15 Free Things to Do in Peoria, AZ

Peoria, AZ

Peoria, Arizona, captivates with its unique charm.

The city boasts a wealth of beauty, history, and culture that consistently offers unexpected delights.

Comparable to a hidden treasure chest, it brims with countless places to explore and experiences to immerse in - many of which, astonishingly, come without a price tag.

The joy of uncovering these cost-free gems is a distinctive feature of this charming city.

The experiences that Peoria offers are as diverse and thrilling as the city itself.

No matter if one is a local resident or a visitor, an exciting journey awaits through the free things to do in Peoria, Arizona.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Heather Wire, Helen Howard, Tony Childs, Betty Ruder, Riley Phillips, Gabriela Banton and Adelina Buckley.

Learn Fascinating History at Lake Pleasant Discovery Center

Tortoise at Lake Pleasant Discovery Center
AZ Outdoor Photography / Shutterstock.com

It was one of those long, tedious weekdays when I impulsively decided to take a break and head out to a local place that had intrigued me for a while.

The Lake Pleasant Discovery Center, tucked away in our very own Maricopa County, had been on my mind, and I finally decided to give it a visit.

From the moment I stepped in, I was greeted by a warm and friendly receptionist who made me feel right at home.

The place was brimming with fascinating history and information about Lake Pleasant Dam, adding a whole new dimension to my understanding of our local landscape.

It was quite a surprise to learn about the intricacies of something I had seen so many times growing up.

Making my way further into Lake Pleasant Discovery Center, I was met with the sight of Mr. T, a 36-year-old tortoise.

Turns out, he was a rescue turtle who found a home here at the center many years ago.

His story, along with the others that the place had to tell, added an element of deep connection and respect for our local wildlife.

The discovery center, although small in size, was intriguing and filled with surprises.

One of the highlights of my visit was meeting Ranger Kevin.

He was a trove of knowledge about our region and brought out live animal displays for visitors to interact with.

His passion and enthusiasm for the area were infectious, making my visit all the more memorable.

To top it all off, the view from the Discovery Center was breathtaking.

Overlooking the serene Lake Pleasant provided a perfect spot for some self-reflection and peace.

Hike the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Trailhead

The first light of dawn often finds me at the start of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Trailhead, ready to embark on my morning hike.

This trail is a treasured part of my daily routine, providing not just exercise but a peaceful moment of reflection as I pay my respects at the memorial.

As the sun begins to rise, the view of the valley, White Tanks, and Surprise from the trail is simply breathtaking.

Even in the early morning, it can get quite warm, and I've learned the hard way to always bring plenty of water.

The trail is well-defined and easy to navigate, bordered by rocks all the way to the summit.

The hike is easy enough, even for a novice like me.

The memorial itself marks the end of the shorter trail, but for the more adventurous, the trail continues past the memorial up to another mountain ridge.

I've yet to make that trek, but it's on my list.

One of the other features I appreciate in Vietnam Veterans Memorial Trailhead is the benches spread out along the trail, perfect for a quick rest or simply soak in the beautiful surroundings.

Parking is a breeze, too, with ample space available on the street curb.

And for dog owners, there's a waste station conveniently located right across the street.

Cycle through Rio Vista Community Park

I've been living in Peoria for years now, and if there's one place that never fails to amuse me, it's the beautiful Rio Vista Community Park.

This isn't just another park; it's a hub of community activities and a vibrant blend of nature and fun-filled enjoyment.

The park is a treasure trove of facilities and play sets that are not only high quality but also lovingly maintained.

There’s a sense of tranquility here on weekdays when it's less crowded, perfect for those who enjoy activities like jogging, cycling, or a simple walk amidst its gorgeous landscapes.

One of the best features of Rio Vista Community Park is the toddler-friendly splash pad.

I often bring my niece here, and the joy in her eyes as she plays in the water is something I cherish deeply.

But that's not all.

The playground is a vivid display of colors, and the ramadas are the finest I've ever come across.

I must mention the lake area, too.

