2020 is here and we’re all starting a brand-new decade. If that sounds a bit overwhelming to you, we’ve got you covered. Here are 20 things to do in Tempe, Arizona in 2020.
Whether you think you’ve done it all in Tempe or are just skimming the surface of all the wonderful things Tempe has to offer, we’re here to help you plan your next trip, your next fun-filled weekend or maybe even your year in Tempe.
If you’re planning a trip to Arizona, this may be a great guide for you to help with your trip planning needs.
1. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden for one of their signature events
The Desert Botanical Garden is beautiful attraction in Phoenix, adjacent to Tempe. We do recommend the Garden for a visit in the daytime but something you may not know is they host a variety of events throughout the year, including a Dog’s Day in the Garden, exhibitions like Wild Rising by Cracking Art and these other signature events:
- Corks & Cactus – February 8-9, 2020
- Annual Devour Culinary Classic – February 22-23, 2020
- Agave on the Rocks – March 27, 2020
- Dinner on the Desert – April 25, 2020
2. Try restaurants and coffee shops you kept saying you would try last year
There are so many new restaurants, long standing restaurants and awesome local coffee shops in Tempe. Check out some of our favorite coffee shops in the Tempe area, you’ll definitely skip Starbucks after giving this a read.
When organizing your restaurant hop-around, consider going by destination hubs. One of our favorites for a variety of cuisine is stops at Arizona Mills, an indoor shopping center filled with place makers at LEGOLAND Discovery Center, SEA LIFE Aquarium and more. You’ll also find fresh foodie flavors at local spots like LokoPuff Pastry or Raspados Paradise within this one-mile shopping haven.
3. Hike “A” Mountain at sunrise
“A” Mountain is a wonderful and popular hike in Downtown Tempe that is frequented by many, especially at sunset. However, I’d like to recommend taking a sunrise hike because, why not?!
It’s a quick and somewhat challenging hike up to the top but going at sunrise helps you avoid the crowds, get a jump on your day and get amazing photos.
Insider tip: after you hike, you can reward yourself with breakfast at one of the hot spots, Daily Jam or Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
4. Visit the Gallery at TCA
If you haven’t been to the Gallery at the Tempe Center of the Arts (TCA), you are in for a treat. It’s the beautiful lakeside building with the roof that reminds us of origami artwork. Home to many performances throughout the year, the TCA also houses an awesome Gallery showcasing works by local artists that are centered around a specific theme. Save the date for their upcoming exhibition, WEAVE: construct. Code. Connect arriving January 17.
5. Visit the ASU Art Museum and check out the pop-up art at Tempe Marketplace
We of course want you to check out all the free museums and get cultured. ASU Art Museum was cited in “Art in America” as “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona.” ASU Art Museum exhibits nationally and internationally known contemporary artists, with a focus on Latin American art. The Museum also houses the largest collection of Cuban art in the U.S. and an award-winning print collection.
Speaking of fun art to visit, you may want to check out what the current pop up art installation that’s happening at Tempe Marketplace. From holiday installations like a larger than life sized Candy Land to their chalk art festival to awesome murals, this art-tastic lifestyle center is perfect for enjoying all things great, stylish and even creative!
6. Schedule a tour of the Eisendrath House
A beautiful adobe home that was built more than 80 years ago by Rose Eisendrath as a sign of protest against the Arizona resorts that wouldn’t accommodate her because of her Jewish heritage. Sign up for a tour ahead of time in order to hear the fascinating story of both Rose Eisendrath and the restoration of this iconic historic building.
7. Hike to Hunt’s Tomb
Hiking in Papago Park, especially the Hole in the Rock trail, are very popular places to explore and we recommend them both. However, many residents and visitors haven’t explored the path to Hunt’s Tomb. It’s a bit farther than walking to Hole in the Rock but it’s well worth the trek to experience the history of this landmark. It happens to be the final resting place for Arizona’s first Governor, George W.P. Hunt, who was fascinated by the pyramids that he saw on a trip to Egypt. Governor Hunt, his wife and several family members are buried at this landmark.
