Tempe is a lively, family-friendly, and youthful city rich in culture, surrounded by nature, and has a unique history. Located just fifteen minutes south of Scottsdale and 20 minutes east of Downtown Phoenix, it is ideal for a day trip or year-round getaway destination in Arizona.
From beautiful hiking trails to buzzing urban centers, Tempe tourism offers a diverse choice of things to do. Whether you’re looking to learn about the local history in Tempe’s museums, get cultured in the many art galleries, go shopping at Downtown Tempe’s boutiques, or explore the surrounding desert landscape, your stay at a Bella Palazzo vacation home will give you a central location to experience it all!
Explore Tempe Town Lake
Tempe Town Lake is a large, man-made reservoir that offers the perfect urban escape. If you’re looking to get some exercise, you can go for a run, walk, or sunset stroll along the 5-mile bike path that loops around the lake.
You can also have fun on the lake itself! You can rent stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and even boats to paddle or ride around the lake. Northshore Watersport Rentals offers kayak, SUP, and bike rentals. Boat Rentals of America is a good place to rent both electric boats and peddle boats. They even have a fun electric donut boat available for rent.
Just keep in mind that swimming in Tempe Town Lake is prohibited for safety reasons.
Visit the Tempe Center For the Arts
Pristinely located on the waterfront of Tempe Town Lake, the Tempe Center for the Arts is a beautiful, architecturally impressive performing arts center that is well worth visiting.
The Tempe Center for the Arts hosts a wide range of events. There is always something going on from concerts and dance shows to Wednesday open mic nights and comedy shows. Just check out their website for their event schedule to see what is going on while you’re visiting Tempe.
Watch a Sporting Event
Another of the best things to do in Tempe is to attend a sporting event! Tempe is home to the Diablo Stadium, where you can watch the Arizona minor league Tempe Angels take on other professional baseball teams. If you’re a hockey fan, you can watch the Arizona Coyotes take on their opponents at Mullet Arena.
If you’re a college sports fan, you’re in luck, the main ASU campus is in Tempe, and you can watch the Sun Devils play various sports in Tempe.
Tempe History Museum
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Tempe and the whole Salt River Valley, you won’t want to miss the Tempe History Museum.
The museum’s crown jewel is its permanent exhibit, “Tempe: Distinct, Diverse, Dynamic.” This exhibit walks you through Tempe’s history, from its Native American roots, through the farming and ranching era, up to the present day. The collection features various artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays.
In addition to the permanent exhibit, the museum hosts various rotating exhibits showcasing Tempe’s history and surrounding towns.
If you’re visiting with children, the museum also features the “Kid’s Place,” an interactive play space for kids designed to teach them about history in a fun way.
For unique and interesting keepsakes, check out the museum store, which offers an array of Tempe-themed items, including books, crafts, and souvenirs.
Experience the Mill Avenue District
The walkable streets of the Mill Avenue District are lined with a variety of shops, a diverse range of dining options, a variety of options for nightlife, and a vibrant art scene.
You’ll find the downtown area of Tempe along South Mill Avenue, closer to the Arizona State University Campus. This section of Mill Avenue is known for its nightlife, charming brick buildings, microbreweries, and restaurants.
Mill Avenue is also home to a variety of fun art festivals and shows, such as the Tempe Fall Festival of the Arts. If you’re looking to shop, eat, and get a feel for the city, exploring Mill Avenue is one of Tempe’s best things to do.
See Live Performances at Improv Theater
If you’re looking for something fun and unique to do in Tempe, see a comedy show at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater.
The venue has even hosted big names like Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, and Robbert Schimmel- it’s a great place to see a comedy show. The theater hosts shows almost every night. Just be sure to buy tickets directly from their website, as they do not accept tickets purchased from resellers.
Visit Papago Park
Known for its distinctive red sandstone buttes, Papago Park spans a massive 1500 acres and is the perfect place to hike, learn about the area’s history, and soak up the sun. It’s located just minutes from downtown Tempe and is also a fantastic place for a picnic.
Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden
Papago Park offers more than just trails and an escape into nature; the park is also home to the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden. The Phoenix Zoo houses over 1,400 animals, including many endangered species, while the Desert Botanical Garden boasts a vast collection of desert plants.
Papago Golf Club
You can even tee up at Papago Golf Club if you enjoy golfing. Surrounded by the native desert landscape, this is the perfect place to enjoy what Tempe is all about.
Papago Park is also home to a small, man-made lake that is stocked with trout, bass, Channel Catfish, Sunfish, and White Amur that you can fish for if you obtain a Class U Urban Fishing License.
