12 Parks in Tempe, Arizona

Tempe, Arizona is home to a vibrant community with ample outdoor recreational spaces and parks for residents and visitors to enjoy. From large regional parks to quaint neighborhood playgrounds, Tempe offers green spaces catering to all ages and interests. The city’s year-round sunny weather and picturesque natural landscapes make its parks popular gathering spots for sports, special events, and casual daily use.

Tempe manages over 50 parks, totaling nearly 400 acres of developed parkland consisting of turf areas, ramadas, athletic fields, tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds, dog parks, skate parks, gardens, public art, and outdoor fitness equipment. The city’s largest parks offer lakes and ponds, hiking trails, nature walks, fishing, boating, disc golf courses, splash playgrounds, sports complexes, amphitheaters for concerts and performances, recreation centers, museums, carousels, train rides, and other attractions.

In this article, we will highlight 12 of the best and most popular parks and green spaces to check out in Tempe.

Kiwanis Park

Spanning over 100 acres adjacent to Tempe Town Lake, Kiwanis Park is one of the largest and most visited parks in Tempe. It hosts festivals, races, concerts, athletic events, and other special community happenings throughout the year. Visitors enjoy recreational amenities like playgrounds, ramadas, picnic areas, volleyball and basketball courts, a splash playground, skate park, batting cages, and a large multi-use field.

The park also features several historic structures and points of interest, including the 1909 William J. Murphy House, the SS Pedro steamboat artifact along the shoreline, and a memorial plaque marking the 1898 construction site of the Tempe Canal. Sweeping views of the lake and Tempe skyline make Kiwanis Park a favored relaxation and photography spot.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Tempe Town Lake frontage
● Lakeside trail access
● Historic structures like the SS Pedro and Murphy House
● Splash playground and skate park
● Sports facilities like batting cages, basketball and sand volleyball courts
● Ramadas and green space for picnics and gatherings
● Regular programming and events year-round

Activities and Uses:

With its beautiful lakefront location and abundance of amenities, Kiwanis Park supports a wide range of outdoor recreation and community programming. Visitors enjoy jogging or cycling along the lake, fishing, having picnics, gathering for city events, playing on the playground and splash area, using the batting cages and athletic courts, flying kites and model airplanes in the open fields, and more. The park’s ramadas, open green space, and stage area also make it a popular site for small or large group outings, races, concerts, festivals and other special events organized by the city and private entities.

Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake is a narrow two-mile long waterway featuring scenic parklands and pedestrian paths on both sides. The lake was artificially created between 1999 and 2006 to form a focal point for recreation within the city. Today, Tempe Town Lake provides visitors a beautiful oasis to enjoy lakeside trails, gardens, outdoor events and art, pedal boat and kayak rentals, restaurants, habitual wildlife sightings, and city skyline views. programmed events like holiday boat parades and races make the lake a community gathering space.

Key Features and Amenities:

● 2-mile long, 220-acre artificial lake bordered by parks and trails
● Pedestrian and cycling paths
● Pedal boat, kayak, paddleboard, and electric boat rentals
● Two splash playgrounds – North Beach and Splash Playground
● Lake access points and seating areas
● Annual Ironman Triathlon passes through the lake
● Community events like Fourth of July fireworks, boat parades, and races

Activities and Uses:

Tempe Town Lake offers a little something for everyone. Visitors enjoy walk-running the lake loop, having lakeside picnics, bird watching, people watching from Adirondack chairs scattered around the lake, flying kites and model planes, accessing the lake via boat rentals, fishing, attending lakeside concerts and events, playing at the North Beach playground, exploring the public art installations along the shores, grabbing a meal at one of the nearby restaurants with lakefront dining patios, and photographing unmatched city views.

