9 free things to do in the Valley, across AZ

Posted at 6:17 AM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 08:26:32-05

Arizona’s desert charm offers plenty of no-cost fun for families and singles alike throughout Arizona. As a full-service travel agency, AAA Travel experts recommended the following things to do throughout the state.

The Valley

  • Park Parties: Head to Civic Space Park from 6 to 10 p.m. the on the second and forth Friday of the month. The park alternates between a variety of free activities including concerts, pop-up movie screenings, vendors, exhibitions and games presented by the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.
  • Wild West: Goldfield Ghost Town is a ghost town complete with rustic wooden buildings and desert landscapes. Choose from a wealth of activities including mine tours, hiking treks and panning for gold. Check out the free gunfighter shows every hour from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Museums: Free admission is standard at spots like ASU Art Museum, Arizona Capitol Museum and Shemer Art Center, which was named “One of the 10 Best Museums in Phoenix” by USA Today. You can also get free access to Phoenix Art Museum from 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and 6 to 10 p.m. on First Fridays; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art all day Thursdays and after 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and Phoenix Children's Museum from 5 to 9 p.m. on First Fridays.


  • Take a Hike: The 20,000-acre Tucson Mountain Park has miles of hiking trails and numerous incredible desert vistas. Hiking up to Gates Pass will offer a charming stone gazebo from which to take in a stellar sunset view. Other outdoor activities within the park include horseback riding, picnic areas and camping. The park is conveniently located on the road to some of Tucson’s most popular attractions, including the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Old Tucson Studios.
  • Gallery in the Sun: Head to Ted DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun for an unforgettable tour of this Tucson legend’s home. The gallery, DeGrazia’s former home, workshop and the roofless chapel were all built by hand from native materials. The gallery now serves as a museum to the famed artist. It also houses the gift shop and a small gallery dedicated to the religious festivals of local Yaqui tribes.
  • Downtown Tour: Take a historical walking tour through Downtown Tucson along the Presidio Trail, or Turquoise Trail. Designed as a loop around Downtown’s historic sites, the trail is roughly 2.5 miles long and lasts between 90 minutes and two hours. The trail itself follows a turquoise-colored line that winds around downtown, includes 23 points of interest and nine optional sites to visit, such as the 1850s Sosa-Carillo-Fremont House, the historic Fox Theatre and the Historic Train Depot.

Northern Arizona

  • See Green: Lake Powell's Hanging Gardens is east of Glen Canyon Bridge; the trailhead is located 500 yards off Highway 89. Hanging gardens are spring-fed colonies of plants clinging to the vertical wall of a cliff. Lake Powell's Hanging Gardens may be one of the most unusual forms of gardens found on the Colorado Plateau.
  • Chill Out: The mile-long Lava River Cave is known as nature’s icebox, as the inside of the cave reaches a high of only 42 degrees in the summer. The lava tube cave was formed roughly 700,000 years ago by molten rock that erupted from a volcanic vent in nearby Hart Prairie. Dress in warm clothes and sturdy shoes for this cave exhibition.
  • Get Your Kicks: On Route 66. Whether it is through preservation of the still existing historic buildings and vintage signs, or the cruising experience overall, take a road trip through this historic route. Visit the towns of Williams, Flagstaff, Winslow and Kingman for a trip back in time.

Adding to the free fun, the National Park Service turns 100 this year and is celebrating with 16 free days throughout 2016. On 16 days in ’16, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone. Go to for more information.

AAA offers a variety of mobile travel resources including AAA Mobile App, a free app for smartphone users. The app uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, locate nearby discounts, summon roadside assistance, find current gas prices, sightseeing information and more.

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