Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Gilbert, AZ

  • Published 2022/12/15

Gilbert, Arizona, is an interesting destination for travelers on a budget.

With plenty of free attractions and activities, it’s the perfect place to explore without spending much money.

The city offers a unique blend of culture and outdoor attractions, from recreational areas and fantastic art galleries to local parks and historic sites.

With a quaint small-town appeal and plenty of free attractions, it’s no wonder Gilbert has become a popular tourist destination in Maricopa County, Arizona.

It offers a different appeal than other notable cities nearby, like Phoenix and Scottsdale, but provides plenty of free activities.

If you’re interested in visiting this unique town, here are 15 free things to do in Gilbert, Arizona, to help you get started:

Walk around Downtown Gilbert

Buildings along Downtown Gilbert

Cavan-Images /

Nothing is more accessible than simply walking around and exploring the town you’re visiting.

Downtown Gilbert is a charming area with plenty of exciting stores and restaurants to explore.

You’ll find several coffee shops, antique shops, vintage boutiques, art galleries, and more.

The road of Downtown Gilbert

Cavan-Images /

You can feel the coziness and warmth of the area during the holiday season when downtown is lit up and decorated for Christmas.

Downtown Gilbert is a great place to wander around and explore, and you can find something new to see or do each time you visit.

While in the area, check out the Gilbert Heritage District, which is home to some of the town’s oldest buildings.

Aerial view of Downtown Gilbert

Manuela Durson /

Have a Family Day at Freestone District Park

The Freestone District Park is one of those cleverly built parks that feature attractions that can please every family member.

Located at East Juniper Avenue, this massive 88-acre park features a rec center, multiple sports fields, a mini amusement park, a fishing pond, and a skate park.

Everyone will find something to do here, from adults to kids.

There are also plenty of picnic areas, a playground, pavilions, and barbecue grills for families to enjoy.

The onsite amphitheater usually hosts free events and activities throughout the year, so check out their events calendar before visiting.

The Freestone District Park is great for family days and weekend getaways, and it doesn’t cost a penny to get in.

Go Window Shopping at San Tan Village

San Tan Village is an outdoor shopping center on East Williams Field Road.

This shopping mall features a variety of stores, restaurants, and entertainment options to explore.

The shopping center is home to over 130 stores and eateries, including popular names like Apple, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dillard’s, Macy’s, HomeGoods, Nordstrom Rack, and more.

Aside from the everyday stores, there is also a variety of unique boutiques and stores that make window shopping fun.

You don’t need to pay anything to explore the shopping center, so why not take a stroll around the area and enjoy the surroundings?

San Tan Village is one of the best free things to do in the city, and it’s a great way to kill time and spend an afternoon.

Visit the Gilbert Riparian Observatory

The Gilbert Riparian Observatory is a public observatory that was built in 2006 to mark the Gilbert Rotary Club’s 100th year of service.

Located at East Guadalupe Road, the observatory is open to the public every Friday and Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Admission is free, but donations are welcome to help them continue their work.

The Gilbert Riparian Observatory is an excellent place for anyone interested in astronomy or looking for a place to view the stars.

The observatory offers guided tours where you can learn about the stars, and there are also telescopes available for viewing stars and other astronomical phenomena.

The observatory has a large deck that offers an unobstructed view of the night sky.

The Gilbert Riparian Observatory also has a classroom that can be used for educational purposes and regularly hosts events and activities for the community.

If you’re looking for something fun and free to do in Gilbert, Arizona, check out the Gilbert Riparian Observatory.

Get Active at Discovery District Park

Discovery District Park is an excellent place for people looking for a place to get active.

Located south of downtown Gilbert, Arizona, this park features a few amenities that will encourage you to break a sweat and have fun.

This 48-acre park features basketball courts, soccer fields, and jogging trails.

You either come here to play sports with friends or take a leisurely jog and explore the scenic trails.

There’s a lake right in the middle of the park with ducks, geese, and other birds.

You can bring bread crumbs and feed the ducks as you stroll around the lake.

Discovery District Park also has a playground for the kids and plenty of benches and picnic tables.

Discovery District Park is the perfect place for you if you want to relax while surrounded by nature.

Explore the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Snowy egret at Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Christopher M Hall /

The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is a nature preserve in Gilbert that features trails, ponds, and wetlands.

If you’re into preserving mother nature, then you’ll love this place.

Located at East Guadalupe Road, the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is an innovative and unique way for the local government to combine wildlife habitat preservation and water resource management.

The staff that manages the place also hosts several educational programs, outdoor recreational activities, and bird-watching tours.

A bird landing on the waters of Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Christopher M Hall /

The preserve is also home to various local wildlife, including fish, birds, and reptiles.

It’s an excellent place for a nature walk or bike ride, and there are also ponds where you can go fishing.

You shouldn’t pay money to enjoy nature, and the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is one of the best places in Gilbert to do that.

Great heron at Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Christopher M Hall /

Relax at Southeast Regional Library

Located at North Greenfield Road, Southeast Regional Library. is an excellent place for anyone looking for something educational and free to do in Gilbert.

The library features a great collection of resources, from books, magazines, research papers, and other reference materials that can accommodate any reader.

The library also offers free programs such as lectures from notable authors and guest speakers.

It also hosts a variety of classes for adults, seniors, children, and teens to help them learn new skills and explore the world of knowledge.

Let Your Furry Friend Play at the Cosmo Dog Park

Gilbert also has something free for dog lovers to do while in town.

Located at East Ray Road, Cosmo Dog Park is ideal for people who want to take their furry friend out for a playdate.

