Just outside Phoenix, you’ll find Gilbert, AZ – a historic Western town that makes for a perfect weekend getaway. The town has multiplied in size since 1980, with the population growing by a whopping 13% per year to reach over 250,000 today.
Once an agricultural community called the “Hay Shipping Capital of the World”, Gilbert has changed with the times. Today, it is a bustling suburban center with a wide variety of attractions. In this article, I’ll tell you my favorite activities to do with your significant other while you visit Gilbert.
Stroll the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch
The Riparian Preserve is a Gilbert gem. The word “riparian” refers to the wetlands around streams and lakes, which this park has plenty of. The 110-acre preserve and lake offer a peaceful reprieve for a daytime stroll along its 4.5 miles of hiking trails.
The preserve has a ton of ecological diversity. It’s home to nearly 200 different bird species and it is a favorite spot for birdwatchers from around the country. It also is home to dozens of other species of animals and insects. Keep an eye out for the many rabbits that call the park home!
Visit on the third Saturday of the month for a free guided tour with the Friends of Audubon Arizona Family Bird Walk in the morning.
See a Show at the Hale Center Theater
Gilbert’s theater is part of the Hale Center, the oldest theater company in America. Get tickets to see one of their Broadway or Off-Broadway classics. All shows are family-friendly and are quite popular with the local community.
One cool thing about Gilbert’s Hale Center Theater is the stage sits in the center of the 360-degree audience seating. While the theater holds around 350 people, you’ll feel an intimate performance with the actors just a few rows in front of you.
Shows are held every night of the week except Sundays.
Explore the Heritage District
The Hale Center Theater is right in the Heritage District, which is Gilbert’s main downtown area. It’s where the town’s long history intersects with its modern, commercial present. Stop by one of the many restaurants, taverns, or saloons amidst the rows of old houses and structures dating back to the 1800s.
The Heritage District is listed in the Top 5 Food Neighborhoods in the Phoenix metropolitan area, and it’s sure to sate your appetite. Try some delicious barbecue at Joe’s Real BBQ, have wine and Italian in a quaint setting at Postino East, or enjoy Baja-style seafood at SoCal Fish Taco Company.
Spend an Afternoon at the Freestone District Park
Freestone District Park has something fun for everyone. You can go for a relaxing walk around the park’s 88 acres of land. Or, if you’re feeling a little more active, the park has basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts, and a lake to fish in. There’s also a mini Ferris wheel, a model railroad, and an amusement area for the kids.
There are also plenty of picnic areas, ramadas, and barbecue grills for you to have a relaxing afternoon with your significant other or family.
Go to a Paint-and-Sip Class at an Art Gallery
Many of Gilbert’s art galleries offer paint-and-sip classes in the evenings during the week and weekends. Enjoy a fun art class, painting while you sip a glass of wine. If you’ve never painted before, don’t worry – the wine will help you paint better.
Two of the most popular paint-and-sip classes are offered at Painting With A Twist and Pinot’s Palette.
Visit the Gilbert Farmer’s Market
Every Saturday morning, dozens of vendors gather downtown to form the open-air Gilbert Farmer’s Market. Take a trip there to purchase fresh produce, handcrafted wares, freshly cooked food, and plenty of other surprises!
During the summer, around 60 vendors gather, while during the fall, more than 100 have been known to show up. This makes Gilbert’s Farmers Market one of the largest in the Phoenix metro area!
Take a Course at an Art Gallery
If you could do without the “sip” part of paint-and-sip classes, Gilbert’s many art galleries offer countless art classes. You can learn to paint, draw, pastel, make ceramics, or try the art of a variety of different styles.
Two of my favorites for a romantic getaway are the SunDust Gallery and The Art House Gilbert. The ambiance in both of these places is phenomenal, and the courses are fantastic.
Visit Nearby Phoenix
Gilbert is just 21 miles away from Phoenix, a regional metropolitan center. Take a day trip to Phoenix and explore some of the countless attractions there. Top attractions in Phoenix include:
- The Musical Instrument Museum
- The Desert Botanical Garden
- The Heard Museum
- Hiking at Camelback Mountain, South Mountain Park, Piestewa Peak, Papago Park, or the Hole in the Rock
- Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks
- The Wrigley Mansion
You can also do some brainy teamwork as a couple at the Phoenix Escape Room. See if you can solve all the puzzles together to escape the room in time!