Papago Park Arizona Heritage Center
Visit the Papago Park Arizona Heritage Center to learn more about the land’s history, attend book talks, and see the museum’s permanent WW2, Desert City, People’s, and Arizona, and the 5 C’s exhibits.
Papago Park has ten different well-maintained hiking and biking trails suitable for all levels. For an easy walk, you can take the .3-mile Hole In The Rock Trail or the .6-mile Ranger Office Loop Trail. Check out the 3.1-mile Papago Park 5k Fitness Trail or the 2.7-mile Elliot Ramada Loop Trail for a longer hike.
Visit the Sea Life Aquarium
For an immersive underwater experience, a visit to the Sea Life Aquarium is by far one of the best things to do in Tempe.
The Sea Life Aquarium is 26,000 square feet, boasts Arizona’s only 360-degree ocean tunnel, and is home to over 5,000 sea animals, including seahorses, sharks, stingrays, turtles, clownfish, and indigenous Arizona species.
The aquarium also has interactive touch pools, where you can get hands-on with starfish and sea anemones.
Visit the Tempe Marketplace
Tempe Marketplace, located in the heart of Tempe, is a massive outdoor shopping center that offers a blend of shopping, dining, and entertainment in one place. The marketplace has over 70 shops, including Barnes & Noble, Lane Bryant, Mens Warehouse, Target, and some of the best eating in Tempe.
The Tempe Marketplace also has 30 restaurants and a movie theater, often hosting live music and events.
Legoland Discovery Center
The Legoland Discovery Center is a vibrant, interactive Lego playground that is one of the best things to do in Tempe for families with children.
Within the 40,000 square foot Legoland Discovery Center, you’ll find over a million legos, themed Lego play zones, an area for kids to build and race their own Lego cars, and even a Lego-themed adventure ride. The center also has a 4D cinema that brings Lego characters to life with exciting special effects.
Kiwanis Park is a popular outdoor recreation area that’s perfect if you’re looking for a breath of fresh air during your time in the city. Spread across 125 acres, this park offers several options for outdoor activities, thanks to the park’s tennis courts, volleyball courts, soccer fields, baseball fields, and a well-stocked lake for fishing.
One of the standout features of Kiwanis Park is its wave pool. Adjacent to Kiwanis Park, the Kiwanis Recreation Center hosts an indoor heated wave pool with waves reaching up to 3 feet high and water slides.
For a peaceful thing to do in Tempe, enjoy the beautiful green spaces in Kiwanis Park, or have a picnic at one of their well-equipped picnic areas complete with grills and ramadas.
Painting with a Twist
Painting with a Twist offers a fun and relaxing painting experience with a twist – it’s a paint-and-sip studio, meaning you can enjoy your favorite beverage while exploring your artistic side.
Under the guidance of experienced artists, you’ll follow step-by-step instructions to create your own masterpiece, even if you’re new to painting. It’s perfect for a girls’ night out, date night, or even a solo adventure.
In addition to their regular sessions, Painting with a Twist hosts special events and private parties. All materials are provided, so all you need to do is come ready to have fun and get creative.
Petersen House Museum
The Petersen House Museum offers a trip back in time to Tempe’s Victorian era. Originally the home of Niels Petersen, a prosperous local farmer, the house now showcases life as it was in the late 1800s.
Visitors can tour the beautifully preserved rooms filled with period furnishings and learn about the history of the house and its inhabitants from the tour guides. The museum also hosts various educational programs throughout the year, providing deeper insights into this fascinating period of Tempe’s history.
The house is especially worth visiting around the holidays when it’s festively decorated for Christmas.
Have a Spa Day
The city of Tempe, Arizona, with its warm weather and relaxed vibe, is also a fabulous wellness destination, and one of the most relaxing things to do in Tempe is to visit a spa.
One of the top-rated spas in Tempe is the Sonoran Serenity Spa, known for its holistic approach to wellness. Here you can enjoy everything from traditional massages and facials to unique services like hypnotherapy, cupping, and Dermaplaning exfoliation.
Another exceptional spa in Tempe is the Narande Spa, located at the Marriott Phoenix Resort. It boasts a comprehensive menu of treatments, including rejuvenating body scrubs, therapeutic massages, and even a desert hot stone massage.
Spa visitors are also welcome to use the resort’s fitness center and swim in the beautiful, free-form pools, complete with a waterfall.
Book Your Tempe Getaway Today
From hiking in Papago Park and exploring Mill Avenue’s restaurants, shops, and pubs to indulging in a luxury spa day, there is so much to do in Tempe.
Book your sophisticated, luxury vacation rental today for the ultimate getaway in this vibrant city; Tempe is waiting for you.