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October is well-regarded as a perfect wedding month, especially in destinations like Sedona. We’ve lined up some of our favorite Arizona wedding venues, whether you’re planning an elopement or quickly approaching wedding date this fall, or next spring, summer, or the year after.

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Sedona.net is all new! The longest-running Sedona, Arizona visitor site – which began in 1997 – received a whole new look on September 3, 2013. More than a new look, the revamped Sedona.net features straight-talk help for planning a Sedona visit. It’s now easier than ever to discover where to stay, what to do, where to eat and how to get here. We’ve left behind the flowery descriptions of Sedona; YOU know why you want to visit, you don’t need highfalutin descriptions of the red rocks to convince to come to Sedona. In their place is real-life, straightforward advice, answers and recommendations for vacationing in Sedona for any visitor. You’ll find recommendations on hotels and things to do for Give us your feedback

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Sept 2013 Grand Canyon Rafting Sale

Visit Canyoneers.com

Canyoneers has September 2013 Grand Canyon rafting trips on sale.

7 day, 6 night, full Grand Canyon motorized river trips, starting and ending in Flagstaff, with everything included!

  • Departure Sept 1 – Two-For-One Special – just $1247.50 per person (2 person min.)
  • Departure Sept 8 or 11 – Save $25 off the regular per person price of $2,495… you pay only $1871.25!

Visit Canyoneers.com to book online. (It wouldn’t hurt to tell them that Christina from “theCanyon.com” sent you!)


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Mountain Biking in Flagstaff

Photo credit: Darren’s Rides on Flickr

We got a great question from one of our newsletter subscribers recently. By the way, if you’re not a subscriber, then you’re probably not aware that I personally invite every subscriber to email me directly with any questions they have about visiting Arizona. I reply to each and every one. Me. Christina. Not a robot, not an assistant… just little ole me. I will answer any question you have, even if it takes me a couple days to research the real stumpers and get back to you, so if you want to subscribe, please do! And of course, I protect everyone’s privacy (we don’t sell or give out our list ever), but when a question is particularly good – like this one is – I like to share it as well as my answer, removing the writer’s full name and identifying details, so that all our readers can benefit.

Hello Christina,
I hope it’s ok to email you directly, but I’m having trouble finding the
info I’m looking for by randomly searching the web. :-)I’m hoping to take a cycling trip later this summer and Flagstaff is one of
the areas I’m looking at. I’m looking for a place I can do both mountain
biking and road biking, maybe some hiking and sight seeing all in the same
general area. I know Flagstaff offers opportunities for all these things,
but I’m looking for the best area of town to stay in to do all this stuff.

I’d like to be close to trails so I’m not spending too much time driving to
mountain biking or hiking spots, but I’d also like to be near some nice road
riding areas so I can leave from the hotel and do a nice 40 – 60 mile ride.
I’d also like to be near (walking distance) restaurants and bars so I’m not
forced to drive to eat everyday.

Does a place like this exist in Flagstaff?


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Dear Arizona Travel:
We plan on visiting Arizona this summer and want to do a lot of fun stuff, but how can we get out of the heat? We love horseback riding, hiking, wine touring and especially river rafting. We have an 11 year old and a 14 year old; we are a very active family and love doing a lot of stuff outdoors. We have never visited the area and would love any info you have would be much appreciated!!!!
Thanks so much and can’t wait to hear from you.

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In the spirit of Arizona Bike Week 2013 and as a complement our 7 Best Arizona Scenic Drives, we thought we’d put together a list of Arizona Biker-Friendly Hotels and Motels.

In truth, most hotels and motels are biker-friendly. But bikers need hotels and motels that don’t just tolerate bikers, but cater to motorcycle riders; these hotels and motels often offer washing stations, cleaning rags (so bikers aren’t forced to use hotel bath towels to clean their bikes after a long ride), luggage storage, parking in front of the guestroom, proximity to major thoroughfares, room for groups of riders both large and small, comfortable rooms after a long day on the bike, personable staff (sometimes even owners and managers that ride) and other amenities that motorcyclists especially appreciate. Here, a list of Arizona motorcycle-friendly hotels and motels that aim to make you comfortable, keep your ride safe and sound.


