If you’re like me, you like to be out and about doing…whatever it is you want to be doing. Gaining knowledge, taking in the beauty of nature, exploring, dare-deviling your way to an awesome journey, taking your children on adventures, or gathering with friends to share the memories you’ve already created and long to create.
BUT, it’s pricy to be on the go often. That’s why I’ve come up with this list of 15 places you can check out in the Valley for free. (Note: by “the Valley,” I mean the metropolitan Phoenix area including the outlying cities of Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale, etc…).
- The Children’s Museum of Phoenix I went here as an adult on a tour (without any children) and immediately wanted to bring every kid I know here. This place is awesome. Go on the first Friday from 5pm-9pm and admission is free thanks to Target’s continued sponsorship. However, children under 1 are always free. If you buy a membership, you get in for free (and it’s possible to visit here a lot), and people who are seniors, military, police, or firemen can receive discounts. And, as a member of the Junior League of Phoenix, I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to visit the Junior League ROCKETS classroom that’s housed in the Children’s Museum. ROCKETS is a theme-based program that promotes early childhood development of science skills. The program provides hands-on science activities that help foster problem solving, critical thinking, and exploration skills that are critical to future academic success.
- Desert Botanical Gardens Each month they have a “Garden’s Monthly Free Day.” It’s the second Tuesday of every month. They’ve always got tons of stuff going on, like this cool upcoming Spring Plant Sale– which has free admission as well.
- Hiking. Get outside and go blaze a trail. According to the City of Phoenix, at one point, Phoenix was ranked as one of the top 10 hiking cities in America. To choose from, you’ve got Camelback, Piestewa Peak (or Squaw Peak as it’s known to those of us that have lived here our whole life), the McDowell Mountains, South Mountain, Superstition Mountains, Four Peaks Mountains, Phoenix Preserves, White Tanks, Papago…and I’m sure more that I’m missing. Start there- you’ll be busy. Pack a picnic and eat it at the top. Bring water!
- Splash Pads! Take your kiddos to a splash pad in the summer. I’ve heard that the one in Kierland, Goodyear, Tempe Beach Park, as well as the one under the water tower in Gilbert are legit.
- The Phoenix Art Museum. Admission is free on Wednesdays from 3-9pm and on some First Fridays of the month from 6-10pm.
- First Fridays. Go between 6-10pm on the first Friday of the month in downtown Phoenix and take a stroll to view lots of art, artists, and more.
- Learn a new dance skill. Every Tuesday from 7-8pm, you can learn to swing dance at The Duce.
- Birds ‘N Beer. On the 3rd Thursday of every month, you can stop by the Rio Salado Audubon Center from 5:30-7:30pm to learn about birds and enjoy a brew from Four Peaks.
- Do yoga outside. Every Sunday, Lululemon shops in the Phoenix-area host complimentary community yoga classes outside of their storefronts. The Biltmore and Scottsdale Quarter classes both begin at 10:30am and the session in Chandler starts at 10am. Bring your own yoga mat and water. Contact a Phoenix-based Lululemon for more info.
- Take your pooch to the Cosmo Dog Park in Gilbert! It’s like an amusement park for your dog. Let them socialize and play to get their energy out!
- If you’re a car buff, visit the Martin Auto Museum. While technically free, this museum is the personal collection of Mel Martin, and $5 donations are appreciated to help keep the museum open since it’s technically a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of collectible and rare automobiles for education purposes. You will see so many awesome cars in this place that it’s hard to pick a favorite. Here are some photos from when we went:
- Meet Me Downtown Phoenix. Every Monday, you can do a walk/run with others in downtown Phoenix. The CityScape parking garage is free for the first two hours. Get validation at The Corner or at any CityScape business. Family friendly!
- Check to see what’s happening at the Downtown Phoenix Civic Space. They’ve got lots of free stuff happening often. Stop by and combine this one when you are out for a First Friday experience to double up!
- Trivia night on Sunday nights at 6pm the Crescent Ballroom! They also have free live music daily and a menu offering locally-sourced dishes that Chris Bianco dreamed up. Yum.
- Finally tell the jokes that you think are funny to people who will listen. (Laughs are not guaranteed, however.) Every Tuesday at 8pm, Stand Up Scottsdale offers you the chance to be discovered as the next best thing since sliced bread. Or at the very least, a night to feel like you’re the funniest person in the room. If that’s not for you…Gallagher’s is always offering karaoke…
And there you have it. 15 spots with free fun for you to indulge yourself in throughout the Valley of the Sun! There are a ton of things I haven’t included here as well but I don’t have all week to create that list and you don’t have all week to read it. If you’re looking for something particular to do, let me know and I’m happy to look up additional suggestions and try to find you a free spot to hit up along the lines of what you’re seeking.