It's a stunning sight and a favorite spot for many, including myself, to enjoy fishing.

Though we only practice catch and release, it's a memorable experience every time.

The blue color of the treated water adds to the surreal beauty of the lake.

And let's not forget the ducks - they're simply adorable!

Have a Picnic at Scotland Yard Trailhead to New River

My little ones and I are regular visitors at Scotland Yard Trailhead to New River.

It's my secret weapon for when the kids have too much energy to burn.

Just a few minutes here, and they'll be calm for the rest of the day.

It's a great spot for a quick lunch picnic, too.

The park is well equipped with picnic tables, some under the shade and some out in the open.

Perfect for both sunny and cloudy days.

We usually grab a spot right next to the playground so I can keep an eye on the kids as they play.

The playground itself is quite large and half-covered, which is a relief on hot days.

The park is also abundant with grassy fields where my kids can run around freely.

And if you're a tennis enthusiast, you'll be pleased to know they have a playground for that, too.

Their bathrooms are clean, and the parking is ample and free, which is a real treat for a place like this.

Taking on the Trails at Peoria Sunrise Mountain Preserve

I must have sauntered along the winding trails of the Peoria Sunrise Mountain Preserve more times than I can count.

The desert scenery always paints a picturesque backdrop for any sort of outdoor adventure, but the real beauty lies in the tranquility and the panoramic views of the surrounding valley.

The trails can get rocky in places, which adds that extra thrill to the hike.

On one occasion, my youngest, a sprightly three-year-old, tagged along.

It's a testament to the trail's versatility.

Depending on how adventurous you're feeling on a particular day, you can choose different routes tailored to your abilities.

I've noticed the elevation doesn't change as notably as it does in Thunderbird or Pinnacle Peak Park, but the Preserve has its own unique charm!

Recently, the Preserve seems to be gaining more popularity.

I especially love going on weekends, parking at the nearby elementary school, and entering through a gate that leads directly to a trailhead.

If you're planning on coming on a weekday, be prepared for a half-mile walk from the West Wing Parkway parking lot to the trailhead - but trust me, it's well worth it.

And if you're up for a challenge, take the intermediate trail straight to the top like I did once.

It was tough, but the sense of achievement is indescribable.

With so many different trails to explore, I'm looking forward to my next hike.

Just remember, some trails can be a bit rocky, but it all adds to the outdoor experience - and the desert flowers in bloom are a sight for sore eyes!

Hit the Summit Peoria Calderwood Butte Preserve

One of the most vivid images seared into my memory is the stunning sunset from the summit of Peoria Calderwood Butte Preserve.

It's a sight that never fails to take one's breath away, a panorama of nature's grandeur unfolding before your eyes.

It's not a grueling hike either; in fact, it’s quite accessible, and I often reach the peak in under 30 minutes.

The hike has a couple of entry points, and all of them provide an easy route to the summit.

Yes, it's a friendly trail, but there is an element of caution to be exercised, especially if you're hiking with children.

The peak, while mesmerizing with its scenic views, does have several spots that could lead to steep falls if one is not careful.

Hence, if you're planning a family hike, it's wise to have your kids harnessed for their safety.

The Peoria Calderwood Butte Preserve is a true gem, a corner of the world that provides a serene space to connect with nature and unwind.

It commands respect and care from its visitors and blesses them with an unforgettable experience.

Let Your Kids Run Wild at Kiwanis Park

You know what they say about all work and no play!

That's why when it's time for a break, I head over to Kiwanis Park.

This place is my personal sanctuary, a perfect blend of tranquility and fun located in our very own Peoria.

I am a regular here, and I've been visiting for years; it has become a sort of tradition.

No matter how many times I go, the charm doesn't wear off. It's like stepping into a beautiful painting.

The park is not just a stretch of greenery; it's equipped with a variety of playground equipment that even adults can't resist!

I sometimes find myself joining the kids on the zip line!

Kiwanis Park has recently undergone renovation, and the new equipment is a sight for sore eyes.

They have everything from swings to play sets for both toddlers and older kids.

