Looking for affordable things to do in the Valley of the Sun this summer? Even better—for free? In Phoenix and the surrounding communities, you will find a number of free and low-cost community activities for the whole family. Whether you want to have outdoors fun or spend a quiet day inside an air-conditioned space, there is plenty to do when you head out. Keep an eye on the calendar, too. Many of the free events take place at particular times of the month. Whatever’s to your liking, here’s 10 things for either you or your family to do this summer in Phoenix—all of them for free!
There’s more to libraries than just a collection of books. In the Valley of the Sun, all libraries have scheduled story times for the younger children, and also programs and events for older ones. They offer classes like computer coding or college prep. Your preschoolers can have fun at a kindergarten “boot camp.” Children learning to read can practice by reading stories to dogs. And what about all those books? There’s plenty of comfortable seating. Find one and spend a few hours reading in air-conditioned comfort.
There are more than 20 skate parks throughout the valley. The terrain varies ranging from banks to bowls to hips and half-pipes. Some parks allow scooters, most are free of charge. If you need gear, some parks have rentals. To avoid the desert heat, check out the night-lit parks—Superstition Shadows Skatepark in Apache Junction, the Velocity Skate Park adjacent to the Palm Island Family Aquatics Park in Casa Grande, or the Gateway Park Skate Plaza in El Mirage.
3. In Search of Living History
There are real petroglyphs in the Valley. You’ll find the Hohokam Petroglyphs along the Waterfall Trail in the White Tank Mountains just northwest of the city. They are located at the appropriately named, Petroglyph Plaza, about midway on the two-mile round-trip hike.
4. A Safari in Glendale?
Well, sort of. The Cabela’s there maintains a museum-worthy educational display of more than 400 animals. Signs accompany each display of the lifelike creatures, from a mountain goat to a huge elephant. There’s also an aquarium with fish native to Arizona, including the state fish and several endangered species.
5. Stroll through Historic Heritage Square
You’ll find Heritage Square at the Heritage & Science Park, a historic city block on the National Register of Historic Places. It features beautiful Victorian homes from the original settlement of Phoenix. It’s an ideal place to take a leisurely stroll and explore. Check out Rosson House, one of the city’s more prominent older homes—in the heart of Heritage Square.
6. Hike or Explore South Mountain Park
At the world’s largest city park, you’ll find 16,000-acres full of trails, wildlife, and even a drivable road that leads to panoramic city views at South Mountain Park. There is something for everyone—stunning nature, ancient history, the Mystery Castle, lots of hiking, picnicking and more.
7. Phoenix Art Museum
Mark this one on your calendar—free admission on Wednesdays from 3pm to 9pm. The museum has the country’s largest collection of visual art. Explore art with a special emphasis on American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern and contemporary influences.
8. The Desert Botanical Garden
Boasting 140-acres, the Desert Botanical Garden has thousands of desert plants on acres of trails. The garden is all about educating, researching, and preserving desert plants of the world, particularly those native to the Southwestern U.S. Even better, admission is free all day the second Tuesday of every month.
9. Visit the Arizona Science Museum
Free admission to the Arizona Science Center with a Culture Pass lets you explore interactive experiences, including favorite exhibitions Solarville, Forces of Nature, My Digital World, and of course, an IMAX Theatre.
10. Find Adventure at the Goldfield Ghost Town
A short 45-minute drive from downtown into the desert is an authentic ghost town. Goldfield is a remnant of the gold rush era. Learn how to pan for gold, tour an old gold mine or explore authentic buildings from the Old West. Most of the attractions in town are either under $10 each or free.