Fall colors

It may not rival what you could see in Vermont or Colorado, but the palette of changing leaves scattered over Mount Lemmon is beautiful and just an hour drive up the 25-mile Catalina Highway northeast of Tucson. This photo was taken in 2017.

Happy fall, Tucson!

While the rest of the country is wearing sweaters and jumping in crunchy leaves, desert dwellers are enjoying 80-degree days (OK, temperatures are still in the 90s sometimes) while drinking prickly pear margaritas out on the patio.

Since it's really hard to tell when summer ends in a place where almost every day is a good day for shorts and flip-flops, here are a few indicators:ย 

1. Your AC kicks on some of the time instead of ALL of the time.

Air conditioning units are still pretty essential during the start of fall, but you might see your electricity bill dip soon.ย Just don't go spending that extra dough on sweaters or Uggs. You won't need them here for a while.

2. Being excited that your weather app is showing highs in the 80s (but sometimes still complaining that it's hot outside)

The sun is caught between a monsoon storm cloud and the ridge of Roskruge Mountains west of Tucson, Ariz., September 1, 2020.

I think we can all agree that it's exciting to know three-digit temperatures won't be back for a while.

3. Your weekends get really busy.

For Jude Nenadovich, "pumpkin lifting" may as well be an Olympic event as he struggles to pick up a pumpkin while his family watches in the background at the Marana Pumpkin Patch and Farm Festival in 2014.

With the good weather comes great events around Tucson. Eat at one of many food festivals, pick a pumpkin or get the pants scared off you at a haunted attraction.ย 

If you can't decide where to start, check out This Is Tucson's To Do section filled with loads of great ideas. We even have a Weekend Planner newsletter you can sign up for here.

4. The snowbirds slowly start to fly in.ย 

A sign it's fall/winter in Tucson: Snowbirds are arriving!

And no, we're not talking about animals with feathers (but you can brush up on yourย Tucson words here!).

We've seen a running joke on social media that leaves don't change color here, but license plates do.

5. You trek up Mount Lemmon to find evidence of the season.

A women collects colored leaves for at home art projects which have fallen from the trees aboveย along Bear Wallow trail in the Santa Catalina Mountains, on October 8, 2020.ย 

If you can't watch the leaves change, is it really fall?

P.S. โ€” we're keeping an eye out for colorful leaves on Mount Lemmon this year, so we'll let you know when we see 'em.

6. You can go hiking at a reasonable hour.

Groups of people walk the paved roadway at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. For those who want to get off the paved road, there are 14 trails available in Sabino Canyon.

No more getting up super early to beat the heat! (But still check the weather before heading outย โ€” here are some hiking tips!)

7. Your fall outfits are mostly just the clothes you wore in summer... but you might have to pull a light jacket out of your closet for chilly nights.

Don't pack up the shorts and tanks just yet. The average maximum temperature in Tucson for October is about 94 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

8. You don't dread going to your car.

Nadia Buus, left, and Cassandra Nessinger catch the last of the day's light from atop Nessinger's vehicle while waiting of the start of the movie at the Tucson Dragway Drive-In Theater in 2020.

The walk to your car through a busy parking lot is rough in summer. But what's even rougher is sitting in your car waiting for the AC to actually cool your car down.

9. Pumpkin flavored everything hits the shelves.

According to Forbes in 2018, what they call the "pumpkin spice industrial complex" is a $600 million market. That's a lot of Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

But we all know the real food MVP of the season is the pumpkin empanada. Our favorites are from La Estrella Bakery.

And just to put it out there... Horchata coffee > PSL.

10. Halloween stores suddenly appear on every corner.

Rachael Goddard, stocks some products at a Spirit Halloween pop-up store in Tucson.

Check out the Spirit Halloween Store website to find which one of their locations in town is closest to you. Secondhand stores including Goodwill Thrift Stores of Southern Arizona, Savers and Tucson Thrift Shop also turn into major costume hot spots this time of year.

11. The thought of fall break flusters every parent and brings joy to every teacher.

This year's fall break schedule โ€”ย 

12. You swap the splash pad for the swing set.ย 

The playground at Udall Park, photographed in 2018.

No more hot playground equipment.ย  ๐Ÿ™Œย 

13. You catch yourself confused about the time because it's dark by 6:30 p.m.

An autumnal equinox sunset over east Speedway Blvd., Tucson, Ariz., September 22, 2020.

What do you mean it's only 6:30?

At least we get to enjoy our beautiful sunsets year-round, thoughย ๐ŸŒž

14. You're thankful we don't have to switch the clocks in November

Daylight savings who?

15. Instagram posts from your out-of-town friends start to look a little different...

Their posts:

Your posts:


A photo posted by @wanderingthrutucson on Oct 2, 2016 at 12:47pm PDT

16. Pants with sandals anyone? How about shorts with flannel?

Yali Corea-Levy wears flip-flops with his dress clothes on Monday, August 8, 2005. Photo by Ron Medvescek/Arizona Daily Star.

The "Tucson casual" look should never be sacrificed.

17. You start every day feeling #blessed.

Fall in Tucson means you survived another Arizona summer, and no one can take that away from you. Good job!

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