The state of Arizona is home to one of the most famous landmarks in the world, the Grand Canyon. However, it also has a host of other amazing places to explore within its borders, with Tempe fast becoming the states rising star.
Tempe is one of the amazing places that you need to make a pitstop at if you’re looking for fun things to see and do in Arizona. Although it’s often sidelined for its more popular counterparts when many travel the state, it might just surprise you with everything it has to offer.
From some of the most eclectic things to do to the more relaxed and “outdoorsy” vibe, you’ll never run out of things to discover when in this high-spirited city.
If you’re not quite sure what you can do while you’re here, here’s a list of some of our favorite things to explore.
Top Things to Do in Tempe
If you don’t know where to start while you’re in Tempe, here’s our hand-picked list of the best the city has to offer. Let’s take a look.
How about you start off your trip by cycling through Tempe’s most iconic locations. This activity will not only help you find your bearings, but it’s also a great way to see what this city has to offer at a leisurely pace.
Ride through the Tempe Beach Park, Salt River as well as the Tempe Center of The Arts amongst many others to get a different but local understanding of this city. For a delightful ride, make sure to wear some comfortable clothes and shoes, you can even pack a picnic and make this into a great day out.
2. Enjoy the Tempe Festival of the Arts
If you’re an art lover or connoisseur, consider timing your visit to this eclectic city with the annual Tempe Festival of the Arts. It showcases some of the best contemporary art from different parts of the country.
This festival wows crowds each and every year with its broad range of creative exhibitions on show. It’s also one of the biggest festivals hosted in this city.
It caters to different age groups. So, if you make your way here with your family, you can be rest assured that they will be well taken care of too.
Experience the beautiful lights of Tempe cityscape ant night, while learning about photography. This experience will get you to re-imagine this location from a different perspective, and leave you with a wealth of knowledge to take on future journeys.
Capture the essence of this lively area at one of its most breathtaking times with the help of a local expert, and expand your skillset at the same time. This is one of the most interesting things to do in Tempe, AZ. It’s also a great way to leave this city with a unique keepsake.
On your pitstop in Tempe make sure to visit one of the region’s most popular brewing companies, set in a 100-year old former factory. You can enjoy a very enlightening and informative experience while you’re here, as well as some ice-cold bevies.
For an immersive experience, book an exciting tour around this brewery with a charming atmosphere. However do note that these tours are only open to people who are 21 years old and above.
The foodies can also taste some of the most delicious craft brews paired with some of the most mind-blowing gourmet creations.
5. Ignite Your Interest at the Hall of Flame
If your a fan of history, the obscure, or the underappreciated, you should consider adding the Hall of Flame to your itinerary. This ode to the history of firefighting is an enlightening and heartwarming educational experience for all who visit.
With an impressive firefighting memorabilia collection, it’s definitely one of the most unique things in Arizona. It also goes out of its way to honor a number of unsung heroes who have fought the good fight throughout the years.
6. Make Your Way Up the Hole in the Rock
Tempe is surrounded by some of Arizona’s most beautiful natural attractions, and the hole in the rock is one of the most fascinating. Make your way up the gentle hike to the summit of the formation, and enjoy the cinematic views and lush scenery.
The hole in the rock is one of the fun things to do in Tempe, Arizona. For an even better experience, hang around until dusk and enjoy the sunset. Watching the sun disappear into the desert bush is a magical experience.
Unusual Things to Do in Tempe
If you’re looking for unusual places to visit in Tempe, here are some of our favorite picks.
7. Appreciate a Different View at Air Apparent
This one of a kind skyspace is a sight to behold in the bustling city of Tempe. The Air Apparent installation is one of the most interactive and creative features around, seamlessly blending art, architecture, and natural scenery together.
If you feel like taking a moment to yourself, you can choose to relax, reflect and meditate in this architectural masterpiece. Watch a perfectly framed view of the moving skies above, and feel all your problems whisked away with the breeze.
Whatever your choice, you’ll definitely feel a sense of renewal after your interaction with this piece. It’s one of the most distinctive and fun activities to do in Arizona.
