LGBTQ Travel in Tempe

Papago Park TempeFrom its beginning, Tempe has exhibited a certain flair starting with its name, which was bestowed by a visionary Englishman “Lord” Darrell Duppa in 1879. If he happened upon Tempe today, he would be pleased to find a city that’s progressive, hip, with flair to spare, and just a hint of attitude. Tempe offers a blend of cosmopolitan culture and style, a welcoming spirit, scenic desert beauty, more than 330 days of sunshine and year-round activities.

For years, Tempe has been an LGBTQ welcoming city.  As part of its progressive vision, the City of Tempe has been offering benefits for Domestic Partners of City employees since 1999. In 2014, Tempe further strengthened its stand on non-discrimination with four major events:

  • The Tempe City Council unanimously approved an anti-discrimination ordinance that makes in unlawful to discriminate against residents and visitors on the basis of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, familial status, U.S. Military veteran status, race, color, national origin, age, religion, and disability. The city ordinance bans discrimination in housing, employment and accommodations at restaurants and hotels.
  • Tempe voters unanimously approved (with more than 68 percent approval) an amendment to the city Charter that  prohibits discrimination or favor for city positions on the basis of race, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, familial status, age, disability, political affiliation and United States military veteran status, except as such favor may be authorized by law. Protections apply to employment at the city and at businesses in Tempe, as well as to contracts, housing, public places and appointments to city Boards and Commissions.
  • The City of Tempe  earned a perfect score of 100 in the 2014,  2015, 2016 and 2017 Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI). The  HRC evaluates cities based on factors such as anti-discrimination laws, policies and ordinances, domestic partner benefits, and outreach to the LGBTQ community on a municipal level.
  • Beginning January 1, 2017 the City of Tempe augmented its health plan to cover specific benefits for employees and their dependents who are transgender. The change covers medical and psychological services as well as gender reassignment surgery.

While you’re visiting Tempe and the Metro Phoenix area, you may want to add a few of our favorite things to do to your itinerary:

Say “I do” in Tempe

  • Same-sex marriage became legal in Arizona in October 2014. Tempe is an ideal wedding destination and location for your rehearsal dinner, reception and accommodations for your guests. For help in planning your wedding, please visit our weddings page.

Arts & Culture

Shopping Whether you’re an enthusiastic bargain hunter on a mission or someone who’s looking for a special memento of your time spent in Tempe, you will definitely find shopping in Tempe productive and entertaining.

  • Channel your inner fashionista and satisfy your sense of style at Arizona Mills mall and Tempe Marketplace. Both have great stores, restaurants and entertainment venues that make shopping fruitful and fun.
  • You won’t go home empty handed after visiting Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe’s award-winning bookseller since 1977. Locals and visitors love its selection of new and gently used books, eclectic assortment of cards and gift items and outstanding author events that bring favorite writers from all genres to Tempe weekly.
  • Don’t miss local shops selling ASU gear, vintage books, jewelry and other great finds in Downtown Tempe. From October-April, downtown is home to the 6th Street Market, featuring works by local artisans and food vendors. The market takes place on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sixth Street Park, adjacent to Tempe’s City Hall.

Food & Drink Raise your glass or cup at fine eating and drinking establishments. You’ll find an irresistible array of flavors to sip and savor in Tempe’s fine eateries, brewpubs wine bars and coffee houses.

  • Start your day or add a little zip to your afternoon at one of our independent coffee houses, all favorite local gathering spots. Sip your favorite hot or cold brewed beverage at Cartel Coffee Lab, Cupz Coffee, Gold Bar Espresso, Romancing the Bean or Royal Coffee. Heck, try them all!
  • Are you a flapjack fanatic in search of the perfect pancake? You’ll find them in all their light and fluffy fabulousness, from traditional buttermilk to fancy versions like protein cakes with blueberries, granola, slivered almonds and cinnamon, at these Tempe eateries. 
  • Unwind over a glass or two of fine wine at Caffe Boa, House of Tricks, La Bocca Urban Kitchen & Wine Bar, Salut Kitchen Bar and Enoteca wine room at Vincitorio’s Restaurant. Cin cin!
  • Find a favorite brew on tap or in the bottle at Four Peaks Brewing Company, Gordon Biersch Brewery, Handlebar Tempe, Huss Brewing Tasting Room, Pedal Haus Brewery, Sleepy Dog Brewery Tasting Room and The Shop Beer Co. Cheers!

Getting around Tempe Tempe is easy to navigate whatever your favorite mode of transportation. Whether your prefer going bipedal, on a bicycle or by light rail, getting around Tempe, traveling to downtown Phoenix or going to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a snap.

