While the rest of the country is freezing their you-know-what’s off, we’re here in the Valley of the Sun with the most beautiful weather imaginable. Every year when spring rolls around, I have two thoughts.
First: Man, this is glorious!
Second: Aw crap. Summer is coming.
And then I feel a crazed urgency to GET OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW. I know if I don’t enjoy these temperatures for the few months they last, I’ll regret it once the triple digits roll around and threaten to melt my face off.
I don’t know about you, but for me it can be hard to think of something to do outside, especially when it means packing up the diaper bag and stroller and paying any amount of money, because chances are my kids won’t appreciate the cash I forked out for them to have a fun adventure. So I did some brainstorming and came up with a list of 33 free things to do outside this spring. Now I have no excuses…and neither do you!
See the neighborhood from a different perspective
By that I mean, get out from behind the wheel of your minivan for a few minutes.
- Go for a family bike ride.
- Take a quick walk around the block to get your heart pumping.
- Or take a longer run and really get some cardio in.
- Bust out your long board from high school and show your kids your sweet moves. (Unless you are like me and have zero balance. Then maybe don’t.)
- Walk to the nearest convenience store and treat yourself to a well-earned fountain drink.
- Head down one of the many canal paths in the East Valley.
Dine al fresco
It sounds so much fancier when you say it that way, but eating outside doesn’t have to be. All you need is some food and the great outdoors.
- Have a picnic lunch in your back yard.
- Bust out that grill and cook up some burgers.
- Get an inexpensive fire pit–or dust off the one you have hiding somewhere in the garage–and roast some marshmallows.
- Grab some takeout and head to a park.
- Host a neighborhood potluck. You might even make some new friends!
- Cut up some fruit and snack on it while you walk your dog.
- Chase down your favorite food truck or try a new one.
- Ask to be seated on the patio at your favorite restaurant.
Head to a park
The East Valley is bursting at the seams with great parks, so if you’re not a fan of the one nearest you, check out some other options. My family enjoys the ones below; feel free to visit our Outdoor Play Area directory for more suggestions.
- Slide on all the slides. Tumbleweed Park in Chandler can’t be beat for classic playground equipment. (Bonus: there’s also a little zip line!)
- Ride a train. Both Freestone in Gilbert and Desert Breeze in Tempe have little trains (and a handful of other inexpensive rides) that are open on weekends, and playgrounds that are open (and free!) every day.
- Climb the structures at Mesa Riverview. Challenge your bigger kids to a race if you’re feeling extra adventurous.
- Walk, jog, or run around Red Mountain Park, which has some excellent trails.
- Dig in the sand pit for dinosaur “fossils” and walk around the lake in search of ducks and turtles at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch.
Still haven’t found an idea that makes you want to get out of the house? How about…
- Plant a garden. Growing things in the desert can be intimidating, so the Desert Botanical Garden has put together some helpful guides and resources to make it easier.
- Do some yard work. Spring is a great time to clean up and update your landscaping.
- Clean up your neighborhood. Do a good deed by picking up any trash that has blown into the gutters in the area.
- Fly a kite. Next time there’s a bit of a breeze, channel your inner Jane and Michael Banks.
- Walk around a plant nursery. Even if you aren’t looking for landscaping help, it’s fun to wander among the trees and cacti.
- Go for a hike. Check out this list of the 10 best family hikes in Phoenix if you don’t already have a favorite.
- Watch a movie outside. If you have a projector, set up a white bed sheet and make it a party. If you don’t, use your laptop and make it more intimate. But definitely make some popcorn.
- Watch the sun set. Arizona sunsets are legendary and it should be a crime to miss too many in a row.
- Visit a farmers market. Gilbert’s is every Saturday morning; Chandler’s is every Thursday afternoon. Do you know of any others? Let me know in the comments!
- Play ball. Soccer, baseball, football, bocce…whatever you’ve got and whatever sounds fun!
- Watch the planes take off and land at Chandler Airpark. There’s a rarely used bench and picnic table with a prime view of the runway.
- Draw with sidewalk chalk. This can keep my little ones busy for an hour or more. Not that I blame them; drawing on stuff is fun!
- Blow bubbles. Regular sized ones or enormous ones made from hula hoops. Soap and water are cheap.
- Wash the car. Not at a car wash, but with the hose and some wash rags in the driveway. Even better, have your kids wash the car while you kick back and “supervise” with a cool drink and a good book.
Clearly this list isn’t exhaustive. That’s not the point. The point is to see that there are sooooo many easy, free, FUN things to do this spring if we’re willing to just walk out the front door.
These 70 degree days won’t last forever, guys. Let’s get out and enjoy them while we can!