9+ Unique Things to Do in Tempe Today

Unearth the secrets hidden within Tempe History Museum's walls - what unexpected tales await? The last exhibit will astonish you... Find out why!
Date Published
March 8, 2024

Table of Contents

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Ever wondered if there's a place where the desert sun kisses modern city vibes and adventure screams your name from every corner? Well, strap in, because Tempe, Arizona, is that unexpected gem that's been hiding in plain sight. What's the deal with Tempe, you ask? It's not just the scorching heat and cacti folks – there's a treasure trove of kick-butt activities that will leave your social media followers begging for your travel secrets. Imagine gliding on Tempe Town Lake with just a kayak and your sense of wonder, or laughing so hard your belly hurts at the infamous Tempe Improv.

But that's just the appetizer. You've got the iconic Hayden Butte for night hikes that enlighten more than just your fit-bit step count, and streets splashed with art that tells stories more vivid than your granddad's 'back in my day' tales. Are you ready to pique your curiosity with a visit to the Tempe History Museum or taste the local flavor at craft breweries that'll make your tastebuds sing? Buckle up, buttercup, because I'm about to serve you the ultimate guide to making your Tempe fever hotter than an Arizona summer!


Uncover the Charm of Tempe History Museum

Step into the past and be ready to get your mind blown at the Tempe History Museum, where the stories of Tempe's yesteryears spring to life. What makes this gem stand out? It's chock-full of captivating exhibits that vividly paint a picture of how Tempe has transformed over time. Whether you're a local with roots going deep or a visitor looking to nibble on some historical tidbits, this place has your name written all over it.

Let's dive in, shall we? Picture this: interactive displays that make history feel like it's happening right here, right now. We're talking about Tempe's growth from a mere desert town to the bustling, lively city it is today. Spend a good hour or so (more if time lets you really get cozy with history) and you won't just leave with cool facts—you'll leave with stories.

Families, you'll be glad to know this isn't a snooze fest - far from it! Got rambunctious kids? Let them at it! There's enough here to keep tiny curious minds and adult history buffs engaged. Planning your visit around an event? Check out the Tempe History Museum event calendar because when they throw down an event, they throw down Tempe-style.

So, here's the scoop. Whether you're flying solo, dragging—I mean, _bringing_—the family, or out on a school escapade, there's a little slice of Tempe's heart waiting for you at the museum. And if timing's on your side, grab a meal at a nearby cozy café or chase down a food truck. It's not just a trip to a museum; it's your backstage pass to the rich tapestry that is Tempe. And tell me, who wouldn't want that?

Now, don't just sit there! Get out and stroll into the Tempe History Museum, where every exhibit is a doorway to the past, and every story is a treasure for the future.


Glide Across Tempe Town Lake by Kayak

Imagine the sun warming your shoulders, the sound of water gently lapping against your kayak, and the Phoenix skyline stretching in the distance. Yep, you're gliding across Tempe Town Lake - and it's just as idyllic as it sounds.

Kayak rentals at Tempe Town Lake? You betcha! You can easily rent a kayak and get your adventure on. You don't need experience; just the will to paddle and have a blast.

Here's what makes it prime for both the solo explorer and the family flock:


  • Setting off in a kayak, you'll find yourself in the heart of Tempe, but feeling like you're miles away from any urban hustle.
  • The view? Oh, it's nothing short of picture-perfect, making for Instagram gold.
  • Suitable for all skill levels, the lake is cool and calm, making it ideal for beginners and families with kiddos.
  • If you've got that need for speed or a thrill, up the ante by racing across the lake or taking a twilight paddle—it's a different kind of magic.


You won't need to block off your whole day, either. Most people can have their fill of fun in just a couple of hours. And after you've worked up an appetite, there are spots nearby to snag a bite with a view of the water.

Expect to see a mix of locals getting their fitness on and visitors soaking up the sun. So, whether you're aiming for a zen solo paddle or you want to race your pals, Tempe Town Lake has got your back. Just remember, while you're basking in that Arizona sun, slap on some sunscreen - no one looks good lobster red.

And remember: Life's short. Paddle more. Who knows what you might discover out there on the water? Here's a tip: Book your kayak ahead through one of the handy kayak rentals at Tempe Town Lake. Make a splash and create some waves! Your epic story waiting to be told, my friend.


Revel at a Moonlit Night Hike on Hayden Butte

Let's not kid ourselves, you're looking for something beyond the daylight routine, aren't you? Well, how about you spice up the night by hiking up Hayden Butte under the moon's glow? And trust me, night hikes at Hayden Butte are not your average walk in the park; they're an adventure that'll have you seeing Tempe in a whole new light—literally!