Rio Salado Park

Adjacent to Tempe Town Lake, Rio Salado Park consists of nearly five acres of green space, making it one of Tempe’s smaller yet most scenically located parks. It features playgrounds, picnic spots, walking paths, and access to the lake for fishing and scenic views. As a habitat restoration area, Rio Salado Park attracts abundant wildlife like birds, squirrels, lizards, and butterflies. Cultural displays share the history of the once ecologically-vibrant Salt River which the park aims to help restore.

Key Features and Amenities:
● Located on the Rio Salado riverbed with environmentally significant wetlands
● Playground and picnic amenities
● Accessible fishing deck extending over lake water
● Dirt trails and paths popular for running and walking
● Cultural and environmental education displays

Activities and Uses:
Rio Salado Park allows visitors to connect with nature amid an urban city landscape. Having lakeside picnics at the ramadas, exploring wildlife sightings along the trails, fishing off the extended deck, playing on the playgrounds, walking dogs, jogging the looped paths, and taking in views of the lake and city skyline are popular park activities. Rio Salado also hosts city events like habitat volunteer workdays to help conserve and restore the adjacent wetlands.

Jaycee Park

Jaycee Park comprises just over seven acres within a residential neighborhood, offering a community playground and field area. Mature trees dot the park which contains play structures for both toddlers and older children, swings, a splash pad, lighted sports courts, picnic tables, walking paths, and open turf.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Community playground with equipment for toddlers and bigger kids
● Swings, splash pad, sports courts
● Picnic area with ramadas and tables
● Large grass field and looped paved walking paths
● Mature trees offering ample shade

Activities and Uses:

As a smaller local neighborhood park, Jaycee Park is a popular spot for families and residents to gather for playdates, picnics, and parties. It offers a safe, enclosed space for children to enjoy the playground equipment, splash pad, swings, and adjacent field area for games and sports. Adults accompany their kids playing while socializing with other parents. The park also attracts area residents looking for a nearby outdoor space to take a stroll, read, relax or exercise outdoors.

Esquer Park

At just under ten acres, Esquer Park contains a diverse range of amenities including lighted ball fields, basketball courts, a playground, grill stations, ramadas, and walking paths amid native desert landscaping. Mature trees offer ample shaded relaxation spaces with views overlooking Tempe Town Lake. As one of the larger neighborhood parks in west Tempe, Esquer Park provides community recreation facilities for residents and families.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Lighted softball and little league baseball fields
● Basketball courts
● Playground and swing sets
● Grills, ramadas and picnic tables
● Walking paths lined with drought-resistant vegetation
● Scenic views of Tempe Town Lake

Activities and Uses:

Esquer Park supports casual recreational uses like playground play, family and neighborhood picnics, pickup sports games, children and adults working on their athletic skills at the ball field and courts, residents walking dogs, school groups doing field learning, and community groups hosting events. Its scenic location above Tempe Town Lake also makes Esquer Park a choice spot for relaxing while taking in views of the lake and cityscape.

Clark Park

Clark Park comprises a traditional, tree-lined neighborhood recreational space totaling 4.5 acres. Mature shade trees dot the park which features playgrounds for multiple ages, lighted basketball courts, a large multi-use grass field, walking paths, picnic tables, barbecue grills, and a small splash play area.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Playgrounds for ages 2-5 years and 5-12 years
● Shaded play structures, swings, and splash area
● Basketball courts with sports lighting
● Open turf field and walking paths
● Picnic tables and grilling stations
● Mature trees offering ample shade

Activities and Uses:
As a local neighborhood park, Clark Park provides a gathering space for family and friends to connect. Visitors enjoy playground playdates, pickup basketball games, youth sports practices on the multi-use field, family BBQ picnics, neighborhood events, meeting friends, relaxing in the grass, enjoying the shade and scenery, among other activities. Fitness enthusiasts also appreciate the walking paths through mature tree groves.

