Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Tempe, AZ

  • Published 2022/05/28

Home to Arizona State University, Tempe is much more than just a flourishing college town.

The city is always buzzing with lovely events—and when none of those events are going on, people set out to go kayaking, hiking, or exploring the great outdoors.

Downtown Tempe is quirky and pedestrian-friendly, and its streets are decorated with a chain of restaurants, bars, and clubs.

Whether you’re interested in shopping until you drop or hopping from one natural attraction to another, this city is an ideal destination for you.

A place where the busy city meets breathtaking nature, Tempe is a tourist’s paradise just waiting to be explored.

Want to know what else it has in store for you?

These are the best things to do in Tempe, Arizona:

Stroll around Downtown Tempe

The waters of Downtown Tempe

AevanStock /

Downtown Tempe is situated in the most promising part of the city, near the University campus and South Mill Avenue.

The pedestrian-friendly area is quite gorgeous and is well-decorated with sidewalks made of bricks.

Exterior of a restaurant at Downtown Tempe


It’s filled with branded shops, breweries, boutiques, pubs, and good restaurants.

The epitome of entertainment, Downtown Tempe hosts some of the best events in the city, such as live music performances and 4th of July celebrations.

Aerial view of Downtown Tempe

Kit Leong /

Admire Art at the Arizona State University Art Museum

Exterior of Arizona State Art Museum

Thomas Trompeter /

The Arizona State University Art Museum is one of Tempe’s prominent attractions.

Its permanent art collection boasts more than 12,000 famous pieces of art.

The museum also features artworksof folks in Arizona, Mexico, and different places from all over the United States.

Entrance of Arizona State University Art Museum


The Mexican art style is quite prominent here.

With more than 3,500 pieces of ceramic art, the Arizona State University Art Museum is adept at exploring new fields when it comes to art.

It also deals with contemporary pieces and certain European styles.

Learn about the Natives at Hayden Butte Preserve

"A" mountain at Hayden Butte Preserve

Chris English, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Among Tempe’s most iconic landmarks, Hayden Butte Preserve is a protected piece of land located near Mill Avenue.

It’s also known as “A” Mountain because of the 60-foot letter “A” mounted there to represent Arizona State University.

Hayden Butte Preserve is elevated at 1,398 feet and overlooks the city.

It was initially just a park, but since a lot of native flora and fauna were found here, it was turned into a preserve in 2002.

The preserve has a lot of scenic trails, making it a popular destination among hikers.

Many petroglyphs can be discovered here, and it’s said that Hohokam Native Americans made these many years ago.

Get Amazed by SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium

Are you interested in aquatic life?

Make sure your Tempe itinerary includes a stop at SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium, the biggest aquarium in Arizona.

It spans almost 26,000 square feet and features a wide range of stunning marine life.

Clownfishes, jellyfishes, seahorses, lionfish, various types of sharks, crabs, and other species are present in plenty.

The aquarium is made of glass, so you can see and interact with different aquatic life forms.

Visiting this place is an entertaining way to spend an afternoon with your family, and kids love this vast aquarium.

Shop till You Drop at Arizona Mills

Arizona Mills is an outlet shopping mall and is one of the biggest shopping spaces in Arizona.

Be warned that you’ll likely be enticed to go on a shopping spree once you enter, as the mall comprises a large number of branded stores and boutiques.

It was established as a shopping mall back in 1995, and it has been popular ever since.

With almost 185 stores for shoppers to explore, you’ll be able to get your hands on just about anything here.

Apart from its many shops, the mall is also loved for its stunning interiors that include different abstract and contemporary art pieces.

Shop and Eat on a Budget at Tempe Marketplace

Shops along Tempe Marketplace

Cygnusloop99, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

An outdoor space filled with several shops and eateries, Tempe Marketplace is a paradise for budget shoppers.

The government came up with such an idea, which was made successful in 2007.

Exterior of a building at Tempe Marketplace

Cygnusloop99, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It spans an area of 130 acres and has more than 120 shops and restaurants.

