Tempe is a city of 180,587 (2020) in the Greater Phoenix area of Arizona, best known as the home of Arizona State University (ASU). Its younger, student-heavy population allows it to offer a vibrant nightlife that is relatively rare in Arizona.
Tempe is a small but dynamic, steadily growing city. Its shared history with ASU has given it a long-standing reputation as a college town, and it is considered to be the academic and intellectual center of the greater Phoenix area. It is home to numerous research-centric industries in fields ranging from biotechnology to solar energy as well as a high percentage of knowledge workers those industries require. Being surrounded by the neighboring cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, and Chandler, it serves as a major hub in the Valley Metro light rail transit system.
- 1 Tempe Tourism Office, 51 W 3rd St, Ste 105 (just off of Mill Ave), ☏ , toll-free: . Provides city maps, and up-to-date information on hotels, restaurants, and city events.
The Valley Metro Light Rail project is operational and brings light rail service through Tempe from the neighboring cities of Mesa and Phoenix. The rates are very reasonable, and day-passes are available for a discount. Tickets may be purchased from automated kiosks at every station. Free Park-and-Ride lots are located along the length of the route. There are plans in the works to extend the rail system through the use of spurs.
- Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach (Operated by Stagecoach Express), (Curbside Stop) 3rd and Ash, toll-free: . Connects the Phoenix metro area to the Amtrak Sunset Limited and the Texas Eagle trains in Maricopa (35 mi (56 km) south). Additional stops are in Sky Harbor International Airport and Metro Center Transit Center by the Metro Center Mall.
- Flixbus, (bus stop) 872 S Rural Rd (stop is in the bus terminal on E Tyler St (University Dr/Rural Rd Station); look for the green FlixBus sign). The next nearest one is at the 44th St PHX Sky Train Station on 44th St & Washington near the airport.
- Hoang Express, (Bus stop) Lee's Sandwiches at 1901 W Warner, Chandler, ☏ , , toll-free: . Travels between SoCal (San Diego, El Monte, Los Angeles, Westminster) and Arizona (Phoenix, Chandler and Tempe).
- Valley Metro offers bus service to Tempe from neighboring cities, as well as ORBIT, the free neighborhood shuttle around Tempe (see listing below in 'Get Around'). Routes and fares can be found on their website. Nearby Mesa does not have bus service on Sundays, so some service in Tempe is disrupted.
Tempe is one of the most accessible cities in the Phoenix Metropolitan area and only 10 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Taxis and shuttles are available for arrivals and departures. There are also a number of reasonably priced public buses, and the light rail is a short shuttle ride away. Those new to Sky Harbor should be warned, however, that the roads and parking lots serving the airport can be poorly marked and rather confusing to navigate. Allot extra time in case you miss a turn and need to circle around.
Only Terminals 3 and 4 exist at Sky Harbor.
Tempe is accessible via several main arteries, including Interstate 10, Loop 101, Loop 202, US 60, and surface streets including East Van Buren Street to the Mill Avenue Bridge.
Several bike routes reach into Tempe, especially around the downtown area where you can bike over Tempe Town Lake from Phoenix on the Mill Ave Bridge.
Tempe offers two free and convenient neighborhood circulators, called "Orbit" and "Flash". Fixed route service (fee) is available through Valley Metro, connecting commuters with neighboring cities. A system-wide route map for all bus routes, paid and free, can be downloaded from the Valley Metro website here.
- Orbit. M-F 6AM-10PM, Sa 8AM-10PM, Su 8AM-7PM; every 15-30 minutes. Has five routes, taking passengers through neighborhoods to the downtown area and the Mill Avenue District and connecting to the light rail station at College Avenue. The Orbit routes are each named after planets (complementing the "orbit" moniker), charge no fare, and can pick up passengers at any point along a sidewalk in residential areas where no bus stops are established. A route map is available here Free.
- Flash. 7AM-10PM, ASU breaks 7AM-6PM. Operates one route on weekdays only, taking passengers from the Tempe Transit Center to around the Arizona State University area. A map and schedule can be downloaded here. Free.
