Unparalleled Beauty at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Fall is the perfect time to take in the expansive views and scenic desert landscapes at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park. Founded in the 1920s by mining magnate Col. William Boyce Thompson, this Pinal County landmark is Arizona’s oldest and largest botanical garden. With more than three miles of hiking and walking trails, as well as educational tours for children and adults, Boyce Thompson Arboretum lets you examine more than 3,100 different types of plants from around the world.
Venture into the Hummingbird & Butterfly Garden, let the little ones play in the Children’s Horticulture Garden, stand at the edge of Ayer Lake, and say hello to Mr. Big, the largest red gum eucalyptus in the United States at over 140 feet tall.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., October through April. Admission is $12.50 for adults, $5 for children 12 and younger, and free for ages four and younger. For more details, or to plan your visit, go to azstateparks.com/boyce-thompson.
Biosphere 2: A Must-See Wonder of the World
You don’t have to go far to explore the world’s largest living research center. Biosphere 2 is a 3.14-acre facility dedicated to “research, outreach, teaching and life-long learning about Earth, its living systems and its place in the universe.” Owned and operated by the University of Arizona, this unique scientific space is home to an array of environments, including a coral reef ocean, tropical rain forest, savanna grassland, fog desert and mangrove wetlands.
Daily tours are offered at Biosphere 2 to groups and individuals alike, including a history tour, family tour, director’s tour, ocean and marine research tour, landscape evolution observatory tour and tropical rainforest tour. Hungry visitors can also stop by the Biosphere 2 Café to fuel their educational expeditions.
Biosphere 2 is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $20 for adults, $13 for ages 6–12, $18 for seniors, and $10–$15 for students with ID. For more information, or to plan your trip, visit biosphere2.org.
The Holiday Spirit Hits Main Street in Florence
Watch as Florence’s historic Main Street is transformed into a winter wonderland for the town’s annual Christmas on Main Street celebration. Local business owners along Main Street will join in on the festivities by decorating their storefronts and providing special deals for the evening. Get your holiday shopping started and enjoy a Christmas parade that will entertain the whole family. This free event will run from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, December 1, 2017. For more information, visit florenceaz.gov.
Breakfast Takes Flight at the Coolidge Fly-In
Looking to spread your wings and try something new? Every first Saturday of the month, November through May, aviation enthusiasts can head to the Coolidge Municipal Airport for the Coolidge Fly-In. The monthly event features aircraft from all over the state and country as pilots fly in for breakfast, fuel and, of course, to show off their planes to aviation photographers and flight fanciers.
Breakfast is served by the Coolidge Lion’s Club in front of the main hangar at the airport, which features a wooden World War II hanger, a symbolic relic of the airport’s former days as the Coolidge Army Airfield. Visitors can enjoy all-you-can-eat pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage for just $8 between 8 and 10:30 a.m. For more details, visit coolidgeaz.com/airport.
Casa Grande Comes Alive for the Electric Light Parade
Experience the magic of the holidays in downtown Casa Grande as the city hosts its 23rd annual Electric Light Parade. The festivities start during the day with a skating rink, a craft area, food vendors, music, live entertainment and game booths. Santa will also be there for free pictures with the kids.
The parade itself kicks off at 5:45 p.m. at the intersection of Florence Boulevard and Colorado Street, then continues down Florence Boulevard until its conclusion at Second Street at 8 p.m. To add to the spirit, the annual tree-lighting ceremony will also be held at 6 p.m. outside of City Hall. Mark your calendars and make your wish list for Santa because the Electric Light Parade returns Saturday, December 2, 2017. For details, visit casagrandeaz.gov.
(Brought to you by the Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce, (520) 836-2125, casagrandechamber.org.)