So, if you are feeling a little hungry amid all the shopping, you can also grab a bite to eat.

Large screens showing different games, live music, and crowded shops—everything makes this market worth visiting.

Shops along Tempe Marketplace

Cygnusloop99, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy a Slew of Water Activities at Big Surf Waterpark

Big Surf Waterpark is one of the earliest water parks in the United States.

It was built in 1969 and is the first one to have a wave pool.

Featuring numerous rides, the park brings a smile to everyone’s faces.

Time flies by really quickly at Big Surf Waterpark.

Its highlights include Tornado Twisters, Bora Bora Bay, Hurricane Slides, and special slides.

Famous artists, including Elton John, have held concerts at this water park.

Catch a Game at Sun Devil Stadium

Signage of Sun Devil Stadium

Thomas Trompeter /

Located on the campus of Arizona State University, Sun Devil Stadium is the home base of the school’s football team, the Arizona State Sun Devils.

The football stadium was built in 1958 and has undergone several renovations.

Football game in Sun Devil Stadium

Keeton Gale /

Today, it can hold over 64,000 people.

Sun Devil Stadium is not just a university stadium, but it also hosts various professional football games.

It’s used as a venue for several events throughout the year, including the annual Cactus Bowl.

The field of Sun Devil Stadium

Clintus McGintus, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend a Relaxing Day at Tempe Beach Park

View of a bridge from Tempe Beach Park

jessica.kirsh /

Tempe Beach Park is a Tempe landmark frequented by both locals and tourists.

Surrounded by Tempe Town Lake, the small park is an excellent place to sit back and relax for a day.

Scenic sunrise reflecting on Tempe Beach Park

RicoPatagonia /

Despite its size, the 1-acre park has a lot of activities for you to try out.

It has several fields for playing different games and a special attraction called the Splash Playground.

The grounds of Tempe Beach Park

jessica.kirsh /

Watch a Concert at the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium

Exterior of ASU Gammage Auditorium

BD Images /

The enormous auditorium located right on the campus of Arizona State University is also known as the ASU Gammage.

It is not just any ordinary auditorium—it has a fascinating history behind it.

The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built this structure.

When the construction finished in 1964, the auditorium was named after Dr. Grady Gammage, the university president at the time.

Pathway of Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium


He also happened to be a close acquaintance of the architect.

The auditorium can hold almost 3,000 people.

Different operas, concerts, and other events are held here.

The university’s students also use this famous auditorium to host their performances.

Interior of Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Tempe History Museum

Want to know more about Tempe’s history?

Don’t miss out on a visit to the Tempe History Museum.

Its main exhibit, Tempe: Distinct, Diverse, Dynamic, presents everything you need to know about the city.

There are two galleries inside the museum, where several art exhibitions take place throughout the year.

There is also space where you can host private events or conferences.

A lot of educational tours are held in the museum, too.

Admire the Beautifully Designed Tempe Center for the Arts

Night lights of Tempe Center for the Arts


The only thing tourists are more attracted to than the art at the Tempe Center for the Arts is the building itself.

Its architecture is very unique, which draws many people towards it.

The roof is built with different folded plates, placed geometrically.

Water fountain of Tempe Center for the Arts

James Ahmed /

Apart from being a beautifully designed building, the Tempe Center for the Arts has an exquisite art collection for its visitors.

It is also a haven for different performing arts.

The Tempe Center for the Arts hosts many dance and music performances featuring local and international talents.

View of Tempe Center for the Arts from across the waters

davidpinter, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Boating on the Gorgeous Kiwanis Lake

Sunset view from Kiwanis Lake

Paarth Bhanushali /

Owned by the government of the city of Tempe, Kiwanis Park and Kiwanis Lake are two tourist spots located in the same area.

Kiwanis Park is a recreational park built on more than 125 acres of land with a great view.

Colorful pedal boats on Kiwanis Lake

GoodFocused /

It comprises a soccer field and basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts.

You can go boating in the lake, too.

The park also has a children’s playground and a heated wave pool!

