Next time you’re looking for something to do around Peoria, Arizona, consider one of these fun, free, family-friendly options. Thanks to the beautiful, warm weather throughout most of the year, there are many outdoor parks, trails, and natural areas to explore. Some of the local museums even offer free admission days. Here are five free things to do in the Peoria area. 

Visit a Local Park

Trail No. 54 in the Bear Mountains near Peoria, AZ.

Image via Flickr by Coconino NF Photography

Peoria has several community parks, all featuring a variety of activities for different interests. Pioneer Community Park is a large park with a fishing pond, several ball fields, and walking paths. If you want to fish in the pond, check the park site for rules regarding daily bag limits. The pond is for fishing only, so there’s no swimming or wading allowed. Right next to the pond, you’ll find the Pioneer Community Dog Park, perfect for furry family members.

Sahuaro Ranch Park offers a historic village with buildings, a rose garden, a barnyard, and orchards. You can walk through the village and look for peacocks along the way. There’s also a picnic area with grills, a dog park, and some playgrounds. The Glendale Main Library is right next to the park, which is another fun and free activity to enjoy. 

In the northern part of Peoria, the Lake Pleasant Regional Park provides opportunities to camp, fish, hike, and boat. The park covers more than 20,000 acres of land, making it an excellent spot for enjoying a day outdoors or even a family weekend away. Get out on the water in a canoe, kayak, or paddleboat or swim at one of the designated areas.  

Hike at West Wing Mountain Preserve

If you want a fun challenge, check out the West Wing Mountain Preserve and hiking trail. The trail is a 3.4-mile loop with some tricky sections and tons of beautiful views. Along the hike, you’ll have lots of chances to soak in the natural beauty of the Peoria Regional Preserve. In addition to the elevation changes, the rock surface of this trail makes it an exciting hike. There’s even a more challenging “extreme” route with more intensive elevation changes and rewarding views. Young kids will need to be carried, but older children will enjoy the adventurous terrain.

Go for a Bike Ride on the New River Trail

The New River Trial runs through Peoria along the New River for 16 miles. It’s is the perfect trail for cyclists, runners, and strollers, thanks to its paved, flat surface and 6-foot width. Parking is available at Rio Vista Community Park. There’s plenty of space on the trail for young cyclists to learn and for whole families to enjoy a ride together. Take on a portion of the trail and enjoy a picnic lunch or dinner at the park afterward. The Rio Vista Community Park offers picnic tables, restrooms, a splash pad, athletic fields, and a skate park.

Fly Kites or Model Airplanes at the Cave Buttes Recreation Area

About 20 miles northeast of Peoria, the Cave Buttes Recreation Area is a nature preserve with several great hiking trails and vast open space popular with model airplane enthusiasts. Bring your model airplanes, kites, or other model aircraft to fly in the open area or simply come to enjoy the sunshine and watch others. There’s a specific flying area with a small runway managed by the Sun Valley Fliers, a model aeronautics club. If you want to watch in this area, you’ll need to follow the club’s spectator rules. 

Check Out Free Museum Days

If you head into Phoenix, just about 30 minutes from Peoria, you’ll have several museums to check out. Go on free museum days so you and the family can get in without paying admission. 

Head to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix on the first Friday of the month between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Kids under the age of 10 are welcome to play, create, learn, and crawl around for free. Baby zones are located throughout the museum near each exhibit to allow little siblings to play safely while bigger kids enjoy the exhibits. Adventure Play is a fun outdoor experience at the museum that encourages kids to learn and play as they climb, move, and crawl. Other exhibits include a workshop with hammers and nails, Cornville, Explore-a-Truck, and rock painting. 

The Phoenix Art Museum offers free admission on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. each week and from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. It’s a great place to visit on a kid-free date night or with older children. Some exhibits are more kid-friendly than others. Check out the Fireflies exhibit by Yayoi Kusama in an infinity mirror room to feel like you’re completely surrounded by beautiful lightning bugs. The museum’s collection also includes famous works by world-renowned artists like Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Frida Kahlo. 

Native American visitors can tour the Heard Museum at any time for free. Others can take advantage of the free museum hours from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of each month from June through September and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the first Friday of every month except for March. The Heard Museum celebrates and educates visitors on the rich history of Native American culture in the area. 

On the second Tuesday of every month, you can visit the Desert Botanical Garden for Community Day and get in for free. Explore acres and acres of land filled with beautiful and exotic desert plants. Special exhibits are always changing, so be sure to check their website to see what’s exciting and new when you visit. 

There you have it, five ways to see and things to do for free in and around Peoria according to Crème de la Crème of Peoria, AZ (Lake Pleasant). Let us know if we missed a free activity that you and your family love to enjoy. We might have to add it to our list.