AZ Renaissance Festival Tips


HUZZAH! We’re so grateful to the AZ Renaissance Festival for hosting us at their event this past weekend. It was a packed day of fun, food, and fairytale dreams come true. My cheeks are still hurting from all the smiling and laughing we did.

This medieval event takes place every Saturday and Sunday through April 1 in a 30 acre village outside of Phoenix filled with performers, artisans, interactive games, people-powered rides and DELICIOUS food. I can’t stress enough the delicious food. Really.

Renaissance Festival Caramel Apples

Renaissance Festival Turkey Legs

Being my first festival with kids in tow, I wanted to share a few ideas on how to make the most of your visit to this 16th century celebration in the desert.

Renaissance Festival Tips


This is the absolute BEST time to visit the Renaissance Festival because for the remainder of the event kids are FREE with the purchase of an adult ticket. Purchase your adult tickets at Fry’s Food and Drug Stores to get $2 off each adult admission, then head to Cobblestone Auto Spa, Wendy’s or Hall of Frames to get coupons for your FREE kids ticket.

If you are a senior or military you can save $3 on an adult ticket my purchasing your tickets at the gate and showing your ID.


Renaissance Festival Costumes

While I didn’t dress up myself, my daughter did wear a costume which made it that much more fun! Our costume of choice was a woodland fairy. We started with a dress we already had in the closet and accessorized with a few items from the Dollar Tree and Target including a green fairy skirt ($1), Fairy Wings ($1), Butterflies for her hair ($1) and a strand of flowers that were in the Easter aisle at Target.

Dressing up attracts more banter from the festival performers and Royals you’ll run into as you are exploring the grounds.

Renaissance Royalty


  • Sunscreen – Despite the weather being perfectly cool, I still managed to get a sunburn right through my black hoodie. Bring sunscreen and reapply. You are in the middle of the desert after all.
  • Water – They do have vendors with water, food and everything you need to get though the day, but, if you would rather spend your money on handcrafted nick knacks rather than bottles of water, bring your own.
  • Cash – Lot’s of cash. The performers want tips. Your child will be distracted by every sword and fairy necklace you encounter. Every ride costs $2 – $7 and like I said… FOOD! You won’t be able to resist the chocolate dipped strawberries, caramel apples, frozen bananas, turkey legs and all the other items we devoured along the way.
  • Comfortable shoes – If you wear flip flops you might be sorry. There is no avoiding the dirt and there is a LOT of walking to be done.

Festival vendors do not accept cards and while they do have ATM machines, there’s a fee to use them


Renaissance Festival Joust

  • You have to find time to watch a joust. There are three throughout the day. Grab a turkey leg and head all the way back to the Tournament Arena. There are no bad seats, just bad knights. HA! Jousts are at noon, 2:30 and 5:00.
  • The girls LOVED the faeries and the living mermaid! (From a mom’s perspective, the pirate next to the mermaid tank isn’t so bad himself!) These are great photo ops and the faerie has a freebie for kids. A magic marble that she pulls out of the bubbles she’s blowing! You’ll also come across faeries throughout the event that will sprinkle you with faerie dust. So magical.
  • Eat a turkey leg! So, maybe 4 turkey legs was a bit much for two adults and two kids. We probably ate the equivalent of two turkey legs, but it’s just so fun to walk around with a gigantic leg you can feast on, or club someone with if they try to pick your pockets. We also shared a caramel apple, because they are literally bigger than your face.
  • Pet a unicorn. What more can I say than that? Magical!
  • Take in a few shows. Our favorites all included the juggling of fire and Rylie even got to participate in an act where she held a spinning plate on a stick while holding a “stick of dynamite” in her other hand with a ball spinning on top. Those dollar fairy wings were good for something!

Renaissance Festival Fairy

Renaissance Festival Unicorn

We arrived at the festival at 10 a.m. and left at 4:30 and still missed SO MUCH! It was a blast though. I wish I could buy all the things, ride all the rides and of course eat all the food. If you can, I highly recommend coming up with a family plan ahead of time so everyone gets to see and do what they want.

At the end of the day we managed to have no whiney kids and a whole lot of magic and dust in our hair.


Renaissance Festival Mermaid

The Renaissance Festival has some really fun themed weekends coming up, including their favorite Time Traveler weekend which happens March 3rd and 4th. They’ll be bringing in the T.A.R.D.I.S from Dr. Who, and holding a Time Traveler contest at the Royal Pavilion where teams of Dr. Who(s), Doc & Marty, Bill & Ted, and a variety of other creative costumed characters will try their hand at winning first prize!

