Though not all that far away from Phoenix and its millions of people, Queen Creek is pleasantly unique in many ways, and you’ll probably notice the difference immediately.
With Arizona roots that run deep, Queen Creek is the kind of town that hasn’t traded in its old-time charm and identity, like so many other places have.
Though you’ll find many of the same national food and retail chains here that you will everywhere else, there are also a lot of locally-owned family businesses that have been operating in Queen Creek for generations.
It’s a slice of the old west, where you may still be greeted with a sincere ‘howdy,’ but don’t worry, cowboy boots are optional.
1. Mansel Carter Oasis Park
Conveniently located right in the heart of Queen Creek on East Appleby Road, Mansel Carter Oasis Park is Queen Creek’s newest and is officially open as of September 1st.
It’s convenient, free, open every day, and chockfull of fun stuff that’ll keep you coming back.
The park boasts nearly 50 acres of land and has plenty of parking and restrooms. There’s also a fishing lake, trail access, and shaded picnic areas.
Believe me, there are too many amenities to list, and the town of Queen Creek has pulled out all the stops in making this possibly the most fun-filled public park in the greater Phoenix area.
2. Queen Creek Performing Arts Center
Located on East Ocotillo Road, the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center isn’t a massive facility like some of the valley’s other venues.
Instead, it’s an intimate setting that’s home to some of the area’s most amazing performing arts.
Whether it’s a comedy routine, magic show or Elvis impersonator you’re after, all you need do is check their website’s calendar and book your tickets online.
The center is one of those absolute gems that once discovered, will provide value again and again.
It’s got shows for every age level, and, depending on what’s on the venue, it’s great for dates, groups and family outings.
3. Queen Creek Olive Mill
Since the late ‘90s, Queen Creek Olive Mill has been making extra virgin olive in Queen Creek.
It’s a surprise to many who aren’t up to speed on Arizona’s agriculture to discover that olives have been one of the area’s staple crops for some time.
There’s something about the soil and endless days of sun that agrees with them.
Though they started out modestly, the mill now sports over 7,000 trees of a dozen different olive varieties.
Tours of the farm and production facilities are always available and there’s a great restaurant on site that visitors rave about too.
4. Milan Art Institute
Solely dedicated to educating people about the wonders of the visual arts, the Milan Art Institute on South 220th Street in Queen Creek is a must-see for artists and art lovers alike.
Though the institute is primarily a real-deal art school, they also offer lots of activities and classes for children – especially those who’ve already got a knack for creativity, or those who need a little guidance and encouragement to get their creative juices flowing.
In addition to the school, the institute offers tours, a showcase of student’s artwork, and even art supplies.
It’s a great place to get some inspiration too.
5. Superstition Farm
Offering farm tours, summer camp, and other children’s programs, as well as rentable facilities for weddings and corporate outings, Superstition Farm in nearby Mesa is a fun and exciting place to learn how a modern dairy farm really works.
Located on South Hawes Road in Phoenix’s east valley, the farm offers loads of fun for the entire family; it’s a great place for the little ones to learn where the food they take for granted comes from.
Their summer children’s programs include tours of the facility, hands-on activities, crafts, movies, and even breakfast and snacks – which you better believe include dairy products.
Check out their website for their schedule and prices.
6. Splash Pad at Founders Park
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll say it again: there’s no better way to beat the nasty Arizona sun than a day frolicking in cool water, whether it’s a river, lake or water park.
With tons of space dedicated to beating the heat, Founders Park is conveniently located across from town hall on South Ellsworth Road in Queen Creek.
The park has different hours of operation depending on the season, so check out their website to make sure they’ll be open when you’re in the area.
Don’t forget towels, snacks and plenty of drinking water.
7. Barney Family Sports Complex
The Barney Family Sports Complex has been the go-to place in the east valley for indoor sports facilities for nearly 10 years.
They’re just a short drive north of downtown Queen Creek and offer areas for hockey, volleyball, and soccer.
There are leagues for men, women, and children that have exclusive use of the facilities, and there are plenty of opportunities for little ones who are just getting started in athletics and need some patient coaching and fun activities to keep them engaged.
The 77,000-acre facility also has a snack bar and ample seating area if you’d like to watch a bit before you get out there yourself.
