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Something free and fun to do this weekend in Arizona September 21-23 2018

This Saturday, September 22, 2018, 18 Arizona museums and 15 National parks will be offering FREE admission to eager guests. It’s a great idea for a date, family outing, or even doing with a bunch of friends! Here are some highlights.

To be able to access one of Arizona’s finest features for free is a steal! With rates as high at $25 each, you will save a ton this Saturday, September 22, by checking out Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Of course, get your ticket from smithsonianmag.com/museumday first! It’s open from 7 a.m to 8 p.m for you to experience over 50,000 plants from around the world. It is a living museum that has been an Arizona staple for nearly 80 years! Wow! That’s older than your Grandma! Discover
the tranquil vibrancy of desert plants nestled amid the red rocks of the Papago Buttes. Great for a date, you can stroll through five thematic trails to explore the fascinating, natural beauty of the Sonoran desert, from towering cacti to alluring succulents, even brilliant wildflowers and lush trees.

Your visit to the Heard Museum on Central Ave in Phoenix includes 12 exhibition galleries, free guided tours, outdoor sculpture gardens, a renowned café, a contemporary art gallery and trading-post style shopping, plus much more. Don’t miss the Navajo hogan, the Pueblo horno or the 400 katsina dolls on display! Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Normally, entry is up to $18, but Saturday, September 22nd you can get in for FREE by visiting smithsonianmag.com/museumday.

See why True West magazine named Scottsdale’s Museum of the West the nation’s “Best Western Museum.” Also, one of TripAdvisor’s most highly rated Scottsdale attractions, here you can explore the history, art, and rich cultural heritage of the West from Hopi pottery masterworks to rare posters starring silver screen cowboys and Indians, you’ll discover the unique stories of the people, places, and events of the 19 states of the American west, and bordering Canadian provinces, and Mexican
states. The award-winning, contemporary museum building is located in Old Town Scottsdale, within easy walking distance of the Main Street art galleries and other popular downtown Scottsdale destinations. It is located on the Downtown Scottsdale trolley route. Open to view from 9:30 a.m until 5 p.m. It would regularly run you $15, but this Saturday, it’s FREE by heading to smithsonianmag.com/museumday.

Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum is the only combat aviation museum in Phoenix! You’ll take an edu-venture through history and learn how aircraft evolved as a heroic partner to ground and sea operations from WWI to present. Walk through the working hangar and watch aircraft mechanics bring muscular engines to life. Climb aboard their bombers and cargo planes or, better yet, book a once-in-a-lifetime flight in an authentic war-bird. Choose among seven WWII aircraft, from an open
biplane to the rarest bombers in the world. And don’t forget to stop by their museum gift store and bring home a bomber jacket for you and your pooch. They are a non-profit organization and staffed almost entirely by dedicated volunteers who honor their mission to restore, preserve, and remember the ingenuity and sacrifices of past generations. All this is normally $15, but Saturday, September 22nd, it’s FREE thanks to smithsonianmag.com/museumday.

The Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa is dedicated to inspire wonder, respect and understanding for the natural and cultural history of the Southwest. Where else can you take a selfie with a dinosaur bursting out of a building, or see a flash flood cascading down a three-story mountain inside a museum? Experience a real territorial jail, pan for gold in the History Courtyard, and wind your way through the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. It’s a hands on experience for all ages! Discover something new with a friend or family member for free this Saturday from 11 a.m to 5 p.m. You can score tickets from smithsonianmag.com/museumday. Entry can be as much as $12 other days.

The Arizona Heritage Center at Papago Park is an interactive museum for visitors of all ages!
Focusing on Central Arizona, the museum exhibits take you on a trip through time – from early settlements to World War II and the post-war rise of desert cities, to Arizona’s pop culture. Discover the beauty of minerals and gems from Arizona and around the world, and see a scale model of an Arizona copper mine. On the second floor, you will find The Phoenix Lights: UFO Flight Over Phoenix exhibit exploring the reported “V” shaped object sighted in the skies of Phoenix on March 13, 1997.
Open 10 a.m to 5 p.m weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m weekends including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the normal cost to get in can be up to $12 but Saturday, September 22, 2018, it’s FREE by grabbing a ticket from smithsonianmag.com/museumday.

The i.d.e.a Museum in Mesa has a mission! Through exhibitions and activities focused on Supporting Early Learning, nurturing creative thinking and engaging families, they incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math to help prepare youth for jobs of the future. This weekend, the i.d.e.a Museum will offer an art studio for kids to use their creativity and explore different art materials. There will also be a storytime at 11 a.m featuring The New York Times Best Selling book, “My Garden” by Kevin Henkes. Interactive experiences include creating a symphony of music and lights with In Harmony, and playing pretend in the Artville vet clinic, library, cafe, and garden. Normally $9 per person, The i.d.e.a Museum will be open from 9 a.m until 4 p.m Saturday for free by downloading a ticket from The Smithsonian website.

