Patagonia isn’t a place you stumble upon. "It’s a town that attracts interesting and interested people," says Ann Caston, owner of Mariposa Books and More in Patagonia.
Between the Santa Rita and Patagonia mountains, this town of 881 is home to novelist Jim Harrison ("Legends of the Fall"), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Philip Caputo and a band of eccentrics looking for a little peace and quiet in old Arizona. It’s also a paradise for bird-watchers and outdoor enthusiasts.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
• Catch the 17th annual Fall Festival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Town Park. More than 10,000 people are drawn to this festival every year. Enjoy a mix of musical styles including international, classic, Andean, bluegrass, folk, rock ’n’ roll and blues. Free. (888) 794-0060.
• Drive through the San Rafael Valley, the backdrop for movies such as "Oklahoma!" and "Tin Cup." Head east on Harshaw and follow the signs to the San Rafael Valley.
• Eat at the Velvet Elvis Pizza Co., 292 Naugle Ave., Patagonia. In this pizzeria dedicated to healthy alternatives, visitors will find shrines to the Virgin Mary and Elvis Presley. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. (520) 394-2102.
• Relax at Patagonia Lake State Park, 400 Patagonia Lake Road. Lounge on the beach or rent a boat and go water-skiing. This 250-acre park has something for everyone. The park is seven miles outside Patagonia. $7 per carload. Hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (520) 287-6965.
• Look out for birds at the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, where more than 250 migratory species have been spotted. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. $5 per person. In Patagonia, turn west on Fourth Avenue and south on Pennsylvania. Cross Cattleguard Creek and head two miles on Blue Heaven Road to the entrance. (520) 394-2400.
For more information on Patagonia, call the Visitors Center at (888) 794-0060 or visit www.patagoniaaz.com.