Chandler’s history was built on a veterinarian’s vision; Dr. Alexander John Chandler to be precise, who in 1891, bought from the federal government 80 acres of land with the sole purpose of studying the then fairly new science of irrigation. Long story short, he became instrumental in building an early canal system and, by the turn of the century, was the proud owner of an 18,000 acre ranch.
The town of Chandler was then developed and, as of 2014, is now home to approximately 254,000 residents. I could say “the rest is history”, but I think it would be much more fun if you found this out for yourselves!
Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Chandler!
1. Saddle up at the Koli Equestrian Center
For horseback riding fans of all ages, an ideal day out can be found at the Koli Equestrian Center, situated in the core of the Gila River Indian Reservation. There are miles of wonderful scenery and splendid riding trails to be had for all the family’s enjoyment.
The Center’s qualified wranglers are always happy to share their vast knowledge about everything you need to know when taking one of their riding adventures. All the horses are well trained and, nicest of all, there are no boring “head to tail” single line formations; instead, everyone is spread out, giving all the riders a chance to get to know each other.
A perfect excursion for everyone from beginners to seasons riders.
Website: KOLI Equestrian Center
2. Arizona Railway Museum
The Railway Museum offers a fascinating peek into how folk used to travel by rail, and is a wonderful learning experience, especially for the kids! The museum is dedicated to all the railroads of the South Western United States.
As you enter you will immediately be taken back in time as you see the variety of artifacts and old railroad cars, which includes a dining car, passenger cars and even a horse car. The kids will have fun ringing the steam locomotive bell, too! The well informed museum staff are there to answer any query you may have.
3. You can shop (and eat!) till you drop at Chandler Fashion Center
This fabulous shopping center is the second largest mall in the Phoenix metropolitan area and it certainly shows! With its awesome variety of shops, restaurants and beauty salons cleverly strategically situated in the middle of town, it’s a very easy locale to get to.
An added plus is the fact that all the large department stores are under the same roof. An easy walk around, with spotless tile flooring, cool temperatures, expansive food court with sit down restaurants and a convenient play area for the little ones, make this a great experience.
And don’t expect to just walk past the Cheesecake Factory without at least having a glance inside at their delicious offerings!
4. Life’s a breeze at Desert Breeze Park
Desert Breeze Park is a perfect day out for all the family, as it caters for every age group. In particular, the kids can enjoy all that is on offer, from a train ride around the park suitable for all ages, to a lake stocked with plentiful fish as well as lots of ducks to feed.
There is a fun splashpad too, and plenty of shade for those not participating! Strategically placed ramadas make for a perfect picnic, too. There are also baseball fields, tennis courts and some awesome bike trials. There really is something of interest for everyone here making for a super day out!
5. Chandler Center for the Arts
The Center is very popular as it offers the chance to see interesting plays, shows, ballet, comedy and lots more, without having to leave town and head for the big city!
It is known for its helpful staff too, as well as its clean and tidy décor. And, most important of all in my book, fantastic acoustics! As the venue isn’t too large you’ll be able to get a great seat anywhere in the house. There are quite a few performances specifically for children as well.
As you walk through the beautifully decorated lobby, you’ll already have the feeling that you’re in for a treat of a time, and you won’t be wrong!
6. Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
If you’re looking to have a fun time watching road racing in a quarter mile dragstrip, this motorsports park will tick all the boxes! This multi-track facility features a quarter mine strip, off-road track and more. It is well run, too, and at a very affordable price.
The name, Wild Horse Pass, actually comes from the time when herd upon herd of wild horses would roam the Gila River floodplain, which lasted for centuries. And why not drop into the nearby Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse afterwards, as an end to a perfect outing?
7. How it all started in Chandler
You can learn all about the city of Chandler and how it was founded with a visit to the Chandler Museum. The Museum, formerly known as The Chandler Vintage Museum of Transportation and Wildlife, is home to an absorbing collection of photos and other memorabilia depicting family histories from the Chandler area and the historic McCullough-Price House (now on the National Register of Historic Places).
The museum, housed in the charming 1938 Pueblo Revival Style, is free to enter and offers the chance to find out all about Chandler’s culture, people and history.
8. Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse
Get into the Wild West mood with a visit to this legendary replica 1880 frontier town, complete with shooting gallery, fun shops with a great choice of Western type shirts and toys, together with gift store and steakhouse.
Get your gums around the steakhouse’s delicious fare, including mouth watering barbeque and yummy mesquite grilled steaks served by cowboys, along with some authentic sounds! Your kids will love the variety of western activities too and best of all, dessert is not only tasty, but free!
9. I have too many bikes. Said no cyclist, ever.
Chandler is an absolute haven for cyclists, with its 327 miles of well paved bike paths and bike lanes. There are also lots of multi-use paths for casual cyclists.
Two of the most popular destinations include the six and a half mile Paseo Trail, which is a 10 foot wide concrete multi use pathway over looking the Consolidated Canal, but if you’re after something a bit more scenic head over to the San Tan Mountain Regional Park.
10. Urban Fishing
How does a quiet day with the family sound to you? Fancy casting your line into Chandler’s urban fishing program? Every year during spring, fall and winter, the Arizona Game and Fish Department kindly stock all number of a variety of fish into each of the Valley of the Sun’s lakes as well as two of Chandler’s parks: Veterans Oasis Park and Desert Breeze Park.
So if you’re hooked on fishing, trout, sunfish and catfish abound, all waiting for you to cast your net their way!
11. San Tan Mountain Regional Park
A visit to this regional park is a great opportunity for all the family to get fit and have fun! There are plenty of choices for hiking, from easy and short to longer and more difficult.
The trails range from one and a half miles to over five miles, so there is something for everyone.
The pretty Moonlight Trail has the easiest and shortest hike, and for a more difficult one you can always try the San Tan Trail, which winds through the Central Valley and Broken lands portions of the park all the way to the top of the Goldmine Mountains.
12. Ice Skating in the Desert?
Yes you can, at Ice Den Chandler state of the art ice skating outlet! In fact, this is a brilliant idea for the whole family to cool off! There are even a limited number of trainers to provide skating lessons for the younger members of the family.
With its two regulation sized ice surfaces which are available for public skating and hockey, as well as the 80,000 square foot facility housing a video game arcade, pro shop and eatery, this is the perfect place for a really cool family outing!
13. Birding in Veterans Oasis Park
A trip to Veterans Oasis Park for a spot of birding is a perfect day out for all, whether the family are experienced bird watchers or simply novice bird enthusiasts. The park has actually been recognized as one of Arizona’s major birding sites, despite its relatively urban location, and is home to over 150 species of bird in its four and a half miles of trails.
To give you an idea of what might be out there, make sure you get an updated bird list before you go, provided by the city. Look out for everything from owls to American Kestrels, egrets and herons. And make an early start! (The early bird and all that) …
14. Jumpstreet trampolines will have the whole family jumping for joy!
Jumpstreet is a great place for kids of all ages and a very popular family fun center, meaning you don’t have to be a kid yourself if you want to jump around!
When you want a jump break, you can enjoy a game of dodge ball or two. There is also a separate area for the younger kids to bounce around. Jumpstreet is a terrific place to work off some energy, and all at a reasonable price.
15. Burst Of Butterflies Pottery Painting & Art Studio
Whether or not you’re harvesting any budding potters or artists, this is a fantastic opportunity for the whole family to get involved in a day of creativity. You can choose whether to paint or pot, with the owners happy to help with color selection and technique and to answer any questions you might have.
Choose from hundreds of pieces of ceramic bisque, ready to be painted and personalized just the way you want it. Your finished piece is then fired and ready to be collected a few days later. You can also bring your own snacks and drinks.
16. Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center
This gorgeous new facility offers a multitude of water related enjoyment, and is suitable for a family day out. There is the competition lap pool, two water slides, the lazy river, the 752 gallon “Big Blue Bucket”, water vortex, toddler slides, and family play pool with its zero-depth entry, family dressing room, plus plenty of artificial grass areas to relax after all that watery fun!
And another nice to know too; the Chandler Aquatics Program offers swimming lessons all year round.
17. Huhugam Heritage Center
Be sure not to miss this small center (literally and figuratively!) while you are visiting Chandler. The center acts as a tribal facility for the preservation of cultural artifacts and art. It is also climate controlled in order to help preserve the fascinating prehistoric and historic artifacts, together with vital records, which are on display to the public.
