Gilbert, AZ in Maricopa County is a place that’s full of surprises. While officially incorporated as a town, it’s not your typical sleepy backwater boondock. It is, in fact, one of the largest towns in the state with a hefty population pegged at more than 275,000, according to U.S. Census estimates.
Gilbert has been rising in popularity in recent times, especially among the younger segment of the population who have decided to move to the area. These young and new residents are partly responsible for reshaping the town’s character, transforming it from a largely agricultural community into a dynamic and vibrant suburb decked with modern amenities and a plethora of new construction. This transformation has brought more things to do and places to visit in Gilbert, AZ than ever before.
Below is a short list of things to do in Gilbert, AZ, from going on fun hiking trips along scenic desert trails to checking out the latest fashion or grabbing a bite at the local shopping center, among many others.
GILBERT, AZ AT A GLANCE
The arid desert setting of Gilbert, AZ is not a bane to this progressive town. In fact, locals have learned to live with the Sonoran Desert and appreciate fully the spectacular desert landscape. Many of the outdoor activities here take advantage of what the Sonoran can offer from the scenic vistas to the unique desert flora and fauna that can be observed up close.
Below are some facts about Gilbert, AZ that you should know:
Gilbert, AZ is part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. That said, the town has easy access to some of the state’s major cities like Phoenix (22 miles), Scottsdale (18 miles), Tempe (14 miles), and Chandler (6.5 miles). Loop 202 and U.S. Route 60 are the main arteries that connect Gilbert’s residents to other areas in the state and beyond.
Gilbert’s population has grown exponentially over the past three decades, doubling in size every five years between 1980 and 2000. Gilbert is expected to have a population of 300,000 by the year 2030.
You can expect summers in Gilbert to be dry and sweltering, given its desert climate, hitting highs of 105°F degrees between June and September. Winters, meanwhile, are mild with the lowest expected temperature at around 41°F from November to February. Rain comes at around August with around 0.04 inches of precipitation but it’s mostly clear skies throughout the year.
The town now known as Gilbert owes its development to Ohio-born William “Bobby” Gilbert, who made his way to Arizona from the Midwest in the 19th century and settled here with his family to grow cotton – the area’s initial leading crop. Among the acres of land he owned, he donated a section to the Arizona Eastern Railway in 1902.
The area became a boomtown after construction of the rail line between Phoenix and Florence was completed. The town’s first grocery store opened in 1910, followed by a post office in 1912. By 1920, the area was officially incorporated as a town with the name, Gilbert.
In the mid-20th century, agriculture was still the leading industry in Gilbert but apart from cotton production, the town diversified to dairy farming. The town continued to grow as more infrastructure was put up, the population increased, and further diversification occurred, expanding to other industries such as healthcare, technology, retail, and education.
As Gilbert crossed into the 21st century, it has become recognized as one of the country’s fastest-growing communities.
TOP ACTIVITIES IN GILBERT, AZ
Here are some of the fun things to do in Gilbert, AZ that make it worthy to be called home.
Fun in the outdoors
- PLAY A ROUND OF GOLF
The Copper State is a golfer’s paradise, and Gilbert is no stranger to this reputation. The town has five golf courses and nearly a hundred within a 20-mile radius. Gilbert’s very own golf courses include:
Western Skies Golf Club. Situated along East Warner Road, this golf course is made for golfers of any skill. Hone your swing with the Superstition Mountains as your backdrop.
Kokopelli Golf Club. A par-72 course designed by renowned golf course architect Bill Phillips, Kokopelli provides a unique challenge amid beautifully maintained Bermuda fairways, mature trees along its borders, and lovely man-made lakes stocked with fish like bass, trout, and catfish. Thus, even local anglers can enjoy visiting Kokopelli.
Greenfield Lakes Golf Course. You don’t need to be a pro to play golf here as the golf course offers lessons and clinics. You can also practice your game day or night as the course has a lighted driving range.
Power Ranch Golf Club. Designed by Dick Bailey, this 18-hole, par-71 championship golf course does not disappoint with subtly elevated greens that stretch over almost 7,000 yards, challenging anyone from the starting novice to the seasoned player.
Seville Golf & Country Club. Not only does this golf club have a picturesque 18-hole golf course designed by Gary Pranks but it also has other amenities like a pool, several restaurants, a swimming park, and a fitness facility to provide fun for the entire family.