One of the best things about this place is that the play sets are shaded, so even on those blazing sunny days, the kids can enjoy themselves without any worry.

I love to watch as my son rides his bike around the sidewalk surrounding the playground.

With him in my line of sight, I can relax and enjoy my time at the park as well.

There's something for everyone here - three well-maintained Ramadas for those family picnics and a huge grass area that's perfect for a nice afternoon nap or a game of catch!

Just beside the park is an elementary school, which adds to the bustling energy during the after-school hours.

But even then, the park has a calmness to it that I've come to love. It's rare to find a place that is so vibrant yet so serene.

Oh, and I can't miss mentioning the clean bathrooms - it's just another reason why Kiwanis Park is my favorite.

With all this and so much more, it's no wonder this park has a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike.

Immerse in History and Nature at Palo Verde Park

Every time I feel like escaping the daily grind, I find myself drawn to the peaceful tranquility of Palo Verde Park.

Imagine stepping into a realm where time seems to slow down.

That's exactly how I feel every time I visit this park.

The first thing that catches your eye is the archaeological ruin, which immediately transports you back in time.

As you stroll around, you can't help but marvel at the well-preserved history and the informative interpretive signs that tell the tale of the place.

One can never get bored with the park's rich heritage.

But Palo Verde Park is not just about history; it's also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts.

You never know what creatures you might come across on your walks.

From cute rabbits hopping about to a variety of birds chirping away, it's a true delight for anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

And yes, you might even spot a roadrunner if you're lucky.

The park also boasts a set of shaded playgrounds, perfect for families with kids.

Whether it's playing on the swings, sliding down the slides, or shooting some hoops on the basketball court, there's something for everyone.

The playgrounds cater to both older and younger children, making it a haven for every family.

And if you're into sports, then you'll appreciate the vast expanse of grassy fields.

It's the perfect spot to throw a Frisbee around, kick a soccer ball, or simply lay down and watch the clouds float by.

Soak in Music at Johnny E. Osuna Memorial Park

The grounds of Johnny E. Osuna Memorial Park
E. Murphy / Shutterstock.com

The charm of Johnny E. Osuna Memorial Park is one that you learn to appreciate over time.

Having grown up in the area, I remember attending small festivals at the park.

Those memories are painted with images of laughter, music, and community.

Fast forward to the present, and I find myself still drawn to this little oasis in the city, especially during the holiday season.

I recently visited the park with my daughter to see the trees lit up, and it was an absolutely delightful sight.

There were two towering nutcrackers and a grand, beautifully decorated Christmas tree that left my little one wide-eyed with awe.

It's a sight to behold, especially under the cool, clear night sky.

Johnny E. Osuna Memorial Park is home to an outdoor music instrument garden where kids can explore and create their own symphony.

It's a great spot for fostering creativity, albeit it can get quite hot during the summer months.

And if you're someone who appreciates art, you'll love the many artistic touches scattered throughout the park.

From paintings at the intersections to decorative bus stops and creatively decorated walkways, it's these small details that give the park its character.

One of my favorite pastimes has become taking photographs in the park.

Whether you're an aspiring photographer or simply someone in need of a unique backdrop for your selfies, Johnny E. Osuna Memorial Park is definitely worth considering.

From the brightly colored murals to the distinct charm of the houses nearby, every corner holds a potential frame waiting to be captured.

Play Ball Games at Paseo Verde Park

One thing I absolutely love about our town is the Paseo Verde Park.

It's more than just an open space; it's a place where memories are created.

The park has always been the perfect spot for my kids' soccer games.

The field is large enough to cater to their boundless energy, and the basketball court is just the right size for their budding sportsmanship.

I recall a moment one sunny afternoon when the kids and I set up a picnic under the park's solitary Ramada.

We watched the world pass us by as we sat comfortably on the park's few wooden chairs.

My youngest, who is still too small for any serious sport, was content with the Jungle gym.

It's small and safe, just the right size for him. I remember thinking how this little park seemed to have something for everyone.

