When summer temperatures soared last week, my 21-year-old son Christopher went online to search for fun places we could explore away from the heat — and found something I’d never heard of during my nearly three decades of living in the Valley.
It’s called the Gilbert Riparian Preserve. The preserve is located at Water Ranch in the town of Gilbert, within easy walking distance of the Southeast Regional Library. The preserve “was created in 1986 to provide open space, educational and recreational opportunities while reusing the town’s effluent water.”
Click here to begin your own exploration of the Riparian Institute — which offers all sorts of public, youth/scout and school programs. Think bird walks, garden tours and more. The preserve is also home to the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory, which makes for a fun family outing on Friday or Saturday night.
After walking through the preserve, some time in the cool Southeast Regional Library was just what we needed. The library was bustling with families shopping for bargains at the Friends bookstore, admiring a giant dollhouse and searching for fun summer reads together.
Teens sat curled up with books in the “Teen Oasis” while children enjoyed a LEGO class or other hands-on activities. I scoured the library for news of upcoming events, and learned that the Kawambe-Omowale African Drum & Dance Theatre will perform in the library’s assembly room Tues, June 21, at both 10am and 11:30am.
Event materials describe the drum and dance group as “a captivating performing arts company that offers a glimpse of West African culture through performance of drumming, dancing, singing, and storytelling.”
Other upcoming events include “Kids Summer Movies” (Thurs, July 14, 21 & 28 at 2pm) and the “Flat Stanley Puppet Show” Tues, July 26 at 10:15am and 11:30am (presented by SRP). Call 602-652-3000 before you go for all the fine print about tickets and such because space is limited.
Head to the library and preserve this summer if your kids start feeling restless. You can explore the preserve, then hit the library to find related books (the library has a special list of offerings on animals, birds, butterlies/moths/insects, plants and reptiles/snakes).
Or follow a trip to the library with one of two preserve hiking options (a 1/2 mile concrete path and a 1-1.2 mile hike through preserve habitats). You’ll find maps in a wooden box near the preserve entrance, though we did just fine without one the day we visited. I look forward to returning one day to explore the observatory.
Note: Always check event details like location/directions, hours of operation and cost before attending. For a comprehensive list of family-friendly events, check the online calendar from Raising Arizona Kids magazine daily.
Coming up: More art meets science