Catch a Baseball Game at Tempe Diablo Stadium

People going in Tempe Diablo Stadium

John Dvorak /

Are you interested in watching a live baseball game?

Catch an exciting match at Diablo Stadium if your schedule permits it.

With almost 10,000 seats, the stadium hosts some of the best baseball games in Tempe.

The seats in Tempe Diablo Stadium

Thomas Trompeter /

Both major and minor leagues play in this stadium.

As it’s the home ground of the Arizona League Tempe Angels, the locals are quite invested in this stadium.

Game nights are always fun and best enjoyed with hotdogs, drinks, and popcorn!

The field of Tempe Diablo Stadium

Thomas Trompeter /

Hike at the Breathtaking Papago Park

Scenic view of Papago Park

Gregory E. Clifford /

Can you believe you can access such a majestic place within city limits?

Papago Park is a place filled with activities for tourists to enjoy.

The views at the park are beautiful, with stunning rock formations, palm trees, and cactus bushes.

Arched rock formation at Papago Park

Harry Beugelink /

The park features several accessible hiking and biking trails, a heritage center, and the famous Governor Hunt’s Tomb.

You can have a picnic, go hiking, or learn about the native history at the Arizona Heritage Center.

Bonus points: the heritage center has a copper mine exhibit you can check out!

Trees reflecting on Papago Park's lake

Printezis /

Bring Your Kids to Explore LEGOLAND Discovery Center

At LEGOLAND Discovery Center, you may enjoy quality time with your family.

Your kids will have a blast in this utopia of fun and education.

Visitors to Miniland will be able to marvel at the stunning iconic sights that have been built using Lego blocks, including a replica of the Grand Canyon.

The Lego 4D theater, Merlin’s Apprentice Ride, and Kingdom Quest Ride are just a few of its family-friendly attractions.

Check out the daily schedule online and arrange to join a Creative Workshop where your children can learn from Lego experts.

Release Your Stresses at Simply Smashing Rage Release Room

Located on University Drive, Simply Smashing Rage Release Room is a complex concept to pin down.

It’s a place where individuals may safely and comfortably let out their fury and hatred by slamming, crushing, and shattering various things.

This concept is gaining traction across the country.

The amusement center incorporates elements of a gym, a therapy room, and an area for dealing with anger.

A typical session lasts around 25 minutes, and customers can choose from various tools to let out their pent-up frustrations: dishes and glasses, laptops and TV screens, vehicle windshields, baseball bats, and ice hockey sticks, to name just a few.

A participant must be at least 18 years old to participate in this activity.

Test Your Endurance at the Phoenix Rock Gym

Everyone can improve their rock climbing abilities at the Phoenix Rock Gym, which is open all year round.

More than 17,000 square feet of climbing space and 30-meter-high walls await you at the facility.

You don’t have to be an expert rock climber to have a good time at this gym.

All you need to learn may be taught to you right there on the premises.

Whether you want to bring your own climbing gear or rent it from the facility, it’s up to you.

Even the most inexperienced students may quickly gain strength and self-assurance with the help of tutorials and an introductory film.

Longtime climbers will notice that the routes constantly change to keep things interesting.

Go Practice Shooting at C2 Tactical Gun Shooting Range

For novices and veterans alike, C2 Tactical Gun Shooting Range has a variety of packages to choose from.

A visit to this well-known shooting range is an exciting addition to your itinerary.

With the help of a team of seasoned and highly-trained specialists, you may hone your shooting skills here.

You are welcome here regardless of your firearm expertise.

Visit this shooting range and learn about gun safety, appropriate firearm handling, etc.

A variety of firearms, including rifles and machine guns, are available.

You can also participate in a self-defense simulation during your stay.

Final Thoughts

This vibrant city in the Arizona desert has world-class malls, internationally renowned aquariums, water parks, and scenic green spaces, among many other attractions.

Enjoy an unforgettable holiday by going sightseeing, exploring its bustling downtown area, watching an exciting live sports game, and more.

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