Although the park isn't blessed with a huge parking space, it's usually more than enough for us locals.

There's always a spot to park my car whenever we decide to make a trip.

And on the days when it's full, the walk to the park is a pleasant one.

Not too far from the main park area, there's another small ground.

It's a nice little escape from the main hustle and bustle, perfect for when you want a moment of peace.

One of the best things about Paseo Verde Park is its proximity to our neighborhood.

It's a safe, clean, and welcoming space for everyone.

Although there isn't a specific walking trail, my eldest daughter enjoys riding her bike along the park's sidewalks.

It's a beautiful sight, watching her weave in and out of the paths with the backdrop of the park's well-kept grounds.

I'll never forget that one Church event we attended.

The park was alive with laughter, chatter, and warmth.

It's moments like these that remind me of how special Paseo Verde Park is. It truly is the heart of our community.

Exercise at Pioneer Community Park

You haven't truly experienced Peoria, Arizona, until you've spent a day at Pioneer Community Park.

Nestled in the heart of the city, it's more than just a park; it's a community hub, a sanctuary, and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts like myself.

The first thing in my routine is a brisk morning run around the park's expansive sports fields.

The fresh air mixed with the aroma of dew-kissed grass is invigorating.

You'll often find others jogging, stretching, or just soaking up the tranquil early morning ambiance.

Next up, a quick visit to the dog area. It's a great spot to let my four-legged friend roam around, sniff, and socialize.

However, I do wish more pet owners would be considerate enough to clean up after their pets.

Despite this minor hiccup, the dogs and their owners are friendly, and it's always fun to see the variety of breeds playing together.

After the morning exercise, it's the perfect time to lay out a picnic blanket near the 5-acre lake.

It's an idyllic spot for lunch, with the gentle lapping of water providing a soothing soundtrack.

For those who are so inclined, the lake also offers some great fishing opportunities.

I've found that live bait like worms or shrimp works best, especially if you're hoping to catch a big one.

Look for minnows nibbling at the bank; it's usually a good sign that larger fish are nearby.

In the afternoon, when the sun is high and the Arizona heat starts to peak, the splash pad is a godsend.

It's a hit with kids of all ages, with water jets providing a refreshing respite from the heat.

It operates from 10 am to 8 pm, which is perfect for those long summer days.

To wrap up the day, it's time to fire up one of the BBQ grills.

There's nothing like the smell of grilled food wafting through the air as the sun sets.

It's a fitting end to another great day at Pioneer Community Park.

The best part? All these amenities and activities are completely free.

Catch a Baseball Game at Clarence B. Hayes Memorial Park

Yesterday, I decided to make the most of the sunny weather and head down to Clarence B. Hayes Memorial Park for a day of relaxation and recreation.

Picture this - a low-key park, the kind that has ample space for you to spread out, run around, or just sit back and enjoy the serenity.

Plus, there's a ball field and an adorable children's playground. It's the perfect spot to embrace outdoor living.

Clarence B. Hayes Memorial Park was immaculately clean, and the crew seemed to take great pride in maintaining the area.

The playground is shaded with canopies, providing a cool refuge for the kids to play.

What caught my attention was the drinking fountain. Here's a small tidbit - it produces ice-cold water, a refreshing relief on a hot day.

Being a bit of a sports enthusiast, I was impressed with the lush, green baseball fields.

There are two large ones and two smaller ones, all of them in excellent condition.

Though I should mention, this isn't the place for racquet or basketball fans, as there are no courts for these.

I did, however, appreciate the walking pathway.

It's a mix of paved and gravel, and it wraps around the entire grass fields.

It's perfect for a leisurely stroll, a brisk walk, or a quick jog.

If you're looking to spend a day out with family or friends, there's a ramada with a grill and two benches.

It's perfect for a small gathering or a picnic.

And for the children, apart from the playground, there are swings and slides, too.

Cruise Lake Pleasant Harbor

"Fancy a spontaneous adventure? I'd say head over to Lake Pleasant Harbor!

