A few weeks ago my daughter and I made an escape from the winter wonderland to sunny Arizona. As someone who has never been to Arizona before, I was really excited to learn what they had to offer families - specifically in Tempe and Chandler - where we had the opportunity to learn more about.
Our experience started when we left during the recent storm in the NYC-area. I honestly didn't think we would even make it since so many flights were cancelled and the conditions on the road were a mess. But, we got very lucky and our flight to Phoenix was on-time and ready to go. Here are some of my highlights from this very special family trip:
I love experiencing food in new places, and Chandler certainly didn't disappoint. After our flight, we meet up with our group at Serranos, a family owned Mexican restaurant that is the oldest, continuous family owned business in Chandler. This currently includes eight restaurants with seven Mexican food locations in the southeast valley. My daughter and I love Mexican food, so we dug right into the selection of make-your-own tacos, salad, and enchaiandlias. She also loved having lemonade - a nice break from our rotation of hot chocolates. She also loved their pinto-style beans and asked if I could replicate their recipe at home.
Prior to meeting up the group, I also learned that they had the chance to check out the Chandler Farmers Market where locals can purchase a variety of produce, baked goods, salsa, jams, olive oil, relishes, cheese, butter, seafood, granola, beauty products, and much more.
After our delicious dinner we took a short stroll and walked to Paletas Betty for dessert. Created by a husband-and-wife team, Paleta's Betty is the ultimate place in Arizona to enjoy a traditional and handmade fresh frozen fruit or cream pop. During our visit we had the chance to listen to Betty herself who told us about how she loved this treat growing up in Mexico and couldn't find it in the states, so she decided to create it to share it in the U.S. This includes a line of seasonal fruit options that are never canned or contain any preservatives or colorings. They also include unique flavors with whole ground spices like the pina con chile (pineapple with chile spices) or the chocolate (mexican chocolate with ground spices and chocolate). They also offer Aqua Vita, a refreshing juice option that combines various teas with fresh fruit. During our visit, I had the mango with spices and my daughter had the naranja (orange with cream). We loved these sweet and healthy treats and I could imagine how refreshing they would be on a hot Arizona day.
The next day, we enjoyed breakfast at the fun BLD (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner). A casual and modern eatery, BLD serves up delicious comfort foods. The diverse menu featured fun options like Breakfast Meatloaf Hash, Green Chili Pork Tostada, and the Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich. They also have an incredible selection of barista-made coffees, specialty drinks and a fun kids menu that won't disappoint.
Another fun food adventure was at the The Old Spaghetti Factory. Located at the Chandler Fashion Center, this place was an instant hit with the kids as they enjoyed a selection of pastas and breads. Personally, I loved the price where it only $5.99 for a kids' meal. I had the soup and salad and I also loved that they had gluten-free pasta options and free refills - making this place super affordable for families on-the-go.
Things to Do:
We had a blast spending a lot of time in the sun and with nature while in Chandler. One of my favorite things that we did was enjoying a Bird Walk and Solar Walk at Veterans Oasis Park. This beautiful 113 acre park featured a diverse collection of plants and wildlife as well as a pond, cactus, lush and a unique educational center. During our bird watching adventure, we were all given binoculars as we saw various birds and owls and even jack rabbits roaming around. The park also features 4.5 miles of trails, a 5-acre fishing lake and a picnic area to relax and soak in the natural beauty. They also have a fun solar system walk where kids will love to see signs of planets along the 2,500-foot pathway around the lake.
After bird watching we went to Tumbleweek Parks Playtopia, a 2.5-acre playground and picnic area. This was great for the kids in our group to run around in this zoo-themed park where they could enjoy slides, bridges and climbing adventures that were all enclosed in a red barn.
Another fun and very Arizona experience was our evening at Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse. As someone from NYC, I've never experienced anything western so it really fun to see this Western-themed attraction that features an authentic Main Street, eight distinct event venues and the famous Rawhide Steakhouse and Saloon. Prior to dinner my daughter and I walked around Main Street where we went to the Western Museum, enjoyed gold panning, the petting zoo and a stunt show at the Six Gun Theater. They also have burro rides, a mechanical bull, a climbing wall and tons of food and drink vendors. For dinner, we enjoyed sitting in the traditional saloon where I enjoyed a salmon with baked beans and a loaded baked potato while my daughter had chicken fingers and french fries. Other options on the menu included BBQ Ribs, Sirloin, Porterhouse and more.
Being that it was Arizona, we had the chance to learn about some of their shopping options as a way to beat the heat and see what fun gifts we could find for our family and friends. We went to the Chandler Fashion Center, a premier regional mall with stores like Nordstrom, Dillard's, Macy's and Sears and features premium retailers such as Vera Bradley, Michael Kors, Apple, Coach, H & M, LEGO the Disney Store and more. During our tour, we had the chance to check out Vera Bradley and the Build-a-Bear Store where the kids had the chance to make their own bear. Another unique option about this mall is that they are building a splash pad, which will be great for when in gets even hotter in Chandler.
Even More to Do in Chandler:
During our stay we only had a taste of what Chandler has to offer. In the future, I would love to check out a show at the Chandler Center for the Arts, a dip at one of their many pools or the chance to check out one of their many festivals like the upcoming Jazz, Classic Car or Ostrich festival.
For even more ideas on what to do in Chandler, Arizona be sure to check out http://www.visitchandler.com
Stay tuned for part 2 when I share my favorite parts of Tempe, Arizona.
Momtrends was not paid for this post. Our accomodations, airfare, food and activities were provided by the Tempe and Chandler tourism offices.