Now let's talk magic. Imagine the cool night breeze, twinkling stars overhead, and the city lights twinkling like a carpet of earthbound stars beneath you. This hike isn’t just good exercise, it's a memory-maker. And before you ask, yes, it’s as dreamy as it sounds.

Whether you're a lone wolf on a peaceful quest, a couple looking for that spark of romance, or a group hunting thrills, Hayden Butte fits the bill. So, what about the crowd? It’s a mix of friendly faces, all there for the love of nature and a killer view. But don't you worry about bumping elbows too much — there's plenty of trails for everyone.

You won't need to pack for a weekend either; this hike is the perfect length for an evening escapade. Around an hour should do it, leaving you plenty of time for a post-hike treat. Oh, and the trails are well-marked, just in case you were wondering. So even if it's your first time, there's nothing to stress about. You might just be surprised at how beginner-friendly a night-time trek can be!

What's next after your exhilarating hike? Maybe you want to keep the night going, right? Well, you're in perfect luck because downtown Tempe is just a stone's throw away. Go ahead and treat yourself—you've earned it!

Pro tip: Bring a light, comfy shoes, and your sense of wonder. And for Pete’s sake, don’t forget your camera. You’ll want to capture this because words just won’t do it justice. Ready to take your night from meh to magnificent? Let Hayden Butte lead the way.


Dine Al Fresco on Tempe's Best Patios

Imagine the warm breeze, a cool drink in your hand, and the buzz of happy chatter around you. You've just found your way to one of Tempe's best patios for dining. And let me tell you, it's where the magic happens.

First, get ready to sink your teeth into mouthwatering dishes under the open sky. Yes, Tempe's patios aren't just about getting sun-kissed during a leisurely lunch; they're a culinary adventure that'll make your taste buds do a happy dance. You're sitting amidst the cozy ambiance created by twinkling lights and maybe the gentle strumming of a live guitar at an eatery just a stone's throw away from lively streets filled with local charm.

Whether you're into people-watching or prefer a serene spot away from the bustle, you'll find a patio that's just right for you. So, grab your pals, your family, or even fly solo because these patios are perfect for every kind of diner, whether you're a brunch enthusiast or a romantic dinner aficionado. And who knows, you might just become a part of the local gossip while you're at it!

Don't just eat; experience the vibrancy of Tempe's local dining scene. Spend an hour or the whole evening - time seems to stand still when you're having this much fun. Oh, and before you dash off into the sunset, make sure to capture that Instagram-worthy sunset that just seems to dip perfectly behind the horizon as you take that last bite. Divine, isn't it?

Whether it's for the foodie in you, the love of alfresco dining, or just because you fancy a bit of that Arizona sky while you dine – Tempe's patios are calling your name. So what are you waiting for? Don't just sit there dreaming about it. Go ahead and reserve your spot on the best patio now. Bon appétit, my friend, under the grand, sprawling canvas of Tempe skies.


Laugh Out Loud at Tempe Improv Comedy Club

Get ready to bust a gut and slap your knees at the Tempe Improv Comedy Club! Yes, you're in for a night where you can just sit back, relax, and let your laughter rip. Picture this: a hilarious headliner grabs the mic, and before you know it, you're laughing louder than you ever thought possible. It's like your very own joke-tacular party!

This laugh factory isn't just for anyone — no, sir! It's a playground for the witty and the fun-loving. Expect a crowd that's a mix of date-night goers, groups of friends, and comedy enthusiasts all ready to have a good time. Sorry kiddos, this is an adult evening out, so find a sitter for the tots!

Let me give you the skinny on the deets: shows are usually around 90 minutes to two hours. That's like an entire movie, but way more exciting. You get to interact, you get real human crack-ups, and surprise — no two shows are ever the same! Local talent? Check. Famous faces? Double-check. Food and drinks? Triple-check with a cherry on top!

Plan at least a couple of hours here because you'll want to settle in, sip on something yum, and munch on some snacks as you prepare for the comedy siege. Located right in the heart of Tempe, with plenty of options nearby to keep the good times rolling before or after the show, the Improv is in the sweet spot for night owls looking for the amuse-bouche of evening entertainment.

So, what's it gonna be? Are you ready for a night of funnies that'll leave you grinning from ear to ear? Because that's what's in store at Tempe Improv Comedy Club, where every chuckle and guffaw is 100% certified original. Get your laugh on, folks!