- 1 Valley Metro, Tempe Transit Store, 200 E 5th St, 1st Floor, ☏ . M-F 8AM-5PM. Has an extensive bus service operating on every major road with very reasonable fares. Many bus routes connect to Metro, the light rail system. The buses have bike racks, but because the buses usually only come every half hour, they are often full during high traffic hours. All-day, 7-day, 15-day and 31-day passes can be purchased at numerous locations like grocery stores or the light rail stations; cash and credit card accepted. A single all-day ticket costs $6, and one way ticket is $2.
- Tempe Streetcar. A 3.1-mile brand new streetcar line which originates from Marina Heights behind the Sun Devil Stadium and traverses along Mill & Ash Avenues as well as Apache Blvd. until linking with the light rail at Dorsey/Apache Station. It goes along the Gammage Curve, offering a picturesque view of ASU's Gammage Memorial Auditorium. Another cool feature is that the vehicles run on battery power for part of the route. Be forewarned, southbound trains only serve Ash Ave. whereas northbound trains only run along Mill Ave. The latest schedules and route information can be found here. Free for all riders until May 2023.
Tempe is a comparatively bicycle-friendly city in the Phoenix valley area, and features bike lanes along many roads (which see more traffic the closer you get to downtown Tempe and ASU) and a variety of very enjoyable bike paths in and around parks and scenic locations, which connect conveniently to nearly all urban areas and points of interest. Although Tempe is a small city, the dry and hot summer climate can make it somewhat uncomfortable to self-pedal from one point in the city to another. For this and many other reasons, electric bikes are becoming a very popular option year-round.
A printable map of bike routes in the city can be downloaded here.
- 2 The Urban Commuter, 1219 S McClintock Dr (near the Apache/McClintock light rail stop), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM. Offers electric bicycles for rent or purchase.
- 1 Arizona State University, University Rd and College Dr. In the heart of Tempe, ASU is a key factor in its the vibrant, diverse and progressive lifestyle. It was founded as a Normal (Teaching) school in 1885. Arizona State is now one of the largest universities in the nation, with several campuses spread throughout the metropolitan area. The largest of these campuses is the Tempe ASU Campus, a square-mile center of knowledge and cultural experience. ASU's expansive campus features many shaded lawns and expansive walks; most buildings feature displays and recent projects. The grounds are officially an arboretum – discreet tags mark many of the trees and plantings, which showcase desert and tropical flora from around the world. There are also a number of free museums and exhibits available, some permanent and some on a rotational basis.
- 2 Old Main, 400 E Tyler Mall (adjacent to University Rd and College Rd). The original school's building, dating back to its founding.
- 3 Gammage Memorial Auditorium, 1200 S Forest Ave, ☏ . A theater designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that hosts international talent, Broadway shows, and local entertainment. One of his last architectural pieces, it was designed for Baghdad before being built in the equally arid Valley of the Sun.
- 4 ASU Mars Space Flight Facility, 201 E Orange Mall, ☏ . M-F 8AM-5PM. Supports the Thermal Emission Spectrometer experiment that was sent aboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft when it launched in November 1996. The Mars facility has a visitor area with displays about Mars and a television tuned to NASA TV.
- 5 ASU Robert S. Dietz Museum of Geology, Bateman Physical Sciences Center, F-wing, Room 186, ☏ . Houses minerals, gems, fossils from Arizona and around the world. It also has a six-story Foucault pendulum; local fossils including Colombian mammoth remains excavated in 1985, 1997 and 1999; real dinosaurs, a giant-extinct fossil shark over 7 feet tall (featured on the National Geographic Channel in 2009) a rare T-rex brain cavity and cast and many other rare and extinct fossil mammals including saber-toothed cats. The museum also features several large meteorites from the ASU Center for Meteorite Studies; Ore minerals and crystals from the many Arizona open-pit and underground mines, a gemstone exhibit and a 6-foot tall amethyst geode at the museum entrance. Other exhibits include: Volcanology; Mineralogy, Geology of Arizona; Rocks of the Grand Canyon and Arizona's State Fossil: Fossil wood from the Petrified Forest proposed by 2 former ASU Geology faculty members in 1988.
