Carefree Desert Gardens
Carefree Desert Gardens
The crown jewel of Carefree and an amazing oasis in the desert, the Carefree Desert Gardens is one of only two public botanical gardens in the Valley, located along pedestrian-friendly Easy Street in downtown Carefree, AZ. The Gardens are FREE to access*, and are open 365 days a year.
Situated on four acres, visitors can stroll and enjoy rare and fascinating desert plant specimens on a self-guided walking tour, allowing for a visual and emotional connection with nature.
*Signature Garden Events such as Enchanted Pumpkin Garden, Christmas in Carefree and other special events may require a nominal fee for garden entry.
The Carefree Sundial
Marking Time by Day and the North Star by Night
The Carefree Sundial resides in downtown Carefree along Easy Street within the Carefree Desert Gardens.
Completed in 1959, it is the largest sundial in the United States and third-largest in the world! It was designed at the request of Carefree founder K.T. Palmer by architect Joe Wong and solar engineer John Yellott.
The Sundial extends 72 feet, is 90 feet in diameter and points to the north star. The huge dial is made of steel and plated with anodized copper, and the metal gnomon (the shadow-casting portion of the dial) rises 35 feet above the plaza.
On a clear sunny day, the Carefree Sundial is a majestic structure to photograph against the gorgeous backdrop of the Sonoran Desert.
Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion
The Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion resides within the heart of the Gardens, and is the centerpiece of most downtown activities and events. In 2013, Sanderson Lincoln generously gifted the funds necessary for a large capital improvement project in what was then the Carefree Amphitheater.
Town Council voted unanimously to accept funding of $250,000 provided by Sanderson Lincoln in Phoenix, which provided additional shade sails, updated lighting and a state-of-the-art sound system to the space.
On Oct. 19, 2014, a grand opening celebration was held for the newly-updated and renamed Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion.
Children’s Playground and Little Library
In 2011, a new Children’s Playground was opened in the Gardens. This interactive play space is recommended for children 5–12, and includes a unique Gila Monster slide!
Carefree’s “Little Free Library” is adjacent to the Gila Monster Playground in the west side of the Gardens, permitting easy access for children and adults. Visitors are encouraged to select a favorite book to read, or leave a beloved book behind for someone else to find.
On Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, the “Little Free Library”, underwritten by longtime Carefree residents Linda and Mark Putney on behalf of the Desert Foothills Library, was dedicated in the Gardens. The “Little Free Library” project is a neighborhood book exchange that promotes literacy and the love of reading.
Volunteers from the Desert Foothills Library maintain the Little Free Library. Books are supplied by Chapter 2 Bookstore, located inside the library.
Kiwanis Splash Park
OPEN: April 1–Oct. 1
HOURS: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
The Kiwanis Splash Park is very popular with families in the surrounding Desert Foothills area. A scorpion named KIWANI resides in the center of the splash pad, and ‘comes to life’ unexpectedly, creating a level of interactivity and a unique team play experience. This exciting focal point, combined with nearby ground spray jets, creates a magical, nature-inspired play environment for youngsters.
THANK YOU to Kiwanis Carefree for donating the funds to build this beautiful addition to the east side of the Carefree Desert Gardens!