East of Phoenix lies the vast nature reserves of the Sonoran Desert, where you can discover thousands of acres of flora and fauna.
However, it’s also home to pocket towns and cities in Arizona that thrives amongst this desert oasis.
One of these pocket towns is San Tan Valley.
San Tan Valley, a census-designated area in Pinal County, is the epitome of a rural community and an excellent destination for relaxation and leisure.
The town is known for being a jumping point for many of Pinal County’s major attractions in Gilbert, Queen Creek, and Chandler.
This small town is known for various leisure activities such as golfing, hiking, and nature tours around the Sonoran Desert.
It’s an excellent place to unwind and shake off stress while enjoying a wide array of fun-filled activities.
So, check out the 15 best things to do in San Tan Valley, AZ, and its nearby places below.
Explore the San Tan Mountain Regional Park
The San Tan Mountain Regional Park along W. Phillips Road is the main attraction of San Tan Valley.
Although its location is in Queen Creek, this attraction is a stone’s throw away from San Tan Valley.
This regional park is an excellent place for an outdoor adventure because of its vast open space and vibrant flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert.
If you love nature viewing and wildlife encounters, this place is teeming with native animals and plants.
Choose from the nine trails featured in this park open for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
If you’re a wildlife photographer or simply an enthusiast, bring your camera to this place because it’s teeming with native flowering cacti.
You’ll also discover incredible Native American petroglyphs in this 10,000-acre regional park.
Hike through the Goldmine Trailhead
The Goldmine Trailhead promises an exciting and fulfilling outdoor adventure.
Situated in Queen Creek, this trailhead is part of the San Tan Mountain Regional Park, featuring five miles of a hiking trail that takes you to 754-feet of elevation.
At the top, you’ll enjoy a scenic bird's eye view of San Tan Valley and its neighboring cities.
Moreover, the hike takes you certain steep portions, but traversing the trail is fairly easy.
The Goldmine Trailhead is open the entire year, offering scenic views of San Tan Valley.
Celebrate the Arizona Renaissance Festival
San Tan Valley in March becomes festive as everyone around Arizona celebrates the annual Arizona Renaissance Festival.
This annual festival has a reminiscent theme of the 16th-century English village built throughout the festival fairgrounds northeast of San Tan Valley.
It has a 16-stage theater that regularly hosts jousting, while other activities include archery, ax-throwing, and Birds of Prey display.
Adding color and fun to the festival is the artisan marketplace.
You can buy a plethora of crafts and arts made by local artisans in San Tan Valley while adding excitement is the carnival.
Socialize with more than a thousand people dressed as 16th European settlers in this festival with your loved ones or travel buddies.
The Arizona Renaissance Festival has so much to do and see that you’ll likely spend a few days celebrating this unique revelry.
Traverse the Rock Peak Wash Trailhead
The Rock Peak Wash Trailhead in Queen Creek is another outdoor destination in San Tan Valley you need to check out.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’d surely appreciate its natural beauty and rugged terrain that is perfect for another hiking activity.
This out and back trail features a 12.39-kilometer distance traversing through Queen Creek.
Despite its rugged terrain, the Rock Peak Wash Trailhead offers a fairly-easy route making it a perfect place to hike with your loved ones.
Aside from hiking, it’s also a popular birdwatching site and mountain biking route.
Harvest Fresh Olives at the Queen Creek Olive Mill Arizona
The Queen Creek Olive Mill is a popular attraction you shouldn’t miss visiting in San Tan Valley.
This family-owned business that grows, harvests, and manufactures extra virgin olive oil offer visitors an exciting tour.
Visitors are taken through the farm's olive groves, where they introduce the various types of olives they grow and harvest seasonally.
Visitors are also toured through the mill, where the process of making extra virgin olive oil is manufactured.
The best part of the tour is the product testing, wherein guests taste an extensive gourmet dish using the extra virgin olive oil freshly bottled on the farm.
Of course, your tour of this incredible place won’t be complete without buying a bottle or two of its famous extra virgin olive oil.
Witness Daredevils Strut Their Wares at the Arizona Speedway
If you’re into car racing or just want to fill your day with action, head to the Arizona Speedway along N Ironwood Rd. in San Tan Valley.
It is the premier racing destination in Pinal County, where countless exciting races are being hosted throughout the year.
The races you can catch there are the Western World Championships Week and the Halloween Havoc.
Most of the races featured are stock car racing from various teams across Arizona and the United States.
In addition, it also hosts races featuring wing sprint cars from IMCA teams, making this place a must-visit in San Tan Valley.
Grab a Mouthwatering Meal at the Firehouse Subs
Founded in 1994, the Firehouse Subs boasts some of the best sub sandwiches you can sink your teeth into in San Tan Valley.
This sandwich joint which started in Jacksonville, Florida, expanded to San Tan Valley, featuring its famous sub sandwiches.
Of course, after a whole day exploring San Tan Valley, treat yourself to a good meal, and there’s nowhere in San Tan Valley to head to than Firehouse Subs along at W Hunt Hwy Ste.
Their signature sub sandwiches, the cheddar brisket and “engineer,” are a must-try.
They also have other sub sandwiches served that you can eat or have as a takeaway.
Watch Live Stage Performances at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center
The Queen Creek Performing Arts Center along E. Ocotillo Road in Queen Creek is considered the premier live performing arts venue in Pinal County.
