12 Things To Do in Chandler, Arizona

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Robert Wilson


Chandler is a vibrant city located in the southeast valley region of the Phoenix metropolitan area in Arizona. With its rich history, diverse culture, and natural beauty, Chandler has plenty to offer visitors.

From exploring museums and public art to hiking and biking trails, golfing on championship courses, shopping, dining at local eateries, and much more – there is something for everyone to enjoy in Chandler. This article highlights the top 12 things you must do when visiting this lively city.

Whether you are planning a quick weekend getaway or an extended vacation, Chandler will not disappoint.

Explore the Riparian Preserve


One of the top things to do in Chandler is explore the Riparian Preserve. Spanning over 100 acres adjacent to the Gila River with approximately 2.5 miles of walking trails, this nature preserve provides visitors ample opportunities to spot native wildlife and flora.

The preserve features a stream, large cottonwood trees, mesquite bosque and sacaton grasslands that are home to over 175 species of birds like great blue herons, green herons, American bitterns, vermillion flycatchers as well as mammals like raccoons, coatis and foxes.

Visitors can embark on self-guided tours along the trails and spot wildlife up close. Special viewing platforms and photo blinds are also installed along the trails, providing bird watchers and nature photographers clear shots of the diverse species that call this urban oasis home. Interpretive signs can be found throughout the preserve, educating visitors on the history, wildlife, and ecology of this precious habitat.

The Riparian Preserve also offers ranger-guided nature walks on Saturdays where participants can gain fascinating insights into the plants, animals, geology and ecosystems of the preserve from knowledgeable guides. Special events like bird watching tours and annual butterfly counts are also held here periodically. With its easy trails, wealth of wildlife, and peaceful atmosphere, the Riparian Preserve is an excellent place to connect with nature when visiting Chandler.

Tour the Environmental Education Center


Adjacent to the Riparian Preserve lies the Chandler Environmental Education Center, another must-see attraction for nature lovers visiting Chandler. This LEED Platinum certified building serves as the gateway to understanding and exploring the city’s unique riparian areas. Interactive and informative displays at this center highlight the plants, animals, weather, sustainability efforts and geology unique to Chandler. Visitors can gain deeper knowledge about the local riparian habitats through amazing visual aids, three dimensional models and hands-on activities.

A major highlight is the Desert Garden showcase outside the center where visitors can take a self-guided tour to observe and identify different cacti, flowering plants, trees and succulents native to Chandler’s desert environment. Interpretive signs provide intriguing botanical facts and insights that make this an enriching experience for nature enthusiasts of all ages. The Garden Guide available at the center can assist first-time visitors.

The center also offers special events like bird watching tours and nature photography walks for visitors interested in observing wildlife up close or capturing memorable images of Chandler’s scenic habitats. Trained naturalists lead these small group tours and provide fun facts while answering questions. For visitors interested in learning about Chandler’s efforts towards water conservation, the center provides an excellent introduction with detailed exhibits. Especially during the hot and dry months, the center’s air conditioned indoor displays offer a cool reprieve while providing education. Overall, the Environmental Education Center lets visitors deepen their understanding of Chandler’s natural heritage through impactful displays and guided tours.

Ride Down the Paths at Veterans Oasis Park


Boasting nearly 30 acres of sprawling green spaces, picnicking spots and over 4 miles of serene walking, jogging and biking paths, Veterans Oasis Park is one of the best spots for enjoying Chandler’s scenic outdoors. Located minutes away from Downtown Chandler, this community park lets visitors embrace recreational activities or simply relax under the shade of towering trees.

One of the top highlights of Veterans Oasis Park is its network of paved exercise paths that weave through the property. Visitors can choose from three distinct pathways – the 0.9 mile perimeter path surrounding the park grounds, the 0.3 mile central path spanning through the interior or the 1.25 mile Gila River Indian Community path that passes through wetlands. Shaded seating areas are installed throughout these paths, providing places to pause and relish Chandler’s tranquil desert scenery. Early morning joggers, midday strollers and evening cyclists frequent these peaceful trails each day.

Since the paths vary from easy to moderately difficult, there are options for visitors of all fitness levels. Benches along the paths also make it easier for seniors or parents with young children to take breaks whenever needed. The scenic wetlands segment along the Gila River trail is especially captivating for nature lovers. During winter months, the park converts into a lively scene with youth athletes practicing soccer or families flying kites in the open fields.

