The Gilbert, Arizona, area has lots of activities and places to visit for free, including an observatory, a museum, and a wildlife sanctuary. Our team at Crème de la Crème of Gilbert compiled a list of seven free things to do in our area so you can save money and still have a fun time with the family.

Read a Book at the Mesa Public Library

Nothing beats reading a book to open up a child’s imagination and gain information. The Mesa Public Library is free and has an extensive selection of books for adults, young adults, teens, and kids. In addition, the Mesa Public Library has DVDs you can check out or audiobooks the family can download and listen to. Kids 3 to 8 will get a kick out of listening to age-appropriate audiobooks through the iVox app available for Android or IOS systems and Kindle e-readers.

Location: 64 E. First St. in Mesa.

Contact: 480-644-3100.

Watch for Wildlife Visiting Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Bring your binoculars and camera when you spend the day at Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. This 110-acre wetland is a wildlife sanctuary with seven ponds, hiking trails, a floating boardwalk, and an ethnobotanical garden. Anglers will enjoy fishing in the lake, young kids can romp around the dedicated children’s play area, and hikers can walk the 4.5 miles of trails looking for birds and other types of wildlife.

Serious birders can see if they can spot any of the 298 species of birds through the viewing blinds set along the edges of the ponds. After spending the day looking for birds and wildlife while hiking at Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, refuel the family at any of these family-friendly restaurants in the Gilbert area.

Location: 2557 E. Guadalupe Road.

Contact: 480-503-6000.

View the Stars at the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory

The Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory sits on the grounds of the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch and offers free night sky viewing on Fridays and Saturdays from sunset to 9 p.m. The observatory houses a 16-foot Meade LX200R telescope you can look through to see astronomical objects such as planets and stars. You can also look through the telescope during meteor showers or when comets are streaking through the sky.

On the second Friday of each month, the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory hosts a special astronomy talk at the adjoining library, free with a suggested donation to help support educational programs. In addition, on the second Friday of the month, members of the East Valley Astronomy Club provide extra telescopes to look through.

Location: 2757 E. Guadalupe Road.


Spend the Day at Discovery District Park

Whether you want to go fishing, shoot hoops with the family, or look for pollinators in the butterfly garden, you’ll have plenty of recreational opportunities when you visit Discovery District Park. The kids will enjoy climbing around the playground, chasing balls on the multi-use fields, and exploring the colorful butterfly garden.

If anyone in the family likes to cast a line in the water, the 48-acre Discovery District Park has two ponds stocked with fish like largemouth bass and channel catfish. With several shaded picnic areas scattered around the park, you’ll want to bring a meal to share with the family after a busy day playing in this Gilbert, Arizona, park.

Location: 2214 E. Pecos Road.

Contact: 408-503-6200.

Wander Through the Gilbert Farmers Market

Wandering around the Gilbert Farmers Market is a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. You can enjoy free entertainment while visiting the over 60 vendors selling local fruits and vegetables along with baked goods and handmade arts and crafts.

You can also purchase fresh organic eggs, farm-raised meats, or find gifts for those on your shopping list. If you get hungry, you’ll find several food trucks selling various dishes. Families with kids will appreciate the dedicated restrooms available for those visiting the Gilbert Farmers Market. This market is open year-round on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon in October through April and from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. in May through September.

Location: 222 N. Ash St. 

Learn History at the Chandler Museum

The striking Chandler Museum is free to enter, and people visiting this museum can learn about the area’s rich history. You’ll see collections of photographs and artifacts along with documents that tell the story of the Valley of the Sun’s history. The Chandler Museum has rotating exhibits, including those that depict life during the Great Depression and first-hand accounts of people who settled in the area. You can also participate in programs the Chandler Museum offers, such as the monthly speaker’s series, art classes for kids, or family play days.

Location: 300 S. Chandler Village Drive in Chandler.

Contact: 480-782-2717.

Play With Your Pup at Cosmo Dog Park

Even dogs can do free things in Gilbert when you take them to Cosmo Dog Park. The 4-acre fenced area within the 17-acre Cosmo Dog Park has room for dogs to play in, including a lake to cool off and swim in. Inside the fenced area, you’ll find pet drinking fountains, two dog washing stations, and several waste disposal stations.

While you watch your dog play with their friends in the fenced area, other members of your family can play basketball on the lighted court or have fun on the playground that’s part of this park. You can have a picnic at one of the picnic tables, or if you’re having a party or a special event, you can reserve a ramada with several tables and a barbecue grill.

Location: 2502 E. Ray Road.

Contact: 480-503-6200.

Isn’t it amazing how many diverse things there are to do for free in the Gilbert area? What free thing do you enjoy the most? Is there somewhere else in our area with free activities you can recommend? If so, let our team at Crème de la Crème of Gilbert know as we enjoy learning more about our area.