Pyle Adult Recreation Center

The Pyle Adult Recreation Center features specialized amenities tailored for active senior adults ages 55+. Set adjacent to a public library with shared parking, this modern 8,300 square foot facility provides spaces to socialize, learn, exercise, and engage in wellness programming and crafts. Visitors can access pickleball courts, multipurpose rooms for fitness classes and hobbies, lounge areas, a computer lab, billiards, a catering kitchen, and covered outdoor patio spaces amidst desert landscaping.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Dedicated center for adults 55+ years
● Indoor pickleball courts
● Fitness studio offering dozens of weekly classes
● Lounge areas and covered outdoor patio spaces
● Billiards room
● Computer lab and learning facilities
● Ballroom available for rentals

Activities and Uses:
With its extensive recreational amenities tailored specifically for older adults, the Pyle Center offers dynamic senior programming and fosters community engagement. Visitors participate in potlucks and socials, hobby classes, dances, health and wellness lectures, crafting circles, computer skills lessons, fitness classes, pickleball tournaments, group travel meetups, and much more. The Center aims to keep Tempe’s mature adult community active, learning, connected, and thriving year-round.

Tempe Sports Complex & Tempe Diablo Stadium

The Tempe Sports Complex and adjacent Tempe Diablo Stadium together offer 31 acres dedicated for competitive amateur sports and pro baseball. The Complex includes 6 lighted softball fields, a playground, concession stands, picnic ramadas, and ample parking for regional tournaments. Tempe Diablo Stadium serves as the Cactus League spring training home to the Los Angeles Angels. This stadium offers fixed seating for 9,785 people, lawn berm seating, luxury suites, concession stands, team offices and facilities, a gift shop, and onsite parking.

Key Features and Amenities:

Sports Complex:
● 6 lighted softball fields
● Concession stands
● Playground, picnic ramadas, and bleacher seating
● Ample parking to host softball tournaments

Tempe Diablo Stadium:
● Spring training venue seating nearly 10,000 fans
● Luxury suites, clubhouse, team offices and facilities
● Gift shop, concessions, and bleacher or lawn seating
● Ample parking

Activities and Uses:

The Tempe Sports Complex hosts regional and championship softball tournaments attended by thousands of players and fans annually. Tempe Diablo Stadium attracts over 100,000 people each March as fans flock to Cactus League Angels games during spring training season. The stadium also hosts concerts, festivals, conferences, team practices, city events, and ASU Sun Devil baseball games at other times of the year.

Tempe Beach Park

Tempe Beach Park occupies 22 acres on the north shore of Tempe Town Lake, providing visitors sweeping views of the lake with downtown skyline views. Mill Avenue district shops, restaurants and attractions are steps away. The park consists of open grass areas, picnic spots, two playgrounds with splash pads, volleyball courts, a boat rental center, public art, and the North Beach marina hosting Pelican pedal boats and kayaks. Seasonal concessions like Tempe Boat Rentals and Tempe Beach Cafe serve park goers as well.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Dual playgrounds with splash pads
● Sand volleyball courts
● North Beach marina for pedal boat and kayak rentals on lake
● Open grass areas for kite-flying, picnics, sunbathing
● Tempe Boat Rental center and Tempe Beach Café concessions (seasonal)
● Adjacent to shops, dining and entertainment in Mill Avenue district

Activities and Uses:

With its idyllic lakeside location, Tempe Beach Park allows visitors to soak up views and enjoy outdoor fun along Tempe Town Lake. Families with children frequent the twin splash playgrounds on hot days. The flat grassy areas attract picnickers, sunbathers, frisbee tossers and kite flyers catching the breeze off the lake. Volleyball players take to the sand courts, while couples and friends opt to rent boats to peddle along the waterfront. Walkers, joggers and cyclists pass along the lake perimeter path. The park also hosts city runs, races, festivals and holiday events that attract revelers.

