Where the hell is Chandler, AZ?
June 22, 2010 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Arizona Boredom: My sister has been exiled to Chandler, AZ for the rest of the week. What do-not-miss things are there for her to do/see/experience there?

Her employer is hosting an interdepartmental week-long "boot camp" and has decided that she should attend. She arrived last night and will be there through Friday.

She hasn't ever been to Arizona before, much less Chandler. She'll have evenings free to herself and is looking for something, anything to do that doesn't involve being confined to the hotel each night.

If it's relevant, she's 35, not much of a drinker or clubber (though I'll take any suggestions I can get). She's a complete freak with interests all over the board from anime/manga to stickers to nerd stuff. She's also a pastry chef so "foodie" suggestions are very welcome. She doesn't drive herself, but I think that transportation isn't too much of a problem as she is there with lots of coworkers who do.
posted by geckoinpdx to Travel & Transportation around Chandler, AZ (21 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I've been exiled down to Chandler for work, myself, and I usually entertain myself with tasty new mexican food and frybread. The Fry Bread House is pretty much on the other side of town from Chandler, but worth it.
posted by janell at 1:35 PM on June 22, 2010

As it's a suburb of Phoenix, the local alternative weekly might be of some interest.
posted by unmake at 1:39 PM on June 22, 2010

Pizzeria Bianco, Musical Instrument Museum, Desert Botanical Garden are a few unique things. I'd call each to figure how best to visit.
posted by maulik at 1:43 PM on June 22, 2010

It's not in Chandler, but Barrio Cafe has terrific and unusual Mexican food, well worth the drive into Phoenix.

Angel Sweet Gelato in Chandler is really good.
posted by creepygirl at 2:00 PM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's hard to do anything in the valley without a car, but assuming that coworkers can drive her around:
- atomic comics in Mesa was featured in the movie kick-ass.
- the phoenix art museum is decent, and there are a number of galleries in the roosevelt district just south of there. The central library is also close by.
- ASU's gammage auditorium has a wide range of dramatic offerings.
- the mexican food options are endless, but there's also decent thai, indian and so forth. 4peaks is worthwhile for the food even if she doesn't drink. check out the phoenix new times best of for restaurant and other recommendations.
posted by Chris4d at 2:07 PM on June 22, 2010

She could go to the Chandler Fashion Center. If she wants to get out of Chandler, there's a lot more stuff to do in Tempe, especially on Mill Ave. Chandler is a nice place to live but not the most exciting town for visitors.
posted by pecknpah at 2:07 PM on June 22, 2010

There is literally only one thing to do in Chandler.

Eat at Chino Bandido.
posted by mullacc at 2:12 PM on June 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

They could go to downtown Phoenix and see a baseball game or go to a museum (art museum and Heard museum are my suggestions, but don't know if they'll be open late enough). There's are some surprisingly fun little theaters around the Phoenix metro area, but she'd need to check the New Times mentioned above for show times. There's sometimes Broadway shows going on at Gammage Auditorium at ASU. Also at/by ASU is the Desert Botanical Garden, mentioned above, which is kind of neat (though it will be hot right now, since it's all outside).

For food, I didn't hang out in Chandler much, but I like the New Mexican food at Blue Adobe Grill up in Mesa, even though it's kind of in the ghetto. Seconding Angel Sweet Gelato. I used to like Serrano's Mexican, but since the son/nephew took over, there are way too many onions in everything now.

Just a warning - bars, clubs, a pool hall and extremely noisy restaurants are pretty much all that's on Mill Ave.
posted by wending my way at 2:23 PM on June 22, 2010

The Urban Tea Loft in Chandler was just named the best tea room in Arizona.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 3:38 PM on June 22, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions so far, all. She'll be checking the thread periodically so if anyone has further suggestions, they're welcome.
posted by geckoinpdx at 5:42 PM on June 22, 2010

The Phoenix Zoo, just north of Tempe (head north up Mill Ave across the river, turn right at the sign) is surprisingly not-crappy, as are the Desert Botanical Gardens, which are right next door. I'm not sure if either is open in the evenings this time of year, though.
posted by Alterscape at 5:51 PM on June 22, 2010

Keep in mind we're over 105F for the next month or two. Def want to do something inside or after dark. Even after dark it doesn't cool off much this time of year.
posted by phritosan at 10:46 AM on June 23, 2010

Response by poster: phritosan, she told me it was 108 when she landed. Coming from Portland, OR that's quite a difference but (thankfully?) she grew up in Sacramento so 108 is nothing new. Doesn't make it any easier to deal with, though...people live there on purpose?! heh.
posted by geckoinpdx at 12:37 PM on June 23, 2010

Hi, everyone! This is the sister. :) Thanks very much for the suggestions - we found a kickass BBQ place thanks to your links and awesome goodness.

I'm apparently coming back here for two whole weeks at the end of September and will have plenty of time to try some more things, so keep the suggestions coming, please!

Also - how is the public transit here? I don't drive and won't have coworkers around at my beck and call next time, so will I be able to have adventures of the pleasant kind if I go by bus? Or is it all scary monsters and communicable diseases that don't even get me places?
posted by tragerstreit at 5:22 PM on June 23, 2010

Phoenix metro area recently got a light rail. It's popular, but it doesn't go to Chandler - you'd have to take a bus to get to it. Expect to have to wait a while for buses, and as mentioned, it's going to be really hot out so that's going to be pretty miserable.

