There’s so much to do on a visit to Chandler that planning your stay can be a bit overwhelming. Here are 10 things you won’t want to miss.
25 S. Arizona Place
(South of Chandler Blvd. on Arizona Avenue)
Chandler, AZ 85225
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Downtown Chandler is where you’ll find some of the city’s best restaurants, boutique shops, and art galleries as well as the historic Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort and the Chandler Center for the Arts. While strolling the trellis-covered walkways and colonnades, be sure to stop by Sibley’s West for “uniquely Arizona” souvenirs, Paletas Betty for a south-of-the-border take on popsicles, and Vision Gallery to view the art collection there.
If you’re hungry, grab a table at SanTan Brewing Company, home to some of Arizona’s finest craft beers as well as gourmet burgers and pizza. Or, chow down on fresh tacos at Modern Margarita. Later in the evening, head to Bourbon Jack’s for live music or The Ostrich for craft cocktails.
Rawhide Western Town
5700 W. North Loop Road
Chandler, AZ 85226
Step back in time to the 1880s at Rawhide where you can watch gunfighters in a live action show, pan for gold, and ride a mechanical bull. There’s no charge to stroll the town’s wooden sidewalks, popping into the General Store or Sweet Sally’s Confections along the way, but you’ll need to purchase individual tickets or a wristband if you want to enjoy the attractions and show. End your visit with dinner at The Steakhouse for hearty hunks of meat, fried rattlesnake, and Rocky Mountain oysters.
South Mountain Park
10919 S. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85042
You don’t have to go far to experience the Sonoran Desert on a hike—some of the Valley’s best hiking is just a short drive from Chandler in South Mountain Park. At more than 16,000 acres, it’s one of the largest municipal parks in the world and offers 51 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
For an incredible view of the Valley, hike to Dobbins Lookout on the challenging Holbert Trail. If you’re not sure you’re up to that much of a challenge, set out on the moderate Kiwanis Trail, one of the most popular in the park, instead.
No matter what time of the year, always wear sun screen and closed-toed shoes and bring plenty of water.
Queen Creek Olive Mill
25062 S. Meridian Rd.
Queen Creek, AZ 85142
Learn how olives become olive oil, shop for unique souvenirs, and dine on farm-fresh foods at this family-owned farm and mill. Tours are offered daily on the half hour and include instruction on proper olive oil tasting, but you can always drop by to peruse the marketplace and sample olive oils, tapenades, and other products.
Or, indulge in breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the Queen Creek Olive Mill’s restaurant, the Eatery. The Kalamata Sandwich, made with salami from The Pork Shop, was featured on The Food Network. In the evenings, try a wood fired pizza, made with artisan flour from local Hayden Flour Mills.
445 N. Galvin Parkway
Phoenix, AZ 85008
The largest non-profit zoo and one of the top five zoos for kids in the nation, the Phoenix Zoo is home to more than 1,400 animals, including 30 endangered or threatened species. Highlights include the Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers, Komodo dragons, and Mexican grew wolves. If you love primates, don’t miss the nation’s only walk-through squirrel monkey exhibit or 2-year-old baby Jiwa in the Borenean orangutan exhibit.
The zoo also has a stingray touch tank exhibit, giraffe feeding area, splash areas for younger children, animal-themed shows, and paddle boats. (Additional fee for some activities.)
9500 E. Via de Ventura
Scottsdale, AZ 85256
If you prefer marine life to wildlife, head to newly opened OdySea Aquarium. The largest aquarium in the Southwest, it features six attractions you won’t find anywhere else, including 12 tanks suspended from the lobby ceiling, an acrylic tube-enclosed escalator through a 2-story tank, and the Living Sea Carousel, a 20-minute show that rotates like a carousel.
For an additional fee, you can also walk underwater past the colorful fish of the Great Barrier Reef using a special Sea TREK helmet.
Desert Botanical Garden
1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix, AZ 85008
The Desert Botanical Garden explores the plants, animals, and people of the Sonoran Desert on its four major trails: Desert Discovery, Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert, Desert Wildflower, and Sonoran Desert Nature. Between now and May 14, you can also interact with butterflies in the newly opened, 32,000 square-foot Butterfly Exhibit.
Plan ahead to attend a gardening, photography, and cooking classes, purchase tickets for the Music in the Garden concert series, or make reservations for Gertrude’s, a fine dining restaurant located just inside the garden.
Musical Instrument Museum
4725 E. Mayo Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Recognized by TripAdvisor as one of the top 20 museums in the United States, the Smithsonian-affiliated Musical Instrument Museum takes you on a musical tour of the world as you view the more than 6,500 instruments from 200 countries and territories on display. As you approach each exhibit, you’ll hear the instrument play through a wireless headset you’ll be provided with admission, and you’ll see video demonstrations by musicians and the craftsmen.Downstairs, artifacts from Taylor Swift, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and others can be found in the Artists Gallery, and you can try your hand at exotic instruments in the Experience Gallery.
12345 N. Taliesin Dr.
Scottsdale, AZ 85259
When Frank Lloyd Wright decided to make the foothills of the McDowell Mountains his winter camp, he worked with his students to create Taliesin West using rocks and sand from the surrounding Sonoran Desert. You can see their innovative design on a tour of Scottsdale’s only National Historic Landmark.
If you’re visiting for the first time, take the Insights Tour to get a good overview of the property, including the school of architecture that still exists today. The tour is partially outside, so slather on the sunscreen and bring plenty of water.
The Heard Museum
2301 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Founded in 1929 by Native American art collectors Dwight and Maie Heard, the Heard Museum showcases a small portion of its approximately 44,000-collection, which includes baskets, jewelry, pottery, textiles, and more. You’ll also see fashion exhibits, paintings, and photography.
Highlights include the East Gallery Boarding School Exhibit and the roughly 1,200 katsina dolls donated by the late Senator Barry Goldwater and the Fred Harvey Company. There’s also an area where children can create their own works of art.