When Arizona sunshine and pleasant temperatures beckon, it’s time to head outdoors and spend time with family. One of our favorite ways to do this is with a fresh-air feast. Explore our suggestions for six great spots for picnics around Gilbert that everyone in the family will love.

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Family at picnic ground in Gilbert, AZ.
A family having a picnic by Kampus Production is licensed by Pexels

The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is an excellent spot for a picnic. It’s the state’s premier wildlife sanctuary and outdoor recreation center covering 110 acres of wetland. This location features two small reservable ramadas where you can stage your picnic, each with four tables and a grill.

After you fill up your tummies, explore the park. Close to 5 miles of trails weave through the area. You’ll find interpretive signs detailing the wildlife and vegetation as you go. Spend some time in one of the viewing blinds near the ponds or wander down the floating boardwalk, which crosses the lake and gives you close-up views of fish and ducks. The park’s many other attractions include: 

  • An outdoor classroom
  • An observatory
  • A pollinator garden
  • A pretend fossil dig pit
  • An ethnobotanical garden
  • Restroom facilities
  • A play area
  • Location: 2757 E. Guadalupe Road in Gilbert
  • Hours: Dawn until dusk

Gilbert Regional Park

Gilbert Regional Park is the jewel of the city’s park department. In addition to picnicking spots, it offers premier amenities you won’t find anywhere this close to home. Whether you spread out a blanket on the 10-acre event lawn or reserve the large group ramada for your company’s corporate picnic, you’ll find something for every family and occasion.

You’ll find a large splash pad, a modern playground, and pickleball, volleyball, and tennis courts. Remember to bring your fishing poles. You’ll find a 7-acre lake with a pier at this outstanding Gilbert park. The city stocks the water with bluegill, catfish, and bass. If the fish don’t bite, wander down the half-mile walking path that follows the water.

Take the youngest picnickers to “The Creek” at the playground while the big kids explore the 17-foot tall “Mountain.” This iconic playground features three climbing levels, seven slides, swings, and a zip line. There’s also a 4,000-square-foot splash pad open 365 days a year.

  • Location: 3005 E. Queen Creek Road in Gilbert
  • Hours: Daily 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

McQueen Park

McQueen Park has been a picnic staple in Gilbert since 1988. It features a dozen covered ramadas across its 41-acre space, each with tables, a grill, and available power. Stop by McQueen Park’s new and improved playgrounds or challenge the family to a friendly game on one of the many fields where kids can play sports.

Gilbert’s Playa del Rey elementary school students named the three lakeside ramadas with their winning contest entries, including Heron Haven, Mallard Landing, and Eagles Nest. The children learned about riparian wildlife and colored their favorite scenes as part of their submission.

Also on the ground of McQueen Park is the activity center. It’s the ideal place to enroll in a class. Wiggle Worm Adventures takes place every Friday. With this activity, you and your little ones 6 and younger can jump, slide, and climb in this soft play area just for them.

  • Location: 510 N. Horne St. in Gilbert
  • Hours: Daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Discovery District Park

Discovery District Park is a 48-acre picnic paradise. The city opened the park in 2006 and named it after the Columbian Mammoth fossil, nicknamed “Tuskers,” discovered during its construction. In addition to eight picnic ramadas with power and grills, it offers two ponds and a community fishing program.

This park also provides Gilbert residents with five multi-use sports fields, basketball courts, sand volleyball pits, a playground, and a climbing rock. You can access the network of trails on foot or take a family bike ride. If you want to see a replica of Tuskers, you’ll find it at Southeast Regional Library on North Greenfield Road.

  • Location: 2214 E. Pecos Road in Gilbert
  • Hours: Daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Crossroads District Park

Crossroads District Park features everything a community outdoor recreational space should, including three picnic ramadas with grills, basketball and volleyball courts, baseball, soccer, and football fields, and a new play area. Families will find an amphitheater, a large lake, and a grassy basin where they can stretch out on a blanket after lunch and watch the kids play. This 92-acre park opened in 1992 and features a small dog park, so feel free to bring your pet to this picnic.

Crossroads is also home to AZ Ice Gilbert. This family-friendly venue offers activities for people of all ages, including hockey, figure skating, and ice skating on two rinks. Additional amenities include a pro shop, café, and Park Tavern for mom and dad. 

  • Location: 2155 E. Knox Road in Gilbert
  • Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Sunday

Freestone District Park

Freestone Park is Gilbert’s first major district park. It opened in 1988 on just 65 acres. Today, it spans across 88 developed and 32 undeveloped acres and includes six shaded picnic tables and seven open tables with grills. This community park also offers families a recreation center, sports fields, amusement rides, a skate park, and a lake for fishing. Freestone Park also hosts “The Freestone Railroad.” This attraction boasts a miniature train, an antique carousel, and a Ferris wheel.

The city is constantly updating Freestone. It added the Rip City Batting cages to the facility in 1992, with volleyball and basketball courts and a courtside ramada added in 1996. The tennis courts and skate park joined the park in 2001, and construction on the Freestone Recreation Center wrapped up in 2002. The park underwent significant improvements to celebrate Freestone’s 25th anniversary in 2013. Parkgoers got to use the new ballfield lights, play on the basketball court’s new surface, and explore the new shaded playground structure with wheelchair accessibility.

  • Location: 1045 E. Juniper Road in Gilbert
  • Hours: Daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Everyone at Crème de la Crème of Gilbert wants to know what you think of these six great picnic spots. Which one is your family’s favorite destination for an outdoor feast? Let us know so we can share your experience with other Gilbert parents. Drop us a line now.