Thing to do in Tempe AZ

Top Tempe Attractions & Activities

Tempe is an urban community of over 150,000 residents located in the center of the Phoenix metropolitan region. It is bordered by Phoenix on the west, Scottsdale on the north, Mesa on the east, and Chandler on the south.

Tempe’s central location is enhanced by an extensive freeway network that provides access to and from these surrounding communities. Arizona State University (ASU), with its main campus in Tempe, is the fourth-largest public university in the nation. ASU continues to play an important role in contributing to Tempe’s considerable educational and cultural resources.

Downtown Tempe

Downtown Tempe has become a regional entertainment center boasting live music, restaurants, boutiques, cafes, theater and film. The area combines historic buildings with modern architecture.

The annual spring and fall Festival of the Arts draws tens of thousands to Downtown Tempe, the largest such event in the Southwest. ASU’s Gammage Auditorium, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, seats 3,000 and hosts world-class productions. The Nelson Fine Arts Center has collections of early American, Mexican and ceramic works. In 1997, the 1.2-million-square-foot Arizona Mills Mall opened in Tempe. The Mills features value-oriented stores and a wide variety of entertainment venues.

Tempe Beach Park

Tempe Beach Park is located at the west-end of Tempe Town Lake. Tempe Beach is the crown jewel of the Tempe Parks System and is the main venue for over 75 events every year including Tempe Music Festival, Tempe Oktoberfest, Festival of Holiday Lights Boat Parade, and the Tempe Fourth of July Fireworks Show. Tempe Beach, next to the Mill Avenue District.

The 25-acre park features 5 miles of jogging paths along the banks of Tempe Town Lake, ramadas and picnic areas. The Splash Playground at Tempe Beach Park is a one-acre, free playground that is centered on water recreation including water slides and sand play areas that are covered in only two inches of water. An attendant is always available during operating hours.

For more information about events, reserving picnic ramadas, and guidelines of use, contact Tempe Parks and Recreation.

Parks & Recreation Dept.
Administrative Office
3500 South. Rural Rd.
Tempe AZ 85282
(480) 350-5200

Tempe Town Lake

Crown Jewel of Tempe. This two-mile long lake is in the heart of Tempe’s recreational and entertainment scene. The south shore banks of Tempe Town Lake hugs the edges of the historic downtown Mill Avenue District and Sun Devil Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University. Students, residents and visitors can spend the morning sailing across the lake, enjoy a jog along lakeside paths at lunch, shop the boutiques of Mill Avenue, have dinner at a nice restaurant and then take a romantic stroll along the still waters all in the same day.

Choose your pleasure. Boat, sail, canoe, kayak, fish, skate, jog, picnic, attend a concert, take the kids to Splash Park or just layout a blanket and enjoy some incredible sunsets. Bring your own boat (electric motor) or rent a paddle boat from Rio Lago Cruise Company on the north shore. The lake’s multi-use trail circles the lake beginning at Tempe Beach Park. The 3-mile route from Mill Avenue to Rural Road is the equivalent of a 5K race making it an ideal training run for area races and marathons.

Great urban fishing. The lake is frequently stocked with rainbow trout while largemouth bass and channel catfish are natural inhabitants of the lake. There have been many lunker bass caught at Tempe Town Lake. Fishing enthusiasts older than 13 years must have an Arizona fishing license and can be purchased at local sporting supply stores. For more fishing info, visit the Tempe Government Town Lake and Arizona Game and Fish websites.

Tempe Festival of the Arts

One of America’s Top 20 Art Festivals. The Tempe Festival of the Arts is really two festivals. One is held during the Fall in early December and another in the Spring during late March. The festivals have been held annually for decades and combined, attract almost 500,000 festivalgoers to the Downtown Mill Avenue District. The streets are closed to vehicle traffic during the 3-day weekend events creating a safe, interactive environment for families and people of all ages.

Quality of the festival is top-notch. Art and craft exhibitors are required to only show handmade works specifically created by the exhibitors. Of the over 1,000 applicants, about 400 are chosen to display their creations ranging from ceramics to photography, woodwork and wearable art. Participants compete in 18 different categories for creative awards. With one-of-a-kind creations by over 400 exhibitors, the festivals offer a unique shopping experience. There is a children’s area where kids can create their own crafts and able to participate in children’s activities.