A mere skip and a hop away from where I live, Lake Pleasant Harbor is my go-to whenever I feel the need for a quick escape.

It's such an incredible hidden gem that you wouldn't believe is just around the corner.

My personal favorite there is the double-decker boat cruise.

Trust me, it's an experience you wouldn't want to miss!

The cruises are often booked up for two months in advance, but even the regular day cruises are thrilling.

I was lucky enough to hop on one of these cruises on a beautiful sunny afternoon, and it was unforgettable.

You can also find boat and kayak rentals if you prefer a more personal exploration of the lake.

Another thing I love about Lake Pleasant Harbor is their Narration Cruise.

I went there with my family once, and it was such a relaxing and enlightening experience.

We learned about the history of Lake Pleasant and even spotted wild burros, blue herons, and baby egrets.

Lake Pleasant Harbor is not just about the water, it's a great place for camping, too.

And if you get hungry, there are two different restaurants to choose from - one at the Marina side in the regional park and the other one at the harbor RV resort.

I can't forget to mention the wild burros that roam around the area, adding a rustic charm to the place.

And don't worry, the Lake even has its own police department, ensuring safety for all visitors.

Have a Quick Artistic Escape at West Valley Art Museum

Let me tell you about the time I almost gave up finding the West Valley Art Museum.

This hidden gem is tucked away inside City Hall.

Picture me wandering around the bureaucratic maze until, finally, I stumbled upon the entrance.

It's not your typical museum, mind you.

It's actually a large room off the city offices that regularly transforms itself with different art shows.

The beautiful pieces on display always make the hunt worthwhile.

They're nothing short of enchanting, changing often enough to make each visit a unique experience.

It's a great spot to sneak in a quick trip when you're pressed for time.

You can have your fill of art in less than 30 minutes.

Now, if you're worried about finding the entrance to West Valley Art Museum, don't be!

The staff is an absolute delight.

On one of my visits, a gentleman, probably someone working in the offices, noticed our confused faces and not only directed us to the right door but took us straight to the gallery.

Talk about hospitality!

The surrounding area is equally charming, with beautiful sights to behold in and around Peoria.

And if you're looking to unwind, it's the perfect spot for a quiet, relaxing lunch.

You can enjoy the tranquility as you stroll around, with booklets available providing information about the different plant and tree species in the vicinity.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Birdwatching at Thunderbird Conservation Park

There's something magical about the Thunderbird Conservation Park that captures you from the moment you step foot onto the sandy trails.

This sprawling desert park has been my go-to place for outdoor adventures for quite some time now.

It's not just a park; it's a playground for outdoor enthusiasts like me.

The park boasts a variety of hiking trails.

I've hiked about a half dozen of them, each offering a unique experience.

Whether you're a beginner looking for an easy trail or a seasoned hiker eager to tackle a more challenging path, you'll find something that suits your skill level here.

Taking my bike for a spin here is a different kind of pleasure.

Some trails can be challenging for biking, but it's never an issue.

The rocky spots that may seem daunting at first become exciting obstacles that test my biking skills.

And if the going gets tough, I simply get down and hike those sections with my bike.

Trust me, it's an adventure you wouldn't want to miss.

Then, there are the subtle pleasures that this park offers.

The sight of mountains blanketed in wildflowers in April is pure visual poetry.

Bird watching is another serene activity that I frequently indulge in.

The park appears to be a favorite among the feathered kind as well.

And, of course, there is the much-loved tradition of picnicking, which I enjoy with my friends and family.

A word of advice - always remember to wear good shoes and carry plenty of water while hiking or biking here.

With the park offering so much, it's easy to lose track of time exploring.

Stay prepared, and have an enjoyable time at the Thunderbird Conservation Park, the jewel of Glendale.

Final Thoughts

These are some of the many places I find myself exploring with family and friends or even on my own during the weekends.

All of these places offer an amazing variety of experiences, all without needing to spend a penny.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, an art lover, or just someone looking for a relaxing day out, Peoria has something for everyone.

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