Exploring the Best Things to Do in Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert, Arizona, has grown from a sleepy suburb of Phoenix to a bustling community with plenty of fun activities and places to explore. Gilbert is the fifth largest city in Arizona and is quickly growing. 

From the “hay capital of the world,” Gilbert is now a vibrant community with many activities. There are plenty of things to do in Gilbert, with parks, fun and lively restaurants and bars downtown, and opportunities for shopping.

Gilbert is a family-oriented community and is an excellent place for a family vacation or a quick day trip from Phoenix or Scottsdale.

Freestone District Park and Recreation Center

If you’re looking for active things to do in Gilbert, hit Freestone Park! Freestone Park covers 88 acres and is an excellent spot to hang out with friends and family. The park has softball fields, a mini amusement park, a skate park, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, a covered picnic area, and a railroad.  

Additionally, visitors will find multi-use trails for walking and biking, five acres of lakes, batting cages, and playgrounds. Many people flock to the lakes and bridges at Freestone Park to take pictures. It’s a popular spot for senior pictures, wedding pictures, and selfies.

Make sure to check out Freestone Rec Center, right next door. The rec center has an indoor rock climbing wall, basketball courts that double as pickleball and volleyball courts, racquetball courts, and a weight room, among other facilities. Classes are offered here, too, like yoga and self-defense.

Explore Downtown Gilbert

Downtown Gilbert is a hotspot for dining and drinking. This area has blossomed into a very active culinary and nightlife scene. New bars and restaurants pop up all the time. There is a wide variety of food options in downtown Gilbert covering Mexican food, Italian food, burgers, and fish tacos, to name a few.

If you are searching for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, coffee, or a wine bar, you can find it in downtown Gilbert. Oreganos Pizza Bistro, Culinary Dropout, Postino, Barrio Queen, Joe’s Real BBQ, and Liberty Market are great spots to grab a bite.

In addition, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row Gilbert is a great place to grab a drink and catch some live music. Finally, ice cream lovers need to check out Petersen’s Ice Cream and Cafe. And remember to take a sip of coffee at Bergies Coffee Roast House, a quaint little spot that is a local favorite.

Gilbert Regional Park

This vast 270+ acre park is a prime destination the whole family will enjoy. This sprawling park has plenty of green space to explore and many other fun things to do.

Some of the amenities and facilities at Gilbert Regional Park include:

  • Basketball courts
  • Six sand volleyball courts
  • Pickleball courts
  • Six tennis courts
  • Group ramadas

One of the big draws to the park is the amphitheater and 10-acre event lawn. The space is available for rent for special events and is also used for movie nights and other events.

If you prefer to get your steps in, take a walk around the lake and event area. Oh, the lake! Yep, anglers rejoice. A seven-acre lake is stocked with fish, including bass, bluegill, and catfish. 

If the kiddos are looking for excitement, they will love The Mountain, a 17-foot high playground with three levels, slides, swings, and a zipline. The hard part is pulling them away when it’s time to go :).

And make sure to take advantage of the 4,000-square-foot splash pad, a great place to cool off on those HOT summer days.

Finally, there is plenty of parking, and restrooms are conveniently located in the park.

San Tan Village

After a long day playing in the Gilbert sunshine, it’s time to hit the mall. Well, it’s an outdoor mall, so more sunshine will be involved. But if you need some retail therapy, San Tan Village has everything. 

This village offers a mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment. So whether you’re looking to splurge on designer clothing or casualwear, there are plenty of shops to choose from. 

Some of the top places to shop at San Tan Village include:

  • Athleta
  • Lululemon
  • The Apple Store
  • Banana Republic
  • Evereve
  • White House | Black Market

Need somewhere to eat? San Tan Village has various restaurants – from swankier steakhouses to your fast-food go-to – so you won’t leave hungry.

Some of the top restaurants at San Tan Village include:

  • The Thirsty Lion
  • Kona Grill
  • Grimaldi’s
  • Salt Tacos y Tequila
  • Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

Then top off your outing with a movie at Harkins Theatres, where the latest blockbusters are always playing.

Hale Centre Theatre

Looking for unique things to do in Gilbert, Arizona? The Hale Theatre is a local favorite, offering family-friendly shows year-round. This quaint yet vibrant venue is brimming with character. The theater is conveniently located in the Heritage District (aka downtown), so it’s steps away from all the dining options in the area. 

Taking in a show at the Hale Theatre is a great way to cap off a night after dining at one of the great local restaurants in downtown Gilbert.

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Water is a scarce resource in the desert. The Riparian Preserve was built to replenish groundwater supplies and support wildlife habitats. This area houses seven water recharge basins. 

But the riparian is more than just a water storage facility. With 4.5 miles of trails for walking and biking, it’s easy to spend an afternoon taking in the sights. Resident wildlife includes turtles, rabbits, and raccoons, not to mention the many bird and butterfly species that call the area home.

The main lake is a popular local fishing spot, with chances to catch bass, catfish, sunfish, and more. In addition, the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory is available for visitors to view the night sky on Friday and Saturday nights.

A floating boardwalk on the north end of the main lake gives you a unique perspective of the park and its wildlife. In addition, the Southeast Regional Library, a beautiful building in its own right, is located next to the preserve. Best of all, this entire experience is free.

Gilbert Farmers Market

Gilbert Farmers Market is the spot if you are in town on the weekend and want to pick up some fresh local produce. The open-air market is open every Saturday from 8 am to noon. The hours are 7 am to 11 am in the hot summer months to beat the heat.

