Did somebody say, “September”?
We don’t have the typical chill in the wind that other states have to signify the arrival of fall. We just wait for the drop of pumpkin spice lattes and Spirit Halloween store fronts to begin setting up.
Stores have put out the decorations for purchase and the Starbucks line has tripled in the last week because it is officially fall in the valley! It’s such an exciting time for Phoenicians as the weather cools from 100 + degrees to a more manageable 80-90 degrees. The trails become flooded with both locals and tourists, Old Town has life breathed back into its shopping centers and tours of festivals pull through with treats for everyone.
For whatever reason, in a society with more options than ever before, we still love to complain, “there is nothing to do.” I’m guilty of it too and I wish I’d shut up because that’s so ridiculous to say. Why are we so programmed to be bored? Anyway, here is a list you can whip out when someone says, “What do you want to do?” this fall.
No matter where you are located in the valley, I am willing to bet there is a farmer’s market within a reasonable distance from your house. Just from my place in Peoria, which has been referred to as ‘the boonies’ and ‘East Jesus Nowhere’ there are 3 within 10 minutes or so.
A farmers market is a great place to know about your food. It’s something we should actually care more about. (Where it comes from. Who is handling it.) You can meet the farmers directly, ask questions and create real relationships with the people responsible for the food in your house.
From a food stand point, you want to go because the food is going to taste better. It’s more fresh, grown with care, and you can get preparation tips from the grower.
Discover new local sellers and flavors while creating a whole shopping experience that makes it fun weekly or monthly excursion. Click the title link for a list of local markets!
Get north and see the colors of fall by getting a cozy AirBnb in Strawberry, AZ. Why Strawberry? It’s a gorgeous unincorporated community in Gila County with a population of under 1,000 people. If you want to “get away from it all”… THIS is it.
I have a pal with a cabin in Strawberry and have seen the views from his porch! Beautiful colors, towering trees and wildlife that you definitely aren’t seeing around these parts.
Arizona has lots of “hidden treasures” worth exploring. If not Strawberry, then another low-key escape!
A personal favorite of mine, Tolmachoff Farms. Why? The variety. I have a personality type where I tend to truck through things pretty quickly and plenty to do means it goes from an hour of fun to a whole day.
At Tolmachoff Farms. You can walk the property, do the corn maze, play water games, roll in the hay, check out a show, visit the animals and of course, check out the pumpkins! Stay till nightfall and another option opens up, the AZ Field of Screams! The day time activities are totally family friendly while still making it a great day-date destination and the haunted maze is just what every Halloween enthusiast should be getting in line for.
Pumpkin Days & Corn Maze runs October 1st – November 1st. Entry is $15. AZ Field of Screams tickets sold separately for $25.
What is ordinarily a beautiful hotel property becomes essentially Halloween Town with a Giant Jack-o-Lantern to greet you at the main plaza and all! Last year I went to Pumpkin Nights (now Pumpkin Fest) when I was pregnant as a little date night. It was the perfect fall evening for a themed date like that. Drinks and food inspired by the season, a fairground area with games and rides, lanterns we could light for loved ones and more.
This year I will get to go as a family with the baby in tow. Finally I get to do the other half of fall that makes it so exciting! All the cute kids activities. Hearing the kids squeal with laughter makes me think they were enjoying it.
Pumpkin Fest 2021 #AtThePrincess is nightly starting September 16th running through October 31st. Monday-Thursday 5pm-9pm. Friday-Sunday 4pm-10pm. I highly recommend getting your tickets in advance and even suggest getting a room for the night. It makes enjoying the adults portion a lot more fun and ends up feeling like a mini-fall vacation.
5. Throw a Friendsgiving
I love throwing a get-together. I am so thankful for my friends so every year I do throw a Thanksgiving. It’s the perfect way tp get your friends from different areas of your life together in one place where everyone is being open to friendship since ’tis the season!
What’s great about a Friendsgiving during a pandemic is you can control who is there. Whatever your comfort level is, you can control it in this instance.
Spend an evening with your best pals, eating food that may or may not be great when it’s potluck style, but that’s half of the fun! After the last year and a half we have had, we need to spend more time celebrating those we love and less time voicing about those we hate.
Here is something brand new to the area. The ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ Exhibition that just opened up is here for a limited time only. We all know Van Gogh for “Starry Night” and cutting off his ear- why go to this? Because it’s definitely the coolest way to experience post-impressionist art.
Date night. Educational outing. Drug trip- whatever! Sounds like a great thing to build a whole night around.
“Immersive Van Gogh” is open now through November 28th 4301 N Scottsdale Road tickets range from $40-60 depending on date and time.
7. Do a Picnic
When you have nothing else to do eat! To have fun when you’re eating, make it themed and take it outdoors. A picnic can be something romantic you do with your partner but can also be birthday party-chic.
Arizona is bursting with incredible spots to have a bite. Click the title to check some out but really I encourage you to stumble upon your own. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of “dropping a pin” on spots that would make cute hideaways and picnic locations when I’m driving around- maybe you’ll be better at it than me.
Celebrate the local spirits at the Salt River Fields for AZ Bottles and Brews! Share some brews produced solely in Arizona with your friends or go alone and make plenty there.
