Do what the locals do in Tempe, Arizona

Author: Toni

Posted on: June 13, 2011
Last updated on: June 30th, 2018 at 4:52 pm


When most people travel, they want to find out what the locals do…where to eat, where to go out, where to shop and where to get a caffeine boost from a barista in a cool, independent coffee house.

When it comes to Tempe, Arizona, I’m about as local as you can get. I’ve lived here my entire life. So, here are a few suggestions for things to do in Tempe, as told by someone who calls this great city home.

First thing in the morning, I’d go for a hike in Papago Park. The trailhead off of College, just south of Curry by the park is the perfect place to start. It’s not a difficult trail, but be sure and wear sunscreen and bring water. You’ll be able to see a model of a prehistoric Hohokam dwelling, created by ASU students years ago. And, if you continue past the summit on the east side of the park, you can see the real thing – the Loma del Rio Hohokam ruin.

It doesn’t take much for me to work up an appetite, so after the hike, I’d definitely want a good breakfast. One of my favorite Tempe restaurants is US Egg at Mill and Baseline. The friendly, efficient staff always delivers delicious food so fast that my stomach doesn’t even have time to rumble. Everything on their breakfast menu is great, but my favorite item is the protein pancakes. It’s a whole grain batter with slivers of almonds and a generous amount of blueberries. I wish I could eat them every day.

Next, I might browse through the racks at Changing Hands Bookstore, one of the best independent bookstores in the country. They have a terrific children’s section, a ton of fiction and non-fiction selections and always, many items on sale. You might even be lucky enough to catch one of their author events or children’s story times – they have a full calendar that will satisfy readers of all ages.

After that, I’d head to Tempe Marketplace for more shopping. From Target to Nordstrom Rack to H&M, I can always find a few things that I can’t live  without. There are lots of excellent restaurants to choose from on site, but for lunch, I can’t pass up Spinato’s Pizza. It’s located across Rio Salado Parkway from Tempe Marketplace, on Smith Road. This family owned restaurant has what I think is the best pizza in town. Once you’ve tasted the sauce, you’ll have a hard time getting pizza anywhere else.

With a full stomach and new books and clothing in my possession, next I’d head to Zia Record Exchange for the best selection in music. I love iTunes as much as the next person, but nothing beats browsing through the vast collection at Zia, including CDs, DVDs and vinyl. I usually pick up something new in addition to getting a CD from one of my favorite 80’s alt rock bands.

For a little pick me up after all of the music searching, I’d stop in to Cartel Coffee Lab for a tasty chai latte in one of the coolest atmospheres around town. The crowd is always a great mix of creative types and I always feel like I’m in the know just because I’m there.

After resting for a bit, dinner would be next on my agenda. There are so many restaurants in Tempe that I love…Oregano’s, Cornish Pasty Co., Curry Corner and Postino Annex to name a few. But, on this day, I would have to go with Four Peaks Brewing Company. This world-famous (at least it should be!) microbrewery is an excellent choice for Tempe dining and of course, beer too. It’s a little off the beaten path, located at 8th Street and Dorsey, but that’s part of its charm. It’s located in a historic creamery building that thankfully has a new life as a community gathering place. Try anything made with beer bread, or check out their daily specials. You’ll be glad that you did.

And, if I still had energy left, I would head to Mill Avenue to listen to live music or relax on an outdoor patio. You can’t go wrong with Mill Avenue restaurants and bars like Rula Bula Irish Pub, the Tavern on Mill or La Bocca Pizzeria & Wine Bar.

Sounds like the perfect day in Tempe to me!

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