It regularly hosts live stage performances featuring top-notch artists in the region.
From Broadway to live stage plays, you can watch a wide variety of live shows at this popular entertainment venue.
It also serves as a place for budding young artists to hone their skills in acting.
Some of the must-watch shows at the Queen Creek Performing Arts are the Bye Bye Birdie, Dames at Sea, and the 101 Dalmatians.
Learn How to Harvest at the Schnepf Farms
The Schnepf Farms along South Rittenhouse Road in Queen Creek offers a unique outdoor activity for everyone.
If you find farming boring, then this one will surely change your mind.
Join its exciting and fun-filled fruit and vegetable harvesting tours through its vast farm that opens from May to October.
You can harvest from green vegetables to a variety of colorful fruits that you can take home after.
In addition, the Schnepf Farms has all sorts of family-oriented activities such as farm animal pettings, train rides, and flower picking.
It also has a gift shop and a bakery to check out.
Tee Up at the Golf Club at Johnson Ranch
The Golf Club at Johnson Ranch features an 18-hole par-72 golf course nestled along W. Golf Club Drive in San Tan Valley.
San Tan Valley and Pinal County are known as one the premier destinations in Arizona for golfing.
So, it’s not surprising that part of your itinerary would be visiting a golf course or perhaps playing golf at one of the dozens of golf courses there.
The Golf Club at Johnson Ranch, in particular, is one of Pinal County’s best golf courses after it opened in 1997.
It’s also one of the best value-oriented public golf courses boasting a top-notch facility, a clubhouse, and a restaurant.
Aside from playing golf, you’ll also enjoy the breathtaking view of its surroundings featuring the San Tan Mountain and the beautiful Sonoran Desert.
After an entire day of golfing, proceed to its restaurant and treat yourself to a delicious meal.
Dine at the Golden Skone
The Golden Skone alone N. Ironwood Road in San Tan Valley is one of the oldest restaurants in the town that is worth trying out.
The restaurant owned by Idaho natives invented a unique but delicious dish in the 1970s that they started serving in Olympia, WA.
Instead of the usual sandwiches, they use skone, a particular type of dough that is fried and usually holds delicious fillings inside, from meat to sweet treats.
They opened their first restaurant, the Golden Skone, in 1972, in San Tan Valley, which is still open and highly patronized by locals and visitors up to this day.
If you’re looking for a unique dish during your San Tan Valley travel adventure, head to Golden Skone and try its menu offering its famous skone.
Try its skone sandwich, skone burger, skone barbeque, roast beef skone, turkey skone, chicken tender skone, ham skone, and etc.
Play More Golf at the Encanterra Golf Course!
If you can’t get enough of San Tan Valley’s golf courses, check out the 18-hole, par-72 golf course along N. Encanterra Drive, known for its beauty and sophistication.
This Tom Lehman-designed golf course features a rare core style layout that boasts a scenic view of the nearby San Tan Mountains.
Its layout removes any distractions, offering a more convenient walkable terrain and providing golfers with an exceptional experience.
The Encanterra Golf Course has already hosted numerous major golf tournaments such as the Gateway Tour’s Tour Championship, US Open Sectional Qualifying, and the Thunderbirds Classic.
You can still visit the Encanterra Golf Course and be mesmerized by its natural beauty and the stunning landscape of the Sonoran Desert.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Discover the McFarland State Historic Park
The McFarland State Historic Park in Florence is a 32-minute drive or 23-miles south of San Tan Valley.
It is a popular outdoor and historic destination in Florence known for its century-old buildings that highlight the beauty of Sonoran and Anglo-American architecture.
If you want to add a bit of history to your itinerary, this is the nearest place in San Tan Valley to visit.
Aside from the gorgeous antique buildings, you can also learn some history about Arizona’s history through its archives featuring the extensive works of Ernest McFarland himself.
In addition, this state historic park has an exhibit dedicated to the history of the Japanese-American Internment Camp that was established in World War II.
Get Entertained While Dining at the Barleens Dinner Show
Dinner Shows are always exciting because of their unique way of entertainment.
If you’re yearning to experience a dinner show, head to the Barleens Dinner Show in Apache Junction, 19 miles north of San Tan Valley.
The Barleens Dinner Show features six different themed shows throughout the year.
Its shows are usually themed according to the holidays and events, while some are based on musical genres.
Aside from great live performances, one of its main attractions is its delicious menu in a fine-dining setting.
So, when you’re in San Tan Valley, book a ticket for one of its shows.
Make a Splash at the Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center
The Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center in Chandler is situated 15 miles east of San Tan Valley.
This vast open-door water park is a must-visit attraction in Chandler, especially with the whole family.
Aside from the typical swimming pools, the Mesquite Grove Aquatic Center features a vast lazy river, a bridge waterfall, a 6-foot 725-gallon tumble bucket, water vortex, waterslides, spray pads, and an eight-lane standard pool for competitions.
There are tons of features that you can enjoy at this water park that you’ll likely spend an entire day having fun with.
If you’re planning a weekend getaway or a short excursion to destress yourself, consider traveling to San Tan Valley.
This small town is a mixture of outdoor activities, colorful festivals, and natural beauty.
Before packing your travel gear, be sure to bookmark this post as your itinerary to truly experience San Tan Valley.