- 6 ASU Center for Meteorite Studies, 781 E Terrace Rd, Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 (ISTB4), 2nd Floor, Meteorite Gallery, ☏ . M-F 9AM-5PM (excluding ASU holidays). Houses the world's largest university-based meteorite collection, with specimens from more than 1700 separate meteorite falls. Portions of this collection are on display to the public. Free.
- 7 ASU Art Museum, Fine Arts Center, 51 E 10th St, ☏ . Tu 11AM-8PM (May-Aug 11AM-5PM), W-Sa 11AM-5PM. Has a fine permanent collection and an active guest artist program. The attached gift shop is, surprisingly, a great place to get beautiful and unusual gifts. Free.
- 8 Hayden Library, 300 E Orange Mall. A vast collection housed mostly underground in the center of campus. It has many unique features, including the only Child Drama collection, various exhibits, and rare and valuable works available to the public through the Luhrs reading room. Where else can one walk in and request to see a page from a Gutenberg Bible?
- 9 Life Sciences Tower, A Wing. Has glass cases set into the hallways that house dozens of reptiles, including a comprehensive sampling of the poisonous snakes of Arizona.
- 10 ASU Museum of Anthropology, Cady Mall, ☏ . M-F 11AM-3PM. Run by the internationally acclaimed School of Human Evolution and Social Change, has many interesting permanent and visiting exhibits throughout the year. Free.
- 11 Northlight Gallery, ☏ , [email protected]. Tu 12:30-8:30PM, W-Sa 12:30-4:30PM; closed on major holidays and in summer. Exhibits a broad range of photographic work by emerging and international recognized artists.
- 12 AZ Heritage Center at Papago Park, 1300 N College Ave, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM, Su noon-4PM. A museum that concentrates on Arizona's history in the 20th and 21st centuries. $12 (adults), $10 (seniors 60+), $7 (children 7-17), free (children under 7 w/family, AHS members).
- 13 Tempe History Museum, 809 E Southern Ave (Valley Metro: ORBIT Jupiter and Saturn (exit at the Tempe Public Library stop; Bus 61 & 72 (exit at Rural/Southern)), ☏ , fax: . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1-5PM, closed major holidays. Features the history of Tempe from the time of prehistoric Hohokam to today. Video, hands-on exhibits and gift shop. Free.
- 14 City of Tempe Cultural Services Public Art, 3500 S Rural Rd, ☏ , [email protected]. Numerous examples of public art dot Tempe's landscape. Additionally, Tempe presents exhibits featuring professional and student artists. Works may be viewed in public places, which serve as alternate spaces for regularly changing exhibits.
- 15 Petersen House Museum, 1414 W Southern Ave (at Southern Ave. & Priest Dr. Valley Metro: Bus 56 and 61), ☏ . Oct-May: Tu-Th Sa 10AM-2PM. Restored Queen Anne Victorian home built in 1892 by one of Tempe's earliest settlers. Free.
- 16 Tempe Center for the Arts (Tempe Arts Center), 700 W Rio Salado Pkwy (between Priest Dr and Mill Ave. Valley Metro: Bus 48), ☏ , fax: . Gallery: Tu-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 11AM-6PM. For events see the event calendar [dead link].
- 17 [dead link] Salt River Project History Center, 1521 North Project Dr (by car: near Central Parkway/Priest Dr. exit on Loop 202; by Valley Metro Rail: Center Pkwy./Washington Station), ☏ . M-F 9AM-4PM. Has exhibits illustrating the construction of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam, as well as other exhibits relating to the history of water usage in Arizona. Free.