With amenities like ramadas, picnic tables, ball fields and playground equipment, Veterans Oasis Park also makes an excellent venue for picnics or family gatherings. Visitors recommend arriving early in the day to secure picnic spots for larger groups. Whether you want to embrace some exercise surrounded by nature, have a relaxing picnic, or let the kids unwind at the playground – Veterans Oasis Park has something for visitors of all interests when exploring the outdoors in Chandler.

Encounter Dinosaurs at Chandler Museum


Chandler Museum is one of the city’s premier destinations for an entertaining and educational glimpse into the region’s vibrant history and prehistoric past. Located in the heart of the downtown district, this museum brings local heritage to life through impactful permanent exhibits and enthralling traveling displays. Avid historians, curious families and youth groups visiting Chandler should not miss discovering the rich cultural narratives showcased across three floors of intriguing exhibits at this museum.

One of the major highlights at Chandler Museum is Dinosaur Hall featuring skeleton casts of fearsome predatory dinosaurs like Velociraptor and Deinonychus as well as plant-eating beasts like Stegosaurus and Seismosaurus. These skeletal displays tower above visitors, providing an up-close perspective of these extinct giants that once roamed Arizona’s landscape over 65 million years ago. Accompanying exhibits reveal the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods when dinosaurs lived, explaining theories about their extinction via engaging displays. From digging for fossils to examining real dinosaur eggs and footprints – this hall makes the prehistoric age exciting for visitors of all ages through interactive displays.

In addition to the dinosaur exhibits, the Chandler Museum also brings significant periods from the region’s cultural timeline spanning the ancient Hohokam civilization to post-WWII era to life through intriguing exhibits. Spread across two spacious floors, visitors can discover original artifacts, photographs, equipment and personal possessions from Chandler’s farming heritage, the innovation of electronics company Motorola, POW camps, and more. Chandler’s sister city relationship with Tullamore, Ireland also features fascinating displays. Guided tours, youth programs, lectures and seasonal exhibits further enrich the experience. Whether you have an afternoon or more to spare, Chandler Museum offers an illuminating experience for visitors keen on understanding the city’s unique history and prehistoric past.

Peruse Creations by Local Artisans at Vision Gallery


Operated by the Chandler Cultural Foundation, Vision Gallery is a premier downtown destination celebrating visual arts created by talented local painters, sculptors, photographers and artisans. Located steps from the Chandler Center for the Arts, this gallery lets visitors peruse diverse contemporary works across mediums while also purchasing fine art pieces. In addition to the thought-provoking exhibitions, Vision Gallery also hosts season opening receptions, artist talks and creative workshops – making it an intriguing attraction for art aficionados visiting Chandler.

The gallery features a spacious central hall with soft overhead lighting that perfectly illuminates the fine details of paintings, prints, glasswork, pottery, jewelry creations and more by artists living in Chandler and greater Phoenix metro. Exhibits here change each month, letting visitors discover fresh contemporary works across changing themes every time they visit. During major festivals and holidays, the gallery also hosts special exhibits showcasing Chandler’s cultural diversity through art.

Vision Gallery is also an excellent place for visitors to find one-of-a-kind fine art pieces as souvenirs from Chandler. From serene landscape paintings, metal wire sculptures, photography prints capturing stunning Southwestern scenery to Native American inspired pottery – the creations showcased here make thoughtful gifts or mementos. Purchases made at the gift shop directly support local artists as well as Chandler arts programming allowing visitors to make a difference through art.

To enrich visitor experience, Vision Gallery also offers regular artist receptions, talks and workshops allowing deeper conversations with creators about their influences, techniques and interpretations. Guided exhibition tours are also hosted during popular shows for groups keen on learning backstories behind striking works. Whether an art connoisseur or a casual visitor, Vision Gallery offers memorable insights into Chandler’s vibrant creative culture.