- EXPLORE THE DESERT TRAILS
Gilbert’s popular nature trails include the following:
Discovery District Park has all the basic amenities of a public space but it also has a number of trails for a relatively easy hike or jog. You can even bring along your canine buddy with you here.
Get the chance to view the local wildlife up close at the Desert Sky Park Path. This 1.43-mile trail starts from the park and goes along the banks of the East Maricopa Floodway Basin.
Other trails in and around the Gilbert, AZ area are:
- Gilbert Road Trail Crossing
- Water Ranch Trail
- Adora Trails
It must be noted, however, that extra caution is advised when passing trail crossings while hiking or biking as vehicles also pass through these trails.
- WATCH THE BIRDS
Many of Gilbert’s nature trails are also excellent spots for bird-watching. The Water Ranch Trail, in particular, is part of the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. This nature preserve is where as many as 300 species of birds can be sighted. The Desert Rivers Audubon Society has been tasked to attend to these magnificent avians’ welfare and, as part of its educational program, holds free family bird walks.
- LET THE DOG OUT
Let your dog come out to play in Cosmo Dog Park, one of the pet-friendly attractions in Gilbert, AZ. This off-leash, fenced dog park spans 17 acres, and there’s a designated area for smaller, more timid dogs to roam.
Many other outdoor spaces in Gilbert, AZ also allow you to bring your pet along, provided that they are leashed and you take the necessary measures to keep the surroundings clean.
- HANG OUT AT A PARK
Picnics with family, engaging in various sports activities for the thrill of competition, and running in wide-open spaces are among the many fun things to do in the various parks of Gilbert, AZ. A favorite among residents is Freestone Park, the town’s first major district park which features a range of sports facilities, including basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts, as well as softball fields and other multi-use fields. The lake here is stocked with fish for those who find calm in fishing without having to go outside town. There’s also a skate park and playgrounds, as well as the kid-friendly amusement park, Freestone Railroad.
- PUT YOUR GAMER FACE ON
Smash all enemies and conquer worlds when you immerse yourself in the e-sports world. Enjoy the experience on your own or with fellow gamer friends at Pure Esports. This facility has over 50 gaming stations, as well as your favorite consoles, so you can duke it out in any virtual arena with style and the latest technology.
- TRY YOUR HAND AT MYSTERY SOLVING
Bring your friends and put your problem-solving abilities to the ultimate test at Paradox Escape Room. This challenging facility has three rooms, each with its own set of puzzles that need to be solved within an hour.
- GAZE AT THE STARS
Marvel at the heavens at the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory, located inside the Gilbert Riparian Preserve. It has a 16-inch Meade LX200R telescope that serves as the main telescope. Also mounted on it is a 60mm Lunt solar telescope for solar viewings in the hydrogen alpha spectrum.
- CATCH A THEATER SHOW
Watch the most beloved Broadway musicals and other acclaimed plays even when you’re not in Broadway! You can catch the theater bug right in Gilbert via the Hale Centre Theater. At the heart of this long-running theater company is a family-owned endeavor spanning several generations that started in Glendale, California way back in 1947. Today, it continues to generate awe-inspiring performances that have enthralled audiences in the Arizona area.
- CONNECT WITH THE DIVINE
St. Anne Roman Catholic Church is not only a place for meditation and reflection but also a gorgeous repository of a full-sized replica of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, La Pieta. What makes this statue special is that it is one of only eight around the world. The church also has various art depictions of famous biblical events and characters displayed throughout the parish which are referred to as icons. Come here to appreciate the art and connect with the Divine.
- XPERIENCE SIMPLE JOYS
In today’s fast-paced world, there’s nothing like finding a place where life is simpler. If you’re looking for things to do in Gilbert, AZ that will essentially let time stop enough for you to enjoy the simpler things in life, then Agritopia is worth a visit. This planned neighborhood built around a farm is the ideal community where low picket fences allow neighbors to engage in small talk, and where everyone knows each other by name. Farming is what keeps this neighborhood together, as its original homesteaders intended it to be. Their produce is usually used for meals at the on-site dining spots and found at the local farmers markets around town or in their very own store.
