As the fall season approaches in the coming months, there’s no doubt that those who love the great outdoors are trying to soak up the last sweet moments of summer while they still can. The town of Queen Creek, Arizona, is a local destination that makes sustainable living feel like second nature through agritourism.
“Queen Creek was founded on agriculture roots and we strive to work that into all aspects of the Town,” said Mayor Gail Barney. “From establishing an Agritainment zoning designation, to requiring ample open spaces in new developments and creating trails along the natural washes that run through Queen Creek, we are committed to strategic growth that benefits our community today and into the future.”
Check out these must-see, ecocentric destinations in Queen Creek.
Queen Creek Olive Mill
The Queen Creek Olive Mill Farm, Market and Eatery are located in a central and convenient location in the heart of the city. At the Eatery, visitors can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner made with locally grown ingredients from the farm. The peaceful 50-acre property thick with delicate, spindly olive trees serves as a perfect setting for private events. In fact, the Mill is so popular that it even offers its own catering services. But perhaps the most engaging experience that this destination has to offer is its Olive Oil 101 Educational Tour where guests have a hands-on opportunity to learn the Mill’s unique olive oil-making process and the health benefits it includes. The Queen Creek Olive Mill’s beautiful grounds and award-winning selection of specialty products offers visitors a unique and home-grown taste of this sustainable section of Arizona.
Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Center
Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Center welcomes horse enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels, with opportunities to ride both traditional Western and English styles. Their 38-acre facility is beautifully maintained with indoor and outdoor riding areas. The Community Arena is open to the public seven days a week on a first come, first serve basis. The Park also boasts multiple event venues and even accommodates overnight guests with 65 RV camping spots. The Equestrian Center often hosts horse shows and competitions through various equestrian organizations, constantly celebrating the bond between human and horse.
Queen Creek Botanical Gardens
The goal of the Queen Creek Botanical Gardens is to educate visitors about the importance and impact of a sustainable lifestyle through nature. This is accomplished by the Gardens’ focus on edible plants and how they factor into an eco-conscious lifestyle. The ten acres of beautifully maintained garden space includes multiple demonstration gardens organized according to the plants’ countries of origin. Guests can also see the American Southwest’s only working water mill from the Industrial Age. Every plant that can be found throughout the Gardens is edible, and available for purchase in the gift shop, allowing visitors to enjoy their strange newfound snacks at home. The Gardens also offers a weekly produce subscription service as well as a year-round fruit orchard, demonstrating their active commitment to combating food insecurity in Arizona.
This fourth-generation family farm boasts a gigantic orchard full of fresh “U-Pick” peaches for guests to enjoy. The farm’s country store and bakery include organic produce, baked goods and other local products. The Schnepf family’s yearly Peach Blossom Celebration is one of their most memorable annual events, which brings guests together to appreciate the beauty of the farm’s 80 acres of blooming peach trees. The farm often functions as a wedding and event venue, but recently expanded to include a permanent new aspect of Schnepf Farms: The Cozy Peach, a glamping (“glam camping”) experience. Guests can enjoy sleeping in shiny AirStream trailers restored to their former glory. With so many locally grown goodies available and good memories ready to be made, it’s no wonder that Schnepf Farms has remained a familiar favorite in Queen Creek for decades.
San Tan Mountain Regional Park
Sprawling across over 10,000 acres, this Maricopa County Park is a dream for anyone who appreciates the great outdoors. Part of the San Tan Mountain, the miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails showcase the beauty and variety of the Sonoran Desert. There are camping spots available throughout the park for those who prefer to get more up close and personal with nature. The elevation of the park ranges from 1,400 feet to 2,500, offering perspectives for the more adventurous visitor and the inexperienced explorer as well. The park’s Nature Center educates tourists and locals year-round, often hosting family-friendly events, organizing nature walks and encouraging sustainability initiatives.
Hayden Flour Mills
Self-described as “Family Owned, Family Grown,” the mission of Hayden Flour Mills is to preserve ancient grains, which have had a positive reputation for generations. At the Mill Shoppe and Sossaman Farm located in Queen Creek, visitors can learn all about the benefits that ancient grains provide for both people and the planet. Hayden Flour Mills specializes in stone-milled grain, which is sustainably grown, processed minimally and always free of chemicals and additives found in many conventional flours. Hayden Flour Mills’ products range from all-purpose flours to breakfast items, crackers and even pastas.
With an option that appeals to just about every eco-friendly Arizonan, this list of Queen Creek’s must-see sustainable destinations seems to speak for itself. The city’s clear dedication to maintaining an environmentally conscious lifestyle through sustainable agritourism destinations calls for two green thumbs up.