- 18 Sea Life Arizona, 5000 S Arizona Mills Cir #145, ☏ , toll-free: . M-Sa 10AM-7:30PM, Su 10AM-6PM. Has a walk-through aquarium, and 30 displays. $12 online/$18 at gate (adults 13+), $12 online/$13 at gate (children 3-12).
Outdoor activities and sports
Tempe has numerous parks, soccer fields, fenced dog parks, lighted tennis courts, pools, golf courses and its own two-mile urban park complex, Tempe Town Lake. Twin bicycle and walking paths circle the lake leading to Tempe Beach Park, Splash Playground, Town Lake Marina and Giuliano Park, where many triathlons take place. In addition, Tempe has more than 150 miles (250 km) of dedicated bikeways and the League of American Bicyclists has designated Tempe a Silver-Level Bicycle-Friendly Community Award winner.
Tempe's outdoor activities and sporting events add to its dynamic lifestyle. Tempe is the annual home to a number of sporting events, as well as all of the intercollegiate athletics at Arizona State University. ASU's newly opened hockey venue of Mullett Arena is now the temporary home of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes while that team is planning to build its own arena in Tempe. Be warned—Mullett Arena is by far the smallest arena ever to have hosted an NHL team in the modern era, so tickets for the Coyotes are likely to be very hard to come by.
- 1 [dead link] Tempe Town Lake. Set adjacent to Tempe's Mill Avenue District, Arizona State University and the 2,000-acre Papago Park, Tempe Town Lake embodies a unique vision for the future of the Valley. It is the center for many activities like boating, biking etc and has a jogger's track as well. The sight of the bridge at sunset is worth a watch.
- Ironman Arizona, [email protected]. Held annually in November.
- [dead link] P.F. Chang's Rock'n'Roll Arizona Marathon and Half Marathon, toll-free: . Held annually in January.
- Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Citrus Bowl; formerly the Insight Bowl Tempe). Annually in December.
- 2 Angels Major League Baseball Spring Training, 2200 W Alameda Dr (Tempe Diablo Stadium), ☏ . Hosted every March.
- Tempe Festival of the Arts, Mill Ave. Massive twice yearly street fair featuring arts and crafts from all over the country, as well as a wide selection of carnival/street fair style foods, beverages and live entertainment. Held at the end of March and beginning of December.
Tempe has a wide range of shopping choices from nationally known department stores to outlets and specialty boutiques. The heart of downtown Tempe and the main shopping district is the Mill Avenue District. This area is filled with specialty shops, bars, restaurants, cafés, pubs and is also the cornerstone of the downtown business district.
- 1 Arizona Mills, 5000 S Arizona Mills Cir (by car: by I-10 and Hwy US-60; by Valley Metro: Bus 48, 56, & 77), ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Offers more than 175 shops, restaurants and entertainment venues under one roof.
- 2 Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S McClintock Dr (at McClintock Dr. and Guadalupe Rd; Valley Metro Bus: 81 & Saturn), ☏ , [email protected]. M-F 10AM-9PM, Sa 9AM-9PM, Su 10AM-6PM. A new and used independent bookshop, and practically a Tempe institution.
- 3 IKEA, 2110 W Ikea Way (southern Tempe, by I-10), toll-free: . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 10AM-7PM (store); M-Sa 8AM-7PM, Su 8AM-6PM (restaurant). The only one in Arizona.
- 4 Tempe Marketplace, 2000 E Rio Salado Pkwy (Valley Metro: Bus 48, 62, 81, and ORBIT Earth), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Tempe Marketplace's 1.3 million square feet of retail space is positioned as an open-air, pedestrian-oriented environment, creating an eclectic atmosphere for a memorable experience. Arizona State University maintains the "Night Gallery" at the marketplace. It is free to the public, and open late into the evening. There are also frequent concerts and other activities throughout the year.
Tempe's Mill Avenue District offers the most concentrated area of restaurants and cafés in Arizona. Tempe restaurants offer cuisines including Middle Eastern, Asian, Mexican and, of course, American fare. Many have received the Phoenix New Times's "Best of" award.