- LEARN THE LOCAL HISTORY
If one of your favorite things to do is to dig deep into an area’s history, then you can do that in HD SOUTH, a historical landmark in Gilbert, AZ that used to be the original Gilbert Elementary School built in 1913. Now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, HD SOUTH is home to the Gilbert Historical Museum. Here, you’ll find artifacts linked to the town’s history on display. The building’s courtyard features authentic farm equipment used by the town’s agricultural forefathers during its early days.
- BIG MEALS FOR BIG APPETITES
One of the in-house restaurants of Western Skies Golf Club is Mulligan’s Bar and Grill, where people usually converge after a round of golf or simply to enjoy their hefty and delectable meals paired with cold beverages. As many as 14 HDTVs are installed throughout the place so you won’t miss any big game.
- HAVE A BEER OR TWO…OR THREE
Go for a craft beer-tasting adventure in 12 West Brewing Co.’s taproom located in Gilbert’s Agritopia grounds. They have 12 types of beer pouring from their taps, as well as a variety of beers in cans inside their cooler for an even more extensive array of ales and lagers to enjoy. If you’re new to craft beers, you can have a flight – this means you can have a taste of six of their offerings in 5-ounce sizes. The Gilbert taproom in Barnone also has a patio for you to enjoy your beer/s. Pets are allowed in this area, too!
- TASTE WINE MINUS THE FROU-FROU
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or someone only familiar with distinguishing between whites and reds, you’ll be in for an awesome experience in Garage-East, the first winery in Gilbert. While other food spots have wines to complement their food, Garage-East has food to complement their fine Arizona wines. Plus, they have canned wines, as well as wine test tubes for their flights.
- COOL DOWN WITH ICED AND FROZEN TREATS
When the heat of the Sonoran Desert sun bears down on you, cooling down is a great idea. And what better way to do so than to head for SodaRush!, an Arizona original that serves more than just sodas. This family-friendly hangout has a branch in Gilbert and offers ice cream-topped drinks, ice cream sandwiches, sprinkle-covered ice cream cones, cookies, and other sweet delights.
- BUY LOCAL FARM PRODUCTS
While other areas have seasonal farmers markets, Gilbert’s farmers market is open all year round. It features products from over 100 vendors, with merchandise from the freshest produce and dairy products from nearby farms to artisanal foodstuff. It’s located west of the town’s water tower in Downtown Gilbert and is open every Saturday morning.
- SHOP, DINE, AND BE HAPPY
You can shop in Gilbert, AZ and still have your fill of the town’s scenic vistas as most of the retail hubs here consist of open-air shopping centers. Here are some of the town’s popular retail and dining destinations:
SanTan Village. This local lifestyle destination carries a variety of big-name brands like Apple, American Eagle Outfitters, Barnes & Noble, Foot Locker, and Macy’s, plus a number of local stores. And whether it’s fancy eating or a quick bite, SanTan Village also has you covered.
Downtown Gilbert/The Heritage District. Interested in retro dining and fun? Gilbert’s Heritage District will fill that need as it has several establishments and buildings that have been around since the turn of the 20th century. Find some grab-and-go eats at Topo and Joe’s Real BBQ, play some old-school arcade games while chowing down some bar food at Level 1 Arcade Bar, and get your caffeine fix at Bergie’s Coffee Roast House.
Barnone at Agritopia. What used to be a storage facility in Agritopia has been transformed into an area of creativity where local craftsmen sell their handcrafted wares and share great crafting ideas. Find anything from wines and brews to food and finely crafted wooden works.
Gilbert Gateway Towne Center. From your daily shopping needs to unique fashion items and services, as well as excellent dining options, this community shopping center doesn’t disappoint.
Shoppes at Gilbert Commons. Find a bevy of retailers in this shopping center along East Baseline Road, including Sketchers, Kohl’s, and Old Navy. Dining spots also abound.
Cultural and historic immersion
Eat, drink, and be merry
ENJOY WHAT GILBERT, AZ HAS TO OFFER
Gilbert, AZ is undeniably a great place to call home, given its modern amenities in a small-town setting. To learn more about what you can expect from this urbanized town at the heart of the Sonoran Desert, make sure to talk to reliable local real estate experts who can not only brief you on this area’s amenities and overall vibe but also the state of its market and your best options for a home here – that would be the Vikki & Carol Royse Luxury Division.