Things to Do in Tempe, AZ: Places to Go and Things to See in the Home of Arizona State University

If you’re looking for things to do in Tempe, look no further. This vibrant college town is home to Arizona State University and has something for everyone, from world-class museums to a buzzing nightlife. Keep reading to discover its attractions!

things to do in tempe

Why Is Tempe Worth Visiting?

Before we go through all the things to do in Tempe, let’s get to know it a bit. It’s the largest city in Maricopa County, a suburb of Phoenix and part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Other tourist destinations in the area are Mesa and Scottsdale.

The city was named after the Vale of Tempe in Greece, which was known for its beautiful scenery. The first settlers in the area were farmers from the nearby Salt River Valley. They built an irrigation canal system that allowed them to farm the land and soon, Tempe became a thriving agricultural community.

Nowadays, things have changed quite a lot and Tempe has become an urban center with a lively scene. It draws travelers who are staying in Phoenix and Arizona locals who are looking to see more of the state. Tempe is also home to the main campus of Arizona State University, which has about 80,000 students enrolled each year. If you’re wondering what are some things to do in Tempe, AZ for people like you, keep reading for ideas!

Tour the Arizona State University Campus

If you’re looking for things to see in Tempe, a tour of the ASU campus is a great place to start. The university is one of the largest public universities in the United States and its sprawling campus covers more than 600 acres.

You can take a self-guided tour of the campus or join a guided tour led by current students. Either way, you’ll get to see the beautiful architecture and learn about the university’s history.

Live entertainment is abundant on the campus. If you’re visiting Tempe in the fall, make sure to catch a football game at Sun Devil Stadium. And whatever the time of the year, it’s worth attending a show at the ASU Gammage Auditorium.

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Visit the ASU Art Museum

Exploring the Arizona State University Art Museum is one of the best things to do in Tempe for art lovers. The museum has a collection of more than 12,000 works of art, ranging from ancient artifacts to contemporary pieces.

You can also see temporary exhibitions that showcase the work of local and international artists. Admission to the museum is free, making it a great activity for budget travelers.

Pop into the Gallery of Scientific Exploration

The Gallery of Scientific Exploration is another great museum on the ASU campus. It’s dedicated to the history and philosophy of science and features interactive exhibits. Some topics covered in the gallery include evolution, astronomy, and anthropology. The gallery is free to enter.

Things to Do in Tempe Downtown

Downtown Tempe is the beating heart of the city and there are plenty of things to see and do here. Start your exploration at Mill Avenue, where you’ll find a lively pedestrian mall lined with shops and restaurants.

If you’re visiting Tempe with kids, make sure to stop by the Splash Playground at Tempe Beach Park. This is a great place to cool off on a hot day. And in the evening, head to one of the bars or clubs on Mill Avenue for some nightlife action.

Attractions in Tempe Beach Park

Tempe Beach Park is a great place to spend a day if you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Tempe. The park has a lake created by damming part of the Salt River. You can go paddleboarding or kayaking on the Tempe Town Lake or rent a bike and cycle around the park.

The park is also home to the Tempe Center for the Arts, which hosts concerts and other events throughout the year. The adjacent Stray Cat Theatre is a popular venue in the park. Tempe Beach is connected to Rio Salado Park, where you can hike and birdwatch.

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Catch a Game at Tempe Diablo Stadium

If you’re a baseball fan, catching a game at Tempe Diablo Stadium is one of the best things to do in Tempe. The stadium is home to the Arizona League’s Tempe Angels, a minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.

Tickets are relatively cheap, and you can get some great views of the action from anywhere in the stadium. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a home run ball!

Explore Papago Park, Part of Which Lies in Tempe

Part of Phoenix’ Papago Park lies in Tempe, separated from the rest of the land by E. Curry Road. On Tempe’s side, the park has hiking and biking trails, as well as a playground. There’s also the LoPiano Bosque Habitat, where a canal runs through the desert. If you choose to cross the road to Phoenix, you can visit these attractions in Papago Park:

  • Arizona Heritage Center – a museum that tells the story of Arizona from its earliest days;
  • Governor Hunt Tomb – the final resting place of former Arizona governor George W. P. Hunt;
  • Phoenix Zoo – the largest privately owned, non-profit zoo in the country;
  • Hall of Flame Fire Museum – a museum with more than 70 historic fire engines from around the world;
  • Hole-in-the-Rock – a natural rock formation that you can hike to;
  • Desert Botanical Garden – a garden with more than 25,000 desert plants.

Things to Do in Tempe with Kids

The Sea Life Arizona Aquarium is one of the best things to do in Tempe with kids. The aquarium has more than 30 tanks containing a variety of marine life, including sharks, rays, and seahorses.

You can also take part in a behind-the-scenes tour or an animal encounter program where you can interact with the animals. The aquarium is located in the Arizona Mills Mall, which also has a movie theater and a variety of shops.

Another place you can take your family to is Kiwanis Recreation Center, part of Kiwanis Park. There’s a gymnasium, an indoor pool, and a weight room on-site, as well as batting cages where you can practice your swing.

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Outside, there are tennis courts, pickleball courts, and a skate park. The park also has hiking and biking trails. If you’re visiting Tempe with kids, this is a great place to spend a day.

Other Things to Do in Tempe, AZ

Have we filled up your itinerary yet? If not, it’s not the end! In addition to the things we’ve already mentioned, here are a few more things to do in Tempe.

  • Take a walk or ride your bike along the Tempe Canal.
  • Enjoy a hike to Hayden Butte, also known as A Mountain.
  • Relax in Daley Park, which has a playground, a splash pad, and picnic tables.
  • Visit Hayden Library on the campus of Arizona State University.
  • See a light show at World of Illumination.

Plan Your Trip to Tempe and Enjoy Yourself!

And that’s just the beginning! Tempe is a great place to visit, whether you’re looking for outdoor activities or family-friendly attractions. And if you’re in the mood for shopping, we recommend the Tempe Marketplace.

Have you ever been to Tempe? What’s your favorite thing to do there? Let us know in the comments!


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