What’s better than a super fun activity the whole family can enjoy? A super fun activity the whole family can enjoy for free, of course! Mesa, Arizona, offers an abundance of free events and activities that will make filling up your calendar a breeze. Crème de la Crème of Mesa compiled this list of totally free activities in and around Mesa to take the guesswork out of planning your next fun day. Whether you’re into the arts, the outdoors, or anything in between, you’re sure to find tons of fun in Mesa.

Drive the Apache Trail

A patch of wildflowers next to come greenery and cacti in the Apache Trail near Mesa, AZ.

Image via Flickr by eflon

Hop in the car for a scenic drive along the Apache Trail (or, as it’s officially known, Arizona State Route 88). If you’ve never driven here before, you and the kids are in for a treat. You’ll find plenty of desert flora and geologic formations, not to mention stunning canyons and lake views, along the way.

The 40-mile stretch of the trail boasts many fun activities and scenic stops. Whether you want to take an afternoon drive or head out for a whole day, the trail provides easy-to-access fun for the whole family. Many trail attractions are free, and there’s no fee to get on AZ 88, either.

Visit the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum

Located at Mesa Arts Center, Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum (MCA) offers a fun and free space to explore the visual arts. Five galleries feature a changing rotation of art that is sure to keep the entire family entertained. You can look forward to exhibitions of contemporary art with both internationally recognized and emerging artists on display.

The museum also hosts events and lectures if you want to further your learning while you’re there. You’ll find a range of interesting artworks, including:

  • Traditional media.
  • Works on paper.
  • Crafts such as ceramics, metals, and jewelry.

The galleries always offer free admissions, so make sure to stop by whenever there’s an exhibition scheduled that interests you.

Go On a Tour of Mesa Arts Center

While you’re taking in the beautiful art at MCA, save some time to take a tour of the award-winning international facility it’s housed in: Mesa Arts Center. Mesa Arts Center holds the distinction of being the largest, most comprehensive center for educational, performing, and visual arts in all of Arizona. Better yet, they offer free public tours.

You can join tours that usually last about an hour. You’ll get to see all the art studios and theaters on the facility’s first level as well as the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum and the shadow walk. Make sure everyone in the family has their comfortable walking shoes on, then get ready for an enriching day in this interesting, educational complex.

Explore the Mesa Market Place Swap Meet

With more than a mile of small businesses to browse, you can’t go wrong with a day at the Mesa Market Place Swap Meet. The Mesa Market Place itself is open throughout the year. Whether you want to make some purchases or just take some time exploring the offerings, you’ll enjoy this spot for “recreational shopping.”

You can stock up on things you need like hardware, cleaning supplies, plants, jewelry, and fishing gear, but you don’t need to spend a dime to have tons of fun at the Swap Meet. You’ll find 1,600 shopping spaces of amazing shops and small businesses, all under one roof. Take advantage of the free parking and free admission to the space, then grab breakfast, lunch, or snacks, or just take some time to walk around. You’ll also find free live entertainment while you’re there.

Play at Mesa Riverview Park

Outdoor fun abounds at Mesa’s Riverview Park. Kids will love exploring the multiple playgrounds or just hanging out by the Urban Fishing Lake. If you’re looking to get together with friends and family outdoors, you can also make use of the shaded picnic areas for a fun-filled outdoor meal.

In addition to the playgrounds, the park boasts kid-friendly fun like a caterpillar mesh rope for climbing and a 50-foot climbing tower. After you’ve filled the day with free activities, you can also treat yourself and the family to some dining and shopping at Mesa Riverview.

Mark Your Calendar for Some Free Friday Fun

Mesa offers free fun on Fridays every month with special events that offer activities for the whole family. Start with First Fridays, or “Motorcycle on Main.” There, you can check out local motorcycles and even show off yours while enjoying some live music. Then, on Second Fridays, downtown businesses and galleries come together to offer themed Friday evenings. Get out and enjoy all that Mesa offers with these fun, and totally free, events.

Check Out the Downtown Sculptures

Mesa’s downtown is home to sculptures that are sure to please the kids while you’re walking around the vibrant area. Mesa boasts a Permanent Sculpture collection with 36 pieces and counting. You’ll find most of those artworks in the downtown area, so it’s the perfect excuse for a walk downtown. You can also check out the murals adorning the walls of local businesses while you’re out and about.

You can go on a free self-guided walking tour outdoors, combining other Mesa experiences like the shops and restaurants or museums like the Mesa Arts Center or Arizona Museum of Natural History. You could also just make a day of the fun, free activity the walking tour provides. The sculptures of Humpty Dumpty and the dinosaur are always crowd-pleasers when it comes to kids, but with so many fine examples, you’re sure to find an assortment that makes kids smile. When you’re done with your family walk, make sure to let us know your favorite sculpture from the bunch!