Best Western Plus InnSuites Tucson Foothills Hotel & Suites
6201 North Oracle Road
(520) 297-8111



Best Western Plus InnSuites
1450 Castle Dome
(928) 783-8341



Best Western Plus InnSuites Phoenix Hotel & Suites
1615 E Northern Ave.
(602) 997-6285



Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale North/Perimeter Center
8550 E. Princess Dr.
(480) 515-4944



Comfort Inn at Ponderosa Pines
1290 White Spar Rd.
(928) 778-5770



Jerome Grand Hotel
200 Hill St.
(928) 634-8200



Best Western PLUS Inn of Sedona
1200 West Highway 89A



America’s Best Inn & Suites Flagstaff (fmly Arizonan Motel)
910 S Milton Rd.
(928) 774-7171



Motel 6 Bellemont (fmly Microtel Inn)
12380 W I-40
(928) 556-9599



Highlander Motel
533 W Route 66
(928) 635-2541



Days Inn Kingman East
3381 E. Andy Devine Ave.
(928) 757-7337



Days Inn and Suites Payson
301 A South Beeline Hwy
(928) 474-9800


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7 Best Arizona Scenic Drives

Whether station wagon or Harley, get out on one of these scenic Arizona drives

April is prime season for gassing up the station wagon or the Harley and heading out on the open road. Arizona has some of the most gasp-worthy scenic byways in the West, winding their way through unmistakable evidence of geological and ecological marvels. Roll down the windows, whizz by in wonderment, and stop to hike, photograph or admire Spring’s wildflowers.

Phoenix/Central Arizona:

Apache Trail – This 41.5 mile rugged, hairpin-winding drive takes visitors from Apache Junction east of Phoenix to a final reward of the Tonto National Monument, just southeast of the small community of Roosevelt. Take Highway 88 to its terminus at Highway 188, then travel southeast about 3 miles to the turnoff for Tonto National Monument. Points of interest along the way include Lost Dutchman’s State Park, the Superstition Wilderness, Tonto National Forest, Theodore Roosevelt Lake and Fish Creek Canyon. Allow 5 hours for this drive, and be prepared for the second half’s unpaved (but well worth it) grading. For more details, we like this resource:

Salt River Canyon – Salt River Canyon is sometimes called the mini-Grand Canyon, and the views from the bridge where US-60 crosses over the roaring Salt River has been described as the most dramatic in Arizona. From Phoenix, this 270-mile round trip makes for an excellent day trip, with plenty of time to stop at numerous overlooks, and in old mining towns of Globe, Claypool and Miami for some antique shopping, dining or a stay-over. Or, book a Salt River rafting trip with one of a handful of skilled and reputable outfitters for a memorable day of heart-pounding adventure. From Phoenix, take US-60 into the Tonto National Forest, through Globe. Turn north onto SR-77/US-60 and continue approximately 40 miles to the bridge at the bottom of Salt River Canyon. For more details, check out:


White Mountain Scenic Road – Starting just south of Pinetop-Lakeside in Hon-Dah, an Apache word for “welcome” or “be my guest”, the White Mountain Scenic Road curves east along Highway 260, offering riders views of thick Ponderosa forest. Turn south onto Highway 273 to catch views of Sunrise Lake, Sunrise Ski Resort, the second highest peak in Arizona – Mount Baldy – and Crescent Lake before turning back toward the north on Highway 261 toward Eager-Springerville, where the scenic drive terminates. In all, 67.3 miles make up this mountain trek through sacred Apache lands. For more details on wildlife and points of interest, go to:


Monument Valley Scenic Loop – In perhaps Arizona’s most remote corner lies one of perhaps the state’s most photographed and iconic rock formations: the East and West Mitten Buttes of Monument Valley. On this 17-mile unpaved but well-graded loop drive, most of the otherworldly rock formations and outcroppings are visible, which is good because deviating from the loop is not permitted without a native guide present. Begin in Kayenta, AZ – the town closest to this Navajo Tribal Park – and take US-163 north across the stateline into Utah where you’ll find the turnoff to Monument Valley. For more details on the monuments you’ll see from the loop, including a detail map and descriptions, visit:


Kaibab Plateau – North Rim National Scenic Byway – If you’ve visited the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, then you know the Kaibab Plateau scenic drive traverses some of the most awe-inducing landscape in the Western U.S., not to mention that it ends at the North Rim, which many argue offers the most dramatic views of the Grand Canyon. A mix of dense ponderosa and conifer forest and picturesque meadows, the Kaibab – the Paiute Indian word for “mountain lying down” – offers visitors a chance to glimpse deer, squirrel, wild turkeys and other wildlife amid the quaking aspen and pine that dominate the landscape. Begin and end at Jacob Lake, a tiny unincorporated town at the head of the scenic highway of State Route 67 where it meets US-89A. Get more information about the Kaibab Plateau here:


Arizona 89: Wickenburg-Prescott-Jerome-Sedona
A favorite among motorcycle riders and sports car drivers, the ride from Wickenburg to Sedona along State Route 89 is like leaving the present and speeding through the Wild Wild West. Ditch the multi-laned Interstate-17 and take a ride starting in Wickenburg for a short spell on US-93 and turn off onto SR-89 for the climb of your life up the steep Yarnell Hill, an elevation change of 2,500 feet in just six winding miles. Cruise through micro-towns of Congress, Yarnell and Wilhoit and approach the popular Valley resident escape of Prescott from the south. Stop here for a quick break along Whiskey Row – a portion of SR-89 called Montezuma Street in town, where bikers, antiquers, locals and tourists gather constantly. Turn briefly onto Highway 69/Gurley Street and reconnect with SR-89 to ride through the bigger-than-life Granite Dells. From there, connect with SR-89A for graceful curve around the back of Prescott Valley before turning northeast again toward the former ghost town of Jerome. Twists and turns and sheer cliff drop-offs make this portion of the ride at times terrifying and always jaw-dropping, and you’ll be handsomely rewarded by the charm, almost lawlessness and artistry that is the signature of the hillside town of Jerome. Continue down a few more hairpin turns to the city of Cottonwood and on to Sedona, a destination that has been described so many times elsewhere that we hardly need to go into it here. At 122 miles (but at least 3 hours) each way, you can do this scenic drive as a day trip, or plan an overnight in Prescott, Jerome, Cottonwood or Sedona before returning the same way or along I-17. For more on this zig-zag route, visit:

Patagonia-Sonoita Scenic Road – If you love wine, local art, or birds and butterflies, drive the Patagonia-Sonoita Scenic Road and be sure to include a short side loop around some of Arizona’s best wineries. Begin your trip in Nogales, AZ along the border with Mexico and head north on SR-82, taking time to explore Patagonia Lake State Park and the adobe-lined artist community of Patagonia. The breezy town is fun to poke around and have lunch, and it’s a haven for bird watchers and butterfly enthusiasts, since hundreds of species of each migrate to the area each year. Continue up SR-82 toward Sonoita, taking a quick detour down SR-83 and onto the loop created by Elgin Road and Lower Elgin Road. Between Elgin, Sonoita and Vail, you’ll find eight local Arizona wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms, making this area the heart of southern Arizona wine country. Return to SR-82 and head north to Vail and the intersection with Interstate-10, taking in the sweeping views of Arizona’s Mountain Empire – the surrounding Patagonia and Santa Rita Mountains – which are sure to leave you dreaming of red varietals, brightly-colored lepidoptera and rugged cowboys.

What are your favorite Arizona scenic drives? Leave us a comment and share your Arizona travel tips.

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Dear Arizona Travel:
We are visiting Flagstaff with our 2 year-old son in June. Are there any activities or entertainment suitable for toddlers in Flagstaff and the surrounding areas? We know all the usual attractions but nothing specifically designed for young children. Are there playgrounds or indoor play centers? We will be staying with friends and will have our own car.
Helen (U.K.)

Hi, Helen. Congratulations on planning a summer trip to Flagstaff. I know from experience that traveling with a 2 year-old can be a wonderful challenge. Your son is a lucky boy!

