50 Free Things to Do in Metro Phoenix Any Time in 2017
Low on funds and high on FOMO? We can help with that.
Phoenix is rife with no-cost events worth freeing your schedule for, including trivia nights, open mics, parks, bike rides, and a good deal of art walks. Because saving money is always in season, here are 50 free things you can do all year round.
The First Draft Book Club covers a new book each month at Changing Hands Phoenix.
Brews and Books
It's a book club with a sudsy twist. The Phoenix location of Changing Hands Bookstore holds a once-a-month meetup of bookish minds at the First Draft Book Club, hosted by The Arizona Republic's Barbara VanDenburgh. Expect to nerd out about a chosen book each month alongside brews, wine, and coffee at the First Draft Book Bar. For details, visit the Changing Hands website, or call 602-274-0067.
It's a packed house when teams from all over the Valley compete during Sunday night trivia.
Tease Your Mind
Crescent Ballroom keeps the downtown music scene going day-to-day, but on Sundays things unwind with trivia and DJ Heimbuck at the helm. Starting at 6 p.m., brainiacs can put their smarts to the test in exchange for such prizes as concert tickets, record store gift cards, and more. Visit the Crescent Ballroom website, or call 602-716-2222 for details.
Strike a Pose
The clothes may not be cheap, but the community yoga classes are. Every Sunday, the Lululemon stores in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Chandler host complimentary yoga classes. These free classes are held in or outside the store, depending on the weather. Guests should bring their own mats and water. The Biltmore Fashion Park and Scottsdale Quarter classes start at 10:30 a.m., and the Chandler Fashion Center class begins at 8 a.m. For details, visit the lululemon athletica Phoenix Facebook page.
Get to Grand Avenue on Thursdays.
Courtesy of ThirdSpace
Yuk it Up
Prepare to laugh (or cringe) as local comedians take the stage at ThirdSpace's free, weekly Happier Hour Comedy Show. Each Thursday from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. you can spot up-and-coming talent. Who knows? Maybe you'll see the next great. There's also food and drink specials all night. Visit the ThirdSpace Facebook page for more information.
The Lenny's Burger location on Glendale Avenue near Interstate 17, which got a neon makeover a few years back.
Get Blinded By Neon
Take a self-guided tour through the blinding lights. The Valley's dwindling neon sign population proves only the strong survive. In fact, some preservationists estimate that a mere three dozen of the vintage illuminated displays exist in metro Phoenix today. Hippie Gypsy in Tempe, Lenny's Burger Shop in Phoenix, and Liberty Market in Gilbert still keep the glowing tradition of neon alive, and there are even more you'll find in our guide to the best neon signs in metro Phoenix.
Playing Pokémon Go at Tempe Beach Park.
Live that Lake Life
Tempe Town Lake is Tempe's recreational center. Bike by Tempe Beach Park, take a stroll down the length of the lake, practice your photography skills at the bridge, or just do some seriously great people-watching. If you're feeling spendy, you can rent a stand-up paddleboard for $20 an hour, a single kayak for $18 an hour, or just save your money and take a dip in the lake. (Just kidding! The water is really gross.) It's also a good spot for Pokémon Go — if you're into that sort of thing. Visit the City of Tempe website for more information.
Free play Monday nights at 6 p.m. at Valley Bar.
Keep your quarters in your pocket every Monday night at Valley Bar, where all games are free starting at 6 p.m.. Perfect your Skee-Ball game, shoot some pool, or show that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game who's boss. It's all good, and it's all free. Visit the Valley Bar website, or call 602-368-3121 for details.
Roadrunner Park Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 8 to 11 a.m.
Even if you don't want to spend cash, Valley farmers markets are a great way to mix and mingle with local farmers, merchants, and artists. These markets tend to dodge the summer temperatures by either closing during the hot months or opening extra early to get a jump on the heat. (Some even move indoors.) Get the full lowdown on our list of metro Phoenix farmers markets — all free to drop by.
Swing That Way
Even if you're a total newbie to swing dancing, you can get down like a pro at the Duce's weekly South Central Swing Night on Tuesdays from 7 to 11 p.m. Get a free swing dance lesson from 7 to 8 p.m., then put your skills on the floor. Well, after gaining some liquid courage from the drink specials, that is. The class is free, but the rest of the night is $8. Visit the Duce's website, or call 602-866-3823 for more information.