Take time to watch the available film explaining in great depth all about the history of these interesting American Indians. It is advisable to call before your visit as the center is not open every day.
18. A real sweet treat at Sweeties of Arizona
Take a nostalgic trip down candy lane to Sweeties of Arizona, where you and the kids can enjoy nostalgic candies like Jelly Belly jellybeans, Pez, and so many more! This family owned company has been in operation for over 60 years, and its 5,000 square feet outlet is filled to the brim with every sort of candy, from old time classics to the up to date goodies of today.
And if you think your favorite sweet has been out of production for all these years, try asking and you might be in for a pleasant surprise!
19. A treat for the adults at Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving
If there’s a bit of the thrill seeker in you and you have some spare time, why not treat yourselves to some time out at Bob Bondurant’s School where you can try driving a 650 hp stock car! Learn all about professional race car skills and, if you’re really into racing, have a go with the 3-4 day Grand Prix Road Racing Course, or on the 1-2 day course in the awesome Corvette Z06.
It will certainly be something to tell the kids on your return!
You can take your pick with these comedy shows; there are two shows every Friday and Saturday night. The first one at 7pm is family friendly or take in the 9pm show when the children are safely tucked up in bed for the night! Either way you are in for an evening of fun and fast paced comedy.
The comedians are very quick witted and act upon the audience participation and their suggestions, very much akin to the show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Each show lasts about an hour and you are guaranteed a good value fun night out, whatever your age!
21. Bear Creek Golf Complex
Arizona, with its balmy weather, is truly a golfer’s paradise. And if you’re in Chandler you’ll have 7 reminders of that fact! With a total of 7 golf clubs at your disposal, Chandler golf is popular with both locals and visitors, not only for its pristine courses and great weather, but for its stunning backdrop of glorious desert, too!
Bear Creek Golf Complex, for example, is a 36 hole inland links golf area providing both an executive course as well as a championship course. Both the courses and practice area were actually created by the Nicklaus Design Group and architect Bill O’Leary.
22. Zelma Basha Salmeri Gallery of Western American and American Indian Art
This gallery holds an amazing collection of contemporary art, which lies in two specific areas, the first one Contemporary American Indian Art and the second Contemporary Western American Art.
Within the collection are at least 3,000 pieces of art, including watercolors, acrylics, oil paintings, pastels and charcoal drawing together with natural stone and wood sculptures and so much more.
Take the kids and enjoy the magnificent drawings and bronze sculptures by artists such as David Halbach, Jim Reynolds and many others. An interesting experience for all the family.
23. Merchant Square
In the mood for a bargain? Or are you just a brilliant browser? Either way, a trip to Merchant Square should certainly be on the cards when you’re in Chandler. Having just celebrated 13 years in business, the choice of picking up an antique or unusual collectible is just part of the fun!
This well organized antique market has a mixture of everything from interesting back issues, cameras and radios, to antique furniture. And don’t worry about how to carry your goodies around; shopping carts are available for that very purpose! The variety of goods on offer really appeals to all ages, and it’s certainly a fun place for the whole family to shop together.
24. Hawaiian Experience Spa
Give the kids back to the grandparents, and treat yourself to a morning at the Hawaiian Experience Spa. You’re bound to feel that you’re many miles away in Honolulu rather than amazing Arizona!
The Spa’s attendants are all professional, friendly and courteous, providing indulgent treatments while doing their best to sort out the usual day to day aches, pains, and stresses, treatments of which include deep tissue massages, organic facials, body treatments and more, leaving you feeling like a new person every time; rejuvenated, refreshed, and ready to start over!
25. Makutu’s Island
This is one of America’s biggest indoor play places, and very popular with the kiddies! In the middle of the island stands its wonderful indoor tree, which they can explore through tunnels, mole-holes, tubes, “snake” slide and other fun climbs.
There are other play structures as well to keep them busy; the Blue Fantasy Tree, Palm Slide and Pirates Cove. Smaller guests are not forgotten either, with a special toddler area in Oscar’s Lagoon, where they can enjoy soft foam blocks as well as three small slides.
They can learn all about Polynesian music and island dancing while enjoying some of the ‘local’ fare like Hawaiian pizza, Makutu meaty pizza, or lighter fare like cheese and yogurt.