There is a lot to do in Flagstaff with kids, including toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged children. Here are some summertime ideas that are not only age-appropriate, but many are free or cheap and easy:


Flagstaff Movies on the Square
Starts June 1st. Family-friendly movies are shown outside on Heritage Square each Saturday evening through the summer for FREE. Each event begins at 5pm with entertainment from the community, music, and then movies start at dusk (about 7:30pm) Heritage Square is downtown on Aspen Street between Leroux and San Francisco Streets.

Harkins Summer Movie Fun
Starts June 10. $5 for 10 kid-friendly movies (or pay individually $2/person); kids under 3 are free. Movies start at 9:45 am, and no one cares if there’s crying or you have to get up and walk around. See Harkins’ website for more info. 1959 S Woodlands Village Blvd (928) 774-4700

Summit Gymnastics Open Gym
Kids can run and jump and climb to their hearts’ content. $5 for first child, $3 for additional children. Mondays and Thursdays 10am-noon, ages 5 and under. 1926 N. 4th St, Suite 7 (928) 526-0644

Flagstaff Aquaplex
$3/child (under 3 are free with a paid adult), $5/adult. Make a day of fun at the Aquaplex with swimming in the play pool (complete with slides and fountains), relax in the lazy river, race down the fast water slides, sit in the hot tub, or climb the rock wall and play air hockey. Usually less crowded in the morning or evening, but in the summer, it is often closed in the morning due to swim lessons. Childcare is available for $2/hour/child. 1702 N. 4th St (928) 213-2300

Things to do with toddlers in Flagstaff

Christina’s own “Arizona Toddler” at age 2, hiking in Flagstaff in 2009

City Parks and Rec

Frances Short Pond aka “The Duck Pond” at Thorpe Park
Located just west of the downtown Flagstaff area at the end of Aztec street, this is a great place to get out and enjoy Flagstaff’s stellar summer weather. Children love the duck pond, and the greater park offers two playgrounds and all-important portable and permanent restrooms. 191 N. Thorpe Road

Bushmaster Park
When you want to go outdoors, but need respite from the sun, the best shaded park is Bushmaster Park. Two playgrounds for the younger ones, and a bitchin’ skate park for the tweens and teens. 3150 N Alta Vista Drive

Flagstaff City/Coconino County Public Library
Lego Club, geared toward elementary school kids, is on the second Monday afternoon of every month at East Flagstaff Community Library. 3000 N. Fourth Street, Suite 5 (928) 213-2348

Baby, Toddler and Preschooler Storytimes run throughout the week year-round at both the Main Library and East Flagstaff Community Library. Check the library’s website for days and times, and seasonal changes (e.g. August-May may differ from June/July.) Main Library 300 West Aspen Ave (928) 213-2330


Home Depot
Get hands-on at The Home Depot. The Home Depot offers free workshops for do-it-yourselfers of all ages and experience levels. FREE hands-on workshops designed for children ages 5 – 12 offered the 1st Saturday of every month between 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Register online. Two locations: 1325 W Rte 66 (928) 556-1529 and 5005 E Marketplace Dr (928) 526-1692

Instilling a lifelong love of reading starts early, so Bookman’s created Kids Club, giving kids from birth to 12 years old a 10% discount on anything in its stores. And a $10 gift certificate each year on your birthday. 1520 Riordan Ranch St (928) 774-0005

Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Wildflower Bread Company
Every Wednesday, Wildflower offers kids Craft and Cookie Day. From 3:30-4:00pm, children who ask to participate are offered a simple kids craft, cookie and milk FREE! Located just south of downtown, off Butler Ave. 530 E. Piccadilly Drive (928) 233-5010

Baskin Robbins
After School Special $1.25 ice cream cones from 2:30-4pm on schooldays. 1104 S Milton Rd (928) 779-1012

Little America Travel Center
$0.50 soft serve ice cream cones in the Little America Grill. 2515 East Butler Ave (928) 779-7900

Mike & Ronda’s The Place
Mike & Ronda’s is widely regarded as Flagstaff’s best breakfast experience, and the kiddos like pretending to serve up their own biscuits and gravy in the play kitchen and miniature tables. 21 S Milton Rd (928) 774-7008