8. Queen Creek Skate Park
If you’re not a die-hard skateboarder – or have never even been on one – the Queen Creek Skate Park on South Ellsworth Road is a neat place to hang out and watch some pretty cool, often gravity-defying moves performed by brave young souls.
The skate park is part of Founders Park, which is more than 10 acres of fun facilities packed into a wonderful park in downtown Queen Creek.
According to their website, the park is open until 10 PM every night; it’s well-lit, so you don’t have to stop having fun when it gets dark.
The park hosts lots of special events throughout the year too.
9. Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Center
Since the days of cattle ranchers, cowboys, and pioneers, Arizona has been big horse country.
Located on East Riggs Road in Queen Creek, the nearly 40-acre Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Center is more than just another tired horse farm.
With state-of-the-art facilities, the park is available for and often hosts equestrian events, concerts, car shows, and even weddings.
For those who’d like some professional instruction on the finer points of riding the powerful and majestic horse, lessons are available regardless of experience.
There are even activities tailor-made for little ones, so check out their website for a calendar of events, hours and prices.
10. Discovery District Park
According to the city of Gilbert’s website, Discovery District Park was named after the mammoth fossils that were unexpectedly found at the site during construction.
The park is on East Pecos Road in nearby Gilbert. Among its other activities, it’s a gathering spot for local anglers who just can’t resist the urge to wet a line, especially after the ponds have been stocked.
At nearly 50 acres, the park is big enough to accommodate all offers, and with amenities like restrooms, barbecue grills, and paved hiking trails, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it out sooner.
11. Cosmo Dog Park
There’s no official word on how the Cosmo Dog Park got its name, but my guess is that it was named after Cosmo Kramer of Seinfeld fame.
The dog park is located on East Ray Road in Gilbert, just a few minutes drive from Queen Creek.
For safety’s sake, the park is divided into areas for large and small dogs. There’s a water area too, which all dogs seem to love.
To keep your furry friend in shape, there are walking and running courses complete with obstacles and structures that’ll get their hearts pumping and have them sleeping like babies on the drive home.
12. AZ Grip ‘n Rip Batting Cages
Batting cages are great places to test your hand-eye coordination, swing for the fences, and, depending on your ability, either look foolish in front of gawking onlookers or look like the major league’s next big thing.
Whichever category you fall into, there’s something for you at Grip ‘n Rip Batting Cages.
The facility caters to both baseball and softball for men and women and offers lessons, camps and clinics too – for all ages, genders, and levels of ability.
They can also repair damaged gloves or just transform your perfectly good glove into a customized masterpiece.
There’s a store on site to pick up all the things you’ll need for your new favorite pastime.
13. Silver Rein Horsemanship
For all things related to horses, the east valley’s Silver Rein Horsemanship in Florence is the place to go for guided trail rides through the majestic San Tan Mountains, camping and pack trips, and even individual riding lessons.
If you’re not up to speed on how to handle such a powerful animal, don’t worry, you’ll get a crash course in the basics before setting out; the horses are patient and specifically trained to take it easy.
Check out their website for a complete list of services, prices, a seasonal schedule, and some reviews from satisfied customers.
They offer horse boarding and training too.
14. San Tan Mountain Regional Park
With more than 10,000 acres of preserved land inside its boundaries, San Tan Mountain Regional Park is open from early in the morning until late at night, every day of the year – according to its website.
There’s no better place to get a feel for the vastness and diversity of plant and animal life that the Sonoran Desert is known for.
The park’s visitor center is a great place to buy souvenirs, and more importantly to get an idea of the layout of the trails that crisscross their way through the landscape.
Take advantage of the park’s hours; the best times of day to see the birds, reptiles, and mammals that inhabit the park are early morning and early evening.
15. Arizona Harvest Fest and Farmer’s Market
With nearly 200 vendors selling everything from local produce, jewelry, gourmet food and holiday decorations to all-natural, Arizona honey, The Arizona Harvest Fest and Farmer’s Market in Chandler is something you should plan on experiencing.
As always, it’s free, and features live music, a dedicated kid’s area, and fun and wholesome activities like pumpkin tossing, pie eating, and corn shucking competitions.
The market is a great way to support local farmers, craftsmen and entrepreneurs, have a lot of fun, and pick up some unique Christmas gifts for your loved ones.
Think about arriving early and sampling some of the great food with a cup of gourmet coffee.