Located in the heart of the town, this dog park has all the amenities to ensure your dog has the best fun they’ll ever get in Gilbert.

There are plenty of benches and shaded areas where you can relax while your dog plays, and there are also water fountains for both people and pets.

The dog park also has multiple fenced off-leash areas, a washing station, and plenty of obstacles for your pet to run around and explore.

The main attraction is the sandy beach on a lake in the middle of the park, where dogs can relax, swim, and even take a dip.

Cosmo Dog Park has something for every fur parent and their pet, so if you’re looking for a free and fun activity to do with your pup while in Gilbert, this is the place to be.

See the Fancy Lighting Setup at Christmas at Comstock

As mentioned earlier, Gilbert comes alive during the holiday season, and one of the best free things to do in Gilbert during this time of the year is to check out Christmas at Comstock.

Held at East Comstock Drive, this seasonal event is the town’s main attraction during the holidays and is a sight to behold.

This free event is one of Arizona’s best Christmas light shows, featuring the entire Comstock Street in Gilbert going all out with the lights and ornaments.

The street has thousands of LED lights, fancy holiday decorations, and intricate light displays.

Christmas at Comstock has several activities, such as holiday sing-alongs and festive food booths serving treats and hot chocolate.

Passing by Comstock Street has become a yearly tradition in Gilbert, and you won’t want to miss it once the holidays arrive.

Play Pickleball at Gilbert Regional Park

Pickleball is a popular sport in Gilbert, and one of the best places to play is at the Gilbert Regional Park.

Located at East Queen Creek Road, this park has several courts that are open for anyone to play on, both for beginners and pros.

The court features a lighted net system, so if you want to keep playing even after dark, this court is the perfect spot.

But while pickleball is big in Gilbert Regional Park, the main attraction is its massive playground in the middle of the park.

The playground is a large complex with two big tunnel slides, swings, and plenty of play structures for kids to explore.

There’s also a splash pad and water park where the kids can cool off during summer.

Gilbert Regional Park is the perfect place to spend an entire day with family or friends and enjoy free recreational activities.

This massive 272-acre regional park has all the amenities and activities to ensure you and the entire family have the best time in Gilbert.

Other Things To Do Nearby

The areas surrounding Gilbert are also filled with fun and free attractions to explore.

If you’re looking to expand your vacation to Gilbert’s neighboring towns and cities, here are other free things that you should check out:

Visit Chandler Museum

Building sign of the Chandler Museum

Around the World Photos /

The Chandler Museum is a great place to learn about the history of nearby Chandler, Arizona.

This museum has exhibits that showcase the culture and heritage of Chandler, as well as its natural history and geological features.

One of the main attractions of the Chandler Museum is the extensive collection of Southwest art on display, which includes pieces from well-known local and international artists.

Exterior of the Chandler Museum

Around the World Photos /

The best part about this museum is that it’s free to enter and explore.

If you’re looking for something to do in Chandler that’s free and educational, the Chandler Museum is worth a visit.

Appreciate Art at the Vision Gallery

Another great thing about nearby Chandler is that it has plenty of art galleries that are free to visit.

One such gallery is the Vision Gallery, located in downtown Chandler.

The Vision Gallery is a contemporary art center that features rotating exhibits from established and emerging artists in the Maricopa region.

The gallery also offers educational programs, lectures, and other events to the public.

It includes art classes for kids, workshops, and other activities promoting creativity, art appreciation, and world exploration.

While participating in their activities will cost you money, simply exploring the entire gallery is free of charge.

If you’re looking to appreciate some art in Chandler, Vision Gallery is the perfect spot.

Enjoy Outdoor Fun at Tumbleweed Park

Tumbleweed Park is Chandler’s local park and recreation center.

It’s a great place to relax and enjoy outdoor activities like walking, jogging, biking, or playing sports.

The sporting facilities are available for rent, but if you’re going to play field sports like frisbee, you can do so for free in its numerous open spaces.

Some of the park’s amenities include a horseshoe pit, bocce ball, several pavilions, and a playground for the kids.

Tumbleweed Park is just like your typical city park, with all the amenities and activities that make it the perfect spot to enjoy a day with the family.

Get Lost at the Rose Garden at Mesa Community College

The Rose Garden at Mesa Community College is a hidden gem that features over 9,000 rose bushes.

Established in 1997, this famous rose garden is a great place to have a leisure walk while taking in the beauty of nature.

The garden is open every day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is located on the east of the Mesa Community College campus.

Imagine walking through a never-ending path of thousands of rose bushes that fill the air with the sweet smell of roses.

This is an experience you don’t want to miss.

If you’re looking for a place to spend an hour or two in peace and quiet, the Rose Garden at Mesa Community College is worth a visit.

Let Your Kids Burn Some Energy at Paseo Vista Recreation Area

If you’re looking for a place to take your kids where they can run around and play without worrying about getting into trouble, the Paseo Vista Recreation Area is one of the best spots to consider.

This recreation area in Chandler has many kid-friendly amenities that will keep your little ones entertained while also helping them to stay active.

The Paseo Vista Recreation Area features a playground, an archery range, disc golf, a dog park, and pavilions.

There are also well-maintained restrooms and walking trails for adults to enjoy.

All these amenities are complimentary, making it the perfect place to take your kids to have fun and explore the outdoors.

Final Thoughts

Who said you need money to enjoy a great vacation?

As you can see, there are plenty of free things to do in Gilbert that don’t require you to spend your hard-earned cash.

This quaint town has a ton of attractions that are free to visit, from art galleries to parks and so much more.

So the next time you’re in town, add these 15 free things to do in Gilbert, Arizona, to your itinerary.

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