Much more than an art show. Besides viewing and shopping for unique pieces of handmade art, there is a wide variety of activities and entertainment to enjoy. Food vendors feature over 50 different types of food items and live stages feature music entertainment by local well-known musicians. The high energy atmosphere includes street performers, sponsor exhibits and entertainment booths.

When where and how. The festivals open at 10:00 AM and end at dusk over 3-day weekends. Admission is free. Held in the Mill Avenue District of Downtown Tempe. Since the area streets are closed to vehicle traffic, parking can become congestive. Arrive early to find the best, closest parking. See this Parking Map which defines public parking in downtown. Consider taking the Metro Light Rail that runs between downtown Phoenix and Mill Avenue. With many boarding stations, park-and-ride places, and debarking right on Mill Avenue near the entrance to the Tempe Art Festival, the Light Rail is convenient and easy. If you are visiting from out of town, consider staying at a Tempe hotel near Mill Avenue.

For Scheduled Dates and more infoTempe Festival of the Arts Website

Tempe Oktoberfest

2022 marks the 50th Annual Tempe Oktoberfest Anniversary. Tempe takes on a Bavarian look during the first weekend each October as a projected annual crowd of about 200,000 will enjoy the festivities from Friday to Sunday evening. The annual event brings a bit of Germany to Tempe Beach Park on the banks of Tempe Town Lake.

Admission to Tempe’s Oktoberfest is free. But bring cash to enjoy the beer gardens, wine-tastings and food that extends from German tastes to American flavors as well. Get ready to rock. There are two stages featuring free entertainment that includes local bands with a variety of sounds.

It takes over 2,000 volunteers to Tempe Oktoberfest happen. With over 200,000 attendees, you can just imagine the fun everyone of all ages will enjoy. The Tempe Sister City Corporation, a non-profit group, hosts the event that raises funds for a variety of student and teacher foreign exchange programs.

For more information, annual dates, times of events and performing bands visit the Tempe Oktoberfest website.

Tempe Fantasy of Lights and Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade

Holiday spectacles in Tempe. Christmas spirit, family entertainment and festive holiday shopping. The city of Tempe, the Downtown Community Association knows how to entice people to downtown Tempe to the best holiday fun in the valley. The Tempe Fantasy of Lights held on the day following Thanksgiving Day kicks-off the Christmas and holiday festivities that have become famous in the Tempe Mill Avenue District and Tempe Town Lake. The event begins with the Christmas Tree Lighting and lighting of the vibrant lights on and around Mill Avenue followed by the Fantasy of Lights Parade. Thousands of people line the streets to celebrate this annual set of festive events.

Fantasy of Light Boat Parade. A couple of weeks after the downtown holiday lighting and street parade, the holiday traditions continue with the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade along the south shores of Tempe Town Lake near Tempe Beach Park. Estimates that range from 35,000 to 50,000 people come early to get the best spots as they watch over 50 boats and watercraft all dressed in holiday lights and decorations parade around the lake entertaining the attendees. The Tempe Bridge that carries the Metro Light Rail always as a special touch of excitement. The grand finale ends with an amazing display of fireworks.

Adding to the downtown shopping experience. The Tempe Fall Festival of the Arts is also held early December in the Mill Avenue District. The downtown streets are closed to accommodate over 400 exhibitors, street entertainers, food vendors and stage concerts. This event kicks-off the holiday shopping attraction as about 250,000 people visit the 3-day weekend festival to view and purchase original handmade works of art.

Annual Tempe Music Festival

Get ready to rock. Each spring the Circle K Tempe Music Festival spans two rocking days at Tempe Beach Park on the shores of Tempe Town Lake within walking distance of Arizona State University and the Mill Avenue Downtown District. The Music Festival has been voted as “Arizona’s Best Annual Music Festival” by the readers of Phoenix New Times and, online home of the Arizona Republic.