The Grid: Games and Growlers has a free Table Top Game Night every Thursday night in Mesa.
Courtesy of The Grid: Games and Growlers
Table Top Game Night
Mesa's The Grid: Games and Growlers hosts a weekly Table Top Game Night on Thursdays. The free event is BYOB, meaning "bring your own boardgame," as the Grid has plenty of craft beer at the ready as well as food, cocktails, and music. The event is for those 21 and over after 10 p.m. Visit The Grid's Facebook page for more information on the next event.
Phoenix Art Museum has more free entry days than ever.
"Check Out" Local Culture
Phoenix, Chandler, Glendale, Scottsdale, and ASU libraries all offer a Culture Pass, with which library card holders can get free admission to some of the Valley's most revered cultural institutions. Notable locations include the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix Art Museum, Heard Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and more. Check your local library's website for availability.
Catch the Classics
It's no Barrett-Jackson, but the Scottsdale Pavilions Car Show is likely the best local car show you can see for free every week. The longest-running weekly car show in the country draws crowds from 4 to 11 p.m. every Saturday, and the public is welcome to drive their classic, muscle, or luxury car onto the lot for a chance to show off. The every-Saturday event sees anywhere between 250 and 500 cars. Visit the Scottsdale Pavilions Car Show Facebook page for more information. And as fate has it, more than 35 food trucks roll onto the lot at Scottsdale Pavilions to stop rumbling bellies at the same time each week. (But not rumbling cars.)
Get to Work
If you're in town for business or just need a quiet place to work, Gangplank locations in Chandler, Avondale, and Queen Creek offer a free co-working space to anyone who drops by. Use the Wi-Fi, make some business connections, and enjoy a free space to work just for a day, or day-to-day. While Gangplank doesn't charge money for its space, it does ask that regular visitors give back in some way, but how you give back is up to you. Visit the Gangplank website for locations and more information.
Ghosts Among Us
Back in the 1890s, Goldfield, located 4.5 miles east of Apache Junction, was a thriving town with roots in mining the Mammoth Gold Mine. But when the vein faulted, so did the town, leaving the three saloons, a general store, brewery, meat market, schoolhouse, and more abandoned. Today, it's a great place to take out-of-towners looking for authentic history of the Southwest. It's free to enter and to see the hourly gun shows every Saturday and Sunday, but just about everything else will cost ya. Visit the Goldfield Ghost Town website for more information.
Landmark It Off Your List
If you've ever wondered just what that layer cake castle along the 202 is all about, check out our guide to the 11 most iconic landmarks in metro Phoenix for a bit of a history lesson, then hop in the car or hoof it to see some of the landmarks with your own eyes. You might have lived in Phoenix your whole life and never really looked at these natural, artistic, and architectural mainstays.
Desert West Skateboard Plaza is a 25,000-square-foot, skateboards-only park open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in west Phoenix.
Skate It Till You Make It
Work out your board tricks at any of the Valley's skate parks — and you won't have to drive far to do it. Virtually all of metro Phoenix's neighborhoods have a skate park to call their own, including Tempe Sports Complex, Freestone Skate Park in Gilbert, Desert West Skateboard Plaza in Phoenix, and more, all free to use. For a guide to various park hours and offerings, see our guide to skate parks in metro Phoenix.
Doggy Play Day
We're pretty sure Fido will wag his tail at this suggestion. The Valley boasts beautiful and functional off-leash dog parks where your pup can run, tug, and play with fellow canines in a safe space. To find the dog park nearest you, visit the Bring Fido website or your city's website.
Maybe learn a thing or two at the Burton Barr Central Library.
Ellen Forsyth/Flickr Creative Commons
Read Into It
This place is massive. The Burton Barr Central Library has 280,000 square feet of books, study rooms, DVDs, CDs, and more — the largest in the Phoenix Public Library system. Besides its unmatched resources, the library also hosts a long list of free, recurring events, including art shows, movie clubs, crafting, business classes, and more. For details, visit the Phoenix Public Library website.
Valley newcomers or information-lacking locals can learn all about the history of their town at the Arizona Capitol Museum. Located at the (you guessed it!) state capitol, the museum is always free and open to the public during museum hours and includes four floors, 20 exhibitions, and guided tours with reservations. To plan your visit, see the Arizona Capitol Museum website.