  • See Tempe on two wheels. Rent a bike from The Bicycle Cellar or get a Grid Bike for an hour or two and explore the trails around Tempe Town Lake and Papago Park. There are more than 30 Grid Bike stations in Tempe and more in neighboring cities, Phoenix and Mesa. Watch for public art on display throughout the city and Arizona State University. Park a while and enjoy a bite and a brew at the bike-themed Spokes on Southern or the bike-friendly Handlebar Tempe on Mill Avenue.
  • Catch the Valley Metro Rail  to downtown Phoenix for major sports events, downtown nightspots, Phoenix Pride and gay bars. Tempe is well-connected to Phoenix with seven light rail stations and three park and ride lots. You can also take the light rail from Tempe directly to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Outdoor Recreation Take a hike or bike ride, catch some rays, then relax at the spa.

  • Work on your tan poolside at your hotel. Top off your day in the sun with a soothing message or other luxurious spa treatment at Narande Spa located in the Phoenix Marriott Tempe at The Buttes.
  • Explore Tempe Town Lake on a paddleboard, kayak or relaxing electric boat from Tempe Boat Rentals.

Family Fun Modern families love the diversity of fun family things to do in Tempe.

  • Everyone will be mesmerized by the digital trip into space at the Marston 3D Theater on the ASU Tempe Campus. Planetarium shows take place on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons.
  • You’ll find SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium’s array of creatures from the sea and interactive exhibits interesting and beautiful. The aquarium is located in Arizona Mills Mall, Arizona’s largest attraction featuring outlet and retail stores, entertainment venues and restaurants all under one roof.
  • You can’t miss the bright primary colors of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center, located  across from SEA LIFE. This attraction offers themed build and play areas for kids from 3-10 years old. with thousands of LEGO bricks, two LEGO rides, a 4D cinema, massive, large-scale models, building areas and a Model Builder Academy.
  • With bowling lanes, laser tag, a gravity high ropes course, billiards and shuffleboard tables, more than 125 interactive games and a restaurant, Tempe’s Main Event will be a hit with your crew.
  • Your kids will learn to appreciate great theater early on at a Childsplay production. Childsplay is Arizona’s award-winning professional theatre company for children, but parents will love their beautifully rendered productions as well.

Plan your visits to Tempe around these annual events. Many are accessible by light rail, including from Sky Harbor International Airport.

February 15-17, 2019 – Arizona Gay Rodeo, Corona Ranch, Laveen Village, Phoenix
February 23, 2019 – AIDS Walk Arizona & 5K Run, Tempe Beach Park
February 23-March 26, 2019 – MLB Spring Training, Tempe Diablo Stadium and other stadiums in the Phoenix Metro area
March 23, 2019 – Pride Run Phoenix, Uptown, Midtown, Downtown Phoenix
March 29-31, 2019 – Tempe Spring Festival of the Arts, Downtown Tempe
April 6-7, 2019 – Phoenix Pride Festival & Parade, Steel Indian School Park, Phoenix
April 13-14, 2019 – Cactus Cities Softball League Saguaro Cup, Phoenix, AZ
May-September, 2019 – Phoenix Mercury WNBA, Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix
October 2019 – Desperado Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Phoenix
October 2019 – Rainbows Festival, Heritage Square, Phoenix
December 6-8, 2019 – Tempe Fall Festival of the Arts, Downtown Tempe

Tempe Hotels Tempe’s hospitable hotels range from resorts to all-suite properties. Many are located near Valley Metro Rail lines, making it easy to access Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and LGBTQ nightlife and events in downtown Phoenix.  When you’re ready to relax by the pool or enjoy a snooze, you’ll find the casual and friendly Southwestern style of Tempe’s comfortable and welcoming accommodations, which include these fine TAG Approved® hotels:
Courtyard Tempe Downtown
Graduate Tempe
Red Roof PLUS+ Tempe – Phoenix Airport
Residence Inn Tempe Downtown/University

To learn more about TAG Approved® hotels, visit


Greater Phoenix Scene First published in 1989, Echo Magazine has grown to be Arizona’s leading media outlet dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community. In addition to documenting and reporting on the issues that impact the local LGBTQ communities, Echo is a main source for local lifestyle and entertainment coverage throughout the greater Phoenix area and neighboring communities. We are pleased to share links to Echo Magazine’s community calendar of events and bar map.

The Tempe Tourism Office is pleased to be a sponsor/partner of the Pride Guide Publications, and One Community as we strive to promote Tempe as a welcoming destination. The Tempe Tourism Office has joined 2,700 businesses and over 18,000 Arizonans in taking  One Community’s Unity Pledge to advance workplace equality and equal treatment in housing and public accommodations.


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