An oasis nestled in the Sonoran Desert, situated on the banks of the Gila River, and surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges, is Maricopa, the largest incorporated city in Pinal County, Arizona.
The city is one of the oldest and most historic communities in the state.
It has moved three locations over the years, each playing a vital role in the Southwest's growth and development: Maricopa Wells, Maricopaville, and Maricopa Junction.
The first location, Maricopa Wells, consisted of watering holes fed by various Arizona rivers, including the Gila, Santa Cruz, Vekol, and Santa Rosa.
These rivers provided adequate water to this desert oasis and turned the town into a sanctuary for thousands of immigrants and travelers during the 1800s.
Moving eight miles down south in 1879, the town connected with the Southern Pacific Railroad and served as a railroad junction.
It changed its name to Maricopaville, a small community built by the locals day in and day out.
However, the town changed routes, and it didn’t get to serve as a junction.
Finally, the town moved to Maricopa Junction, three miles east, taking the challenge of being a railroad junction once more for the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Maricopa and Phoenix Railroad.
Maricopa served this function for the next 40 years.
Over time, Maricopa lost its role as a railroad junction, blossoming into farmland and allowing farmers to experiment and grow various crops.
In 2003, Maricopa was incorporated as the 88th city in Arizona and became one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States.
Maricopa is surrounded by natural wonders and offers fantastic vistas and exciting locations to visit for a great family or friend vacation.
Here are the best things to do in Maricopa, AZ:
Spend the Morning or Afternoon at Pacana Park
Pacana Park is one of the several parks in Maricopa.
Pacana Park, a 28-acre property on North Porter Road, is a popular park among locals.
Park features include a 2-acre fishing lake, a large playground, picnic tables, two baseball diamonds, two tennis courts, one full basketball court, two half courts, and a workout area.
These are all open for public use.
The park is a fantastic place to get your body moving through sports or physical activities.
Take your family or friends for an enjoyable morning walk, a game of tennis, or hoops in the afternoon.
Soar High with Arizona Soaring
Ride a glider to see a part of Arizona’s vast lands, including the Sierra Estrella Mountains, from the skies.
Arizona Soaring is an aviation training institute located at Estrella Sailport, a privately owned airport on North Sailport Way, far from local and airline traffic.
Arizona Soaring offers flight training such as Primary Instruction for Beginners, Aerobatic Training, Tow Pilot Training, etc.
The facility offers flight packages for guests, ranging from mellow soaring to exhilarating aerobatic rides.
If you're prone to motion sickness and extreme fear of heights, this might not be for you.
Although not the cheapest way to see Arizona, you’ll get your money’s worth with a once-in-a-lifetime extreme adventure you’ll never forget.
Learn the Ak-Chin Indian Community’s Heritage at the Ak-Chin Him-Dak Eco-Museum
Located on West Eco-Museum Road, the Ak-Chin Him-Dak Eco-Museum opened more than 20 years ago to gather, protect, and teach the Ak-Chin culture, heritage, and communication between generations in the community.
The museum's name means "way of life" in the local language.
It embodies the guiding principle of conserving and sharing how the tribe's historical ancestors lived with the public.
The museum displays photographs, exhibits, and artifacts of the Ak-Chin people.
It differs from a traditional museum because the museum building is their land and territory, with residents taking the role of curators.
The museum holds two annual celebrations: the Him-Dak Celebration every April and the Native American Recognition Day Celebration every September.
Get Active at Copper Sky Recreation Complex
The Copper Sky Recreation Complex is Maricopa's top sports, exercise, recreation, and leisure facility.
Located on West Martin Luther King Boulevard, this large recreational complex includes the Copper Sky Multigenerational Center and the Copper Sky Regional Park.
These facilities use state-of-the-art equipment, contain impressive green areas, and promote outstanding programs to improve the locals’ quality of living.
The Multigenerational Center offers a premier workout facility for your fitness and wellness needs, including memberships, group exercise classes, and personal training.
The Regional Park spans 98 acres offering facilities to build and improve your sports skills.
Unmatched amenities include an amphitheater for events, an aquatic center, eight illuminated multi-use fields, four baseball/softball fields, two basketball courts, two sand volleyball courts, a dog park, a skate plaza, a 5-acre fishing lake, ramadas with barbecue grills, picnic tables, and more!