*Directions: Follow Galvin Pkwy. Signs to visit the Phoenix Zoo. Along the pathway you enter the zoo parking lot, park as close as you can to the zoo, or head to the left through a secondary gate where you’ll find a small parking lot just below Hole in the Rock. Knock out two hikes in one! The pyramid should be in your line of sight east of Hole in the Rock or behind the zoo.
8. Self-guided tour of Downtown Tempe with the Public Art map
In addition to the online maps, we’ve got a pocket guide at the Tempe Tourism Office Visitor’s Center (222 S. Mill Ave., Ste. 120, open M-F from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) that shows you all the spots where you will find the public art in our Downtown area. There are more than 50 pieces including murals, prints and sculptures. It brings a lot of cool character to our Downtown. Insider tip: you can get a pocket guide to the public art that’s around Tempe Town Lake at our office too. You’re welcome.
9. Run in the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon
Yes, you read that right. Don’t be scared. Run in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and Half Marathon. We’re not saying commit to the full marathon or even the half (but more power to you if you do). I’m talking about something as fun as the 5K! Yeah buddy. Get that participation award. It’ll be great to kick off the first month of the year with something healthy and fun.
10. Find your new favorite salad to rotate into your weekly routine
If you like salad, we’re jealous…
Honestly, we’re shook to our core that salads are expensive and don’t taste like burgers. WHY?! It took us a while to find a salad that we love but ladies and gents… one of our team mates found it.
It’s called the Super Kale and it’s from Daily Jam. What they’ve done that’s changed the game is make the kale taste good. We’ve been told that you can “massage kale to make it taste good.” *insert a confused and yet intrigued face here* Now we can’t stop thinking about that funny picture that has the piece of kale on the massage table (pictured right).
In addition to the Super Kale, let’s make this the year of the salad (is that a thing?). We’re also big fans of the healthy salads at Original Chop Shop, Perfect Pear Bistro, Pita Jungle and Wildflower Bread Company, just to name a few.
11. Brunch crawl in Tempe with your friends/family
Who doesn’t love to eat? Grab your best foodie partners and plan an awesome food tour throughout Tempe. Host your own with friends/family with the guidance of our Top Breakfast Spots blog. Maybe a walking tour is best because you’ll burn off some of the calories. Or, drive between places in north and south Tempe to allow a little time for digestion. Totally up to you. If planning isn’t your forte, save this activity for summer and you can attend the brunch crawl organized by Downtown Tempe Authority.
12. Go axe throwing at Lumberjaxes Axe Throwing
We love axe throwing!! It’s fun and only slightly dangerous, but you may discover your own hidden talent. Grab some friends or have a unique date night. For every group, they provide an “axe-pert” who will teach you everything that you need to know about this fun sport. You’ll have a great time and as a bonus, you can bring your own food and drinks.
13. Go indoor rock climbing at Phoenix Rock Gym
If you’re doing you due diligence of figuring out what you’re committing to for the New Year when it comes to be “being a better you,” you may want to consider this. We want to make this a suggestion because it’s a unique active activity that will engage your body. Rock climbing could be one of those things. It feels a little risky, but not as risky as going on your own out in the desert. We definitely don’t recommend that. We love this as a group activity with friends or even as a team building event for the office.
14. Try something new – learn to cook or create your own artwork
Try out a cooking class at Tracy Dempsey Originals. The legendary Tracy Dempsey Originals bakery is open Thursday-Saturday and is located on University Drive, just east of Priest. If you haven’t gone to her cute shop, it’s a must. She and her team fill the cases with the most wonderful treats from tarts to cookies and cakes. Take a class with her so you can learn to make wonderfully warm meals or tasty desserts. We’ve went ahead and linked Tracy’s Facebook event page because that’s where her classes can be found. She also features local wines and other Arizona products.
Get creative at Burst of Butterflies. Not your normal pottery painting place, Burst of Butterflies offers a wide variety of activities for all creative levels and abilities. I think that the glass fusing sounds interesting and it’d be super fun to paint on a canvas. We can all use more art on the walls in our houses, and it would be even better if we can all gloat about our awesome handmade artwork. Classes are available or you can stop in without an appointment.
