Fall colors

Color usually peaks Thanksgiving weekend at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, when the facility hosts a two-day festival.

T. Knight

Cooler weather has brought pumpkin patches, corn mazes and haunted houses to the Valley, but you can find fall color and seasonal frights farther afield. Get your autumn on with a day or weekend trip to these destinations not (too) far from home.

Sleeping With Ghosts: A Murder Mystery Weekend

Hob nob with the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and Big Nose Kate while you attempt to unravel an 1890s "whodunit" at Prescott's landmark 1917 Hotel Vendome. Guests are given a role to play in the mystery, which will have them hunting for clues hidden throughout historic downtown. The package includes a two-night stay, a Friday night mixer, dinner on Saturday night and breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.

If you don't have a full weekend to spare, Prescott hosts an Oktoberfest (Oct. 15), "ghost talks" at Prescott Center for the Arts (Oct. 28-29) and a haunted masquerade ball (Oct. 29). There's also a Harvest Festival, Day of the Dead celebration, pumpkin patch and carnival (Oct. 29) and Halloween-themed pops concert (Oct. 30). For information on all events, call (928) 777-1349 or visit www.cityofprescott.net/events.

DETAILS >> 3 p.m. Oct. 28 through 11 a.m. Oct. 30. Hotel Vendome, 230 S. Cortez St., Prescott. $199 per person double occupancy, $175 per person for a four-person suite. (928) 776-0900 or www.vendomemurdermystery.com

Fall Colors by train

It's easy to put the stresses of your routine aside when you climb aboard Verde Canyon Railroad's Fall Colors tour. Once on the four-hour voyage, there's little to do but sit back, order a beverage or snack, and enjoy the changing colors out the window or over the rail of an open-air gondola car.

Ride on a Saturday or Sunday in October, and you can catch Ales on Rails, when passengers enjoy microbeers, brats, pretzels and strudel on the station patio prior to boarding the train.

If kids are in tow, plan on the Oct. 31 Haunted Halloween Express. Ghouls, ghosts, goblins and witches roam the aisles, offering more treats than tricks.

DETAILS >> Trains depart at 1 p.m. every day but Tuesday. Verde Canyon Railroad Depot, 300 N. Broadway, Clarkdale. $34.95-$54.95 per person for coach, $79.95 per person for first class, kids 2 and younger are free. Ales on Rails food and beer-tasting prices are $7-$10. (800) 582-7245 or www.verdecanyonrr.com.

Ghosts of Globe Walking Tour

The Old Gila County Sheriff's Office and Jail make a creepy starting point for this foray into Globe's past. Built in 1910 on the site of the town gallows, the building houses cell blocks salvaged from Yuma's even older territorial prison, and it held captive the area's roughest riff-raff. The 45-minute tour takes visitors past historic buildings and shares dark tales culled from old newspaper accounts, official records and community lore. The tour is not for children, and visitors with mobility issues should call ahead, as the tour includes stairs.

DETAILS >> Tours begin at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29, with the last tour departing at 8 p.m. Old Gila County Jail & Sheriffs Office at the intersection of Broad and Oak streets in Globe. $5 per person. (928) 425-4000 or www.globemiamichamber.com.

Fall Foliage Festival

Each November, Chinese pistachios, sycamores and other trees planted at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park put on an autumn leaves show as impressive as any New England red maple. Color usually peaks Thanksgiving weekend, when the facility hosts a two-day festival featuring live music from Scott Schaefer and Jim Pipkin, arts and crafts vendors set up beneath the trees, and hot spiced cider to keep you warm as you stroll the grounds, taking in the scenery.

DETAILS >> 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 26-27. Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, 37615 U.S. Highway 60, Superior. $9 adults, $4.50 kids ages 5 to 12, free for kids 4 and younger. (520) 689-2811 or http://ag.arizona.edu/bta/.

Pumpkin Walk

Forget luminarias - those paper bags lit from within by candlelight. Flagstaff's arboretum makes the concept far more fun with its Pumpkin Walk, when glowing jack-o-lanterns of all sizes and designs light its paths. There are also nocturnal animal displays, spooky plant stations, a craft zone for kids, a fire pit and hot cider.

Hit town early, and you can catch a birds' eye view of fall color on Arizona Snowbowl's Skyride, a 50-minute roundtrip journey via ski lift to the top of the San Francisco Peaks. A ranger shares trivia on flora, fauna, history and geology at the top, where it's far colder than you'd imagine. Details are at (928) 779-1951 or www.arizonasnowbowl.com.

DETAILS >> 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 15. The Arboretum at Flagstaff, 4001 S. Woody Mountain Road, Flagstaff. $7 adults, $6 seniors, $3 youth. (928) 774-1442 or www.thearb.org.


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