Families and Kids

24 Things To Do in Tempe in the New Year

Your guide to new — and new-to-you — experiences for 2024

The New Year is upon us, which means 2024 resolutions are right around the corner. If it’s time to plan your uniquely Tempe adventures, the perfect place to start is by checking out the top 24 things to do in Tempe, Arizona, that made our must-do list for 2024.

No matter if you think you’ve done it all in Tempe or are just looking for new ways to experience some of the wonderful things this city has to offer, this is your guide to the latest and greatest attractions, recreation, dining options, sports and more.

So, whether you’re planning your next trip to Arizona, a fun-filled staycation weekend, or even your annual Tempe bucket list, we’ve got you covered.

1. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden 

Kick-off your year by experiencing the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert at the Desert Botanical Garden. From towering saguaros to delicate wildflowers, the garden is home to more than 50,000 desert plants from arid regions around the world. And lucky for us, it’s located just across the bridge from Downtown Tempe.

Through March 31, 2024, check out the garden’s latest art installation, Fernando Botero: El Maestro, including two monumental cast bronze sculptures — Dressed Woman and Reclining Woman — that showcase Botero’s unique and recognizable style known as “Boterismo.” The Colombian artist (1932-2023), a pioneer of figurative art, established himself as one of the most globally recognized artists of our time. His influence extends far beyond Latin America.

2. Check out new places to dine, drink and dance

The New Year is the perfect reason to try the many new concepts joining Tempe’s roster of restaurants bars and entertainment venues.

In 2024, Tempe welcomed quite a few new concepts, including four new spots at Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU; Chic Chef 77 Bistro & Wine Bar, Arizona’s first Black-owned wine bar; Cocina Chiwas at Culdesac; the super viral Matsuri Izakaya on Mill; Goldwater Brewing Co.’s new taproom at The Crossings; Arizona’s first VooDoo Doughnut location; and Bang Bang Tempe, a nightlife spot for sushi, saki and music.

Keep up with our ever-evolving list of new places to dine and drink in Tempe.

3. Get tickets to a game or events at Mullett Arena

Since opening in October 2022, Mullett Arena has been the new home of the Sun Devils men’s hockey team. In addition to hockey, the 5,000-seat venue will continue to host various events, including the Harlem Globetrotters on Feb. 29, 2024.

It’s also home to Big Chicken, a concept by Shaquille O’Neal that fuses his home-cooked childhood favorites with today’s trending flavors (Level 2 northwest concessions)

4. Hike “A” Mountain at sunrise 

“A” Mountain is a popular hike in Downtown Tempe frequented by many — especially at sunset. However, we recommend switching it up and heading to the summit for sunrise. You’ll be surprised just how different the 360-degree views are once the first light stretches across the Valley from east to west. It’s a quick, yet steep trek up to the top — that clocks in at under a mile (out and back) for an elevation gain of 232 feet.

5. Visit the Arizona Heritage Center 

Even Arizonans will learn something new at Arizona Heritage Center. This beautiful museum in Papago Park is filled with artifacts that explain the contemporary history of the 48th state. You’ll learn about copper mining, agriculture and even how the invention of air conditioning led to the development of metro Phoenix. The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

6. Visit the ASU Art Museum

Highlighted as “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona” by Art in America, 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.

Not-to-miss 2024 exhibits include “Twin Flames: The George Floyd Uprising from Minneapolis to Phoenix” from Feb. 3 to July 28, 2024, and “Making Visible” from Jan. 14 to April 28, 2024.

7. Toast to a sky-high happy hour

Rooftop venues are the hottest thing in the hospitality scene — we don’t make the rules, we’re just here to celebrate them! And, Tempe is home to a growing number of hotel rooftop bars, for swimming, sunning, sipping and sunset watching. Each with its own signature flavors, amenities, atmosphere and seasonal offerings, Skysill Rooftop Lounge at The Westin Tempe, Alibi at Canopy by Hilton Downtown Tempe and Lucero Rooftop Lounge and Terrace at Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU are absolute musts for your must-do list.

If it’s rooftop swimming you’re after, check out these additional recommendations.

9. Self-guided tour of Downtown Tempe with the Public Art Map 

We seek out art for different reasons: to inspire us, to make us laugh, to give us a new perspective or just to help us appreciate the beauty that exists all around us. Tempe is a city that showcases the arts through murals, prints and sculptures. For added convenience, these works of art are all located in Downtown Tempe. Check out the self-guided tour of Downtown Tempe with the Public Art Map, which showcases 50 pieces of public art.

If you want to explore more of Tempe’s art scene, we suggest hopping in your car for a self-guided driving tour of a few of our favorite Tempe murals. Check out our blog, Murals in Tempe, Arizona — Part I and Part II — to see the City of Tempe’s public art collection. You’ll be amazed at the creativity all around the city.

