We have two more weekends before summer is unofficially officially over.
We’re kind of wired to think that summer ends at Labor Day — that would be Sept. 2 — but the calendar says fall doesn’t officially begin until three weeks later — on Sept. 23.
And the thermostat definitely sides with the later date; temperatures will stick to the low 100s/high 90s through the first few weeks of September and possibly into October.
Which is why we’re excited to hit the road this weekend in search of things that make us think it’s fall or make us forget it’s still kinda summer.
They’re roasting fresh-picked chiles at Apple Annie’s Orchards and chiles remind us of chili, which makes us think of football, which takes us to the heart of cool evenings and Friday night lights.
Over the next two weekends, Green Chili Roast at Apple Annie’s is down at the farm, 6405 W. Williams Road. You can pick your own chiles or grab a bag already picked. You can also sample Apple Annie’s green chile ice cream or ask the staff at the Burger Barn on site to slap a few of those fresh roasted chiles on a grilled burger. Buy 40 pounds or more and they will roast them free of charge. Apple Annie’s is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Details: appleannies.com.
Oak Creek Canyon
Slide Rock in Oak Creek Canyon, a short drive from Sedona, was named one of “America’s Top 10 Swimming Holes” by the Travel Channel, which has slapped that accolade on the popular swimming hole several times in recent years. And there’s a reason why: The water is cool and crisp, the setting is out-of-this-world-gorgeous and the temperature is a good 15 to 20 degrees cooler than Tucson or Phoenix.
Slide Rock is like Mother Nature’s ultimate water park. It’s 80 feet of slip-and-slide excitement that dips and bends along an algae-coated sandstone chute. You have to be super careful; those rocks are slippery. But once you figure out your footing, there is nothing more exhilarating than sloshing in the cool, clear Oak Creek water on a bed of smooth and silky sandstone.
Slide Rock, 6871 N. Highway 89A, is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Labor Day. Admission is $20 for up to four adults in a vehicle weekdays, $30 on Fridays through Sundays. Details: azstateparks.com/slide-rock.
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor — formerly Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix — is on its end-of-the-season weekends-only schedule — 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through mid-October. And here’s the good news for those of us making the 90-minute drive to 4243 W. Pinnacle Peak Road: we still get in for half the price they charge people who live in Phoenix.
That’s half price for full fun: 35 acres teaming with more than 30 slides and attractions to soak you and sun you and make you think even for a brief second that you’re on a beach on the Pacific ocean. OK, that might be a stretch, but work with us.
To get the $19.99 deal, show your driver’s license, college ID or utility bill with your Tucson address to the folks at the gate. Or order online with the promo code “Tucson” at sixflags.com/phoenix.
Clarkdale Climb aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad to go back in time to when train travel was the norm, not the novelty.
The four-hour trip aboard a renovated vintage train departs from the depot, 300 N. Broadway, at 1 p.m. most days and winds through 20 miles of pristine terrain and 110 years of rich history.
The train includes first-class and coach seats, spacious lounge areas for parties of four or more and food and beverage services. Coach seats start at $64.95 for adults, $44.95 for kids at verdecanyonrr.com.
For future reference: The Verde Canyon Railroad runs a holiday-themed “Magical Christmas Journey” Dec. 6-23 that usually proves pretty popular. If you’re interested, you might want to make reservations early.