8. Indulge in Some Gourmet Food at the Crepe Bar
Tempe’s food scene is bustling and this establishment is one of the most interesting “foodie” places to go in Tempe. Make your way to this one of a kind crepe bar for an incredible culinary excursion.
Experience the best of both worlds in this establishment with varying options of savory and sweet treats. Whatever your preference, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.
Wondering which treats score the highest on the delicious meter between the savory and sweet? Unfortunately, you’ll have to go try it out yourself!
9. Aim and Throw Your Axe at Lumberjaxes
If you haven’t added this activity to your bucket-list yet, then maybe it’s time to start jotting it down. How good is your aim? It’ll be put to the test at this establishment, where throwing axes against a target isn’t just encouraged, it’s expected.
If you’re a first-timer, don’t you worry. There are knowledgeable guides at the facility that will guide you through the process of axe-throwing. Who knows? You might just find that this has always been an inherent talent of yours.
Safety in Tempe
Tempe has a great reputation for being a safe destination for holiday-makers. There’s an active police presence that reinforces the feelings of safety and community.
To avoid any unsavory incidents just make sure to keep some of your most prized possessions in a safe place. By taking all the necessary precautions like keeping your valuables in a safe or insight, you’ve already mitigated a lot of risks.
Another added safety measure you can take is getting travel insurance. Travel insurance is one of the best ways to make sure that you and your belongings are well taken care of and protected regardless of where you are. Read our tips for traveling safely before you fly and always get travel insurance. Check out our roundup of the best travel insurance.
You should always have emergency cash hidden on you – pick up this awesome security belt with its hidden pocket before you travel, it’s perfect for hiding money, a passport photocopy.
Things to do in Tempe at Night
Tempe, Arizona takes on a new lease of life when the sun goes down, and there’s no shortage of things to do. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite nighttime pastimes in Tempe.
10. Shop Till You Drop at the Tempe Marketplace
The Tempe Marketplace is the place to be if you’re looking to explore over 100 shops with lots in store. This marketplace is also one of the finest places to shop while you’re here, it’s set right across the iconic Salt River.
Although window-shopping in the daytime is also fun, we recommend you make your way to this Marketplace in the evening when there’s a different type of atmosphere and a more relaxed crowd.
You can get your vacation groceries here if you’re staying at a self-catering accommodation, shop for clothing or souvenirs if that’s what you’re looking for and even enjoy some pottery painting as well.
Head on over to the Hayden Amphitheater for your weekly dose of live music. This weekly installation is one of the best things to do in Tempe in the nighttime, what’s even better is that it’s completely free.
You can purchase some drinks or food from the different vendors on-site, or bring your own. You might even meet some interesting people while you’re here. Beyond the Bricks is a definite must-see while you’re in the eclectic city of Tempe.
Romantic Things to Do in Tempe
Tempe has a number of romantic points of interest and attractions to explore with your loved one. Here are some of our favorites to choose from.
12. Make Your Way to “A Mountain”
The “A Mountain” is one of the most famous attractions in Tempe, Arizona. It’s also the perfect place to take a romantic hike to the top for sprawling views of the city.
Luckily the hike to the top isn’t that long. You can make it there in 15-20 minutes depending on your fitness levels. The road to the top is also well-marked out and although slightly steep, completely worth it. For an added romantic experience, make sure to pair your hike with a spectacular sunset on any given day.
13. Row Your Love Boat on Tempe Lake
Experience this incredible kayaking experience with your loved one on the Tempe Town Lake with its shimmering waters. This lake is charming on its own but when it’s paired with the sunset it transcends to a different level.
Not only is this activity romantic, but it’s also one of the most fun things to do in Tempe.
The Tempe Lake also has a wide range of other activities to enjoy around its shores if you’d like to do something else while you’re here, covering the full spectrum from relaxing to thrilling.
Always Be Insured
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favorite travel insurance provider.
Best Free Things to Do in Tempe
You don’t have to break the bank while you’re in Tempe. Here are some of our favorite free things to do.