The Heard Museum is world-famous, and definitely worth a visit. The docent tours add a lot to the experience.

Tubing (floating on an inner tube) down the Salt River is a quintessential Phoenix experience - bring lots of friends, drinks (alcoholic and water), and sunscreen.

If you're in town at the right time, you should check out First Friday in downtown Phoenix - small art galleries open up in the evening and small theater groups perform

If you like mini-golf, Golfland in Mesa has three courses that are pretty good.

Or if you want to see the greener side of Phoenix, check out some classes put on by the Phoenix Permaculture Guild. Sometimes they put on tours of the city's finest chicken coops, etc.
Also the Tempe Bike Action Group is the center of a social scene if you're into that.

Any kind of food in particular you're looking for, in terms of restaurant recommendations?
posted by scrambles at 7:58 PM on June 23, 2010

also, MadCap Theater on Mill in Tempe shows cult and indie films

Across the street the Harkins Valley Art shows independent flims

Is there any chance you'll rent a car? It would be a shame if you didn't get out into the great outdoors Arizona is so famous for. Though it'll be hot in the desert, you could drive north a couple of hours to get to cooler territory - Sedona, Flagstaff. The north part of Arizona is on a plateau and is cooler than the Phoenix valley.
posted by scrambles at 8:46 PM on June 23, 2010

Thanks, Scrambles! I don't even know how to drive (yeah, I know, I'm a mutant), so renting a car isn't going to happen. I realize that this makes everything difficult, but in Portland, I don't really need to drive, so it's never been an issue!

...Until my company decides I need to spend two weeks here in September. I am going to be very busy with work at that time, so it's conceivable I won't even get to do much of anything, but I'll take whatever I can get. If I'm going to be someplace new, the least thing I could do is attempt to eat at as many non-chain places as I can. i don't want to be That Guy.

For food, I am totally open, though I am always up for a good dessert place (I like to compare notes and steal idea..I mean, get inspiration from many sources. :)
posted by tragerstreit at 10:06 PM on June 23, 2010

Visiting the The Musical Instrument Museum and Cosanti (The architect Paolo Soleri's studio/residence) might be fun.
posted by unmake at 10:58 PM on June 23, 2010

Oo unmake has good suggestions. There is also Arcosanti, but that requires a drive.
And also Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural school, Taliesen West, in Scottsdale is worth a visit.

The Scottsdale Museum of Art has good exhibits
and you might want to check out the offerings of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for the time you'd be here. They have both performances and pre-screenings of independent movies.

I'm not really a dessert person, so I'll have to mull that over, but the first that comes to mind is Essence Cafe in Tempe. They're famous for their macarons.

The Farm at South Mountain is a great organic farm/outdoor cafe - understandably, closed in the summer but will open again in the fall when you're back here again.

While I'm on the topic of brunch, a nice local chain is Wildflower Bakery, and the one in Tempe is located right next to a good independent bookstore Changing Hands, and also a Trader Joe's. (Though I realize recommending an independent bookstore to a Portlandian is bound to result in dissapointment.)

You might like La Bocca, they have a great happy hour.

I tend to eat mostly Asian food - Khai Hoan in Tempe is the best pho I've found around town so far, it's a nuts-and-bolts (read: not fancy, yet not totally a dive) kind of place and a good deal.

Sushi Eye would be my choice for sushi

There's a lot of good mediterranean food here - you can get hip atmosphere at Pita Jungle, an affordable and delicious lunch at The Phonecia, or choose from the extensive menu at Haji Baba's AND pick up some middle eastern groceries at the same time.

Good cafes (all in Tempe):
Cafe Solo
Cartel Coffee Lab
Three Roots (closed for the summer, will open in August)

I can keep going on the restaurant front... maybe after work.

Also I really think it is a shame that you will not get to see any of Arizona's natural wonders. There's so much diversity in landscapes, and one of the best things about this state is how much public land there is - drive out of the city in most directions and you can hike or set up a tent and camp wherever! If you do end up having a free day in September message me. If I'm in town maybe we can drive somewhere for a day trip so you at least get a glimpse of what it is like outside the city.
posted by scrambles at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's First Friday tonight... all kinds of random things going on downtown. Theoretically. This time of year, it's pretty rough since it's sooooo hot, so I don't know how many people do things. (Most of us try to escape.) You're going to have a tough time in this town -- especially out in Chandler -- if you don't drive, though... Maybe bring / rent a bike?
posted by ph00dz at 4:49 AM on July 2, 2010

Hey, I live in Chandler and I just saw this thread. I thought I'd pop in with a warning that there is no public transport in Chandler on weekends. Budget cuts suck. But I can add some cool things to do in Chandler: the historic downtown area (at Arizona Ave and Chandler Blvd) has fun shops and restaurants. There is also a farmers market there every Thurs (not in July or August) and an art walk on third Fridays (a smaller version of First Friday mentioned above). And check out Gangplank if you get a chance, it's a collaborative space for tech people with free wifi and all kinds of community events. Message me if you need a ride somewhere in September.
posted by entropyiswinning at 1:02 PM on July 31, 2010

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