Tempe Papago Park

Tempe Papago Park spans 1,500 acres, offering one of the last natural desert greenbelt spaces with rolling foothills where the Sonoran Desert meets the urban area. Once inhabited by ancient Hohokam Native Americans in 600-1400 AD, signs of early irrigation canals still remain along with more recent historic features added in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, Papago Park provides areas for hiking, cycling, disc golf, fishing, horseback riding, ziplining, outdoor events and more, while showcasing magnificent red rock formations, diverse desert flora and fauna, oak woodlands filled with mesquite trees, seven historic spring sites, and the celebrated Hole-In-The-Rock granite hill overlooking Tempe Town Lake.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Over 10 miles of multipurpose trails for hiking and mountain biking
● Disc golf courses
● Fishing lagoons stocked seasonally with catchable trout
● Trail access to Hole-In-The-Rock hill formation with panoramic city views
● Ramadas available for rental picnics and events
● Historic park features like Hunt’s Tomb, irrigation canals, and CCC structures

Activities and Uses:

Papago Park provides endless outdoor recreation amid native desert scenery minutes from the heart of Tempe. Visitors explore the trails by foot, bike, or horseback, go rock climbing and ziplining off the red rock formations, play disc golf across rolling terrain, do some urban fishing, take in Hole-In-The-Rock views high above Tempe Town Lake, enjoy group picnics and events in reservable ramadas, study native desert plants and wildlife, and spot some of the park’s noted historic elements. Special events like concerts, races, holiday celebrations also occur seasonally in open areas of the park near its southern entrance.

Rotary Park

Rotary Park comprises a modest neighborhood park totaling just 1.3 acres in a residential area of Tempe. Mature trees dot the park which includes a playground and swing set area, walking paths, picnic tables with shade ramadas, turf field space, and basketball hoops. As one of Tempe’s many small local parks, Rotary Park serves area families and residents.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Shaded playground space with swings
● Basketball hoops
● Open grass area
● Walking paths connecting through the park
● Picnic tables and ramadas

Activities and Uses:

Rotary Park provides a compact hub for casual community gatherings by neighborhood families and residents. Visitors come for playground playdates, pickup basketball, having a small picnic, reading or relaxing under the shade trees, meeting neighbors, walking through with their dog, using the adjoining grass field space, and overall enjoying a pocket of nature in an urban residential setting.

Edna Vihel Park

Edna Vihel Park comprises nearly 6 acres nestled within a Tempe residential community. Named after a former elementary school principal and 44-year education veteran, this neighborhood park aims to provide local families and residents outdoor amenities to enrich community life. The park contains playgrounds for different ages, lighted basketball courts, open grass fields with soccer goals, perimeter walking paths shaded by trees, picnic ramadas with BBQ grills, and exercise stations.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Playgrounds and swings for young children and older kids
● Lighted basketball courts
● Multi-use grass fields with movable soccer goals
● Shaded walking paths and mature trees throughout
● Fitness equipment stations for pull-ups, etc.
● Grills and ramadas for small group picnics

Activities and Uses:

Edna Vihel Park supports casual community gatherings for recreation, leisure and special events within its tree-lined space. Neighbors enjoy playground playdates with children, pickup basketball games, kicking balls and flying kites in the open grass areas, exercising at the fitness stations, walking dogs or baby strollers along perimeter paths, reading in shaded spots, using grill stations for small picnics, celebrating birthdays in the reservable ramadas, and connecting with fellow residents.

Hudson Park

Hudson Park spans nearly 14 acres along Tempe Town Lake’s south shore, situated close to ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium. This flat, open park provides flexible grass field space with shade ramadas, a playground, paved walking paths, and sweeping views of the lake looking north toward downtown Tempe. Hudson Park accommodates community recreation and events of all sizes, from casual family picnics to major concerts, festivals and fireworks shows drawing over 50,000 people.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Open grass event space with capacity for tens of thousands of people
● Shaded ramadas and playground area
● Paved walking paths around perimeter
● Scenic views of Tempe Town Lake and city skyline
● Adjacent parking for large events
● Floating boat dock access during events

Activities and Uses:

With its expansive open field and lakefront locale, Hudson Park serves as an event park hosting some of Tempe’s largest public gatherings like concerts, festivals, Fourth of July fireworks, and run/walk fundraisers. Daily visitors also enjoy space to picnic, walk dogs, play on the playground, relax in the grass and take in scenic vistas of Tempe Town Lake and the city skyline from the park’s edge. The park offers flexible outdoor space for enjoying the beautiful desert climate.

