Our recent trip to Arizona over school vacation week also included some stops in sunny Chandler, AZ. Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix, is approximately 72 square miles and is located about 20 minutes from Sky Harbor International Airport.
It’s very easy to visit Chandler during your Phoenix area family vacation, so you’ll definitely want to include these activities on your agenda, even if you are planning to stay right in Phoenix. Here are some of the best things to do in Chandler AZ.
Disclosure: These experiences were part of the #AZFamilyFun trip at no cost to me and a guest (we paid for flights for the other two family members). All opinions are my own.
Things to Do In Chandler AZ With Kids
Featuring a steakhouse, kids’ activities, shops, and shows, Rawhide is an 1880s Western Town. We went for the evening on a Friday night, and my kids really loved it. Admission to Rawhide is free (except for special events), but you can purchase tickets for the individual attractions and shows.
A wristband, which offers unlimited attractions and shows (with some exclusions), currently sells for $14.95. It’s a good option if you think you’ll do a few of the activities and see at least one show.
Upon arriving at Rawhide, my kids immediately ran towards the attractions. My daughter did three different trips up the large climbing wall, while my son was only willing to try a short climb. They also enjoyed the kids’ mechanical bull ride (pictured below), panning for gold, and the stunt show.
We had to head to dinner after those activities, so we had to miss the burro rides, the petting zoo, and the stagecoach. I’d also recommend making reservations at the steakhouse. The food was great, and the kids really loved hearing the house band.
Coming from the East coast, this was one of those “old west” type activities that the kids were very excited to check out. It absolutely added to our Arizona vacation experience. I would definitely recommend including it on your vacation agenda – it’s such a unique experience.
My kids each missed two days of elementary school for our trip, and my son was disappointed to miss out on a day of bird presentations in his classroom. Luckily, our agenda included bird watching at the Veterans Oasis Park in Chandler.
Once a month, the local Audubon hosts a free family friendly bird watching event for guests at the park, and we had the chance to experience one during our vacation.
Kids and adults are loaned binoculars, while the guide brings along a high-quality telescope that is set up at various locations. It’s nice not to have to worry about packing your own during your vacation.
Our group was led around the park, and we stopped as the guide pointed out various birds, including a burrowing owl and great blue heron. If you aren’t visiting during one of these events, guests can also walk through the park at their own pace, picking up a bird checklist at the onsite Environmental Education Center.
Check the schedule of the park in advance to see what activities are offered during your Chandler vacation.
Kids usually need some time to run around, so after our bird watching experience, we headed to Playtopia at Tumbleweed Park. This public 2.5 acre, free play space includes slides, climbing structures, sports fields, and covered pavilions. Much of the play space is covered, keeping it a comfortable temperature for kids.
When my daughter was a toddler, we had visited Phoenix on vacation. I wish I knew about this park, because there were lots of times when she needed to get some energy out.
On our first night in Chandler, we headed to Downtown Chandler to visit their weekly farmers market (held on Thursdays) and to have dinner. The farmers market was filled with all sorts of delicious treats – savory pies, an oatmeal mix (which I’ve already ordered online), cupcakes, and smoothies.
After checking out the farmers market, we spent some time exploring Downtown Chandler, which offers dozens of hip and unique restaurants and shops. It’s a fun place to shop if you are looking for gifts or local souvenirs.
We enjoyed dinner, then we walked over to Paletas Betty, where we were treated to delicious Mexican ice pops. My kids enjoyed chocolate strawberry and orange cream pops, while I had the most delicious cucumber mint pop.
Paletas Betty also has a location in Tempe, right by the hotel we stayed at. I’d definitely recommend checking out one of the locations on your trip because they are unique and refreshing.
Chandler Fashion Center
Another fun stop on our trip was to Chandler Fashion Center, an upscale mall offering over 180 stores, including Nordstrom and Dillards. While there, we dined at the Old Spaghetti Factory (a great spot for kids!) and made creations at Build-A-Bear.
If the weather is excessively hot or rainy, the Chandler Fashion Center is a great way to spend your day. Over the course of my many trips to Arizona, I definitely had a few days where I needed to spend time indoors.
Crayola Experience, Chandler, AZ
Chandler’s newest experience is great for families. The Crayola Experience, which is one of the few locations in the US (others are in Orlando, Easton, PA, the Mall of America, and Plano, TX).
Activities at the Crayola Experience include a craft area, Crayola crayon customization, spin art, and Model Magic sculpting, and much more. Timed tickets are available online. You can save time and money by purchasing them.
This is another great option when the weather isn’t necessarily cooperating with your vacation. Just keep in mind that it’s likely to be more crowded, so buy your tickets in advance online.
Any trip to the Greater Phoenix area should definitely include a visit to Chandler – there are so many fun (and free) things to see and do!