Summer travel season is here -- so we've made you a list of food and drink adventures. It might be stretching it a bit to call them all day trips -- if you do attempt them, be sure to bring along a designated driver!
Cheesemaking Class at The Fossil Creek Creamery, Pine -- Just north of Payson (about an hour and half from Phoenix) in the little town of Pine sits one of Arizona's finest producers of goat cheese. The Fossil Creek Creamery at The Fossil Creek Ranch churns out creamy chevre and tangy havarti from the milk of their pampered goats. You can learn to make your own cheese every Friday and Saturday morning throughout the summer. Creamery owner and head cheesemaker John Bittner will assist you in making your own batch of chevre and teach you the ins and outs of cheddar and havarti. The class costs $95 per person and includes Ricki Carroll's book- Basic Cheesemaking. Class size is limited to six people. Call 928-476-5178 to save your seat.
The 22nd Annual Strawberry Festival, Strawberry -- This quaint little festival features a little something for everyone, including quilting, arts and crafts, live music, and fun activities for kids, but we're heading north for the vibrant strawberry treats. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, and Sunday, June 10, at the Pine/Strawberry Community Center, indulge in homemade strawberry shortcake, strawberry ice cream, and chocolate-dipped strawberries. It's a far cry from the giant California Strawberry Festival, but it's still a fun out-of-town event. Admission is free, bring cash for strawberry treats.
The Mile High Brewfest, Prescott -- Find a designated driver and head up to Prescott on Saturday, June 16, for the very first Mile High Brewfest. From noon to 7 p.m. sample craft beers from breweries across the state on the beautiful lawn of the historic courthouse building in downtown Prescott. Lumberyard, Four Peaks, Prescott Brewing, and maybe even a few Arizona wineries will be in attendance along with a slew of food vendors. Tickets are $20 and include a Brewfest pint glass.
Agua Linda Farms Garlic and Onion Festival, Tucson -- The only one of its kind in the state, Tucson farm Agua Linda celebrates its garlic and onion harvest with a festival complete with hayrides, a petting zoo, and tasty grilled eats featuring freshly harvested garlic and onions. The farm's fourth annual event will be taking place June 8, 9, and 10 on its cool, elevated lawn from 4 to 9 p.m. Admission is just $5 per car. Don't forget to take home a stockpile of garlic and onions for your pantry.
Trout Fish Cook Out at The Sedona Rainbow Trout Farm, Oak Creek -- Leave the rod at home and let the experts do the dirty work at this tiny fish oasis just north of Sedona off Highway 89A. For just a dollar and the cost of whatever you catch, you can reap the rewards of fishing without spending hours on end waiting for a bite. This pond is stocked full of healthy rainbow trout that are hungry for your bait. You have to keep everything you catch but the nice guys at the booth will clean your fish for 50 cents and put them on ice, or you can cook up your catch on the spot for $1 per trout using one of their propane grills. The farm will even supply the butter and lemon. The farm is open seven days a week call 928-282-5799 for current hours.
Bisbee Pizza Date at Screaming Banshee Pizza, Bisbee -- This eclectic pizza and wine joint has made its home in an old gas station right on the border of the tiny mining town. Bisbee is a three-and-half-hour drive from Phoenix, but the sights along the way make the drive fly by -- plus there is pizza waiting for you. Screaming Banshee churns out delicious wood-fired pizzas topped with fresh ingredients, creamy mozzarella, and tangy housemade sauce. Pair your pie with a pint of Bisbee-brewed beer from Dave's Electric or The Old Bisbee Brewery for the perfect Bisbee date night.
Made in the Shade Beer Festival, Flagstaff -- Sure, Phoenix has its fair share of beer festivals throughout the year, but they are all lacking one thing: pine trees. More than 50 breweries from across the Southwest will be hitting the Coconino County Fairgrounds on June 23 for the 20th Annual Made in the Shade Beer Festival. Lagunitas, Left Hand, Maui, Odell, and, of course, all your local favorites will be handing out four-ounce samples of their best brews. There also will be plenty of food available to soak up all that booze. Tickets start at $40 and have been known to sell out.
Sweet Corn Festival, Camp Verde -- Nothing says summer like a fresh ear of juicy fire-roasted sweet corn, and you can get your fill of the yellow gold at Camp Verde's 21st Annual Cornfest on Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21. People of all ages will pack the streets of Downtown Camp Verde for a full day of corn eating, corn contests, and even a few corny jokes. Live music, hot air balloon rides, "fair" food vendors, and a beer garden complete the all day festival. Once you've had your fill of corn, pop over to the neighboring town of Cornville and stop by Page Spring Cellars wine tasting room to decompress from your corn adventure.
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Lavender Festival at Red Rock Ranch, Cocho -- It's a bit of a drive (about four hours north of Phoenix), but if lavender is your thing, then you won't want to miss the 9th Annual Lavender Festival. Daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, June 21 through Sunday, July 1, The Red Rock Ranch opens its lavender fields for tours and cooking and tasting demos, and it will even let you pick your own lavender bushels to take home to turn into delicate macarons or lavender-flavored ice cream. Call ahead to reserve your very own picnic box lunch, which includes the one of the ranch's signature lavender cookies. Entrance to the festival is $5 or free with the purchase of a box lunch package.
A Vineyard Excursion with Arizona Wine Tours -- Once of the biggest problems that wine connoisseur face on a self-guided Arizona wine-tasting tour is finding someone who's nice enough to stay sober while the connoisseur partakes in the big bold flavors of Arizona's best wines. AZ Wine Tours is willing to be that friend. Grab a few of your wine-loving friends for a round trip adventure to all the best Northern Verde Valley wine-tasting rooms. AZ Wine Tours will pick you up in the morning in its fancy Excursion limo and chauffeur you from vineyard to vineyard, take you to lunch, and then bring you back home safe and sound. Wine tours are offered seven days a week and start at $160 per person. Cheers!
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