Big Foot BBQ
Located in the Basement Marketplace, Old Town Shops in downtown Flagstaff, this joint is a favorite of locals and visitors large and small because their Kids Corral and chalkboard keep the little piglets busy while you enjoy some serious pulled pork. 120 N Leroux Street Flagstaff, AZ 86001 (928) 226-1677

Crown Railroad Cafe
One word: Trains! A model train runs around the ceiling to delight the kids, and adults won’t be disappointed by the yummy diner food or heralded service. Two locations: West Flagstaff 2700 S Woodlands Village Blvd (Wal-Mart shopping center) and East Flagstaff 3300 East Rte 66 (in front of Howard Johnson) (928) 522-9237

Granny’s Closet
A long-time haunt for college kids, locals and visitors, Granny’s is a family friendly tavern that kids like because the booths feature personal TVs and remotes. Order up some wings, flip on some cartoons, and let the kids zone out while the grownups get their grub on.

Family-Friendly Hikes and Swimmin’ Holes

Sandy’s Canyon
Located off of Lake Mary Road, the trail leads you along the rim of Sandy’s Canyon with great views of a large lava field with Mount Elden in the distance. The first 1.5 miles is mostly shaded and takes hikers down into Sandy’s Canyon where the trail joins the Arizona Trail, which is a good turn-around point when hiking with kids.

Buffalo Park Trails
Buffalo Park is part of the the Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS, pronounced “foots”) as a non-motorized hike-bike-run-accessible recreation area. Its two short loop trails are flat, wide and ringed with Ponderosa pines and mountain views. Suitable for strollers. Take Fort Valley Road (US 180) to Forest Ave; turn right and go to the turnoff for the park at Gemini Drive; turn left and follow the signs to the park entrance.

Griffith’s Spring
Griffith’s Spring is a shaded and peaceful one-mile loop trail that’s wide and flat, and terminates at its namesake spring, with small exploratory trails leading to greenery, wildflowers and (watch out) poison ivy.

Wet Beaver Creek
This clear, cool brook remains pleasantly secluded in the deep red rock canyon it has cut into the southern rim of the Colorado Plateau. The stream’s pools and riffles are a popular place to fish, hike, swim, and birdwatch. The waters of the stream are stocked with trout. 45 miles south of Flagstaff on graveled Forest Roads. Drive south from Flagstaff on I-17 and exit onto AZ Highway 179; drive 2 miles east on Forest Road 618 to the campground.

Slide Rock State Park
Likely the most popular spot in Oak Creek Canyon (between Flagstaff and Sedona), Slide Rock State Park is an extremely busy picnicking spot and swimming hole. The littlest children will enjoy playing “Pooh sticks” under footbridges, doing some shallow wading or dipping their feet into the cold mountain run-off, while older children can try out the natural water slides and swimming. On US 89A through Oak Creek Canyon, drive 21 miles south from Flagstaff, or 6 miles north from Sedona. You can’t miss it. $20.00 Daily Entrance From the Friday before Memorial Day through the end of Labor Day: Per Vehicle (1-4 Adults) Off Season: $10.00 per day (1-4 Adults) (This is a STATE PARK and does not honor the Federal Recreation Pass or the Red Rock Pass.)

Grasshopper Point
A large cliff side swimming hole, this day use site is popular with swimmers and picnickers alike. The swimming hole is shaded and cool, a good respite from the summer heat. You can also access the Allens Bend trailhead from the Grasshopper Point parking lot. Drive south from Flagstaff about 26 miles or north from Sedona for about 2 miles on US 89A. Grasshopper Point will be approximately 2 miles south of Encinoso Picnic Area on the east side of US 89A. $8 per vehicle per day (up to 5 people) in addition to the required Red Rock Pass.

Allens Bend Trail
This short, half-mile walk is one of the best easy day hikes in the Sedona area because it’s one of the only paths along the banks of Oak Creek. A Red Rock Pass is required (available at many outlets and online found here: http://www.redrockcountry.org/passes-and-permits/where-to-purchase.shtml).