Phoenix also is home to countless restaurants, stores, and shopping centers for you to enjoy.
Explore the Agritopia
The Agritopia district is a community with a carefully planned architectural synergy between humans and agriculture. The community’s 400 homes are centered around a farm, with plenty of open space and gardens throughout.
The Agritopia is home to many restaurants and breweries serving delicious, fresh local produce. You can also tour the Sup Urban Farm and learn about efficient farm practices that feed the modern world.
Stargaze at the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory
Located in one corner of the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory hosts stargazing every Friday and Saturday night. The observatory has a huge 16” telescope that can be turned towards any corner of the night sky to explore the vastness of space.
If you love stargazing, there are plenty of places to check out in this part of Arizona. Gilbert’s observatory is the best place if you’d like to stay close to Phoenix, but if you’re willing to go for a short drive, try the Usery Mountain Regional Park, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, or San Tan Mountain Regional Park.
See a Movie at Regal Gilbert Stadium 14
Sometimes the classics are best for a nice date night. Check out what’s playing at the Regal Gilbert Stadium 14. This movie theater is quite luxurious, with comfortable reclining seats, food and drink service, and exciting films.
Visit the Gilbert Historical Museum
At the south end of the Heritage District, you’ll find the Gilbert Historical Museum. The Museum is housed in a 1913 elementary school, which is the town’s only landmark building on the National Register of Historic Places.
Inside the museum, you can browse around a variety of artifacts, trinkets, documents, and photographs. The museum also has historical information, including an exhibit on Arizona’s role in World War II.
Take a tour through the past, present, and future of Gilbert. And don’t forget to stop by the gift shop on your way out!
Relax at a Spa
Stop by one of the town’s spas for an afternoon or evening of relaxing, nourishing rejuvenation. I particularly love Celestial Massage, a spa that offers luxury treatment at affordable rates in a therapeutic, peaceful ambiance.
The whole staff is trained to look after you well and to make sure your visit is a serene reprieve from the busy world.
Go Camping or Glamping
Just southeast of Phoenix, Gilbert is right at the doorstep of tons of outdoor activities and recreation areas. Head out of town for a night of camping or glamping.
Popular regional camping spots can be found in nearby Tonto National Forest.
If you’ve never heard of glamping, it’s like camping, but more luxurious. You can rent a furnished tent or cabin in a secluded place to enjoy a quiet evening in the peaceful outdoors with your significant other.
Taste the Local Brew
Gilbert is home to a few different popular microbreweries, including 12 West Brewing Company, Desert Monks Brewing Company, and Flying Basset Brewing Company. Check them out to experience some of the local flavors.
You can also stop by World of Beer to explore their enormous selection of over 500 beer varieties.
Go for an Adventure with Arizona Frontiers
Arizona Frontiers is a company that offers historic, archaeological, and adventure tours around Arizona. Based in Gilbert, they’ll pick you up at your hotel or home and take you to beautiful sites like the Grand Canyon, Jerome, or Sedona. You can also go to wineries in Northern Arizona for tasting.
Hang Out at Cosmo Dog Park
Even if you don’t have a dog, Cosmo Dog Park is an awesome place to check out during your time in Gilbert. This 17-acre park is not your average dog park and features a lake alongside a huge fenced-in area for dogs to play and swim in. If you like dogs, you’ll probably make a few friends while you’re there too.
Experience Wonder at Wonderspaces Arizona
Wonderspaces Arizona is an art gallery-like you’ve never seen before. The closest thing would be Meow Wolf, down the road in Santa Fe, NM.
Wonderspaces has fully-immersive galleries that you can walk around or sit and relax in. Most of these galleries have a taste of the surreal and will take your mind on an adventure through bizarre color combinations and visuals.
Wonderspaces isn’t just an art gallery – it’s an experience.
Investigate the Mystery Mansion Dinner Theater
When was the last time you and your significant other immersed yourself in a classic mystery novella story? Have a fun date night at the Mystery Mansion Dinner Theater, where you’ll get to participate in a whodunit style investigation show over a delicious meal.
Shoot Clay at Right On Target Clay Guides of Arizona
How well could you possibly know your significant other if you’ve never seen them hold a shotgun up and pick clay out of the sky? At Right On Target Clay Guides of Arizona, you’ll get to know them on this deeper level. And besides, shooting stuff is fun!