Mountain Bike Thrills in South Mountain Park

Ready to kick up some dust and get those wheels spinning? Mountain biking in South Mountain Park isn't just an activity, it's an adventure of epic proportions. Picture this: over 50 miles of trails weaving through rugged desert landscape, where the cacti stand tall and the views stretch for miles. From beginner-friendly routes to challenge-seeking paths, this park has a trail with your name on it.

Before you go, let's get the essentials out of the way. Yes, South Mountain Park is huge – like, one of the largest municipal parks in the whole country huge. So, whether you're a lone wolf on two wheels or bringing the entire wolf pack, there's plenty of room for everyone. Prepare for a solid half-day of exploration, or even a full day if you're feeling especially adventurous!

Now, who's ready to tackle rollers and rock gardens? Whether tackling the Desert Classic Trail or braving the National Trail, both newbies and seasoned pros will find thrills galore. The experienced riders, though, you'll want to tackle National – it's known to get a little wild.

Don't have a bike? No sweat! There are plenty of bike rental spots around, so you can just show up and ride. But, a wise biker always checks the weather – we're talking about the desert, so hydrate like you've never hydrated before!

Soak in the local flora and fauna, breeze past ancient petroglyphs, and if you time it just right, watch the sunset paint the sky from the top of the mountain. And if you're all about that social scene, join in on group rides and make some pedal buddies.

What's not to love? You've got fresh air, exercise, and killer Insta-worthy pics waiting to happen. All ages and skill levels are welcome, but keep in mind, the more challenging trails are best suited for those with some biking experience. Now, go hit the trail and ride into that Arizona horizon – adventure is calling!


Stroll the Vibrant Tempe Street Art Scene

Tempe's streets are a canvas, splashed with color and bursting with stories. Every wall and alleyway is an open-air gallery where the city's soul comes to life. Start your adventure downtown, with murals that stretch stories high and mini-masterpieces tucked in the most unexpected corners.

From the larger-than-life portraits immortalizing local legends to abstract explosions of color that'll make your heart throb, Tempe street art gives "walking around" a whole new meaning. You're not just passing through; you're traveling. Each piece turns sidewalks into time machines and teleportation devices, whisking you from historical homage to futuristic fantasy within a few feet.

Is it good for families? Absolutely. Your little ones will marvel at the dragons and dreamscapes. Is it a hit for the hip singles? You bet. Instagram's never seen such edgy backdrops for your next profile pic. As for how long to spend? You could spend a quick hour, but why rush? Give yourself a morning, an afternoon—or hey, a whole day!

Nearby, local eateries turn "art appreciation" into a sensory feast. And when you're done, take a tempe street art tour to hear the behind-the-scenes tales that'll make your favorite pieces even more memorable.

So slap on some comfy shoes, grab your camera, and unleash your imagination. The Tempe street art scene isn't just a thing to do; it's the place where you become part of the canvas, where your memories are painted in vibrant strokes of urban genius. Ready to become a living piece of art?


Relish Local Craft Brews in Tempe

You're strolling the sun-drenched streets of Tempe with a thirst you can't quite quench with your average, run-of-the-mill drinks. You're craving something unique, a flavor that captures the spirit of the place. Make your way to local craft breweries in Tempe and let's get that thirst handled!

Imagine a place where hops and dreams swirl together in a symphony of taste. First stop, Four Peaks Brewing Company, a temple for the hop-hearted. Their 8th Street Brewery is not just a local legend; it's an icon in the Arizona craft beer scene. Here, with friends or flying solo, you can gear up for an authentic beer adventure.

But why stop at one? The craft beer scene in Tempe is brewing with variety. Pedal Haus Brewery beckons with its award-winning beers and massive, sun-soaked patio – perfect for both the beer aficionado and the sunshine seeker. Every sip whispers tales of Tempe's chill vibe and invites you to relax into the afternoon or gear up for the night ahead.

Devoted to the delicate craft, these local heroes are slinging out bold IPAs, soul-soothing stouts, and everything in-between. You'll find a brew that feels like it was made just for you. And hey, let's talk about spirited conversations with fellow beer lovers! You'll bond over favorite styles or debate the best pairings – perhaps a robust ale with a fiery Southwest dish?

Whether you're in a contemplative mood, yearning for a quiet corner to ponder over a pint, or on the hunt for the heart of Tempe's social scene, these breweries have your back. Take a leisurely afternoon or make it a full-hop escapade; just remember, you're here to savor every drop.

So, there you have it. A frothy pint awaits to make your day unforgettable. Grab your fellow beer enthusiasts or make some new pals. Ready to toast to the good times? Cheers, my friend, to mesmerizing brews beneath the broad Arizona sky!


