12 Things To Do With Family In Tempe, Arizona

Last Updated on February 9, 2024 by Robert Wilson

Located in the heart of the Phoenix metropolitan area, Tempe is a vibrant college town with a youthful energy and lively culture. Home to Arizona State University’s main campus, Tempe offers families plenty of fun activities, attractions, events and outdoor spaces to enjoy quality time together.

From exploring hands-on museums and admiring public art to hiking mountain trails and cooling off at water parks, Tempe caters to visitors of all ages. This article highlights 12 of the top things to do with family in Tempe, Arizona. With year-round sunny weather and easy access to the rest of the Valley, Tempe makes for an excellent family-friendly destination.

Take an Educational Stroll through ASU Campus

As one of the largest public universities in the country, Arizona State University’s Tempe campus covers more than 700 acres right in the heart of the city. Families can take self-guided walking tours around campus to admire the unique architecture, art installations and green spaces.

Be sure to check out landmarks like Old Main, Hayden Library, “A” Mountain and Palm Walk. There’s also a visitor center and bookstore to learn more about ASU’s history and legacy. It’s fun and free to explore the vibrant college campus.

Spark Creativity at Tempe Center for the Arts

Tempe Center for the Arts is the city’s home for the visual and performing arts. Families can explore the family-friendly hands-on exhibits at the art gallery, attend children’s theater performances or take part in free special events.

Designed by famous architect William Pereira, the building itself is a work of art featuring a beautiful copper dome structure. The Center offers inspiring exhibits, classes and shows to spark every child’s creativity.

Discover SciTech Festival

Every February, Tempe hosts the annual SciTech Festival to showcase science, technology and innovation with a 10-day lineup of more than 200 events. Families can connect with researchers, learn about the latest breakthroughs and participate in hands-on science experiments during the popular community festival.

Attend open houses, exhibits, demonstrations, competitions and other STEM-focused activities across the city with Arizona State University and other partners.

Tinker at Arizona Science Center

Just a short drive from Tempe, the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix features over 300 interactive exhibits related to technology, physics, geology and more. Kids of any age can launch airplanes, turn the crank on giant wheels, climb a rock wall and perform dozens of other hands-on science experiments.

Families will love exploring the massive four-story center filled with opportunities to discover, create and tinker. Special traveling exhibits visit throughout the year for fresh experiences.

See Colorful Murals & Sculptures

Tempe is filled with vibrant public art, from creative murals and paintings to imaginative sculptures installed around town. The city’s arts and culture program ensures there is always beautiful, unique artwork on display for the public to admire. Families can walk, bike or drive around Tempe spotting colorful murals splashed across building walls while also keeping an eye out for whimsical sculptures along sidewalks and in parks. Popular pieces to see include the iconic “Don’t Worry, Be Hopi” mural and the Fraternity Row globe sculpture.

Marvel at Dale Chihuly Glass Exhibit

A permanent exhibit at the ASU Art Museum displays incredible glass sculptures by famed artist Dale Chihuly. The installation features eight vibrant pieces made of blown glass in Chihuly’s signature bold colors and shapes.

Families will marvel at the towering sculptures made of hundreds of individual elements fused together in mesmerizing patterns. Don’t miss seeing this impressive display of fine art glass that literally transforms the entire room into a rainbow when sunlight shines through.

Hike “A” Mountain

For fantastic city views, head to “A” Mountain, the sentinel peak bearing a giant letter “A” overlooking Tempe. Families can hike the relatively short but steep trail to the top for panoramic views of the city below and surrounding landscape.

Kids will enjoy spotting key landmarks along the way and reading the informational plaques explaining the history of the iconic mountain, which has graced Tempe’s skyline since 1955. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the summit.

Play at Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake is a human-made reservoir installed in the dry Salt River bed, creating a scenic oasis for recreation right downtown. Families can go boating, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding on the calm waters, walk or bike along the shoreline path, try some lakeside dining or relax on the grassy beach. Rent watercraft, take boat tours or admire breathtaking sunrises and sunsets over the glassy lake framed by the city skyline. The scenic urban oasis offers endless fun.

Attend Farmers Markets

With over 300 days of sunshine per year, the Phoenix area grows all kinds of delicious fruit and veggies. Families can get a taste of Arizona agriculture at Tempe’s year-round Farmers Market held Saturdays at the municipal complex downtown or the Wednesday afternoon People’s Market in a park.

Let kids pick out colorful produce or select a bouquet of flowers to take home while munching on fresh snacks. In addition to fruits, vegetables, plants and baked goods for sale, markets also host live music and kid-friendly programming.

Make a Splash at Big Surf Waterpark

When temperatures rise, Big Surf Waterpark offers the perfect place for families to cool down with pools, thrill slides and tube rides. Conveniently located right off the freeway in Tempe, this 15-acre outdoor waterpark features a massive wave pool, winding lazy river, kids’ play structure and other attractions for all ages. Families will love screaming down three-story slides like the Blue Bullet Bowl before relaxing in the shade with Dippin’ Dots ice cream.

Get Soaked at Mesa Golfland Sunsplash

Just 15 minutes from Tempe, Mesa Golfland Sunsplash water park boasts over 30 wet and wild rides, slides and pools across nearly 30 palm tree-lined acres. Families can brave steep drops like Sidewinder Falls, zoom down racing slides together or simply float along the flowing Zanzibar River.

When not splashing in the waves or racing down slides, kids will love playing 18 holes on the adjacent miniature golf courses. With something for every member of the family, it makes for an excellent summer daytrip.

Sample Ice Cream at Churn & Spoon

No family trip to Tempe is complete without stopping for artisan ice cream or gelato at Churn & Spoon. This wildly popular local shop always has a long queue because each batch of uniquely flavored ice cream is lovingly handmade the old-fashioned way.

Kids will have fun browsing flavors like cookies & cream, chocolate peanut butter and lemon cake batter before ordering tasty scoops, milkshakes or sundaes piled high with decadent toppings. It’s a sweet treat guaranteed to bring smiles.

Conclusion

With a vibrant mix of museums, outdoor spaces, attractions and events, Tempe offers families endless options for spending meaningful time together. From active adventures hiking around Arizona State University to hands-on science experiments at museums to screaming down water slides beating the heat, the diverse college town has something to delight every age group and interest.

Families visiting the Phoenix area should be sure to explore all the fun things to do in Tempe, Arizona. With great weather year-round, it makes for an excellent trip any time of year to bond and make lasting memories.

Leave a Comment