September 19, 2019

City Spotlight: Tempe

Why visit Tempe, Arizona?

  • An oasis in the middle of the desert, with a lake offering waterfront recreational activities
  • Great museums and cultural attractions, conveniently located on the ASU campus
  • Large shopping centers that will please both bargain hunters and trendy fashionistas
  • Dozens of fun festivals to be enjoyed year-round in the great weather
View of Tempe Arizona

Frontdesk welcomes you to Tempe, AZ! Tempe is located in south-central Arizona, bordered by Phoenix to the west and Scottsdale to the north. Tempe is most well known for being home to the Arizona State University’s main campus. The campus offers great restaurants, nightlife, museums, and galleries that are enjoyed by far more than just students. Besides the campus, Tempe has many other things to enjoy: outdoor recreational activities, shopping, festivals, and great food.

Tempe Vacations

Tempe makes a great spot for a relaxing vacation, whether you need a weekend away or you’re doing a road trip through all the major Arizona hotspots. This southwestern college town is the perfect combination of laid-back and entertaining, with a variety of activities and attractions to enjoy.

Tempe Business Trips

Business travelers typically come to Tempe when they have events or business to conduct at the ASU campus. You also may be doing business in Phoenix, but opting to stay in Tempe where the vibe is a bit more offbeat and relaxed. Whatever the reason, Tempe has lots to do without the overwhelming feeling that some travelers get from larger cities.

What is there to do in Tempe?

Whether you prefer spending time outdoors on the water or at a festival, or indoors visiting top tourist attractions and shopping, Tempe will have something for you to enjoy. The city also has great restaurants and bars, many of which can be enjoyed from outdoor patios! Here are a few of the hotspots we recommend checking out while in Tempe, AZ.

Tempe Town Lake in Arizona

Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake is a 220-acre artificial reservoir, waterfront area, and recreational haven. Located right in downtown, this top attraction is the perfect spot for kayaking, sailing, rowing, jogging, skating, or picnicking. You can rent electric boats, try paddleboard yoga, or bike alongside the water. Tempe is also an artsy city, so you can even take a self-guided tour of the Tempe Town Lake public art.

Tempe Marketplace in Arizona

Shop Until You Drop

Arizona Mills is the largest shopping center in Arizona with 175 name-brand outlets and value retailers. The mall also features unique entertainment options like Legoland, Sea Life (a 26,000 square foot aquarium), and a movie theater. One of the other top shopping destinations in the area, Tempe Marketplace, is home to more than 100 retailers and restaurants within the 1.3 million-square-foot outdoor retail space.

Festivals

Tempe is known for hosting great events and festivals, and they do so year-round. The biggest festival in Tempe is the biannual Festival of the Arts (held in the fall and the spring), as well as the Dragon Boat Festival, the Aloha Festival, Oktoberfest, the Innings Festival, and more. View a schedule of city events and festivals here.

ASU Art Museum in Tempe Arizona

Museums/Galleries on ASU Tempe Campus

A college campus may not sound like the most fascinating place to spend your time, but trust us, this one is. The ASU Tempe Campus (the university’s main campus) has dozens of impressive museums and galleries. For art lovers, the ASU Art Museum exhibits national and international contemporary artists as well as the largest collection of Cuban art in the U.S. There is also the Ceramics Research Center in connection with the art museum which has an extensive ceramic collection of close to 4,000 objects. For science lovers, the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration has several museums and galleries: the Gallery of Scientific Exploration, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Facility, the Mars Space Flight Facility, and more.

Pedal Haus Brewery

Restaurants & Bars

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you’ll want to start it off at Daily Jam (formerly called NCounter), a causal brunch spot that serves up everything from the classic eggs benedict or yogurt and granola to the more unique red velvet waffles. Like the rest of Arizona, Tempe is known for its southwestern flavor and Mexican-inspired dishes. Head to El Tlacoyo for lunch, a low-key family restaurant in the northeast corner of the city that focuses on the dishes of central Mexico. We recommend the lamb barbacoa and the quesadillas. House of Tricks serves up a nice dinner whether you’re on a date or just looking for some good food. It is located in a charming 1920s cottage just off Mill Avenue and also has an intimate tree-canopied patio and fire pit. If you’re looking for drinks to enjoy on another great patio, check out Pedal Haus Brewery. The gastropub was voted one of the top 10 best patios in Tempe and has an extensive beer and cocktail list, as well as an onsite brewing facility.

Key Areas of Tempe

Compared to other places in Arizona, Tempe isn’t particularly large although it is populous. While the city isn’t split into major neighborhoods or districts, here are a few of the key areas you will need to know.

Downtown

Downtown Tempe is bustling and filled with things to do. The downtown area is bordered by Tempe Town Lake and the ASU campus. You may also hear reference to “Mill Ave,” a popular stretch of the road with top restaurants, nightlife, and Tempe’s Music Walk.

ASU Campus

The Arizona State University campus area, which partly overlaps with downtown, has great dining options as well as many museums and galleries. This area is not just for college students!

South Tempe

South Tempe is a quieter, more residential area of the city compared to the more northern parts, but it still has its own draws. South Tempe is home to the large Arizona Mills Mall and the Kiwanis Recreation Center, which has fields, courts, and an indoor wave pool.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tempe

The city was officially founded in 1871 and incorporated as a city in 1881.
Tempe was named after the Vale of Tempe near Mount Olympus in Greece.
Although many out-of-towners may incorrectly say “Temp-eh,” the correct pronunciation is “Temp-ee.”
If you are venturing outside the downtown/ASU area, you will likely need a car. But the downtown area itself is very walkable! You could also opt to use a bike or public transit like the bus or light rail.
Hot! In the warmer months, temperatures average above 85°, reaching up to 103°. In the cooler months, temperatures average in the 40-60° range. Tempe is generally dry and sunny with an average of 300 days of sunshine.
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