Engage with Art at ASU Gammage Shows

Picture this: you’re sitting in a beautifully designed auditorium, the lights dim, and the curtain rises to reveal a stage set for a Broadway blockbuster. At ASU Gammage, you don't just watch a show; you become part of a thrilling artistic experience unmatched in the region.

ASU Gammage is not only an architectural masterpiece by the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright but also a cultural hotspot for ASU Gammage Broadway shows. You've got to be ready for big musical numbers, dramatic lighting, and that unmistakable buzzing energy only live performances can give. It's where the stage comes alive, where stories unfold before your eyes, and emotions run high.

Whether you're a die-hard musical fan or new to the world of theater, ASU Gammage welcomes you with open arms. This is a place where every performance is an opportunity to dress up, grab a pal or a date, and lose yourself in the spectacle. And hey, it's not just about the evening shows – there are matinees too, so you can soak up some drama by day and still have time for Tempe’s nightlife later.

What's really cool is that several dining options are right around the corner, making it a perfect evening plan. From grabbing a quick bite before the show to discussing plot twists over dessert, the local eateries cater to all your cravings. And when it comes to crowds, ASU Gammage is versatile – it's a magnet for everyone from couples to families, theater buffs to first-timers.

So, reserve a spot at the next available show, and give yourself the treat of live artistry. Trust me, when the ovation-worthy performance hits its final note and the audience leaps to their feet, you'll feel right in the heart of Tempe's artistic soul. And that, my friends, is a feeling you just can't download or stream.

For more on current and upcoming shows, be sure to check out ASU Gammage’s lineup. It's time you immersed yourself in the blend of tradition, talent, and pure imaginative power that is Broadway in Tempe!


Shop for Unique Finds at Tempe Farmers Markets

Picture yourself weaving through the vibrant stalls of a bustling Tempe farmers market, where the colors are as vivid as your imagination and the smells are a culinary embrace. This is where locals and visitors alike buzz with excitement, hunting for the freshest produce, most unique handmade crafts, and a taste of the community that's as warm as the Arizona sun.

Tempe's farmers markets are not just stores; they’re treasure troves of local flavor and charm. You’ll mingle with the artisans and farmers, putting faces to the names behind your food and gifts. It’s here that you can fill your tote with organic fruits and veggies that haven't even dreamed of a grocery store shelf.

But wait, there's more than just food—although, let’s be honest, that's already a win. In search of that perfect handcrafted necklace or quirky home decor? The markets are your new best friends, offering crafts that scream “you won't find me at the mall!”

And when should you visit one of these delightful havens of local produce and crafts? The earlier, the better, to snag those one-of-a-kind items. Whether you're a solo adventurer on a quest for the freshest avocado or a family out for a weekend stroll, the markets cater to all.

The best part? There's always a chance of discovering something new. Seasonal specialties that make your taste buds cheer? Check. The cozy handmade scarf you’ve been searching for? Got it.

So grab your sun hat and a reusable bag, get ready to haggle a little and laugh a lot, and make your way to the heart of local commerce and culture. The Tempe farmers markets are calling, and you’ve got some serious shopping to do.


Discover Tranquility at Kiwanis Park


Imagine a place where you can kick back, forget about your buzzing phone, and just enjoy a slice of serenity. Well, guess what? Kiwanis Park is that peaceful paradise. This is the spot where locals come to take a deep breath and where visitors find a lush escape from the hustle and bustle.

Let's paint a picture: you've got over 125 acres of rolling greenery begging for a picnic, families laughing as they paddle around the lake, and the sound of basketballs bouncing on the pavements. Oh, and if you're a fan of reeling in some fish, there’s a spot for that too! Before you even ask – yes, there's rental gear available, so you're all set for a leisurely day of fishing or playing volleyball with newfound friends.

So, who's this park perfect for? Honestly, it's a haven for everyone. Got kiddos chomping at the bit for some playground fun? There’s plenty of space to run wild. Looking for an adrenaline rush? Grab your skateboard and hit the ramps. Or maybe you're more about strapping on your rollerblades and gliding through the pathways -- you do you!

Now, about those recreation options. They're not just abundant; they're varied. Check this out:


  • Batting cages. Swing, batter, batter!
  • Tennis courts. Bring your A-game.
  • A wave pool. Yes, you read that right – surfing in landlocked Tempe.


Kiwanis Park isn't just a spot to visit; it's an experience. Spend an hour or linger for the day. It's the kind of place where you'll see students sprawling with books, couples strolling hand in hand, and fitness enthusiasts getting their workout fix.

