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Don’t let shutdown ruin fall plans

This time of year is perfect to pack the car and head out of town to enjoy the beauties of the national treasures in Arizona at a reasonable cost.

But Tuesday, the federal government closed shop because of a lapse in federal funding. As a result, all public lands managed by the Interior Department, including national parks, were closed. One major park affected is the Grand Canyon.

No worries, though: there are still places to go and things to do around town before the holiday season gets fully underway without going far or spending a lot of money:

Arizona State Parks are open: Whether you’re looking for a place to hike, swim, bike, fish or learn about history or culture, Arizona has 30 state parks and natural areas to choose from with more than 1,400 camping and RV sites. You can find several state parks within a three-hour drive in any direction from Phoenix. You can make an online reservation to visit a park for as little as $5.

Navajo Nation parks are also still open.

Make it a zoo day: Although you may not be able to watch the panda cam at the National Zoo anymore, we’ve got plenty of zoos around our state with the lights still on and looking for visitors. Several of the best are close at hand, such as the Phoenix Zoo and the Wildlife World Zoo in Lichtfield Park. Just outside Phoenix is the Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde.

Make it a learning day: A slew of museums are open around the Valley and admittance is either free or affordable. How about the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa? Or the Arizona Historical Society’s Museum at Papago Park in Tempe? Maybe learn a little music history at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix? Find a list of museums around the state here.

State Fair: It’s back, Oct. 11-Nov. 3. Looking for a night of entertainment? The fair has it all — rides, food, animals, games and music. Perhaps it’s the concert series that might spruce up a night out with friends. This year country fans have a chance to see Trace Atkins and Billy Currington while Latin music lovers can welcome Prince Royce. Concert tickets average about $20; adult general fair admission is $10.

KTAR’S Fall Fun Map: Find all kinds of activities for the entire family with this interactive map of haunted house locations, pumpkin patches, Halloween events, fall activities, Oktoberfests and Day of the Dead events.