Marvel at the Dwarf Car Museum
A quirky place you can visit in Maricopa is the Dwarf Car Museum, located on West Halfmoon Road.
Founder Ernie Adams has built a reputation by making Dwarf Race Cars and Dwarf Car Cruisers, scaled-down models of classic vintage cars.
Ernie’s passion for cars began during grade school when he would sketch vintage cars for school projects and create a wooden vehicle the size of a crate box with steering and taillights made from peanut butter jar lids.
The first Dwarf Car, built in 1965, was a 28 Chevy two-door sedan built out of nine old refrigerators and was nicknamed "Grandpa Dwarf," the forefather of all dwarf cars.
See Ernie’s masterpieces at the Dwarf Car Museum, where his collection is on display, and be surprised by the creativity that made these incredible works of art.
Fly with Sonora Wings Hang Gliding
Hang gliding is not for the faint-hearted, so if you love a thrilling experience, Sonora Wings Hang Gliding can take you on an adventure of a lifetime.
Sonora Wings Hang Gliding, located on North Russell Road, is Arizona’s top hang gliding destination.
Feel your heart pound as you soar above thousands of feet, and finally, allow yourself to relax and enjoy the views of the Sonoran Desert.
Depending on how adventurous you are, you can fly as low as 2,000 feet and as high as 5,000 feet, lasting 15 to 45 minutes of flight time.
Throughout your discovery flight, a licensed tandem instructor will accompany you.
A toy plane hauls the glider to its cruising altitude, after which it releases you and lets you experience free flight.
The instructor will demonstrate how to manage the glider while you soak up the beautiful views and finally land back down safely.
Sonora Wings Hang Gliding also offers lessons for those who want to learn to fly solo.
Play Golf at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club
The Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club offers a pleasant, laid-back atmosphere spread across 320 acres of the stunning Ak-Chin Indian Reservation.
Located on West Highway, visitors can enjoy unobstructed 360-degree vistas of Arizona's spectacular desert vastness.
Troon Golf manages this world-class facility and offers excellent course conditioning and exceptional customer service, providing a game of extraordinary golf.
According to the 2016 Golf Magazine, the Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club ranked Top 5 Best Courses You Can Play in Arizona and the Top 84 Best Courses You Can Play in the United States.
Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club also features a restaurant, an online apparel store, and mini-dunes for all ages and different skill levels to play.
Go Skydiving with Skydive Phoenix
Most people consider skydiving the epitome of extreme sports, and Maricopa is the ideal location to take your extreme adventure to the next level.
Feel the surge of excitement as you reach, fly, and fall from the sky on one of the most thrilling moments you'll ever have.
Skydive Phoenix, located on West Dasher Drive, takes pride in being Arizona's most convenient and friendliest dropzone.
Tandem Skydiving is the safest and most enjoyable way for first-time skydivers and beginners to enjoy the sport.
Those who want to learn can sign up for classes through their course packages.
Experienced jumpers can also participate and demonstrate their love and passion for the sport.
Being close to Phoenix, jumpers may take in the breathtaking views of the Phoenix Skyline, Camelback Mountain, and Four Peaks, making it the best lookout deck you’ve ever seen.
Book a Massage at Silk Massage
Treat yourself to a relaxing time of healing and stress relief at the hands of Silk Massage, located on West Caven Drive.
Voted as the Best Massage in Maricopa since 2015, Hands of Silk Massage offers high-quality services and caters to different individual needs.
Services include Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Sports Massage, Prenatal Massage, Reflexology Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Infant and Child Massage, Craniosacral Therapy, and more.
They offer therapy for physical healing and spiritual empowerment to restore balance in the body, such as Divine Matrix, Lightbody Connection, and Activation.
Hands of Silk Massage believes that everyone should experience the healing powers of touch and its benefits toward better health and wellness.
Hang Out at Ak-Chin Circle Entertainment Center
Ak-Chin Circle Entertainment Center is the place in Maricopa for all things entertainment.
Located on North Maricopa Road, Ak-Chin Circle Entertainment Center is a popular gathering spot for family and friends.
The center features a movie theater, a bar, grill, a bowling area, a 3,000 square feet area for a fun, heart-pounding game of laser tag, and an arcade center with the latest arcade games.