Try Iconic Sonoran Hot Dogs at Nacional


No visit to Chandler is complete without trying the quintessential Sonoran style hot dog – an iconic street food found across Arizona. And one of the best spots frequented by locals for these unique and unforgettable dogs is Nacional, a colorful eatery located minutes from Downtown Chandler. Their house specialty – Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog – is a must-try, featuring a grilled beef hot dog wrapped in smoky bacon, nestled in a warm bollio roll and topped with beans, onions, tomatoes, creamy mayonnaise, mustard and jalapeño salsa. This fusion of savory, sweet and mild spicy flavors creates a satisfying explosion with each hearty bite that represents the border town cultural blend distinctive to Sonoran cuisine.

In addition to hot dogs, Nacional offers a range of Mexican-American staples like burritos, tamales, tacos and tortas served with popular Northern Mexican side dishes like pinto or black beans cooked with bacon and house-made salsas. Visitors recommend trying their uniquely stuffed Picadillo burrito filled with ground beef, potatoes, onions and green chilies for a hearty meal. Their Taco Tuesday and Friday Fish specials are quite popular with regular patrons.

Nacional’s vibrant atmosphere also enhances the dining experience, with colorful Mexican tiles, paintings and handicrafts adorning the walls while Latin music plays in the background. Visitors can try their meal at charming high-top tables or take a seat at the counter to watch hot dogs and burritos being assembled first-hand. This family-owned eatery is pet-friendly with a spacious shaded patio, making it perfect for a relaxed brunch, lunch or early dinner, Arizonan style. With affordable prices, generous portions and friendly service – Nacional serves comfort food that provides a delicious taste of Southwestern border town culture visitors will crave long after.

Savor Craft Beers at SanTan Brewing Company


Located minutes from downtown, SanTan Brewing Company is a must-visit local institution for visitors keen on tasting craft beers produced in Chandler alongside delicious gastropub fare. This family-owned brewhouse offers a relaxed contemporary setting to sample a range of ales and lagers crafted using quality ingredients under the watchful eyes of award-winning brewer Anthony Canecchia. Beer connoisseurs can sip flagship brews like SanTan Hefeweizen with its notes of banana and clove or the copper-hued MoonJuice IPA with a juicy tropical fruit punch while relishing perfectly paired dishes off the seasonal menu.

Visitors recommend touring the working brewery where tapping, milling, mashing, boiling and fermenting take place before sampling beers. Friendly brewers often provide impromptu explanations of the entire beer production process using different grains and hops during weekday tours. With 24 rotating taps, SanTan’s chalkboard displays the alcohol percentage, IBUs, tasting notes, food pairings and style guidelines for current pourings like Irish Red Ale and Coffee Porter – helping visitors choose the right brews.

SanTan’s capable kitchen team focuses on preparing farm-to-table comfort foods utilizing fresh local ingredients that perfectly complement the diverse beer selection. The menu features starters like Bavarian pretzels, pastas, salads, sandwiches on house-baked buns and Neapolitan pizzas baked in a stone hearth oven. Visitors recommend pairing the award-wining Devil’s Ale burger with Demon Red Ale or the spicy Diablo burger with MoonJuice IPA to enjoy flavor synergies. Limited edition beer dishes also appear seasonally. With its laidback ambience, craft beers direct from the source and scrumptious local fare, San Tan Brewing Company is a quintessential Chandler experience for visitors.

Scout Vintage Treasures at Chandler’s Funky Junk Shops


Fueled by the passion of savvy pickers, Chandler has a fantastic selection of funky junk shops brimming with fascinating antiques, vintage collectibles and retro furnishings visitors love discovering on weekend treks. These stores are prime destinations for scouting one-of-a-kind rarities to spruce up home decor or simply marvel over memories from bygone times gone past. Beyond quality goods priced to sell, friendly owners at these indie stores proudly share fascinating tales behind the unique pieces in stock waiting for stylish new life.

Located in Downtown Chandler, stores like Desert Vintage and Junque in the Trunk have a reputation for offering changing inventory spanning Mid-Century Modern statement pieces, antique dishware, quirky accessories and even clothing options. Home to beautiful Fiestaware, volleyball lady figurines and classic rotary phones – vintage enthusiasts visiting Chandler will certainly strike gold here. Mentioned in popular television shows like American Pickers, this duo of indie shops carries plenty of items to pique any history buff, record collector or art deco design fan’s intrigue at bargain prices.

Else Vintage Marketplace is another Downtown Chandler gem housing numerous curated vignettes from over 100 local vendors under an expansive roof. The marketplace stays open late on third Fridays so visitors can leisurely browse artifacts linked to bygone pop culture and iconic brands while enjoying music or food trucks on-site.

