12 Things To Do in Tempe, Arizona

Last Updated on February 9, 2024 by Robert Wilson

Tempe, Arizona is a vibrant college town located in the Phoenix metropolitan area. With Arizona State University at its heart, Tempe offers a youthful energy and exciting blend of culture, nightlife, shopping, and outdoor activities.

Tempe enjoys nearly 300 days of sunshine per year, making it possible to enjoy the outdoors year-round. The city provides easy access to the natural wonders of Arizona, from the red rocks of nearby Sedona to the Grand Canyon a few hours north. Yet it also provides big city amenities like sporting events, concerts, theater productions, art galleries, and more.

From hiking ancient Hohokam petroglyps to cheering on the Sun Devils at a football game, here are 12 of the top things to do in Tempe, Arizona:

Explore Arizona State University and Pack a Picnic at A Mountain

Arizona State University’s main campus sits right in the heart of Tempe. Take some time to explore the grounds, artwork, and architecture that give ASU its distinct character.

The landmark A Mountain, the giant letter “A” visible from around the valley, sits just beside campus. After exploring campus, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on A Mountain where you’ll find excellent panoramic views.

See the Sea Life at Sea Life Arizona Aquarium

Right in Tempe you can visit Sea Life Arizona Aquarium to discover over 5,000 sea creatures in exhibits crafted to replicate their natural habitats. Get eye-to-eye with sharks and rays in the 400,000 gallon ocean tank at the center of the aquarium. Sea Life also features special activities like animal feeds and behind-the-scenes tours. It’s family-friendly fun and air-conditioned escape from the Arizona heat.

Hike Pass Mountain Trail

For fantastic views over Tempe and Scottsdale, hike the Pass Mountain Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. It’s a moderate 5-mile out and back trail that winds through the rugged Sonoran landscape taking you up 1,200 feet in elevation to the top of 2,704 foot Pass Mountain. The panoramic views are well worth the effort. Keep an eye out for Petroglyph Plaza along the way, home to ancient rock carvings made by the Hohokam people 800 to 1,500 years ago.

Catch a Baseball Game at Diablo Stadium

Baseball fans will want to catch a spring training game at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The Los Angeles Angels have trained at this stadium near downtown Tempe annually since 1993. It seats just under 10,000 people for an intimate setting to see your favorite Major League Baseball stars up close as they prepare for the coming season. Games run February through March. Grab tickets and peanuts and cracker jacks to fully enjoy America’s favorite pastime.

Do Some Brewery Hopping

The greater Phoenix area has seen craft breweries take off over the last decade, and Tempe is at the heart of the local beer scene. Do some brewery hopping to taste a flight of Arizona craft beers and ciders. Some top spots include Four Peaks Brewery, one of the OGs of local beer, and Pedal Haus Brewing where you can sit out on their massive dog-friendly patio.

Take a Kayaking Tour on Tempe Town Lake

See the city skyline from the water during a kayaking tour on Tempe Town Lake. This human-made lake is nearly two miles long, so it’s big enough to feel like you’ve truly escaped to nature with downtown just on the other shore. You can opt to rent your own kayak or book a guided kayak eco tour. Tours run during daylight hours year round so it’s a perfect active adventure no matter the season.

Visit the Hall of Flame Fire Museum

Learn about the history of fire fighting and see vintage fire trucks from around the world at Tempe’s unique Hall of Flame Fire Museum near Arizona State University. Founded in 1961, this museum has the world’s largest collection of historical fire apparatus. Permanent exhibits trace the evolution of fire wagons, hand pumpers, and motorized fire engines while regularly rotating special exhibits highlight different aspects of fire fighting.

Shop and Dine at Mill Avenue

Mill Avenue doubles as Tempe’s main thoroughfare and the city’s happening shopping, dining, and nightlife district. The pedestrian-friendly avenue lined with patio dining and eclectic boutiques beckons visitors to park their car and explore on foot. Duck into the gentrified brick warehouses turned chic restaurants and clubs here to truly experience Tempe’s vibrant culture. Don’t miss Tempe favorites like Culinary Dropout restaurant and Postino WineCafe.

Make Some Art at Color Me Mine

Get creative painting your own pottery creations at Color Me Mine Tempe. This paint-your-own-pottery studio has a huge selection of ceramic pieces from mugs to figurines to plates that you can hand paint and have fired right in the studio. It’s fun for a solo activity or group outing. No artistic talent required! Kids and adults will enjoy this creative activity.

Try Some Craft Spirits at State 48 Brewery + Distillery

You may know State 48 for their beer, but they also run an impressive craft distillery program onsite called State 48 Funk House. Sign up for a distillery tour to learn about their small batch whiskey, vodka, gin, rum and more all made from scratch on site. Tours run daily and include tastings along with background on their custom stills and ingredients like mesquite bean, prickly pear, and locally sourced grains.

See a Concert at Marquee Theatre

Some of music’s top artists make a tour stop at Tempe’s premier concert venue, Marquee Theatre. Everyone from Pete Yorn to Paramore has graced the stage at this mid-sized venue that provides an intimate live show experience compared to big stadium or arena concerts. With a capacity around 2,500 people, you’ll feel close to the action. Check their events calendar to see upcoming shows spanning alternative, rock, rap, country and more.

Do Some Thrift Shopping on Apache Boulevard

Apache Boulevard in Tempe is a haven for secondhand and thrift shopping. Find steal of deals on everything from designer clothing to midcentury furniture to sports memorabilia. Some local favorites include Savers, Goodwill Boutique, Changing Hands Bookstore, Buffalo Exchange, and Bookman’s Entertainment Exchange. You never know what treasures you may uncover, plus thrifting is eco-friendly way to freshen up your wardrobe or home.

Conclusion

From outdoor adventures to cultural attractions to a rocking food scene and nightlife, Tempe offers big city entertainment and amenities with a laidback desert town vibe. Families, university students, young professionals and retirees all enjoy calling Tempe home thanks to this diverse blend of things to do. Whether you come for a quick day trip or an extended stay, any time of year you’re bound to discover new experiences in this Arizona hot spot nestled up against Phoenix.

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