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Are you hoping to explore beautiful Arizona on your next vacation? Whether you are a solo adventurer, a couple looking for a romantic retreat, or a family seeking an entertaining and unique destination, Gilbert, AZ, is a fantastic destination.

Joining Chandler, Scottsdale, and Mesa as part of the Great Phoenix Metropolitan Area, Gilbert has gained a reputation as one of Phoenix’s coolest suburbs. From the open air shopping at Santan Village to the chic eateries like Liberty Market and the edible community that Is Agritopia, Gilbert has surprises at every turn.

When you rent a luxe vacation home in Gilbert, you should add the charming downtown area to your list of “must-dos.” Offering great restaurants, museums, theaters, and more, downtown Gilbert will delight!

About Gilbert, AZ

Gilbert, Arizona, is conveniently located 20 minutes south of the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. With a population of over 250,000 residents, it has become one of the fastest-growing communities in the country. 

The town boasts over 100 miles of bike lanes and trails, making it a great outdoor destination for cyclists and hikers alike. The downtown area offers a charming small-town feel with a variety of locally owned shops and restaurants. 

Gilbert is also home to the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, a serene nature preserve featuring several walking trails, birdwatching opportunities, and a lake stocked for fishing. 

This Phoenix suburb is also a convenient jump-off point to some of Arizona’s best natural areas, including Saguaro National Park and Tonto National Forest.

Top Activities in Downtown Gilbert

Gilbert Farmers Market

Photo Credit: Rosemarie Mosteller

Gilbert has a lot to offer, but one of its most beloved and well-known attractions is the amazing Gilbert Farmers Market. All year, Gilbert’s downtown area hosts over 100 vendors who offer amazing produce, baked goods, crafts, and so much more. You can peruse the booths, enjoy the beautiful products and heartwarming community aspect of the Farmers Market, and grab a bite at one of the nearby eateries

The Farmers Market is a year-round event, taking place every Saturday morning. The summer hours (from May through September) are 7 AM to 11 AM. The winter hours (from October through April) are 8 AM to 12 PM. 

Heritage District

Photo Credit: Cavan-Images

Many of the top activities in downtown Gilbert are located in what is known as the Heritage District. This charming area features quaint brick buildings, incredible art murals, a collection of unique restaurants, boutiques, antique stores, and so much more. 

Start your day in the Heritage District with a stop at one of the numerous coffee shops in the area and get your caffeine fix and a tasty pastry. Next, wander around this district to find amazing handmade crafts and souvenirs to bring home from vacation. After you work up an appetite, head over to one of the fantastic restaurants and have an unforgettable meal. The O.S.H.O. Brewery and Liberty Market are excellent options.  

This district is home to two universities, a theater, a museum, and some iconic Gilbert landmarks. You truly cannot visit Gilbert without checking out the Heritage District! 

The Iconic Gilbert Water Tower

Photo Credit: Matt Gush

Get your iconic Gilbert Instagram picture at the Gilbert Water Tower! Located in the Water Tower Plaza in downtown Gilbert, the water tower was built in 1927 and is a beloved town landmark. 

The park surrounding the tower has several beautiful water features, including the interactive Kugel ball. The splash pad is perfect for keeping your kids cool and entertained on hot days, and the picnic tables and benches dotting the park are great for a picnic lunch. 

The water tower is lit at special lighting ceremonies throughout the year to celebrate various holidays and community events. Check the Light Up Gilbert webpage for information on the lighting ceremonies and to see if there are any events during your vacation. 

Gilbert Historical Museum

Spend an afternoon at the Gilbert Historical Museum to learn more about the history and culture of the town. With numerous interesting exhibits that relate to the town of Gilbert, with themes like Home Life, Farming, Generations, and Model Trains, this is a great way to gain a deeper insight into what is special about this town. 

In addition to the exhibits, the museum also regularly hosts educational and fun programs related to history, art, literature, science, music, and more. Events like the Art of Quilting show and Breakfast with Santa are also popular.

Hale Centre Theatre

Photo Credit: Rosemarie Mosteller

In 1947, Ruth and Nathan Hale opened the first Hale Centre Theatre in Glendale, California. The theater quickly grew in popularity, and there are now five Hale Theatres in three states, all still owned by the Hale Family. The Gilbert branch of the Hale Centre Theatre was established in 2003 and is a staple in the community. 

Visitors to Gilbert can have an evening of fun and entertainment when they purchase tickets for one of the amazing shows at Hale Centre Theatre. There is a wide variety of shows, including Bye Bye Birdie, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, A Christmas Carol, and so much more. There is truly something for everyone at Hale Centre Theatre! 

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Photo Credit: Albert Barr

Experience a desert oasis when you go to the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. Just outside Gilbert Town Square, this lush sanctuary uses an innovative water management system to preserve wildlife habitats and provide an educational experience for those visiting Gilbert. 

Each of the seven water basins is kept at different levels to create diverse ecosystems that attract a variety of wildlife, and the preserve has been designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. In addition to the numerous reptiles, amphibians, fish, and mammals that make a home at the preserve, nearly 300 different bird species have been identified here.

There are around 4.5 miles of walking trails winding throughout the park, making it a perfect spot for a fun hike with beautiful views and lots of wildlife spotting opportunities. Children will love the Riparian Preserve, and leashed dogs are welcome. 

Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory

Photo Credit: Claudio Caridi

Located at the Riparian Preserve is the amazing Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory, a memorable and educational stop for visitors of all ages. Here you can use the state-of-the-art telescope to see some amazing planetary bodies, such as stars, planets, and meteors, depending on the time of year. This is a fantastic destination for anyone interested in science, astronomy, or seeing beautiful heavenly bodies. 

The Gilbert Observatory is open to the public for celestial viewing on Friday and Saturday evenings between sunset and 9:30 PM.  While it is free, a donation is appreciated. Private viewings are possible on other days of the week by appointment, for a maximum group of six, and with a $40 donation. 

Dining Around Gilbert

Photo Credit: Chris Curtis

Gilbert has a fantastic dining scene, offering a wide variety of cuisines and experiences. From casual BBQ joints to upscale steakhouses, nobody visiting Gilbert will go hungry! 

Try Joe’s Farm Grill, a local institution popular with locals and visitors alike. Try some of their mouthwatering classic American cuisine, and you will understand why it was featured on the TV show Diners, Dives, and Drive-ins! 

No matter your dietary preferences, you can find incredible food in Gilbert. The Uprooted Kitchen is a popular vegan restaurant well-loved by vegans and non-vegans. 

For Italian cuisine, check out North Italia or Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen; both are highly rated and will provide a memorable meal during your stay in Gilbert.

Parades and Festivals

The town of Gilbert puts on events, festivals, and parades throughout the year, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the community and culture. One of their largest events is the Gilbert Days Parade and festival, annually in November. During this weekend, there is a parade, a festival with music and crafts, a half marathon, and a rodeo. 

Other popular Gilbert events include the Global Village Festival celebrating the community’s cultural diversity; the 4th of July Celebration with fireworks, music, and other entertainment; and the Gilbert Family Nights that take place on select Fridays throughout the year. Consult the Gilbert City Calendar of Events to see what exciting activities might happen during your visit! 

Stay and Play in Gilbert, AZ

There is no shortage of fun and entertaining activities when you rent a luxe vacation home in Gilbert, Arizona. Pack your bags and prepare for an unforgettable getaway in beautiful Gilbert, Arizona!

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