In addition, the market has food trucks on site, and other local vendors selling their wares are also available. You’ll find everything from handmade jewelry to locally made honey, fresh-baked bread, pastries, and more.

Gilbert Farmers Market is a friendly environment and a great place to support local businesses.

Gilbert Historical Museum

History buffs will enjoy touring the Gilbert Historical Museum, a great place to learn about the town’s rich history. The museum is just south of downtown and is open four days a week from 9 am to 4 pm.  

Visitors will find interactive exhibits at this family-friendly museum, including information about the farming history, military service, and even a model train exhibit. The museum is an excellent spot for locals and tourists to explore.

Not only is this a fantastic place for history, but it’s also perfect for special occasions like birthday parties, graduations, and even weddings that have been held here.

Joe’s Farm Grill

Joe’s Farm Grill is perfect if you want farm-fresh eats. Joe’s sources food from the Farm at Agritopia and, whenever possible other local sources. The result is a tasty meal with an emphasis on freshness and sustainability.

Joe’s serves classic American fare, and the outdoor eating area is different from what you would expect in the middle of the desert. Tall shade trees and picnic tables set the stage for a fantastic dining experience.

Barnone

Barnone is a fantastic spot for creative minds. Locally-made goods from skilled artisans make excellent gifts or souvenirs from your trip to Gilbert. Shop from a selection of woodworkers, winemakers, restauranteurs, and more. Don’t miss your chance to find one-of-a-kind pieces from Arizona’s top local talent.

Discovery Park

Discovery Park is a great place to spend the day with family and friends. The 48-acre park includes everything from a butterfly garden to sand volleyball courts and multi-use fields.  

If you prefer to get your steps in or explore on wheels, there are multi-use trails, and for anglers, two lakes are stocked with fish just waiting to take the bait. 

Kids can enjoy the playground and basketball courts, and the ramadas are a great home base to enjoy a picnic in the shade. Discovery Park is great for outdoor activities or enjoying a quiet afternoon. 

There is plenty of parking, and centrally located restrooms are available.

Topgolf

Fore! If you haven’t been to Topgolf, what are you waiting for? It’s a fantastic spot to relax, have fun and smash some golf balls. Don’t worry if this is your first time playing golf. All skill levels are welcome. It’s not as much about your golf game as about having a great time.

But, if you want to let your competitive spirit run free, you can compete with your friends for a perfect night out. Enjoy food, drink, and a huge selection of TVs with sports, so you don’t miss anything. 

Topgolf is conveniently located off the 202 SanTan freeway, close to SanTan Village. So, whether you want to challenge yourself or kick back with friends and family, give Topgolf a try.

Western Skies Golf Club

Here we go with the golf theme again. But what’s a trip to Arizona without playing a round of golf? The par 72 golf course is built in a natural desert setting to be fun and challenging. 

The renovated practice facility is a great spot to work on your game. Practice chipping and putting, or do some work at the driving range. And you can take a lesson from one of the pros if you need extra help with your game.

After a long day on the course, stop by Mulligan’s bar and grill for a bite to eat or a refreshing beverage. Mulligans is a fantastic spot for a great meal, even if you don’t play golf.

Explore Local Breweries

After exploring all Gilbert offers, it’s time to relax with a cold one. Gilbert is home to some excellent breweries, including O.H.S.O Brewery in downtown Gilbert and Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company off Arizona Avenue, among others. 

These local breweries bring a unique style and vibe to their craft beers. And be sure to grab a bite to eat! Both establishments have excellent food.

Arizona Wilderness offers tasty dishes like Jalapeno Meatloaf Sliders and the Honey Hot Pulled Pork Sandwich. Or enjoy popular dishes at O.H.S.O like PB&J Burger or The Brisket sandwich.

Meanwhile, O.H.S.O. has a dog-friendly patio, and you can’t go wrong with excellent happy-hour deals on pitchers of beer.

Imagine 3D Mini Golf

For a family-friendly activity in Gilbert, try a round of mini golf. The 3D effect messes with your mind and golf game, so you have been warned. Indoor golf is a great way to escape the summer heat as well. 

The staff here are incredibly friendly, and Thursday night is date night, a fun way to spend an evening on the town. I highly recommend it as one of our favorite things to do in Gilbert.

When you are finished, try By The Bucket, located next door, for an amazing bucket of spaghetti. You won’t be disappointed.

Gilbert Water Tower

A trip to Gilbert, Arizona, is only complete with a visit to the iconic water tower in downtown Gilbert’s Heritage District. The water tower was built in the 1920s and served the community well over the years. 

Today the water tower is filled with sand but remains a landmark in the town. It’s a popular spot for a selfie, and the surrounding park also includes a splash pad. And remember to try rolling the 10,000 granite ball that sits atop a thin layer of water.

Gilbert Trail System

If you enjoy exploring on two wheels, or two feet, the Gilbert Trail System has miles and miles of trails. Many trails connect to local parks, with water stations, shade trees, and ramadas, for breaks as you travel. In addition, there are several bike rental shops in the area. So you can get some exercise and have fun pedaling your way around Gilbert.

Conclusion

There are plenty of fun things to do in Gilbert, Arizona, from eating at farm-to-table restaurants or experiencing local entertainment. Gilbert is a gem in the heart of Arizona with trendy activities and classic attractions.

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About the author
Steve
Steve is the owner of Paddle About, a blog that's all about helping people get out and enjoy nature. He loves to kayak, camp, hike and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not out exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.