoenix.com.

17. Escape to the mall

Said to be the largest mall in the Southwest, Scottsdale Fashion Square fills any shopping need, has a movie theater and several high-end restaurants and bars. Try Kona Grill or Z Tejas for creative dishes. Details: www.fashionsquare.com.

What are your Arizona favorites? Email travel@bayareanewsgroup.com or add your comments online. Contact John Hickey at jhickey@bayareanewsgroup.com and Alex Pavlovic at apavlovic@mercurynews.com.