Westwood Park

Nestled within a residential neighborhood, tiny Westwood Park spans just under one acre. This quaint green space contains a compact playground, walking path loop, small turfed area, and a few picnic tables shaded beneath tree canopies. As one of Tempe’s many pocket parks sprinkled throughout neighborhoods, Westwood Park provides outdoor amenities for nearby families and residents.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Compact playground area with play structures
● Shaded picnic tables
● Small open grass section
● Paved walking path loop around perimeter

Activities and Uses:

While small in scale, Westwood Park offers neighborhood families and residents outdoor opportunities to connect. Visitors come for playground playdates, using the few picnic tables for a bite in the shade, relaxing or reading on the open grass, meeting up with neighbors, walking dogs around the short paved path, and generally enjoying having accessible community green space.

Emmitt R. Smith Park

Emmitt R. Smith Park, named after a US military veteran killed during the Korean War, provides nearly 5 acres of recreational amenities like ball fields, basketball courts, playgrounds with a splash area, ramadas, walking paths and plentiful turf within a residential enclave. Mature trees offer shade across the park which provides access to neighbors and nearby students attending Kyrene Middle School adjoining the park.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Youth baseball field
● Basketball courts
● Large playground area with splash pad and swings
● Shaded ramadas, turf and picnic tables throughout
● Looping walking paths lined by desert vegetation

Activities and Uses:

Emmitt R. Smith Park caters primarily to area families seeking outdoor recreation and gathering spaces. Neighbors enjoy playground play, pickup basketball and baseball games, having birthday parties or playdates in the ramadas, using the splash pad to stay cool in summer, flying kites and playing informal field sports in the open grass, jogging or walking dogs on the walking paths, and connecting with fellow community members exploring the local park space.

Gililland Park

Comprising just over an acre and a half, Gililland Park offers an intimate neighborhood recreational space with amenities like a nautical themed playground, lighted basketball court, walking path loop, open turf areas, grilling station and a reservable large ramada for hosting gatherings. Lined by residential homes on all sides, Gililland Park provides casual access to outdoor leisure for locals.

Key Features and Amenities:

● Boat-themed playground structures for younger and older children
● Full basketball court with lighting
● Walking path loop
● Open grass areas and shaded picnic tables
● Large reservable ramada

Activities and Uses:

Gililland Park gives neighboring families and residents outdoor options for community building and leisure time. Visitors enjoy playground playdates, shoot hoops on the basketball court, use the walking path loop for exercise, play catch or fly kites on the open grass lawn, grill lunch at the park’s BBQ station, reserve the large ramada for hosting birthday parties or celebrations, read in the shade, and overall linger in a welcoming recreational space.


With abundant parks of all sizes and amenities available across Tempe, this blossoming desert city takes pride in ensuring ample vibrant community green spaces. From the scenic Tempe Town Lake parks offering waterfront access to expansive regional attractions like Tempe Sports Complex and Tempe Beach hosting large events, down to local neighborhood pocket playgrounds, Tempe parks aim to enrich residents’ quality of life under the Arizona sun.

The 12 parks highlighted in this article showcase the diversity of outdoor recreational facilities that invite locals and visitors to immerse in authentic desert experiences unique to Tempe and the greater Phoenix area.

Whether you want to hike rock formations with city views, peddle a boat along an urban lake, splash on a playground with young children, host a family picnic, catch a spring training game, or simply sit and watch the desert wildlife while enjoying a city park space – Tempe offers natural outdoor sanctuaries for all interests just steps away from metropolitan amenities.

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