Top 20 Summer Activities in Tempe

Author: Toni

Posted on: July 9, 2015
Last updated on: October 27th, 2017 at 9:47 am


Those lazy days of summer are upon us in Tempe, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to just lounge by the pool. Here are our top 20 summer activities in Tempe to help make this summer your best one yet. For even more ideas and events, visit

1. Big Surf Waterpark: Everyone, from big kahunas to little splashers, will have fun staying cool at Big Surf Waterpark. Boogie boarders can catch a wave at Waikiki Beach, America’s original wave pool. Thrill seekers can get a wet and wild ride on speed slides with names like Hurricane Falls, Tornado Twister, Black Hole, White Serpentine and more. Airborne thrills are in store for anyone who rides the brand new Mauna Kea Zip Line, named after the highest peak in Hawaii. It speeds through the air over the wave pool for heart-racing 300 feet. Little ones can make a tamer splash at Captain Cook’s Landing, Bora Bora Bay and the Otter Slides. Big Surf Waterpark is open every day through August 2 and on weekends from August 3 through September 13.
1500 N. McClintock Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 994-2297

2. SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium: Located in Arizona Mills, SEA LIFE is designed to provide a fun, interactive and educational experience for kids (and adults too). Explore the 12 different habitat zones housing more than 32 tanks with thousands of marine life, including colorful coral reefs, jewel-colored fish, undulating sting rays, a huge slithery eel and graceful sea horses. An underwater tunnel provides a 360 degree view and the sensation of swimming underwater, surrounded by sharks and other deep ocean dwellers. You’ll also see some pretty odd looking creatures in Octopus Hideout, a special exhibits of cephalopods on view through the end of 2015.
5000 Arizona Mills Cir., Tempe, AZ 85282
(480) 478-7600

3. ASU Art Museum: The cool, inviting interiors of the ASU Art Museum beckon you to come in and explore the five galleries filled with contemporary art. The summer exhibition Family Matters (on view through August 1, 2015) explores what constitutes a family with interactive actives including a special art-themed guessing game. Family Fun Day on July 11 continues the exhibition’s theme with more than a dozen of hands-on art making stations and interactive performances by Jimbo the Magician, Persephone and Jungle Jill.  All activities are suitable for children ages 4-12 and their families.  Family Fun Day is free. All materials are provided and families can take home their artwork.
51 E. 10th St., Tempe, AZ 85287
(480) 965-2787

4. Tempe Center for the Arts: The beautiful Tempe Center for the Arts is offering fun and free summer programs to keep you entertained all season long.The Birds of a Feather exhibition celebrates the birds that make Arizona their home or a migration stop on the way to some exotic location. The works, on display through September 19, 2015, feature a variety of media ranging from nature photography to abstract sculpture.A series of free Saturday afternoon Arts & Sciences Family Workshops include short science lessons about birds along with hands-on art projects for kids.Advanced birders and novice bird enthusiasts alike will enjoy informal discussions about Arizona birds presented by local experts in the Lifelong Learning Speaker Series, also held in conjunction with this exhibition. Two remaining programs take place on July 17 and August 14 from 6 to 7 p.m.
700 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 350-2822

5. Frosty refreshments are key to summer survival and Tempe has plenty of options to choose from. You’ll find flavorful frosty frozen concoctions, cool smoothies, frothy favorites and icy blends to cool you from the inside out. Whether you enjoy favor fruity flavors or are more prone towards exotic teas, Tempe has the perfect refreshing, summer survival drink for you. Read our blog for suggestions about where to find cool summer drinks.

6. Tempe History Museum Super Summer Adventure: Make your own kind of music this summer at Tempe History Museum with free fun for the whole family. Kids will beat the heat as they beat the drums and other musical instruments while enjoying special hands-on activities, crafts and games that follow the musical themes of the day. Musical themes include bluegrass, mariachi, rock, classical strings, jazz, multicultural drums and modern classical woodwinds. Local musicians will perform at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Experience the adventures from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wild Wednesdays, July 15, July 29 and Super Saturdays, June 27, July 15 and 25.Super Summer Adventures are part of the museum’s year of music featuring The Tempe Sound exhibition, which pays tribute to Tempe’s impressive contributions to pop music. The exhibition displays hundreds of pieces of music paraphernalia honoring Tempe groups such as The Refreshments, St. Madness, Walt Richardson and the Morningstar Band, the Gin Blossoms and many others.
809 E. Southern Ave., Tempe, AZ 85282
(480) 350-5100

7. Desert Botanical Garden Flashlight Tours:  Fetch your flashlights and hit the trail for a fun, cool and interesting nighttime tour at Desert Botanical Garden. Every Thursday and Saturday from now through September, you can see how the desert comes to life when the sun goes down. You might see nighthawks, snakes or other furry or scaly nocturnal desert dwellers. The self-guided tour lets you set your own pace along the trail which takes you to 12 discovery stations.
1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix, AZ 85008
(480) 941-1225

8. Hall of Flame Fire Museum: A visit to the Hall of Flame is sure to spark an interest in the history of firefighting. The Museum holds a huge collection of fully restored fire engines and other examples of firefighting apparatus used in the U.S., England, France, Austria, Germany and Japan from 1725 to 1969. The fire engines are especially impressive, beautifully restored in pristine condition. The knowledgeable volunteers (all retired firefighters) are always eager to answer questions and give tours with advance notice. Read our blog for more information on the Hall of Flame.
6101 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix, AZ 85008
(602) 275-3473

9. Shopping: Whether you like to leisurely shop or you’re on a mission to find that perfect thing, there are lots of shopping options in Tempe.

