AZ bucket list: Carefree

Carefree wasn’t on my Arizona Bucket List before I visited the town, but it should have been. I took my parents and my teen daughters to Carefree in mid-March 2014 as our impromptu Plan B. You see, my parents were visiting us in Phoenix from deep in the heart (more like lower extremities) of Texas. Before their arrival, Mom mentioned that seeing the desert in bloom was on her bucket list.

We had planned to visit the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix on the free day they offer the second Tuesday of every month. Just us and about half the people in Phoenix! The morning of our planned visit, the entry line (of cars) was backed up about a mile from the place. It’s at that point we were greeted with a sign that read “Free Day lots full.”

That’s when we resorted to Plan B. I remembered that in my search for desert demo gardens online, I stumbled onto an article about a garden in the Town of Carefree – about 25 miles north of Phoenix. So, guided by the GPS, off we went. The drive into town was unexpectedly rural and beautiful, with distinctive rock outcroppings and native plants lining the highway. Starting about five miles before the town of Carefree, you see interpretive signs identifying various plants growing in their natural state.

In the center of town is a meandering 4+ acre demonstration garden with water and shade features, along plenty of places to sit down. Adjacent to the park is a row of unique business that cater visitors. (See photos below – click for larger view.)

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I had visited the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix a couple weeks before we drove to Carefree, so I had a good frame of reference. The gardens in Carefree were every bit as beautiful, just on a smaller scale. The best part of our visit: It was FREE and we parked right next to the garden walk with absolutely no lines or hassles.

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