14. Admire the Work at the ASU Museum
Tempe is a vibrant college centered city with different campuses and institutions within its surrounds. While you’re here, make your way to one of it’s most popular museums.
This museum is at Arizona State University where there are a number of exhibitions and interactive pieces to explore. These exhibitions change from time to time and highlight and showcase some of the best artistic talents around.
There’s no denying that the ASU Museum is one of the most riveting Tempe attractions around.
15. Work it Out at the Tempe Sports Complex
Get a free workout at the Tempe Sports Complex or enjoy a game of Pokémon Go at this Pokemon-friendly location. Outside of the above, it also offers different designated areas where you can enjoy a number of sports including skating and playing tennis and affordable prices.
Whether you come by yourself or with your kids, there’ll be different spaces for all of you to use. You can even bring your dog along for a walk in this pet-friendly complex with lots more to do.
Tempe Packing List
1. Travel Water Bottle: Always travel with a water bottle – it’ll save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. AR bottle are tough, lightweight and maintain the temperature of your beverage – so you can enjoy a cold red bull, or a hot coffee, no matter where you are. For every AR bottle sold, we donate 10% to PlasticOceans.org – an initiative to reduce plastic in our oceans!
2. Microfibre Towel: It’s always worth packing a proper towel. Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
3. Security Belt with Hidden Pocket: I never hit the road without my security belt. This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off. This is hands down the best way to hide your cash.
4. Camera or Cell Phone Camera Accessories: One thing’s for sure – Tempe is a picturesque destination! Get perfect shots from your phone using clip-on-lenses with wide-angle, close-up and optical zoom. With the ability to turn travel pictures from basic to professional, this universal lens sits neatly over any phone camera and comes with a durable, travel-friendly case!
5. International Adapter: Tempe outlets accommodate typical US two-pronged plugs, but for electronics that have three prongs or if your plugs are of a different variety, you’ll need an adapter. Save yourself the hassle of trying to track down an adapter at your destination and paying twice as much than planning ahead by buying one online.
Books to Read in Tempe
These are some of the greatest American novels of all time. Be sure to grab a few them of them while backpacking in America.
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Sometimes a Great Notion – A tale of a hardheaded Oregonian logging family that goes on strike, leading the town to drama and tragedy. Written by PNW legend, Ken Kesey.
Walden – The transcendental masterpiece by Henry David Thoreau that helped modern Americans rediscover nature and her beauty.
To Have and To Have Not – A family man gets involved with the drug smuggling business in the Key West and ends up in a strange affair. Written by the great Ernest Hemingway.
Things to Do with Kids in Tempe
If you’re traveling with your family there’s a lot you can share in around Arizona. Outside of the usual parks and museums, there’s a couple of more tantalizing options to keep the little ones happy. Here are our favorite things to keep everyone entertained while you’re in Tempe.
It’s all in the name, this waterpark is the perfect place to visit for an exciting day out in the waters with your whole family. It has a range of pools to get soaked in for different swimming levels.
With slides and a wave pool that are always on the move, you can easily spend your whole day at Big Surf without a worry.
Although you aren’t allowed to bring in your own food onto the premises. The food sold indoors isn’t too badly priced, so you won’t have to pay exorbitant amounts while you’re here.
If you don’t know what to do in Tempe, AZ with kids then Legoland Discovery Center might just be your answer. Legoland is by far one of the best wonderlands to enjoy with the whole family.
This center has a range of thrilling activities on offer including a number of fun rides and 4D movies to watch.
The parents can also relax in the adult dedicated lounge or get their creative juices moving in some of the dedicated creative areas.
More Great Resources
Final Thoughts on Things to do in Tempe, AZ
Although Tempe might not be high on the list of places to visit while you’re in Arizona. It’s definitely worth adding to your itinerary with its interesting mix of things to do.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy the outdoor scenery, the culinary treats or the artistic feats, there’s no doubt that you’ll find something here that interests you.
With its central location, you can easily make it to some of the other captivating destinations around while you’re in Arizona. It’s the perfect place to kickoff your trip to this state on an amazing note!
Enjoy everything that this city has to offer and more with this list of some of our favorite things to do while you’re here!
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