fall feature
Flagstaff Oktoberfest, photo credit, Jacob Dunn
By Lauren Wong

I’d say this my first real fall in Arizona. Last November I had just started my lease in Arizona and was moving into my new apartment. I then immediately got Covid. Being from Chicago, it’s obviously a little bit different. 

I’m used to getting ready for sweater weather and watching as the leaves go through their cycle before falling to the ground in a pleasing array of orange, yellows, and reds. I’m used to soaking in the last few good days before the bitter cold washes over the city. 

Now, the cold is something I won’t miss, and is one of the main reasons I moved here. But, I already miss the feeling of change that comes with each new season. I’ll miss grasping that cup of steaming hot apple cider, while feeling the warmth fill my lungs as I breathe in its cinnamon scent.

So, in search of some fall festivities to get me in the spirit, here are some things I found.

Scenic Drives:

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Get out of the city to find some fall foliage. What I’ve come to love about Arizona is how disparate the landscape is. You can be surrounded by cacti in the middle of the desert, red rocks in beautiful Sedona, or dense greenery in the mountains and forests of Flagstaff and Prescott. 

So, although downtown Phoenix may not look like fall, you can take a short day trip to find some stunning and contrasting views full of fall colors. Take a trip to Flagstaff and watch as the trees change in color before turning white with snow.  Highway 89A offers beautiful views of both Flagstaff and Sedona. 

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Sedona will be bursting with color, the red rocks and red leaves fighting to catch your eye first. A shorter drive from Phoenix that also offers great views is Prescott National Forest. Take a scenic drive, get out and hike, and revel in the feeling of rebirth as the trees shed for the winter ahead.

When: Select days end of Sep. - Oct.
Where: 6405 W Williams Rd, Willcox
Cost: Free admission
photo credit, Apple Annie’s

Apple Annie’s brings together all the fall festivities to the farm starting the end of September through October. At the 12.5-acre farm you can purchase tickets for hayrides and test your skills in their 600,000-stalk corn maze. The maze has two difficulty levels you can choose from. Pick your very own pumpkins in their patch, and wander their sunflower fields.

When: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Oct. 1
Where: Wheeler Park, Flagstaff
Cost: Kids GA $5, Adult GA $7

Brought to you by Desert Financial is the 13th annual Flagstaff Oktoberfest. You can expect everything from lots and lots of beer (obviously), live music, pretzels, bratwursts, and more. Polka music will encompass the crowd as guests participate in a brat eating contest, stein holding competition, and a Frozen T-shirt contest. Deck yourself out in your best dirndl and lederhosen and get ready for a full day of celebration!

photo credit, Jacob Dunn
When: Every Thursday - Sunday, Oct. 1 - 30
Where: 24810 S Rittenhouse Rd, Queen Creek
Cost: GA $23.95

If you’re looking to get into the fall spirit, and love chili, there isn’t a more perfect event for you. Your general admission ticket gets you access to just about everything. That includes hay rides, the mascot, one acre of sunflower fields, bonfires, the roller coasters, zip lines, and their lawn games (Twister and Giant Chess). Additionally there’s a petting zoo, jumping pillows, 10 acre “Celebrity” corn maze, pig races, tractor climb, rock wall, mini golf, and much more. 

New features this year include the Sweet Shop, Garden Center, Schnepf Merc, and Toy Shoppe. While you’re there you can purchase tickets for the train, pumpkins and haunted bus.

When: Every Thursday - Sunday, Oct. 1 - 30
Where: 14950 N Trico Rd, Marana
Cost: $17 - $21 (cheaper online)

Fully immerse yourself within the fall spirit by surrounding yourself with 50 acres of homegrown pumpkins! Hitch a ride to the pumpkin patch on their wagon and bring the magic back into the fall season. Skip purchasing grocery store pumpkins this year and handpick your very own for $0.50 per pound. 

With your general admission ticket you’ll gain access to their famous corn maze, diesel train, farm playland, and roller coasters. You can also see all the farm animals, go down the super slide, watch pig races, and more. For an additional $10 you can ride their zipline or get a ticket to ride the ponies. To shoot a pumpkin/apple out of their cannon it’s $1 per shot.

When: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Nov. 5
Where: Margaret T. Hance Park, Phoenix
Cost: Free entry

Support local businesses as you browse through over 200 vendors at Margaret T. Hance Park. You’ll find everything from your favorite local restaurants to art, apparel, and more. For all guests 21 and up you can grab a drink from the AZ Beverage Garden that brings together a handful of local wineries, breweries, and spirits.

photo credit, Local First Arizona

For entertainment there will be plenty of games and a “Kid Zone,” for your younger guests, featuring different crafts and activities. Several of Arizona’s professional sports teams will be included in their Sports Zone. There’s even an online silent auction, so bid your way to staycations, some of Arizona’s best experiences, and/or some local gifts! Don’t miss out of Arizona’s largest, certified, local event.