The Valley must hold some kind of record for how many people vacate the city over Labor Day weekend. It has to, because with temperatures still bordering on insufferable, having three days to escape the heat sounds like a great idea. Consult our roundup of events across Arizona if you’re itching to hightail it to cooler climes for a day or the weekend. Just be sure to call ahead to check for any last-minute changes.
The long drive to Alpine has a big payoff: the feeling you’re in the middle of a meadowy, mountainy nowhere, with nothing to do but traipse through ferny woods, drink cup after cup of coffee on a cabin porch, and read by a fire. But the Alpine Area Artisans Festival livens things up with booths full of paintings, baskets, jewelry, beading, wood work, collages, clay, quilting, antler art, glass, photography, clothing, weaving, amulets, journals, furniture and home decor. Stay over, and you can cap a day of wildlife watching with the eighth annual Alpine Community Theater Summer Melodrama. DETAILS >> Festival is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 1 on Main Street in Alpine. Free admission. (928) 339-4828. Melodrama is 7 p.m. Sept. 2 at Alpine Community Center, 12 County Road 2061. $5 adults, $1 children younger than 12. (928) 339-4656 or AlpineArizona.com.
A nighttime train ride through a wild canyon is serene and beautiful when you can watch the moonlight illuminate rock cliffs and river rapids from an open gondola car. It becomes more fun when you add tequila- and wine-tasting to the mix. Select the Verde Canyon Railroad’s Tequila Sunset Limited ticket, and you’ll get premium tequila-tastings paired with Mexican food in first-class comfort. Choose the Grape Train Escape, also in first class, and you’ll taste select wine and appetizer pairings. Non-boozing tickets are also available. Whichever you pick, you’ll get to see the sunset on the way out, and ride the rails beneath the stars on the return trip. DETAILS >> Train leaves 5:30 p.m. Sept. 1. Verde Canyon Railroad Depot, 300 N. Broadway, Clarkdale. $49.95-$119.95 for adults, $34.95 for children; make reservations in advance. (800) 582-7245 or VerdeCanyonRR.com.
When we head north, we don’t really care what we’re doing as long as we’re doing it outside. Northern Arizona was just made for soaking up the simple pleasure of being outdoors — without flash-frying to a crisp the way we do in Phoenix. The 20th annual Flagstaff Art in the Park is a chance to do just that, with juried work by nearly 100 artists and craftspeople in the city’s shady Wheeler Park. There’s also non-stop music by local and regional musicians, children’s activities and food vendors. End your day watching the stars come out at a film screening on the square — a place described as Flag’s downtown, outdoor living room. Or, head to the lush arboretum for a concert under the pines. You can bring your own picnic dinner and buy beer or wine on site.
DETAILS >> Flagstaff Art in the Park is 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 1-2 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 3. Wheeler Park, 212 W. Aspen Ave. Free admission. (928) 556-9498 or FlagstaffArtinthePark.com. Movie on the Square is 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 1 at Heritage Square, 6 E. Aspen Ave. Free admission. (928) 526-2146 or FlagDBA.com/movies-on-the-square. September Evening Concert is 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 1 at The Arboretum at Flagstaff, 4001 S. Woody Mountain Road. $16 for adults, $8 for children ages 5-15. (928) 774-1442 or TheArb.org.
Much of Jerome’s charm is in its precipitous situation atop the steep slopes of Cleopatra Hill. Embrace the town’s mile-high quirkiness during the Jerome Art Walk by visiting galleries and studios perched throughout four levels of windy streets. More than 30 artful spaces open their doors, inviting you to meet artists and oogle handcrafted jewelry, pottery, glass, leatherwork, clothing, paintings and sculpture made locally and elsewhere. When the charm of hoofing it up and down hills wanes, take heart: a free shuttle bus will carry you up and down the mountain. DETAILS >> 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 1. Jerome, about 2.5 hours north of the Valley on Arizona 89 A South, about 9 miles west of Cottonwood. Free admission. (928) 649-2277 or www.jeromeartwalk.com.
Mesa’s own Arizona Gunfighters will perform with other Western re-enactment groups at Tombstone’s 31st annual Rendezvous of Gunfighters. Shows will run the better part of each day at the world famous O.K. Corral, and there’s an authentic 1880s costume parade at noon Sunday down historic Allen Street. The Tombstone Wild Bunch, a non-profit historical group that’s been performing at the corral for 40 years, and Old West Thunder, out of El Paso, will also perform. DETAILS >> First show is at 10 a.m., last show starts at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 1-3. O.K. Corral, 326 E. Allen St., Tombstone. $10 for the first show, $3.50 for each show after that. (520) 457-3548 or TombstoneWildBunch.com.
Wickenburg isn’t far, but it’s got a dusty, Old West feel that makes it feel a world apart. That world takes on south of the border flair at the 24th annual Fiesta de Septiembre. Live entertainment comes by way of mariachi bands, vibrantly dressed folklorico dancers, and the band Barrio Latino. You’ll also find an arts and crafts mercado, a photo exhibit of Wickenburg’s pioneer families, and a “Kidz Zona” for youngsters. Tastebuds are taken care of by food vendors, a cantina, and margarita, salsa and guacamole contests. DETAILS >> 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 1. Wickenburg Community Center, 160 N. Valentine St. Free admission. (928) 684-5479 or OutWickenburgWay.com.
At the 12th annual Apple Harvest Celebration at Apple Annie’s Orchard, you can hop a wagon out to the trees to pick your own Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Rome Beauty apples, and Asian pears. Get there early, and you can steel yourself for the pickin’ with an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast served, until 10:30 a.m., with hot apple topping or cider syrup. Apple-smoked burger lunches will be served 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. You’ll also find homemade apple pies, “apple crumb pie ice cream” made in an Amish ice cream freezer, and hot roasted sweet corn. DETAILS >> 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 1-3. Apple Annie’s Orchard, 2081 W. Hardy Road, Willcox. Free admission; prices vary for food items and fruit by the pound. (520) 384-2084 or AppleAnnies.com.
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