- 1 Cafe Lalibela, 849 W University Dr, ☏ . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F 11AM-10PM, Sa noon-10PM, Su noon-9PM. Cafe Lalibela is a family restaurant bringing Ethiopian cuisine to the heart of Tempe. Takeout available.
- 2 Cornish Pasty Co, 960 W University Dr #103 (University Park Shopping Center, NW corner of Hardy & University), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su noon-10PM. A British and Irish themed restaurant and bar offers a wide range of classic, modern, and experimental pasties with a number of European beers available on tap. It is popular with Tempe's younger and bohemian crowd.
- 3 Green New American Vegetarian, 2240 N Scottsdale Rd #8, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM. Vegan restaurant that was named the best vegan restaurant in Phoenix by the Phoenix New Times. PETA named the secret BBQ Chicken sandwich as the best faux chicken sandwich in the USA. Another location in Central Phoenix.
- 4 La Fonda Mexican Food, 1831 E Baseline Rd, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM. La Fonda is a great restaurant if you're looking for Mexican food. The food is excellent, and the atmosphere is friendly; good pricing is an added benefit, not a factor.
- 5 Little Szechwan, 524 W University Dr, ☏ , fax: . M-F 11AM-2:30PM, 5-9PM; Sa Su 5-9PM. Family-run Chinese restaurant. Mouth-watering food and very friendly service.
- 6 Munch a Mania, 2090 E University Dr #107, ☏ , fax: . M-F 7AM-2:30PM. The food is wonderful, portion sizes are great, and the service is the most personal you will get in town. Free delivery ($10 minimum order).
- 7 My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, 525 S Mill Ave, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight. Delivers large portions of Greek food and is a favorite of many ASU college students. $10-16 mains.
- 8 Phoenicia Cafe, 616 S Forest Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su noon-7PM. Delicious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. Relatively small and often packed, esp. while the university nearby is in session. Try the babaganouj (eggplant dip) and the baklava, made from scratch. There is also an attached small Middle Eastern grocery that has great prices, especially on spices, Middle Eastern/Mediterranean deli items, and bulk olive oil. Very good service and friendly atmosphere. Restricted hours June to September, call ahead to check. $15.
- 9 Rosita's Fine Mexican Food, 960 W University Dr, ☏ . Su-Th 10AM-9PM, F Sa 10AM-10PM. This popular, long-established family restaurant serves up Mexican classic dishes with a focus on Sonoran cooking. $6-11 mains.
Tempe is situated amidst the Phoenix Metro area as a "college town," and considering this Tempe's nightlife constitutes a wide variety of people. Most prominent is a college-aged drinking crowd that congregates on Mill Avenue District (which offers the most concentrated area of restaurants and cafés in Arizona) seven nights a week.
- 1 Caffe Boa, 398 S Mill Ave, ☏ . Su 10AM-3PM, 4-10PM; M-W 11AM-10PM; Th-Sa 11AM-11PM. An original, casual, Euro-style bistro/wine bar. Award-winning wine list with authentic Mediterranean styled food. Over 250 wines with full bar. Voted best Italian restaurant and best chef for 2005.
- 2 [formerly dead link] Casey Moore's Oyster House, 850 S Ash Ave, ☏ . Daily 11AM-2AM. Built in 1910, the Historic William Moeur house has been the home of Casey Moore's since 1986. With an Irish pub feel and an expansive front and side patio, Casey Moore's maintains a neighborhood ambiance. Often dozens of bicycles are locked up out front; it is a local favorite. Multiple beers on tap, free food with happy hour, and a full menu featuring fresh seafood. Rumored to be haunted.
- 3 Fat Tuesday, 680 S Mill Ave #106, ☏ , [email protected]. M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa Su noon-2AM. A Mardi Gras-themed daiquiri bar.
- 4 Four Peaks Brewing Company, 1340 E 8th St #104, ☏ , [email protected]. M-Sa 11AM-2PM, Su 10AM-2PM. Arizona's largest brewery located in a turn of the century brick warehouse with award-winning food and hand-crafted ales.