Visitors may discover pre-1940s Life magazines sharing stories of WWII heroes or 1970s LP records with stylish album artwork waiting for a new generation of audiophiles. Friendly team members eagerly provide background stories on particularly interesting pieces whenever asked.

Chandler also hosts a monthly Junkin’ Market where over 100 indie sellers offer a lively open-air shopping scene for seekers of mid-century decor, jewelry, handmade crafts and worn-in furniture from garages and warehouses around the Valley.

This funky junk shopping opportunity lets visitors mingle with eclectic locals while upbeat tunes play. From statement mirrors to retro appliances needing just tender care – part thrift hunt, part community gathering – Chandler provides plenty of options for scoring rare vintage goods unavailable elsewhere.

Explore the Diversity at the Annual Ostrich Festival

The Chandler Ostrich Festival is one of the most popular events held each year in the city. Taking place every March, this family-friendly festival celebrates the history of ostrich farming which played a pivotal role in the establishment of Chandler in the early 1900s.

At the Ostrich Festival, you’ll find ostrich races and shows, live music performances, arts and crafts, carnival rides for kids, and a wide variety of food from over 100 vendors. With many free activities available, it’s an affordable way to take in Chandler’s rich culture and community roots.

Discover the Past at McCullough-Price House Museum

Built in 1925, the McCullough-Price House Museum allows visitors to journey back in time to the 1920s and learn about Chandler’s history. This mission revival-style adobe home belonged to one of Chandler’s founding families and has been restored to replicate its original 1920s appearance.

Inside you’ll find authentic furnishings and items from the era. Costumed docents lead informative tours at the museum explaining what life was like for early residents in the farming community. The museum also hosts special living history events throughout the year like 1920s teas and WWII USO parties.

View a Piece of the Berlin Wall

An unexpected piece of history located in Chandler is a segment of the Berlin Wall. The segment stands at more than 10 feet tall and stretches over 100 feet long displaying colorful graffiti art. Located at the southeast corner of Chandler City Hall, this section of the wall serves as a reminder of the division faced by families, friends, and communities due to oppressive East German rule.

It’s a surreal experience to stand before an iconic piece of the Berlin Wall here in the heart of Arizona. Plaques nearby recount the wall’s history and Chandler’s sister city relationship with Tullamore, Republic of Ireland which gifted this painted portion.

Try New Flavors at the Downtown Chandler Farmers Market

One of the best ways to taste all that Chandler has to offer is by exploring the bounty of flavors at the Downtown Chandler Farmers Market. Taking place every Wednesday from November through April, visitors will find over 65 local vendors selling seasonal fruits and vegetables, specialty food items, and artisanal crafts.

In addition to fresh produce, market favorites include Tam’s Sweet Spuds handmade potato chips, Irma’s Famous Salsa, Nothing Bundt desserts, and Anita’s Breakfast Burritos which draw long lines. Local bands and children’s activities make the market a can’t-miss attraction for experiencing a slice of Chandler food culture.

Conclusion


With its perfect blend of vibrant culture, multifaceted neighborhoods and bountiful outdoor recreation opportunities, Chandler provides visitors an unforgettable travel experience that engages the mind, nourishes the spirit and revitalizes the senses.

The city offers an impressive array of attractions ranging from rich heritage museums to serene nature preserves for history buffs, adventure seekers and art lovers to enjoy. Visitors can spend an afternoon interacting with dinosaurs, discover Sonoran cuisine, shop indie stores or relax at one of the many community parks Chandler is proud of.

Annual events like the Ostrich Festival, Thanksgiving Day Parade of Play, Tumbleweed Tree Lighting bring Chandler’s community together to celebrate this city’s unique Western heritage and promising future through family-friendly fairs. As one of the fastest growing cities in the country, Chandler continues preserving elements of its farming roots via venues like the Agritopia community or the Environmental Education Center while welcoming technology firms and entrepreneurs.

Whether traveling solo or with family, visitors will find heartwarming Southern hospitality and memorable moments waiting around every corner of this vibrant city. As it embraces the future while celebrating its past, Chandler in Arizona warrants a spot on every traveler’s must-visit list for making moments matter.

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