Just outside the city limits of Phoenix are Tempe and Chandler, Arizona. These two cities are affectionately known as Sunny Arizona. From fish and LEGOS to meteorites and cowboys, there are some fabulous family-friendly things to do in Chandler and Tempe. There are even some great pools on offer, perfect for kids and parents alike!
Family-Friendly Things to Do in Tempe and Chandler Arizona
For most of us living in the US, it’s full-on winter season. Cold, cold weather, snow, maybe even ice. If you’re like me, you’re dreaming of a warm weather getaway. Sunny Arizona is ready and waiting! Plan a trip for the family and check out these fun things to do in Tempe and Chandler, Arizona.
Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse at Wild Horse Pass on the Gila River Indian Community is a legendary Arizona Western frontier town complete with Main Street, gunfights, stagecoach and train rides, burro rides, mechanical bull and climbing wall, petting ranch, gold pannin’, shootin’ gallery, and unique retail shops. It’s Arizona’s largest Western-themed attraction!
Rawhide has free parking and admission, but there are costs for participating in the activities and watching the shows. For families I recommend buying the Town Pass wristbands. They allow unlimited rides and admission to the attractions. Single attraction tickets also are available if you’re only planning on watching a show or two. However, the wristbands allow more freedom and work well for allowing parents to participate with their kids.
Rawhide also has restaurant options, so plan to spend a few hours there and enjoy a meal.
Tempe is home to the ASU Tempe Campus, and one of the public attractions is the Gallery of Scientific Exploration on campus. It features interactive exhibits and large-format, high-definition monitors that display video from Earth-observing satellites and robotic probes of other worlds.
You can even walk around and see inside operating laboratories. There also is a meteorite display on the second floor, drawn from the extensive collection of ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies.
LEGOLAND Discovery & SEA LIFE
These are located at Arizona Mills, the largest outlet and value retail shopping destination in Arizona. If you’re looking to escape the sun for a while and give the kids some hands on exploration time, this is a great spot to stop.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center has an amazing collection of LEGO build creations, including city scenes from Arizona and famous landmarks. It also features some fun rides and lots of hands on building activities, perfect for kids. There’s also a play structure, so be sure your kiddo has socks!
Across from the LEGOLAND Discovery Center is the SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium. In addition to all of the amazing 30+ exhibits, you’ll also find some really fun facts posted. It’s a great learning experience for kids and adults. When I visited they also had a special Octonauts exhibit, a sure hit with young kids.
Bounce Off the Walls
When you’re ready to let the kids go crazy, head to the Kids That Rip Family Action Sports Center in Chandler. This complex is a massive, indoor playground with plenty of obstacles that will wear even active kiddos out. In addition to all the bouncy trampolines and ninja warrior obstacles, there’s also an indoor bmx track.
Old-School Gaming at Tilt Studio
Another popular attraction at the Arizona Mills shopping center is Tilt Studio. This is kind of like a grown up Chuck E Cheese. Adults and kids will love spending some game time here. Moms and Dads who remember playing pinball in their childhood will love the huge lineup of classic pinball machines that are found tucked away upstairs.
The games use a points card swipe system, so just talk to your kids before hand about how to see how many points the games cost. Also keep an eye out for any games that don’t work. I had that happen a few times while I was there, but the staff was quick to load the points back onto my card.
Watch Airplanes Take Off
For some fun while you eat, head to the Hangar Cafe in Chandler. This is a diner style restaurant that is located at the Chandler Municipal Airport. If you get a table on the patio, or at the window, you can watch as small airplanes and helicopters take off and land.
When you’re ready to get in touch with nature, plan a visit to Veteran’s Oasis Park in Chandler, Arizona. Veterans Oasis Park is considered one of the premier birding spots in the Valley with its recharge basins, riparian areas, 5-acre lake and abundance of native vegetation. This 113-acre park is a natural draw to birds of many varieties from tiny Burrowing Owls to stunning Vermilion Flycatchers; over 150 species have been seen at the park!
If you can visit between November and April, on the first Saturday of the month, Desert Rivers Audubon Society leads family bird walks around the water recharge ponds at the park. Typical tours last approximately 45 minutes and loaner binoculars and bird bingo cards for the kids are provided.
Visit the Theatre
If you and your kids enjoy live theatre, check out Childsplay, Arizona’s professional theatre company for young audiences and families. They perform September – May in the Tempe Center for the Arts, which is a beautiful performing arts center and worth a visit on its own. During our visit we saw their “Rock the Presidents” play which featured a lot of fun history and lively songs.
Catch a Baseball Game
If you’re heading to Arizona in the early spring, don’t forget to check out Cactus League Baseball Spring Training. Watching your favorite players as they get ready to kick off the baseball season is always a fun family activity. Plus, the Arizona spring training stadiums have some great family specials!
Where to Stay in Tempe and Chandler Arizona
Phoenix Marriott Tempe at The Buttes
If you’re looking for a great place to stay, I have two hotels to recommend. The first is the Phoenix Marriott Tempe at The Buttes. This hotel is nestled into a mountainside and features some amazingly beautiful panoramic views. Their gorgeous pools also makes this hotel great for families.
And when mom or dad are ready for a little relaxation and pampering, the full-service Narande Spa will relax and rejuvenate. Here’s a tip: the spa offers some great specials for hotel guests. Definitely worth checking into if you’re staying at The Buttes.
Crowne Plaza Phoenix-Chandler Golf Resort
If you’re looking for a spot to stay that’s in Chandler, I recommend the Crowne Plaza Phoenix-Chandler Golf Resort. This is an iconic hotel for the area, and the history is part of the draw, it was Arizona’s first grass golf course! The hotel has been recently renovated, but I will say the room exteriors are still in great need of a remodel. The property features spacious guestrooms that are beautifully decorated, all with a balcony or patio. Again, there’s a great pool area, making it great for families.
The Crowne Plaza Phoenix-Chandler Golf Resort is in the heart of Downtown Chandler, so you’ll be in walking distance to a lively downtown district brimming with independent restaurants, boutique shops and art galleries.
There’s a lot to do in Sunny Arizona, so now you just need to pack your bags and head out. Hopefully these family-friendly things to do in Tempe and Chandler will help get you started on your vacation planning. And finish out you planning with my list of where to eat in Tempe AZ and Chandler Arizona!