- 5 Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, 420 S Mill Ave #201 (on the corner of 5th St), ☏ . Su-W 11AM-11PM, Th 11AM-midnight, F Sa 11AM-1AM. The second story New Orleans style restaurant has three balconies overlooking the downtown district. Within walking distance from major business, ASU and Sun Devil Stadium and offers complimentary valet parking beginning at 5PM every night.
- 6 Mill Cue Club, 607 S Mill Ave, ☏ . Features billiards and beer.
- 7 Rúla Búla Irish Pub & Restaurant, 401 S Mill Ave (SE from 3rd St & Mill Ave), ☏ , [email protected]. Daily 11AM-2AM. Lively old-world pub & restaurant built in Ireland. Four-star cuisine, pub fare, and ample pints of Guinness. Live music and courtyard patio bar. Seating for 130. Semi-private dining for 50.
- 8 Tavern on Mill, 404 S Mill Ave (just off of Mill Ave), ☏ . M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa Su 9AM-2AM. Offers traditional and southwestern cuisine and is known for its well rounded beer selection, excellent service and great eats. The Tavern on Mill has almost as much seating space inside as outside. 30 television monitors and flat screens display the latest music videos, sports games and more.
- 1 Courtyard Tempe Downtown, 601 S Ash Ave, ☏ , fax: . 10 minute free shuttle ride from your flight into Sky Harbor Airport. From there you are just blocks from downtown Tempe and Arizona State University. $119+.
- 2 Embassy Suites Hotel Tempe, 4400 S Rural Rd, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. 6 miles from Phoenix Airport PHX, and 2 miles from the main ASU campus. $134+.
- 3 Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Tempe, 1520 W Baseline Rd (adjacent to Arizona Mills Mall), ☏ , [email protected]. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Rates include free wi-fi and breakfast. 12 miles from downtown Phoenix. $95-104.
- 4 Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Phoenix Tempe - University, 1031 E Apache Blvd, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Located within walking distance of ASU, this hotel offers proximity to local area attractions in a room with various full-service accommodations. Includes breakfast and wi-fi. $80-108.
- 5 Hyatt Place Tempe/Phoenix Airport, 1413 W Rio Salado Pkwy, ☏ . 2 miles from the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and 1.5 miles from downtown Tempe and Arizona State University.
- 6 [dead link] Quality Inn Airport Tempe, 1550 S 52nd St, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Centrally located near the airport, ASU, the Mill Avenue District, and Tempe Town Lake. Pets accepted. $74+.
- 7 Quality Inn at ASU, 1375 E University Dr, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. This hotel is 5 miles from the airport and very close to ASU. Easy access to freeways for travel in Tempe. Breakfast and wi-fi included. $55+.
- 8 Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, 60 E 5th St (downtown), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Upscale 303-room hotel with courtyard and roof top pool, 30,000 sq. ft. of conference space, 10 ADA rooms, restaurant. AAA/CAA & TAG approved. $179+.
- 9 Tempe Residence Inn, 5075 S Priest Dr, ☏ , fax: . $169+.
- 2 [dead link] Tempe Public Library, 3500 S Rural Rd (by the Tempe History Museum), ☏ . M-W 9AM-8PM, Th-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Free wi-fi is available throughout the building during opening hours, with no library card required.
Tempe, Arizona State University, and the state of Arizona as a whole have been pioneers in the acceptance of the LGBT community. However, Tempe does not have any LGBT-oriented bars or clubs. Neighboring Phoenix has all of the LGBT bars in the valley.
- "Old Town" Scottsdale in the northeast Phoenix metropolitan area is the most tourist friendly area in the valley
|Routes through Tempe|
|Blythe ← Phoenix ←||W E||→ Chandler → Tucson|
|Quartzsite ← Phoenix ←||W E||→ Mesa → Socorro|
|Phoenix ← Scottsdale ←||N S||→ Chandler → END|
|Phoenix ←||W E||→ Mesa → Gilbert|