Downtown Tempe was once known for its thriving music scene, and some might tell you those days are gone. But if the #DowntownTempe Music Series is any indication, the entertainment area's scene is thriving. Find live music from some of Tempe's hottest local bands at Culinary Dropout on Fridays and Saturdays, Blasted Barley on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, Fat Tuesday on Fridays, My Big Fat Greek on Thursdays; ChopShop on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Tempe Center for the Arts on Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information, visit the Downtown Tempe website.
Performers at Tempe Center for the Arts during rehearsals for Breaking Ground Contemporary Dance Festival.
T.G.I.F. in Tempe
Unwind after a stressful work week during hello FRIDAY at the Tempe Center for the Arts Lounge, where live music can be heard and mingling can be had for the high price of $0 every Friday. Drinks cost extra, but moneybags among us can purchase a $7 wristband, which gets them no-holds-barred access to the fancy food station from 6 to 8 p.m. Visit the City of Tempe website for more information.
Volunteer Corina Smith running the Torch box office.
Courtesy of Kim Porter
The Torch Theatre is the Valley's one-stop shop for everything improv comedy, and now you can try your hand at the art for free. The monthly free drop-in improv class features instruction from the pro theater staff on the first Saturday of every month at 2:30 p.m. We'll warn you, though: While your comedy chops may be razor-sharp, not all newbs are as hilarious as you. And that's putting it lightly. Visit the Torch Theatre website for class dates and more information.
Plenty of free stuff going on at Heritage Square.
Find Your Heritage
You've probably heard that Phoenix doesn't have much in terms of history, since Arizona is such a young state, but tell that to Downtown Phoenix's Heritage Square. Originally constructed in the late 1800s, the square is like traveling back in time. Check out the square's free seasonal events, or if you have some spare cash, we hear there are some pretty good (a.k.a. nationally revered) restaurants in the area. Visit the Heritage Square website for more information.
Get Weird with Improv Everywhere
Throughout the year, Improv AZ hosts some super-bizarre events to confuse and delight passersby. Each January, the No Pants Light Rail Ride makes users of public transportation thoroughly uncomfortable, but the group does other weird stuff throughout the year. Who wants to cartwheel to a restaurant? Improv AZ does. Join them on the Improv AZ Facebook page.
Citrine's staff is mostly composed of licensed aestheticians.
Citrine Natural Beauty Bar
Window Shop Your Heart Out
Not all who love the high-end lure of Biltmore Fashion Park can afford its prices. Dress up and pretend you’re loaded as you browse Saks Fifth Avenue, Jonathan Adler, Vera Bradley, Citrine Natural Beauty Bar, and more. (Don’t worry. There are a few budget-friendly stores if you feel like spending a little.) Visit the Biltmore website for a full directory and more information.
Who needs Vegas?
Courtesy of Talking Stick Resort
Catch a Lounge Show at the Casino
Love 'em or hate iem, tribute bands are alive and well at the Valley’s casinos. On just about any given day you can see the Beatles, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, or Led Zeppelin knockoffs in the lounges of Talking Stick Resort and Casino, Casino Arizona, Wild Horse Pass, and more. Some are good and some are not-so-good, but hey, it’s a free show. Plus, the lounges have local acts that are more, well, highbrow. Visit the websites of individual casinos for show times.
Detail of the Colibri mural located in the Grand Avenue Arts District.
Get Your Culture on the Street
Phoenix's buildings aren't all varying shades of greige. The robust street art scene has been thriving in Phoenix for decades and has recently seen a rise in popularity thanks to an ever-growing downtown arts scene. Need a guide? Here are 25 of our favorite murals in metro Phoenix.
All kinds of free entry days happen at PAM.
Courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum
Take in Some Free Art at the Museums
Free admission is standard at establishments like the Phoenix Airport Museum, ASU Art Museum, ASU Museum of Anthropology, Arizona Capitol Museum, and Shemer Art Center (though some accept and encourage donations). But visitors can also get complimentary access to Phoenix Art Museum from 3 to 9 p.m. every Wednesday; 6 to 10 p.m. on First Fridays; and on Discount Tire Free Family Weekends, happening the second weekend of every month. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is free all day Thursdays and after 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. And Phoenix Children's Museum waives its entry fees from 5 to 9 p.m. on First Fridays.
Read on for more 100 percent free things to do in the Valley.
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