Book their private party area for your next event, with a dedicated party host and exclusive menu.
Ak-Chin Circle Entertainment Center is a sure hit for locals and visitors seeking a quick, fun day or night out.
See the Maha Ganapati Temple of Arizona
The Maha Ganapati Temple of Arizona is the largest Hindu temple in the state, located on West Teel Road.
Set in a tranquil setting with the open desert on one side and mountains on the other side, the Maha Ganapati Temple of Arizona is one of many temples that serve the Hindu community within the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami of Kauai Aadheenam donated a 1400-lb, 4-ft-tall statue of Ganesh as a Murti (an image of a deity) for a new Hindu Temple in Arizona in 1999.
In 2000, the Maha Ganapati Temple of Arizona was formally recognized as a religious institution and a non-profit organization.
Groundbreaking of the permanent 8,000-square foot temple began in 2007.
The construction of shrines and towers came in phases over the years.
The temple keeps up with tradition and continues to hold events celebrating Hindu ceremonies and festivals.
Locals and visitors can witness and join daily pujas (worship) and other religious services.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Wander the Sonoran Desert National Monument
The Sonoran Desert played a significant role in Maricopa’s history, which shaped the city into what it is today.
Visitors can visit the Sonoran Desert National Monument located southwest of Maricopa, reachable within 30 minutes from the city.
The Sonoran Desert National Monument features breathtaking examples of the Sonoran Desert's natural beauty, including some of the most biologically diverse plants in North America.
The monument covers mountain ranges separated by valleys such as the Table Top Mountains, Sand Tank, Maricopa, Booth, and White Hills.
It also includes three wilderness areas, archaeological and historical sites, and remains of some significant historic trails.
Two tips: capture photos of the iconic saguaro cactus forest and bring plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
Visit the Huhugam Heritage Center
The Huhugam Heritage Center is a modern facility that highlights the culture of the Gila River Indian Community.
Located on South Maricopa Road, Chandler, the Huhugam Heritage Center is about a 20-minute drive away from Maricopa.
The center, built in 2003, sits in the desert, its unique structure blending in with the surrounding hills and mountains.
Huhugam Heritage Center’s mission is to establish a place for culture, land, tradition, and community to honor and preserve the Gila River Indians' way of life.
On display are jewelry, pottery, tools, carved bowls, baskets, and other crafts and arts made by the Huhugam ancestors.
Marvel the eccentric structure and design of the center, including the circular earthen berm entrance, amphitheater and ball court, museum gallery, timber beams, shade arbors, and the rounded glass courtyard.
Tour the Shamrock Farms
Shamrock Farms, a family-owned farm in Stanfield, located less than a 20-minute drive south of Maricopa, has produced the purest and freshest milk for over 100 years.
Founded in 1922, Shamrock Farms treats cows with the utmost care to create high-quality, nutritious milk and milk products without growth hormones.
Visitors can tour the farm and see the 10,000 amazing animals behind the farm’s success, learn about the history of dairy in their Dairy Museum, and observe how cutting-edge technology helps produce pure and good-tasting milk.
The tour includes a hands-on milking experience and a taste of some delicious sweet treats from their ice cream parlor.
The farm offers a fun learning experience through school tours and family trips for everyone, especially kids.
Ride a Horse at the Koli Equestrian Center
Take a journey to the wild west with Koli Equestrian Center, located on West Broken Ear Road, Chandler, about a 20-minute drive away from Maricopa.
Koli Equestrian Center services the greater Phoenix area but has customers from other places.
Koli Equestrian Center prides itself on the best horse riding in Phoenix, with easy and gentle trail rides through tribal and historic lands under the Arizona sunshine.
The trails stretch out across the Gila River Indian Reservation's 2,400-acre land, providing breathtaking vistas of distant mountains and plants and trees native to Arizona.
Private rides are available for more experienced riders and carriage excursions, hay wagon rides, birthday parties, and other special events.
Koli Equestrian Center has something for everyone, whether you're a beginner, an experienced rider, solo, in a group, or a family with children.
It's safe to say that people never run out of things to do in Maricopa.
As part of the stark but wild and beautiful Arizona landscapes, Maricopa has it all, from mild attractions to extreme sports, making it the perfect destination for any traveler.
It is a community that has witnessed and lived through history.