Top rated parks in Phoenix area

Posted: Updated:
(Source: City of Tempe, Gilbert, Glendale & Scottsdale) (Source: City of Tempe, Gilbert, Glendale & Scottsdale)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

When the sun is shining and it’s not 110 degrees, the Phoenix area is the play to be. Known for its great outdoors, the Valley of the Sun has also a great selection of parks. Whether it’s to have a picnic, take a walk by a lake or take a ride at an amusement park, there’s something for everyone at these top rated parks. Please note, though, they are in no particular order.

Encanto Park

As one of Phoenix’s Points of Pride, Encanto Park has something for everyone and often makes numerous “best parks” lists. The 222-acre park has picnic areas, a 7.5-acre lagoon, boat house, swimming pool, two golf courses and is home to Enchanted Island Amusement Park, which has rides for kids 2 to 10 years old. People can do anything from play racquetball to feed the geese and rock climbing.

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2605 N. 15th Ave., Phoenix

(602) 261-8991

Park Hours: 5:30 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Freestone Park

Gilbert’s first major District Park is Freestone Park and opened in 1988 but has expanded ever since. At 88 acres, it has two lake areas with fishing, softball fields, a skate park and batting cages. For the young kids, there’s the Freestone Railroad, which includes amusement rides and a snack bar and is a great spot for birthday parties.

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1045 E. Juniper Rd., Gilbert

(480) 503-6200

Park hours: 5:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. 

Tempe Beach Park

One of the most famous parks is Tempe Beach Park. Not only does it have plenty of history dating back to the 1920s, it hosts Ironmans, 5/10K runs and community festivals throughout the year. When it’s not packed with people, there’s a splash pad for the kids, hiking and biking paths. It’s also home to Arizona’s second-most visited public attraction: Tempe Town Lake, which holds nearly 1 billion gallons of water. Folks can rent a boat or paddle board, just don’t go swimming in it.

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80 W. Rio Salado Pkwy, Tempe

(480) 350-8625

Park hours: 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Desert Breeze Park

One of the more popular parks in the East Valley, Desert Breeze Park is 47 acres of fun for the whole family. It has one of three spray pads in Chandler, one of two urban fishing lakes in the city, two playgrounds, four tennis courts and a volleyball court. Kids (and adults, we don’t judge) can take a ride on the Desert Breeze Railroad, which winds through a scenic three-quarter mile tour of the park. It also has an old-school carousel. A unique feature of this park is the Hummingbird Habitat, where people can learn about the birds and the desert landscape.

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660 N. Desert Breeze Blvd E., Chandler

(480) 893-6652

Park hours: 6:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

You may have noticed parks loving having railroads (hat tip to the Old West days) but McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale might be the best one. It features a 5/12ths scale train ride, a 1950s carousel ride and a historical railroad museum, which has everything from model trains to full-size presidential rail cars. There's also a 10,000 square foot model railroad building that has four model railroad clubs. For fun outside, there are two playgrounds, with one being a state-of-the-art railroad themed playground.

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Park hours: various by season

7301 E. Indian Bend Rd, Scottsdale

(480) 312-2312

Kiwanis Park

One of Tempe’s outdoor gems is the 125 acres that create Kiwanis Park. It has been around since 1972 and is named after the Kiwanis Club that donated money to create the park what it is today. Kids can feel like they’re in the High Country by fishing in the 12-acre lake or renting a boat. For those into sports, there are batting cages, soccer and baseball fields, a gymnasium and an indoor pool. There are also wide open spaces on the north and south sides for outdoor activities.

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6111 S. All American Way, Tempe

(480) 350-5200

Park hours: 6 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Chaparral Park

As one of Scottsdale’s largest and most popular parks, Chaparral Park has something for everyone who wants to stay active. The 10-acre lake is great for boating and fishing and has a wheelchair-accessible fishing pier. The park is great for sports too with six lighted baseball fields, three lighted soccer fields, two grass volleyball courts and a multi-use court. People can also get a work out in at the 10-station exercise court or take their dogs to the door park that has a specialized area for active dogs and another for passive dogs.

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5401 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale

480-312-7640

Park hours: 6 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.

Sahuaro Ranch Park

Visitors can get more than just a recreational experience at Sahuaro Ranch Park in Glendale. They can relive some history, too. There several playgrounds for kids of all ages including EVOS, a unique suspended playground for kids ages 5 and older. The sports complex features four softball fields, soccer fields and four lighted sand volleyball courts. Historic Sahuaro Ranch is 17 acres that have 13 original buildings, a rose gardens, a barnyard area and historic orchards. However, the barnyard area is closed due to suspicious fires.

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9802 North 59th Avenue, Glendale

(623) 930-2820

Margaret T. Hance Park

At 32 acres, Margaret T. Hance Park is one of the smaller parks on the list but this spot in downtown Phoenix isn’t your typical sports-and-playground park. It is home to the Japanese Friendship Garden, Irish Cultural Center, McClelland Irish Library and the historic Winship House. There are also many cultural events held at the park like Phoenix Old World Oktoberfest, Yoga Rocks the Park Series, El Dia De Los Ninos, St. Patrick's Day Parade and Irish Faire, McDowell Mountain Music Festival and more. The park does have amenities like grills, reservable ramadas, a playground and a lighted sand volleyball court. The City is looking to make upgrades.

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67 W. Culver St., Phoenix

(602) 534-2406

Park hours: 6 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.

Moon Valley Park

The park in north Phoenix has gotten high reviews on Google and Yelp thanks to updated playgrounds and lighted basketball, tennis and volleyball courts. Moon Valley Park also has a fitness course and picnic areas for get-togethers. A cool feature not seen in many other parks is a bridge that has bug designs on it.

502 W. Coral Gables Dr.   

(602) 262-6696

Park hours: 5:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Steele Indian School Park

Based on more than 500 Google reviews, Steele Indian School Park is a great place to go and relax. It's also full of history, with the "Circle of Life" columns telling the story of the Phoenix Indian School and the buildings that still stand there today. Like other parks on this list, there is a huge pond where people can try their luck at fishing. The north side of the 75-acre park has a playground, two half-court basketball courts and sand volleyball courts. There are two dog parks, with one of them being for small dogs. Runners can follow the running trail through the park to make their run more fun. There are plenty of open fields for sports and events and an amphitheater.

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300 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix

(602) 534-4810

Park hours: 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.

[MAP: Top rated parks in the Valley]

Have a favorite park that didn't make the list? Email me and I'll check it out!

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