Tell us, Arizona Travel fans: did we miss anything? What are your favorite kid-friendly things to do in Flagstaff and the surrounding area? Leave us your comments!

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Make this Valentine's Day - or any day - extra romantic at one of these great smooching spots

Make this Valentine’s Day – or any day – extra romantic at one of these great smooching spots

Take a smooch to the next level by planting one on your sweetie in one of these hot spots around Arizona:

  • South Mountain Park – One of the few places in AZ to go “parking.” (Keep it PG-rated!) Entrance gates close at 7 p.m. {10919 S. Central Ave, Phoenix}
  • Airport Mesa – A crowded overlook at sunset, but worth the wait to snuggle up after dark. {West Sedona}
  • Gates Pass – A well-known sunset viewing site and date spot. Watch the sun drop out of sight from one of Tucson’s best vantage points. {Gates Pass Road, Tucson}
  • Mount Elden – In a nutshell, it’s 360° views with zero effort. Drive 25 minutes up Mount Elden and set up camp, a picnic lunch or romantic sunset dinner on a big rolling prairie with great views of Flagstaff and no hiking required! {Elden Lookout Road, Flagstaff}
  • Compass Arizona Grill at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix – Take in a 360° view of the spectacular Valley of the Sun in the only revolving roof top restaurant in Phoenix. {122 N. Second St., Phoenix}
  • Picnic at Encanto Park – This landmark 222-acre park is an urban oasis with a romantic boathouse {2605 N. 15th Ave., Phoenix}
  • Sharlot Hall Museum – The museum’s romantic grounds boast a gazebo, beautiful landscaping, and picnic tables scattered here and there. {415 W. Gurley St., Prescott}
  • La Encantada – Drive just north of this high-end shopping center, and park roadside in the shadows of the Santa Catalina Foothills to enjoy the sunset in the west and the city lights of Tucson {Campbell Ave. and Ina Rd., Tucson}
  • Lipan Point – Panoramic sunrise and sunset Grand Canyon views are particularly good from this comparatively less-crowded overlook near the East Entrance Station. You can get modestly romantic here; it’s a great photo backdrop for you and your main squeeze. {East Rim Drive, a few miles west of Desert View, Grand Canyon National Park South Rim}
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Phoenix Area Farmers Markets

Phoenix area farmers markets offer local produce, entertainment, and food

Phoenix often feels like it’s actually in the world’s southern hemisphere rather than just the southern half of the state. It’s “oppositeville”; from its busy winter golf season, to locals huddling indoors from June through September, to the area’s farmers markets. When the rest of the country’s local growers are closing up shop for the season, weekend markets pop open their white tents all over central and southern Arizona.  Locals and visitors alike converge on area farmers markets for great food, people watching, art and shopping because along with the expected locally-grown autumn produce and flowers, you’ll find artisan crafts, gourmet food gifts and even kiddie rides and entertainers. Use our handy map and the links (in the map) below to check out one of this baker’s dozen of farmers markets in Arizona’s southern half:

View 13 Phoenix Area Farmers Markets in a larger map

  • Phoenix Public Market
    Wednesdays, 4pm-8pm; Saturdays, 8am-1pm
  • Roadrunner Farmers Market
    Saturdays, 8am-1pm
  • CityNorth Market on High Street
    3rd Sunday/month
  • Cave Creek Farmers Market
    1st Saturday/month
  • Carefree Farmers Market
    Fridays, 9am-1pm
  • Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market
    Saturdays, 8am-1pm
  • Singh Farmers Market – Scottsdale
    Saturdays, 8am-1pm
  • Avondale Farmers Market
    Saturdays, 8:30am-12:30am
  • Twilight Farmers Market – Glendale
    Wednesdays, 4pm-7pm
  • Peoria Farmers Market
    Sundays, 9am-1pm
  • ASU Tempe Farmers Market
    Alternate Tuesdays, 9am-2pm
  • Ahwahtukee Farmers Market
    Sundays, 9am-1pm
  • Mesa Community Farmers Market
    Fridays, 9am-1pm

Did we mention your favorite Phoenix area farmers market? Comment to leave your review, or add one to the list.

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