15. Brewery Tour at Four Peaks Brewing Company
It still always a surprise to us when someone hasn’t been to Four Peaks Brewing Company. It’s a Tempe staple and hello, KILT LIFTER. Now, you may not be a beer drinker, but let us tell you – that’s okay!!
The tour is absolutely fascinating and a must do, especially with out of town guests. Seeing the behind the scenes of the work that goes into each batch is really cool. These guys are geniuses. There’s also a rumor that the building they reside in is haunted… say what?!
Insider’s Tip: Stay for lunch after a tour and you’ll feel like a true beer connoisseur.
16. Catch a ball (maybe) and some sunshine (definitely) at a spring training game
We can’t wait for Cactus League Spring Training. Fifteen teams, ten stadiums, a preview of the MLB season and lots of sunshine add up to the perfect time in Arizona. Check out our Tempe spring training guide to find the game schedule, a stadium location map and suggestions on things to do before and after the games.
17. Tour at ASU Gammage
A LOT of people don’t know that you can take a behind the scenes tour at ASU Gammage. Tours are available on Monday afternoons. Call (480) 965-3434 to make sure that tours are happening on the day that you’d like to go – they can fluctuate depending on the show schedule. It’s a great way to see some parts of the auditorium that you wouldn’t typically see on show day, plus you get a bit of history behind the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building. We learn something new every time that we go.
What Broadway show have you seen at ASU Gammage? We’ve got the list of shows this 2019-2020 Season.
18. Dinner and movie all in one place at Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo Drafthouse is becoming quite popular and ours is pretty unique with pre-show photo ops. We love that there’s a bar and hello, you get to order full on meals while watching a movie up on the big screen. One of our team members went to Alamo Drafthouse for the first when they did a screening of Bridesmaids. They pull out all of the stops and theme everything to match the movie. It made Bridesmaids even more fun. What could go wrong when you’re with friends, drinking and someone is bringing you food? Nothing – it’s the perfect evening.
Insider’s Tip: Join their “loyalty program” called Victory for fun perks, including a birthday surprise!
19. Explore Tempe Town Lake on your choice of watercraft
We can say with 97% confidence that Tempe Town Lake is the most photographed spot in Tempe. The reason we know that is because we participated in a photo contest, #TempeInstagrammys2020 where we had 1500+ submissions and most were photos of Tempe Town Lake. However, we’re not complaining. We love photos of the lake. We have a strong appreciation for how beautiful the sunset looks at the lake, especially with the all of the bridges, the Tempe Center for the Arts and the peacefulness of this open space in our busy city.
You should check out one of the pedal boats because it allows you to sit comfortably and requires a bit of effort to pedal yourself around the lake. Or, you can take out a paddleboard, kayak or bring a few friends and family for a cruise on an electric boat.
Whatever way you decide to explore the lake, our friends at Boat Rentals of America will help you have an awesome and safe time!
Don’t forget to tag us in your photos @tempetourism or #OurTempe
20. Plan for vacation or staycation
We mentioned this over on our 7 habits to start the New Year right blog but please, please, please plan a vacation. According to U.S. Travel Association, “Americans are earning even more days off than last year. But more than half (55%) of American workers report not using all their days off – totaling 768 million unused vacation days.” They’ve also said that the average employee takes 17.4 days off each year, but only 9 of those days are for travel.
So, if you’re just sitting at home not doing something slightly fun – do something! Plan a staycation even, Tempe is home to some of the coolest hotels with rooftop pools, restaurants on-site or within walking distance. Tempe’s unique properties are synonymous with relaxing. We’re encouraging you to actually plan a vacation in the New Year. Save this date, January 28, 2020: National Plan for Vacation Day! https://www.ustravel.org/events/national-plan-vacation-day
Thanks for checking out the blog! If you liked it, let us know in the comments. Save it on Pinterest for you to review in March again to see if you’re staying on track with these activities 😉
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