With the suspension of large events and many of our favorite Valley venues shut down until further notice, it’s time to get creative when it comes to things to do. Here are five ways to beat your boredom while staying safe this holiday weekend.
1. See the Sonoran Desert from 7,000 feet in the air.
What could be more socially distant than soaring several thousand feet above the rest of civilization? Try it for yourself with Rainbow Ryders, the largest hot air balloon company in the country, which offers a bird’s-eye-view of the breathtaking Sonoran Desert. Each 45-minute excursion takes off at sunrise and allows passengers to prepare the balloon for liftoff. After the balloon lands, guests can toast to the one-of-a-kind journey with champagne or mimosas. Rainbow Ryders has adapted each experience to ensure passengers’ safety, including reduced pricing for private flights, hand sanitizer stations, complimentary face masks and protective vinyl to separate each group of passengers.
2. Support local businesses and get rewarded.
Local First Arizona has extended its annual Indie Week to allow Phoenix residents to support local all month long. Throughout September, Local First will spotlight locally owned businesses on social media and through its newly launched Shop Arizona Marketplace. Participating is simple –download the Bingo-style Indie Week card, complete five calls to action, which include shopping at a farmers market, supporting a woman-owned business and surprising a friend with a local gift card. Save receipts and take screenshots of the ways you’ve supported for a chance to win a prize. Every week, three randomly selected winners will receive a gift card to a local biz, including Zia Records, Cartel Coffee Lab and Remedy Salon & Spa. Local First understands that not everyone can financially support small businesses at this time, so some of the calls to action are completely free, such as completing the census or leaving an online review.
3. Join a virtual paint party.
Starting September 4, Grand Canyon National Park will be hosting its annual Celebration of Art event, which brings professional artists from around the United States to the park to provide a vibrant experience for guests – and this year to virtual visitors! Since 2009, Celebration of Art has invited participating artists to paint en plein air (outdoors on location) at the Grand Canyon. Presented by the park’s nonprofit partner, Grand Canyon Conservancy, the event is a successful fundraiser for a dedicated art venue and arts programming. The works produced are displayed at Kolb Studio by appointment only and online for a four-month sale and exhibition. This year, the event will take place with enhanced online accessibility and limited onsite capacity.
4. Plan a staycation.
Travel may still be out of the question due to quarantine, so why not treat yourself to a luxury vacation right here in the Valley? Local resorts like The Wigwam and JW Marriott Desert Ridge have recently launched staycation packages that are perfect for the long weekend ahead. The Wigwam in Litchfield Park is now offering its 3-2-1 Summer Fun package through September 30. For $559, guests looking for a getaway can take advantage of their third night free when staying two nights, two-for-one rounds of golf and 50-minute massages or facials at the spa and one complimentary bottle of wine. For every stay booked under the Resident Rate, the resort will donate $5 to The Litchfield Elementary School District Educational Foundation. JW Marriott just launched its Learn, Work & Play package, which is catered to those working and going to school from home, through December 31. The package encourages guests to take a break from their home office or remote classroom to splash around one of the resort’s five pools, play a round of golf or a engage in an exciting game of pickleball. Monday through Thursday rates start at $179 per night and include a $100 resort credit per night, 50 percent off a second room, free unlimited golf for up to four players daily and half-price cabanas, pool suites and VIP Griffin Bay seating, while $10 from each stay will benefit local educational programs.
5. Take advantage of Labor Day dining deals.
Several local dining and drinking establishments are offering screaming end-of-summer deals this Labor Day weekend. On Monday, September 7, Wildflower will be extending its breakfast offerings at select locations. Stop by for brekky from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Arrowhead Gateway location in Glendale, Sonoran Village North Scottsdale, Scottsdale Seville and Tempe Square. Signature breakfast offerings include a sausage and cheddar egg sandwich, three cheese tomato and mushroom frittata and lemon ricotta pancakes. At Koiboto Poke, enjoy $1 drinks all weekend through Monday, including wine, White Claw, sake and beer. Koiboto Poke has locations in Arcadia, Peoria, Scottsdale and Chandler. Roaring Fork in Scottsdale is celebrating the end of summer with its annual Dinner On Us dining promotion. Starting at 4 p.m. on Monday, September 7, diners can indulge in buy one get one free feasts that include options like braised beef short ribs, duck breast and salmon.