Tempe Summer Staycation Itinerary

Author: Patrick

Posted on: May 25, 2018
Last updated on: February 20th, 2019 at 10:00 am


The best summers, in my opinion, include at least one vacation or two. You can also take a break from your daily schedule and vacation closer to home. Try being a visitor in your own city. If you live in or near Tempe, Arizona, summer is a great time to check out a new restaurant, visit an attraction that you haven’t been to (or you don’t go to often enough) and stay one of the city’s comfortable, and even chic, hotels and relax by the pool. 

Here’s are a few ideas on how to create the perfect staycation weekend in Tempe this summer.  

Day One 


Is there a better way to start your day than with a plate piled high with fluffy pancakes or an omelet filled to the brim with cheese, veggies and whatever your heart desires? I think not my friends. Your most difficult decision may be deciding where to go. Breakfast is Tempe’s jam. Check out Daily Jam, Snooze or Morning Squeeze in Downtown Tempe. Or head to south Tempe and check out U.S. Egg on Mill and Baseline, the trendy Crepe Bar or community hang out, Tempe Public Market Café.   

After breakfast, indulge in a little culture at ASU Art Museum. Admission is free. Here, you’ll find contemporary art exhibits that will make you think and even crack a smile. If you have kids in tow, check out the Family Day at the museum on July 8. Kids can make crafts that are related to museum exhibits and participate in other activities that are so fun, they won’t even realize that they’re learning something.  

Changing Hands Bookstore, Arizona’s leading independent purveyor of books, gift items and other fun things, has been in business since 1974. It is a wonderland for people who love books, from murder mysteries to cookbooks to children’s titles. Check their calendar for their special events – you may be able to catch an author signing or another fun event.  


There are a few restaurants that have opened in Tempe this year. Lunch would be the perfect time to try something new. Some of our favorites include:  

Hotel check in – Tempe has more than 6,000 guest rooms at hotels ranging from family-friendly suite properties to places with Instagram-worthy décor and pools. Check out the summer specials for Tempe hotels on the Tempe Tourism website.  

After check in, relax by the pool at your home away from home.  


Tempe Marketplace is an excellent gathering spot, whether you’re hanging out with friends, spending time with the family or going on a date night. They have all kinds of shopping options from Target and Old Navy to H&M, Bath and Body Works and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. You can get creative at As You Wish Pottery Studio, grab dinner at Thirsty Lion Gastropub or Kabuki and then get dessert at Cold Stone Creamery or MoJo Yogurt. Or, browse for a great new read at Barnes & Noble or catch a summer blockbuster movie at Harkins Tempe Marketplace Theatre. If your Tempe staycation is on a weekend, don’t miss their free concerts every Friday and Saturday night at the District Stage, next to Dave & Buster’s.  

Day Two 


On day two, choose another one of Tempe’s best breakfast places. Or, simply grab a latte and a pastry from Cartel Coffee Lab, P.Croissant or Press Coffee.  

After breakfast, head to Arizona Mills. Shoppers will love the great deals at places like the Nike Clearance Store, Oakley Vault, Perry Ellis and GAP Factory. There are attractions inside for the whole family, including SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Arizona, Tilt Studio (an arcade with classic and modern video and prize games), Harkins Theatres and IMAX. And, of course, there are lots of restaurants from the food court eateries to Rainforest Café and Mexican favorites at Garcia’s. Really, you could spend all day here.  


Big Surf Waterpark – If it’s summer in Tempe, then you have to make a pilgrimage to Big Surf Waterpark. Did you know it was America’s first waterpark ever? Yep, it all started right here. Take on the waves at Waikiki Beach, enjoy their thrilling and just plain fun waterslides, and take your smallest swimmers to the splash and play areas, Bora Bora Bay and Captain Cook’s Landing.  


This has been a busy day, so reward yourself with an awesome dinner. Your choices range from the trendy Culinary Dropout at the Yard Tempe, Postino Annex or La Bocca in Downtown Tempe. Pedal Haus Brewery or Four Peaks Brewing Company are excellent options for delicious menu items paired with craft beer. Or, get a taste of the Old West at Rustler’s Rooste, where kids eat free all summer long.  

If you catch an early dinner, you’ll have time to visit Desert Botanical Garden’s Flashlight Tours on Saturday nights from May 26 through September 1, 2018 from 7-9:30 p.m. It’s a chance to see the desert in a whole new way after dark. Bring a flashlight and stroll the trails to find night-blooming plants, nocturnal critters and explore discovery stations along the way.  

Tempe Mission Palms Hotel and Conference Center pool

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