While there is no fee to freely explore The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, all day and night Thursdays from Noon until 9 p.m, and after 5 p.m Fridays and Saturdays, the convenience of going when you want makes this an attractive option for Museum Day this Saturday, September 22, 2018 when you can get in for free anytime. It’s your last chance to experience the Infinity Room that is mirrored from ceiling to floor and all sides surrounding you blending in light, sound, and technology
for fun. If you love animals, there is the Wild Thing collection. Also in residence is featured Brazilian artist Lydia Okumura whose pieces challenge you to question your perception of space through spacial works of string, as well as glass and paint. This is one of the later options with SMOCA not closing until 9 p.m. Saturdays. During peak times, you could pay up to $10 to visit. Save it by attending this Saturday and snatching a ticket from smithsonianmag.com/museumday.

Boasting 1,571 petroglyphs on 579 boulders, plus 205 native Sonoran desert plant species, and 114 animal species on 47-acres of nature preserve is the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve. Guided tours at 9 a.m and Noon will lead you through the Petroglyph site while hands on learning activities throughout the gallery and trail will keep you engaged. Last admission is 1 p.m Saturday, September 22nd. Entry is regularly $7, but get your FREE tickets from

Pueblo Grande Museum is located on a 1,500 year old archaeological site once inhabited by the Hohokam culture. It is located just minutes from downtown Phoenix next to Sky Harbor International Airport. This National Historic Landmark and Phoenix Point of Pride has been a part of the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department since 1929, and is the largest preserved archaeological site within Phoenix. Easily accessible by the Sky Train and the Light Rail, the museum is open 7 days
a week October through April, and closed Sundays and Mondays, May through September. A fully accessible 2/3 mile trail takes you through a prehistoric Hohokam archaeological village site with a partially excavated platform mound, ball-court, and replicated prehistoric houses. There are three galleries to visit while at the Museum. The main gallery displays artifacts of the Hohokam and discusses the Pueblo Grande village site. The children’s hands-on gallery has activities to help kids learn about the science of archaeology. And the changing gallery features exhibits on various topics from archaeology, southwest cultures, and Arizona history. For authentic Native American gifts, art, and jewelry, the Museum Store has something for all tastes and budgets. Normal cost of admission is $6, but it’s FREE this Saturday, September 22nd until 4 p.m by going to smithsonianmag.com/museumday.

Grab a paddle and start your adventure at River of Time Museum. You have to get there early though! Hours are 9 a.m to Noon Saturday, September 22nd. Home to over 140 exhibits, the museum houses the artifacts, stories and history of the Lower Verde River Valley, its people, the river and the land. Travel back to the time of the Hohokam and early Yavapai to learn how the River sustained these people for thousands of years on the dry, desert land. Move through time to learn about the ranchers and early settlers of the area, the unique characters of historic Fort McDowell and the beginning of Fountain Hills and, while you are there, check out their world famous fountain! Entry is usually $5 but this Saturday, September 22nd it’s FREE by downloading tickets from smithsonianmag.com/museumday.

The Superstition Mountain Lost Dutchman Museum is situated on a scenic 15-acre site just beneath the west end of Superstition Mountain. On the grounds is a restored 20-stamp ore mill, two historic buildings salvaged from Apacheland Movie Ranch, a labelled nature trail, Boot Hill and an extensive model railroad display. Open 9-4 and normally $5 to get in, but FREE this Saturday, September 22nd by going to smithsonianmag.com/museumday.

It was named “One of the 10 Best Museums in Phoenix” by USA Today and “One of Phoenix’s 10 Best Kept Secrets” by The Culture Trip. It was the very first home built in Arcadia in 1919 and it was donated in 1984 to the City of Phoenix by Martha Shemer. The Shemer Art Center is a unique, historic and inviting setting that provides a comfortable atmosphere for residents, visitors and participants of all levels and ages to enjoy and learn about visual art. It is located at the southwest
corner of Camelback Road and Arcadia Lane, near 5th st in Phoenix. Regular hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. an whiile admission is always free, donations are accepted. Showcased on display September 22 will be their Beloved Beasts exhibition, which displays a variety of animal-themed art.

Seeing The Tempe History Museum is always free! Their current special exhibition, Humans of Tempe, is on display until March 24, 2019. Located at Rural and Southern, it’s open from 10 a.m to 5 p.m, Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m Sunday. It closed on Mondays.

Head to smithsonianmag.com/museumday to see the other four options available as well, and most of all, enjoy your experience while saving a few bucks to spend on, say, on a super tasty lunch or dinner!

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Jeff Kode

Jeff Kode has previously written articles for The Arizona Republic, as well as other publications including Echo Magazine and IONAZ Magazine. He is an enthusiastic movie lover, and enjoys discovering new music. He was previously on air middays with his own show The Sugar Rush, 6-9 am on The Morning Beat with Steve and Jeff, and can now be heard during the afternoon drive 3 to 5 pm at 88.7 The Pulse.
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