Oh, and the cherry on top? The recreation center! If the Arizona sun’s got you craving some AC, duck inside for some indoor activities.

Bottom line, Kiwanis Park is more than green grass and picnic spots. It's Tempe's best kept secret for fun and relaxation, and it’s calling your name. Pack your snacks, bring your enthusiasm, and make some memories!


Savor International Flavors in Tempe


Alright, foodies! Tempe's on the menu today, and boy, does it have a smorgasbord of international cuisine waiting for you! When you're craving a culinary adventure that spans the globe, you don't need a passport—just an appetite.

First things first.

Got an eye—or should I say a stomach—for Japanese, Italian, or Mexican food? Tempe's got it all, from sushi that's rolled to perfection to pastas that would make nonna proud, to tacos that'll have you feeling like you're at a fiesta.

Now, let's delve into why you should practically live at these eateries while you're in town:


  • Variety is the spice of life: Tempe serves up dishes from virtually every corner of the earth. You'll find eateries nestled in vibrant neighborhoods where the scents alone will transport you to far-off lands.
  • People watching at its finest: These eclectic dining spots are perfect for observing the local rhythms while sipping on a spicy chai or tangy margarita. You might come for the food, but the people and the atmosphere will make you want to stay forever.
  • Close to everything: After you've stuffed yourself silly with the best international eats, a leisurely stroll nearby can help you walk it off. Shops, parks, and local attractions are just a hop, skip, and a jump away.


So, how long should you plan to hang around these global kitchens? Well, you could easily spend an entire day just grazing through various appetizer menus. But realistically, carve out at least a couple of hours to savor the flavors and soak up the ambiance—trust me, you won't want to rush this experience.

And who’s going to love this mosaic of taste sensations? From couples looking for that perfect date night spot, families excited for a taste-test adventure, to solo travelers eager to strike up convos with the locals—Tempe’s international cuisine scene is welcoming to all.

Bonus tip: Don't miss the chance to savor the fresh Giorgio's Pizzeria or the authentic spices at Curry Corner.

There you have it! You're now officially in the know about where to wrap your taste buds around some lip-smackingly good international dishes that'll have you daydreaming about your next visit before you've even left the table.



Q: What are some things to do in Tempe at night?

A: You'll find plenty of bars, live music venues, and late-night eateries to keep the good times rolling after dark.

Q: What are some unique things to do in Tempe, AZ?

A: Ever tried paddleboarding on Tempe Town Lake? That's just one of the quirky activities you can dive into.

Q: What activities are available in Tempe for adults?

A: Adults can sip on local brews at craft breweries, explore art galleries, or catch a performance at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

Q: What can I do in Tempe today?

A: You can zip over to Mill Avenue for shopping, dining, and entertainment that's always buzzin'.

Q: Are there free things to do in Tempe?

A: Absolutely! You can hike up A Mountain, chill out at Tempe Beach Park, or browse the local farmer's market.

Q: What's happening in Tempe this weekend?

A: There's always something poppin'. From festivals to sports events, check out the city calendar for the latest scoop.

Q: Is Tempe, Arizona worth visiting?

A: Heck yeah, it is. With its vibrant culture, outdoor activities, and bustling nightlife, you're in for a treat.

Q: Is Tempe a fun town?

A: Oh, you bet! With a young vibe from ASU and an energetic downtown, fun is Tempe's middle name.

Q: Does Tempe have nightlife?

A: For sure! When the sun dips, Tempe's nightlife lights up with clubs, bars, and late-night bites.

Q: Why is Tempe famous?

A: It's got that college town charm, is home to ASU, and has an outdoor haven with Tempe Town Lake and Papago Park.


Final Words

Whew, we've zipped through quite the adventure, haven't we? From the rich history at the Tempe History Museum to the uproarious laughs at the Tempe Improv Comedy Club, not to mention all that delicious dining al fresco. Listen, it's clear Tempe’s got more flavors than a gourmet ice cream shop, and that's not just talking about the food. I mean, where else can you moonlit hike and kayak under the same star-studded sky? So, pack your sense of adventure and hit up all these fantastic things to do in Tempe. Trust me, you'll be planning your next visit before you've even left.

Meet the Author
Isabella Kai
Isabella Kai, the Instagram wordsmith, crafts tales that captivate hearts worldwide. A dedicated foodie, she whips up culinary delights and pairs them with stories that make your taste buds dance. Beyond the screen, she's on a mission to visit every artisan bakery in town.
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