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There is only one thing I love more than exploring a new city with my family- doing it for free! Luckily there are plenty of free things in Phoenix to keep visitors and locals occupied. The valley of the sun houses interesting museums, picturesque mountain trails, and unique stores, all of which cost nothing to explore. Read on to discover some of the free things to do in Phoenix.
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21 Free Things To Do in Phoenix
- Explore the capitol building and learn about Arizona’s rich history at Arizona Capitol Museum. This museum offers Family-Fun Days every Saturday, September through May.
- Another place to learn about history for free is the Wells Fargo Museum. While here, enjoy interactive exhibits and artifacts from the original Wells Fargo stagecoaches.
- After the Wells Fargo Museum, walk across the plaza to the Phoenix Police Museum. Discover how law enforcement operated in Phoenix way back in 1881. Children love dressing up as police officers and playing in an old police car.
- To get more immersed in Arizona history, stop by Historic Sahuaro Ranch in nearby Glendale, Arizona. Experience activities, exhibits, and tours that explain what ranch life was like for families living here in the early 1900’s. After wandering the grounds, enjoy a free tour of the Main house built in 1891.
- The Wild West also still lives at Goldfield Ghost Town in Apache Junction, Arizona. Although all the attractions here come with a price tag, it is free to explore the town and watch the weekend gun show. Stroll down the boardwalk as you peek in authentic looking buildings and mingle with actors in period clothing.
Note: Although all these museums are free, most appreciate a small donation.
Check out our picks for the Top 10 Things To Do in Arizona to find more family-fun around the state.
- One of the coolest free things in Phoenix is a visit to a local sporting good store. Stop by Cabela’s in Glendale for huge aquariums and museum-quality animal displays. They frequently host family-friendly events, so check their calendar for the next one.
- Bass Pro Shop in Mesa also has taxidermy animals on display and a 18,500-gallon aquarium. Every day, kids help feed the trout in the trout stream at 1:30 PM. In addition to seasonal family events, Bass Pro hosts Kids Night every Tuesday evening. This involves crafts, popcorn, archery, and more.
- Another shop to check out is Cerreta Candy Factory in Glendale. In addition to the delicious free smells, free tours are offered Monday-Friday at 10 AM and 1 PM. See how this family shop creates mouth-watering treats. Sample one of the candies for free, or splurge a little and buy some treats to take home.
- Take advantage of three seasons of perfect weather with plenty of free hiking around Phoenix. At Papago Park, hike the iconic Hole-in-the-Rock trail and enjoy picturesque views of the city.
- South Mountain Park is the largest city park in the United States. There are stunning trails for all skill levels and parking is free.
- My family especially loves the trails of the Superstition Wilderness including Hieroglyphic Trail and Peralta Trail.
- Tackle a hike on the popular Camelback Mountain. Although the trails here are not too long, the 1,420 foot climb is difficult. But the 360 degree views of the valley are worth it.
- If you happen to be visiting in that 4th season, hit the numerous free splash pads around town. A couple of our favorites include the ones at Riverview Park in Mesa and Espee Park in Chandler.
Discover great hikes around the Phoenix area by reading our full guide, Best Hikes in Phoenix with Kids.
Free Museum Days
- My kids love the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, but bringing five kids here comes with a hefty price tag. Thankfully, they offer free admission the first Friday of every month from 5 – 9 pm. While here, kids run through a noodle forest, climb inside a flying bathtub, and test the limits of their imagination.
- The Heard Museum also offers free admission on the first Friday from 6- 10 pm (excluding March). This museum introduces families to Native American cultures. Children especially love the hands-on activities based on the cultures of different tribes and the play canoe to climb in.
- Phoenix Art Museum switches general admission to voluntary donations several times a month. These times include every Wednesday from 3- 9 pm, the first Friday of the month from 6- 10 pm, and the second Sunday of the month from noon- 5 pm. During these free Sundays, hosted by Discount Tires, the museum makes everything extra exciting for families with performances, DIY projects, and more. If you visit another day, be sure to pick up a scavenger hunt at Visitor Services before touring the art galleries.
- On the second Tuesday of every month, the Desert Botanical Garden hosts Community Day and admission is complimentary. Stroll through the grounds and appreciate the variety of colors and shapes in the desert plants.
- Fry’s Grocery Stores hosts an annual free weekend at Arizona Science Center around mid-September. In addition for four stories of fun, there will be hands-on demonstrations and activities throughout the weekend. Check their events calendar and plan ahead to attend this event.
Four of these museums made our top 10 list! Discover what else made the Top 10 Things to do in Phoenix with Kids.
Check for deals on family-friendly hotels in Phoenix.
- Check out Roosevelt Row Arts District during First Friday Art Walk in downtown Phoenix. The first Friday evening of every month visitors are invited to tour galleries, experience the culture of Phoenix, and enjoy the street art in the area. Free shuttle buses conveniently circulate through the area to help get you where you want to be.
- Downtown Mesa sidewalks come alive with live music and contemporary art on Second Friday. Browse local vendors while dining of cuisine from delicious food trucks. Themes vary monthly but there is always something exciting to see.
- The Mesa Arts Center frequently hosts free events and performances. These include their annual Mesa Arts Festival, Spring Out To Lunch Concert Series, and Dia de los Muertos Festival. Check their website to see upcoming events.
Find more events with our guide Annual Festivals for Families on Phoenix.
Lead photo by: Bigstock