Right On Target has everything you need for a fun day of shotgun slinging. They’ll set you up with the shotgun, shells, pigeons, and guide you through the process of skeet shooting. By the end of the day, you’ll be a pro. Their range is located with a beautiful view, as an added bonus.
Imagine More at Imagine 3D Mini Golf
As you walk in, you’ll get a pair of 3D glasses that will make for a totally unique mini-golfing experience. The neon-and-blacklight course is covered in features that will pop out at you as you line up each shot.
Even after golfing here many times, I’m still not sure what’s real and what’s not. The 3D is that cool! The whole place is surreal. Good luck beating par on this one.
Wakeboard at the Boardhub
Whether you’re a passionate wakeboarder already, or if you’ve never tried it before, the Boardhub is the best spot in Arizona to go for a day on the water. They’ll set you up with the best wakeboarding teachers in the state and pull you around on the water.
I don’t know about you, but my significant other and I love stuff like this. While it might seem off-kilter, novel outdoor activities like these are part of what make visits to new places so fun! Who knew that Gilbert, Arizona, had such good wakeboarding?!
Have a little competition while you practice your swing at Topgolf
Do you want to chill and just hang out plus add a little competition to the mix between you and your significant other? Then Topgolf is the place to do it! This fun atmosphere complex is open year round and you can have food and drinks served right in your box. It’s been recommended you play at least 2 hours so you don’t have to rush and is like a golfer’s playground as you can put, drive, and shoot. The simulators even help improve your golf game.
This is a hot spot in the area and can be very busy, we suggest you make a reservation so you don’t have to wait to get a spot.
Beyond Gilbert, Arizona boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in America. If you have more time and flexibility, and you want to go for some major outdoor adventures, check out some of these world-class outdoor attractions:
- Grand Canyon National Park. You’ve probably heard of this one. HAHA Located about 250 miles from Gilbert, the Grand Canyon must be visited to be fully appreciated. Its enormous vastness and depth are simply spectacular.
- Sedona. Sedona is quite a colorful town, with red rocks towering above the green desert. Snow covers the peaks in winter. Besides the natural scenery, Sedona’s downtown is full of crafty shops and tasty restaurants. It’s located about 2 hours from Gilbert, and shhhhh but we love Sedona more than the Grand Canyon!
- Monument Valley. Few Arizona landscapes are as iconic as Monument Valley (except, maybe, the Grand Canyon and Sedona), where jagged rock spires tower above the desert mesa below. Located at the northern border of Arizona, Monument Valley is worth the 5-hour drive from Gilbert. Combine it with the Grand Canyon or Lake Powell for a weekend adventure.
- Lake Powell. Located on the border of Arizona and Utah is the second-largest man-made lake in the United States. Its enormous 186-mile long surface was formed with the completion of the Glen Canyon Dam and took years to fill. It’s surrounded by beautiful rock formations, and the water is a deep shade of blue.
- Hoover Dam. The giant Hoover Dam is located just outside Las Vegas, NV, in the northwest corner of Arizona. With a height of 726 feet, the Hoover Dam is the second-largest dam in the US and is an engineering marvel. It’s located about 4.5 hours from Gilbert and makes for a great stop en route for a weekend trip to Vegas.
- Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a huge cliffside with several ancient Native American cliff dwellings carved into the rock. The park is on Native land and can be hiked or driven around, with spectacular views around every corner. It’s located in northeast Arizona, near Monument Valley, around 4.5 hours from Gilbert. (Due to Covid, check for updates on closures.)
- Petrified Forest National Park. Petrified Forest National Park is one of the most unique places in America. Located in the Painted Desert in eastern Arizona, the park is full of petrified trees and pieces of wood, solidified by the minerals and the dry heat over hundreds of years. The park is about 3.5 hours from Gilbert and can be accessed by road and trails.
- Saguaro National Park. If you’re into desert wildlife, this is the place for you. Saguaro National Park is full of huge saguaro cactuses and other desert flora and fauna. Located just outside Tuscon, it’s about 1.5 hours from Gilbert, and makes for a quick and easy day trip .
For a wonderful romantic getaway for the weekend or longer, visit suburban Gilbert, AZ, just outside metropolitan Phoenix. The town’s many attractions provide a relaxing respite from the bustling hubbub of ordinary life and are sure to fill you and your significant other with a homey, heartwarming feeling. Let us know if you gave any of these ideas and try and loved it!