Be sure to check out their other themed weekends on their website at

Renaissance Festival Friends

Day Trip to Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Happy 2018! I’m a little late to the game, but the last 3-4 weeks were a doozy for me. From back problems to the flu I’ve spent little time outside enjoying the best season to live in Arizona and more time on the couch feeling sorry for myself. But then I saw that Arizona State Parks were FREE to AZ residents for Martin Luther King weekend, so I hopped to my feet, slipped on my new New Balance, and dragged my family to a place I’ve wanted to go for a long time now. Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, AZ.

Hiking the High Trail at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

We couldn’t have picked a better weekend to visit Arizona’s oldest botanical garden. The weather was perfect, in the low 70’s, and there were so many tall shady trees and a light breeze. It was a really nice break from Phoenix desert life where there’s literally not an ounce of shade, and only an hour and 20 minutes away. My only regret; forgetting the backpack of snacks in the car.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum Greenhouse

Rylie explores the cactus in the Boyce Thompson greenhouse

What can I say about this greenhouse? So dreamy. Can I get one of these in my yard? Natural light, old stone and greenery. I’m in love.

Desert color at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Barrel cactus at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Something I’ve learned along the way is that if you tell a kid they are going on an adventure, no matter how boring it is, they’ll find fun in it. You could be going to the post office to mail a letter to a great and foreign land, or going on a hike to search for the first signs of spring. We always like to search for color on our hikes, and when the Arizona winter turns to spring the colors are beautiful and plenty!

We also like to search for clean bathrooms with running water. I’m happy to report that Boyce Thompson has both.

Ayer Lake in Superior Arizona

“I’ll adventure with you today mom, but tomorrow no adventures. I’m booked.” Birthday parties take priority over family adventures, apparently. She was just using this time to “get some exercise and a good night’s sleep.”

6 year old iPhone photographer

My mini. I love that she shares my love of photography, but, could I get my phone back please? I’d share her walking tour of the place but you’d get dizzy. Literally, she spun the camera in circles to make the video dizzying.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior Arizona


Bridge to High Trail at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

We hiked the High Trail which wasn’t a steep incline and was a perfect first hike for my new and improved back. Rylie is a pretty experienced hiker and I’d like to say this is an easy hike for a six year old, but you definitely need to keep an eye on your kiddos. The trail itself isn’t steep but it’s narrow with occasional areas that have a drop on the side. There were also a few rocky patches that she needed a little help navigating. Once she got a good side step down she was good to go.

Javelinas at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

I’m fascinated with javelinas, but this guy started huffing and puffing at us so we were all, peace out. Plus do you see his two larger family members in the back? No thanks friends, moving on.

Relaxing at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

We took in our last rays of sun around 4:00 and then headed back to the valley with a quick dinner stop at Joe’s Farm Grill and filled our bellies with their tasty garlic fried green beans.

I can’t wait to visit Boyce Thompson again when the flowers are in bloom, hummingbirds are out and I have more snacks. Because it’s hard to have fun with a loud kid and no snacks.

After our next visit I’ll share pictures of the 1915 house we like to call the Blair Witch House, the cowboy camp we found and the children’s garden. There’s JUST. SO. MUCH. Honestly, if you’ve made it this far, thanks for hanging in!

From Farm to Table – Pecan Pie


I thought making pie from the pecans Rylie and her bestie “harvested” (with the help of a few dads shaking tree limbs) would be a great lesson in where food comes from, but all her 2-year-old mind heard was “pie.”

NutCracking2Finding a nut cracker in Phoenix is no easy task, which is odd considering the number of pecan trees you can find in the area. I finally got lucky at Summer’s Fruit Barn, a cute little farm stand I pass often but have only been to one other time. I spent 2 (messy) days of inappropriate jokes, filthy black dust and shells from one end of the room to the next, cracking nuts.

IngredientsBrown sugar, white sugar, butter, eggs, flour, milk, vanilla extract, toasted pecans, chocolate chips, dark corn syrup (complete recipe to follow…)


DSC_0864This was the first pecan pie I’ve ever even eaten, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It was so gooey and deliciously sweet. I think I died for a minute and went to heaven… but then I came back and realized I had a lot of dishes to do.

Topped with a little (or a lot) of whipped cream, this pie was well worth all the work put into it… well, except Rylie, she passed on the pie and just ate the whipped cream.

1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup white sugar
1/2 Cup butter
2 Eggs
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. milk
1 Tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 Cups chopped toasted pecans
1/4 Cup chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. dark corn syrup
Pie shell

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Beat eggs in a large bowl until foamy, then stir in butter and corn syrup
Add brown sugar, white sugar and flour and mix well
Lastly, add vanilla, milk, nuts and chocolate chips
Pour the mixture into a pre-baked pie shell and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees
Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 30-40 minutes
Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon sugar, or Penzy’s Vanilla Sugar on top for added flavor

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