10. Marston Exploration Theater: What could be cooler than a trip into outer space? You’ll feel like you’ve actually travelled into the furthest reaches of the universe at one of three shows at the Marston Exploration Theater on the Arizona State University (ASU) Tempe Campus. The incredibly realistic 3-D shows are projected onto a huge screen and are narrated by ASU faculty. Marston Exploration Theater is located in the Gallery of Scientific Exploration which also houses some interesting interactive exhibits. Show times are Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. Read our blog for more information.
ASU Tempe Campus
Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV
781 E. Terrace Rd., Tempe, AZ 85287

11. The Madison Tempe: Who needs an outdoor bike ride when you can take a spin class at The Madison Tempe? This “party on a bike” class is something to take literally. Their upbeat spin classes, sometimes accompanied by a live DJ and always accompanied by a wall to wall light display, are so fun, you might not even realize that you’re getting a killer workout.
149 S. Farmer Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 967-0835

12. As mentioned in a previous blog entry, Tempe is home is home to a fantastic array of tasty breakfast spots. In addition to the five already mentioned on our blog, don’t forget about Essence Bakery, located near the intersection of University and Hardy. Here, you’ll find croissants that melt in your mouth, as well as daily specials that focus on organic and local breakfast meats and produce. Or try the delicious savory and sweet crepes at The Crepe Bar (Rural and Elliot), an example of a food truck that was successful enough to open a permanent location. Visit the Tempe Tourism website for even more ideas.

13. Phoenix Rock Gym: Looking to stay active without the heat? The Phoenix Rock Gym is here to save the day. Located near Dorsey Ln. and University Dr., the Phoenix Rock Gym is an indoor rock climbing facility, featuring high walls and an abundance of space to climb to your heart’s desire. From beginners to experienced climbers, everyone will have a great time at this air-conditioned location.
1353 E. University Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 921-8322

14. As You Wish at Tempe Marketplace: Do you have a creative side? As You Wish, located within the District at Tempe Marketplace, is a place where you can discover imaginative possibilities. At As You Wish, you pick out a piece of pottery and decorate it as you please with store-provided paints. There are also classes available for all ages, and the location will happily host events like birthday parties or other group activities.
2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., Ste. 1141, Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 557-9100

15. IMAX: Take your movie-watching experience to the next level. Harkins IMAX, located within Arizona Mills, offers several showings of films in 3D, which can captivate your senses and send your heart racing. With their convenient location inside Arizona Mills, movie-goers can also shop and dine before or after their feature film.
5000 S. Arizona Mills Cir., Tempe, AZ 85282
(480) 820-0387

16. Taste something new: There are so many restaurants in Tempe, it’s always hard to choose where to go. But, give yourself a challenge this summer and try a new place. Maybe you’re intrigued by the Ethiopian cuisine at Café Lalibela (Hardy and University) or you haven’t tried the amazing pastas and salads at Perfect Pear Bistro (Priest and Ray). Check out a brand new neighborhood spot like Johnny’s Burgers & Dogs at McClintock and Southern. Or, get a hearty start to your day at Tempe’s newest breakfast place, Over Easy, on Farmer Ave. and First St.

17. Marquee Theatre: The Marquee is the place to see live music this summer. Upcoming shows include established acts like Social Distortion and Everclear and newer artists like Jamie xx and George Ezra. It’s located on Mill Avenue and Curry, just north of Tempe Town Lake.
730 N. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 829-0607

18. Tempe Improv: It’s impossible not to have a good time at a comedy club and the Tempe Improv is one of the best. This summer, you can laugh along with comedy giants like Pauly Shore, Bill Bellamy and Whitney Cummings. There is a two drink minimum at all shows and they serve a tasty food menu. Most shows are for guests 21 and up, but some shows are open to people who are 18+. Check their website for details.
930 E. University Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 921-9877

19. Kiwanis Wave Pool: What’s better than a pool in the summer? A pool that’s indoors. The Kiwanis Wave Pool is inside the Kiwanis Park Recreation Center. It’s a great spot for family fun with comfortable water temperatures and specific hours for lap swimming, the wave pool and the spiral water slide through Labor Day. Rafts and tubes are available for rent.
6111 S. All-America Way, Tempe, AZ 85283
(480) 350-5201

20. Main Event Tempe: You’ll find plenty of fun at Main Event, Tempe’s newest and biggest indoor entertainment venue. You could spend many happy days in this huge facility that has entertainment options for all ages, including state-of-the-art bowling, billiards, laser tag, a ropes course, more than 100 virtual and interactive games, free Wi-Fi, attractive dining options and full-service premium bars.
8545 S. Emerald Dr., Tempe, AZ 85284
(480) 753-1200

Big Surf Waterpark

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