Recently, Gilbert has matured from farm town to foodie hot spot. At Joe’s Farm Grill in Agritopia, regulars sit under giant tamarisk trees and tuck into tricked-out classics such as a Gouda-garlic-bacon burger. In the Heritage District, a giant gopher perches atop Topo, where you can go-fer (ahem) elote (Mexican street corn) and sweet-tart prickly pear soft serve. Feeling fancier? Nico Heirloom Kitchen serves hearty Italian fare in a chic brick-and-leather space.
Snowy egrets, green-winged teal, and nearly 300 other bird species flock to the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, northeast of downtown. You can wander the marshland by day, and on Friday and Saturday nights head for the on-site observatory to train a telescope on Venus and the Orion Nebula.