At first glance, an Arizona boomtown of 250,000 might seem to offer little in the way of historical significance. Look a bit more closely at Chandler, Arizona, and there is a lot to discover.
Visitors can start in downtown Chandler, recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Established in the early 1900s by Dr. Alexander Chandler, the district offers shops, art galleries, a microbrewery and winery and award-winning independent restaurants.
Moving away from downtown, visitors to Chandler can take in the region’s second largest shopping mall: the Chandler Fashion Center. The mall has more than 180 stores and a 20-screen multiplex theater, with Macy’s, Sears, Dillard’s and Nordstrom serving as the anchors.
The city puts a decidedly western spin on most of its festivities. A big annual event is the Chandler Ostrich Festival, held each March downtown. The festival celebrates the ostrich’s predominant role locally. To celebrate the long-necked livestock, the event includes a parade, fun run, ostrich races, rides, food and music.
Arizona is perpetually sunny, and the weather tends to be mild in the fall, making November the ideal time to take in another popular Chandler attraction: Woofstock, the Great Chandler Dog Walk. This one-of-a-kind event offers fun for all, with contests, raffles, interactive dog-training demos, dog massages and even a pet psychic. Different breeds and their owners can participate in such races as the Dachshund Dash, Bichon Buzz and Husky Hustle.
Another example of the offbeat goes up each year in December: the Chandler Christmas tree. This tree is unusual in that it is made entirely from tumbleweed.
In March, the city puts on its cowboy boots for the annual Festival of the West. Visitors to Chandler can witness everything from cowboy poetry to a chuck wagon cook-off.
Because central Arizona has a long warm season, a great Chandler attraction is Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center. Run by the city's parks and rec department, this place is a municipal pool complex on steroids. It includes a competition/lap pool, two 1-meter diving boards, two water slides, a lazy river, a water vortex, a family play pool with a zero-depth entry, toddler slides and the 752-gallon Big Blue Bucket.
Visitors will want to see the Chandler Museum, which presents the city’s rich history. The museum showcases prehistoric Native American artifacts and a replica of a tent house, where early settlers lived. You also can see a recreation of Morrison’s General Store, the city’s first retailer.
One of Chandler’s oldest attractions is San Marcos Golf Resort, which dates to 1912. Located downtown, it is the state’s oldest golf resort. Nearby, Chandler’s Center for the Arts features performances by local and nationally known artists.
Adjacent to Chandler is the Gila River Indian Community, which has its own resort hotel and spa, two golf courses and three casinos. Visit two museums, a Native American arts-and-crafts center and the National Hot Rod Association–certified Firebird International Speedway.