Admission will get you inside, a souvenir sample glass, 12 samples from the be distillers and winemakers the Copper State has to offer and access to food trucks. The Sample sizes will be 50oz beer and 20oz wine/cocktails. Tickets are $50-65.
SLowly but surely we are seeing more and more concerts pop up around here. Venues have found a way to adapt and artists are taking lots of measures to be able to tour again. The venues definitely need a good comeback this year if we want to keep our local ones around.
There is nothing like seeing a show in an intimate setting and we have a lot of venues to pick from when many towns don’t even have one! Check out the ALT AZ Concert Calendar to see what alternative shows are coming to the valley.
Food is just such an integral part of fall. When you live in Arizona, it’s about the only acceptable time to have chili. (It’s just so hard to eat when it’s 110 outside.)
Join Schnepf Farms for a gaggle of fall events (a gaggle?) including a Chili Party! With more than a bowl of chili to offer, this is a great group activity. This year enjoy superlsides, ropes course, zip lines, petting zoo and rides, plus two corn mazes all with the price of your admission. Additional things on site will include a train, haunted bus, pumpkins and food.
Hit up the Chili Party at Schnepf Farms one time for $24 per person or snag a season pass for $79.
Celebrate the vibrant culture that lives here by attending the Phoenix Dia De Los Muertos party.
Dive deep into the holiday and experience all it has to offer while educating yourself on a beautiful tradition. Ask questions! Support the local latina artists that will be there. Eat some delicious food. Honor those who have already entered into the afterlife in full color.
At Dia De Los Muertos PHX you can find “La Llorona” walking around, (so keep the kiddos close 😉 ) Quetzalcoatl, the famous feathered serpent deity of ancient Mexico set to take flight, the Flacas ready to dance with you and music to match.
Click the link to get a list of vendors and activities that will be on location. You’ll also find a fun instructional video for making your very own mask to bring!
Dia De Los Muertos PHX is October 24th, 2021 at Steele Indian School Park.
Will it actually happen this year? Gosh I hope so.
The Phoenix Pride Festival is celebrating 40 years of fortitude! Really it’s been more than 40 years because the pandemic has delayed this rainbow party multiple times now. (Literally was going to go.. it got cancelled… I got pregnant AND had a baby who is now 6 months old all in the time I’ve been waiting to go.)
With the anticipation built up after more than a year, this is sure to be a place full of love and happiness. Whether you’re apart of LGBTQIA+ or an ally, you are welcome to attend and show your PRIDE for the work that has been done towards ensuring equality for all.
The parade will kick things off by Third St. and Thomas 10am on November 6th, free to the public. Festival activities are at Steele Indian School Park both November 6th and 7th from noon-9pm. Admission is $30-$100 depending on your package. Click the title link for more.
13. Do a Guided Tour
If you’re willing to try some of these activities, it really opens things up to you this fall. You will find more than enough to keep your social calendar full of things that are sure to entice a friend to come along with you.
There are a ton of companies that do it around here, I linked one in the title that does a good variety of tours- everything from rock climbing to flying over the Grand Canyon. Do remember any good guided tour is going to be a little expensive, with something like that you want QUALITY or the whole experience will be garbage and a day lost.
I LOVE guided tours because I’m definitely a “fun fact” snob. Tours are the best place to get reliable facts about where you are. They are also a great way to experience something new for the first time because you have the help there. I’ve never been rappelling but I’d love to be shown how and that’s exactly that kind of things you can book with 360 Adventures.
Even the experienced hiker can get something out of a guided tour through a new area. Guided tours make fun group activities but a private guided hike could be exactly what you need to feel more unplugged without venturing out on your own.
Don’t snug the guided tour! Prices vary. Do your own research before booking.
14. Verde Adventures
More adventures to make the list! This isn’t “the valley” but I hear people from the valley dishing about this place all the time! Definitely set as a family adventureland though I’m sure you could make this a romantic fun weekend too.
This is an exciting way to discover the Verde River. No matter what your adventure speed is, there is something for you. Wine tastings, tubing and rafting galore. You even have the choice to raft your way to the wine!
When you normally experience sedona it’s for the rocks and canyons. Verde Adventures is putting you in the water!
Prices vary depending on a lot of factors so just click the title link and poke around.
15. Do Something Healthy
Most importantly this fall, you should definitely stay healthy! Of course I’m going to point out the one way which is being mindful of the pandemic and *cough* getting vaccinated but I won’t push that agenda today.
Honestly the best thing you can do for your health is give a damn what is going into your body. Why don’t we ask about where our food comes from more. How many hands are touching it? What things harmful to our health exist in what is on a store shelf? People spend a lot of money trying to prolong life yet keep putting things directly into their body that are killing them.
This fall I really challenge you to be more curious about what you are creating in yourself. That’s right, “creating yourself.” You are what you eat. If you are eating things laced with chemical residue to extend shelf-life or hormones made to make the chicken fat then you have those things running through your body too. Over your life span, it builds up and determines what your quality of life will be when it’s too late to start making those good choices.
I won’t say what kind of food plan you should follow. Totally up to you and what makes your body feel good. Just make sure you know what you are fueling your body with if you expect your body to keep doing things for you.
Wow, we have so many options around us. STOP SAYING YOU ARE BORED WITH NOTHING TO DO. It’s creating a huge societal problem where you always think the grass is greener elsewhere. Traveling is cool but it’s important to love and explore where you call home too.