Circle K Tempe Town Lake Music Festival

Three stages of non-stop music. The Circle K Tempe Music Festival has hosted national acts such as Kid Rock, All American Rejects, 3 Doors Down, Fergie, My Chemical Romance, Puddle of Mudd, The Fray, O.A.R., The Gin Blossoms, Jeff Beck, John Mayer Trio, Live, Blues Traveler and many more. A unique feature includes the SRP Music Shack which showcases SRP Garage Band Competition where local high school and college bands battle it out for a chance to rock the festival’s main stage

Guidelines and answers. Attendees do not have to be 21 years for entry, but proper ID is required to purchase alcohol. Backpacks, sealed water bottles and personal cameras are permitted at the festival. Items that are not permitted include glass bottles, weapons, outside alcoholic beverages, lawn chairs, pets, bicycles, professional cameras and professional recording devices. Re-entry is not allowed. Attendees are encouraged to patronize downtown Tempe businesses before or after the Circle K Tempe Music Festival. Tickets are not refundable, and all acts will perform unless weather conditions create a safety hazard.

Dates and hours. The Circle K Tempe Music Festival is typically held during the spring over a Friday and Saturday. Usual hours are 4:30 PM to Midnight on Fridays and from Noon to Midnight on Saturdays. For exact dates, times, details and music performers, please visit the Circle K Tempe Music Festival website.

Parking and Metro Light Rail. The closest free parking is about a quarter mile from Tempe Beach Park off of Rio Salado Parkway and Hardy. Fee-based parking is available in the surrounding Mill Avenue District. Ride the Metro Light Rail to the Mill Avenue and 3rd Street stop which is only about a block south of Tempe Beach Park. The rail usually extends it operating hours to 12:30 AM to accommodate Music Festival guests. Check with Metro Light Rail for schedules and stations.

Circle K Tempe Music Festival
80 West Rio Salado Parkway (& Mill Avenue)
Downtown Tempe, Arizona 85281

Tempe Fourth of July Festival

Largest fireworks show in Arizona. Bring your blankets, portable chairs and empty tummies for the best fireworks show in Arizona. The July Fourth Tempe Town Lake Festival and Fireworks Show takes place each July 4th on the South Shore of Tempe Town Lake at the Tempe Beach Park near Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe. Kickback with the family beginning at 4 PM. Come early to get the best spots. Aim your eyes at the Mill Avenue Bridge and get ready for a magical show of bursting lights above the dark skies across the lake all choreographed with patriotic music.

Picture of Crowd Gathering at Tempe Fire Works Show
Right Before The Fire Works © Creative Commons

Please note. This is a family-friendly event produced by the Kiwanis Club of Tempe. Blankets, lawn chairs, cameras, personal umbrellas that do not exceed 48″ and 1 gallon of sealed water per person are permitted. Skates, bicycles, skateboards, knives, firearms or weapons are not permitted. Other than service dogs for the handicapped, pets are not allowed. . And please, no food or coolers. Food and refreshment vendors are available at the park. Fees are charged which permit the Kiwanis Club to produce the event and net proceeds are use for children’s charities and services. Typically, children under 12 and military people with proper ID are admitted free.

A festive celebration. This is a spirited, energetic and patriotic celebration of Independence Day. Everyone of all ages will enjoy live entertainment and the food courts featuring BBQ, hot dogs, snow cones, refreshments and more. The kids will enjoy the inflatable village, splash zone, a variety of rides, rock climbing, face painting and relay races.

More information. Visit the Tempe Fourth website for schedules, entrance fees, parking information, public transportation and live entertainment lineup.

A Few Facts About Tempe

Tempe is known for its central location and the heart of Arizona State University. It is close to downtown with a light rail at your doorstep throughout the city. Tempe is the 8th largest city in Arizona with a population of 161,719 people. Residents of Tempe enjoy great weather all winter long with an average temperature of 72.3 degrees from Nov-March during our winter months. While a little warmer in the summer months this makes Tempe a great winter vacation destination for many cold-weather visitors. Tempe also offers one of the country’s best business schools, Carey School of Business – Arizona State University. Tempe has 68,113 households with an average household size of 2.22 people.

Tempe is a great place to live with its many restaurants, resorts, desert activities, breathtaking views, and abundance of outdoor activities. Here are a few areas to consider visiting while house hunting in Tempe: Mill Avenue, Tempe Town Lake, Tempe Comedy Club, Toby Keiths This Bar & Grill, Arizona Opera Company, Tempe Market Place, Arizona Gamage Off-Broadway Theatre, South Mountain National Forest, Papago Park and plenty more to explore! If you need a short-term rental while you are house hunting, try these Tempe Vacation Rentals.


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