8. Hike Papago Park Trails 

Exploring Papago Park, especially a hike up Hole-in-the-Rock Trail, is a highly recommended experience. However, few have discovered the park’s path to Hunt’s Tomb. It’s a bit farther than Hole-in-the-Rock Trails, but it’s well worth the trek to experience the history of this landmark. As you might have guessed by its name, this white, 20-foot pyramid marks the final resting place of Arizona’s first Governor George W.P. Hunt — who was fascinated by the pyramids that he saw on a trip to Egypt — as well as his wife and several other family members.

*Directions: Follow Galvin Parkway to signs indicating Hunt’s Tomb

10. See Arizona Theatre Company at Tempe Center for the Arts

After moving to Tempe Center for the Arts ahead of the 2023-2024 season, Arizona Theatre Company is settling into its new stage and serving up some of the greatest performances in the state. Still to come: Intimate Apparel from Feb. 16 to March 3; Master Class from March 29 to April 14; and True West from May 24 to June 9.

This schedule adds to the robust offerings currently performing at this state-of-the-art venue and marks a new era for ATC, and affirming the City of Tempe’s commitment to the arts.

Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe Center for the Arts

11. Catch a live show

Tempe has no shortage of live-music venues. In fact, this city’s musical roots run deep. From such icons as Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers and Gin Blossoms to newcomers including The Irie and The Main (to name a few), live performances are right at home in Tempe. And, thanks to stages of all sizes, there’s many options for finding the perfect show to match your playlist preferences.

While mainstays include Yucca Tap Room, Marquee Theatre and more, there are a few new venues that beckon music lovers. Darkstar Theatre, a new music venue open inside the historic Tempe National Bank Building at 6th Street and Mill Avenue, features up-and-coming artists from all genres across the music spectrum.

And, for the all-ages set, check out live music every Friday and Saturday night at Tempe Marketplace’s District Stage. Located in the heart of the shopping complex, this outdoor venue is the perfect setting for the entire gang to enjoy the beautiful Arizona weather, a stunning sunset and some food from one of the many nearby restaurants.

12. Schedule tea time at Drink Me! Tea Room

If you haven’t experienced an afternoon tea, then you definitely need to add Drink Me! Tea Room, a whimsical and enchanting place, to your list. What’s even better is all of their teas and treats are plant-based and gluten-free! Their Alice in Wonderland-inspired tea room includes six teas to choose from, each named after a character from the story. They also incorporate different seasonal themes with corresponding flavors to choose from. Past favorites have included an Edgar Allen Poe theme for Halloween and Winter Wonderland theme during the holiday season. Just be sure to make a reservation on their website before visiting.

13. See a Broadway show at ASU Gammage

The 2023-2024 Desert Financial Broadway Across America series is only half over, so there’s more than enough time left this season to catch a show at ASU Gammage this season. Between January and August 2024, The Wiz, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill The Musical, MJ The Musical, The Kite Runner, Peter Pan and Hamilton will hit the stage. So, plan accordingly.

P.S. We highly recommend arriving early to take in the grandness of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and the beautiful grounds surrounding this iconic landmark.

14. Step up your brunch game

Our 2024 motto is, “all perfect days begin with brunch.” If this resonates with you, grab your foodie crew and plan an awesome best-meal-of-the-day tour throughout Tempe. With so many options to choose from, we’ve put our expertise into a round up of Tempe’s top breakfast spots  to help you navigate your next delicious affair. From decadent carbs and bubbles to fresh fruit and lighter fare, you’ll find it here!

15. Get sporty and try a new beginner-friendly activity

If you haven’t tried axe throwing, it’s time to give it a shot — you may even uncover a hidden talent. The newest addition to Tempe’s lineup of axe-throwing venues is The District at Tempe Marketplace is Lumberjaxes Axe Throwing Bar & Grill. The vibe is plush and the fresh renovations are inviting and cozy. There are 13 targets for axe throwing and over two dozen screens for catching a game or a fight from every corner of the indoor/outdoor space, including the giant bar.

If seeking out new avenues for being active has landed on your list of New Year resolutions, you may want to give indoor rock climbing a try. Tempe’s newly opened indoor rock-climbing gym, Arizona Bouldering Project, is a multiuse facility and community hub that offers both open gym and classes centered around 19,000 square feet of indoor climbing walls and boulders — as well as a fitness center, yoga studio, coffee shop, retail section and co-working space. From veteran crossfitters to new climbers, all skill levels are welcome.

By 2024, the pickleball craze is everywhere — including Arizona Mills. To meet the demands of the country’s fastest-growing sport, Picklemall is transforming former big-box retail spaces into dozens of new air-conditioned courts. This Tempe location was the brand’s first in the U.S. Here, all skill levels are welcome and all necessary equipment is provided. 

16. Try your hand at creating something new

Get creative at Painting with a Twist. Beyond the average pottery painting spot, Painting with a Twist offers a wide variety of activities for all creative levels and abilities. Sign up for an in-studio class, order an at-home paint kit or book a group for a virtual class. We recommend the in-person experience, in which case, BYO snacks, beer or wine add to add to the fun. Advance registration is required.

Brush up on your painting skills at Hammer and Stain. Create your very own trendy wood signs using personalized stencils, paints and stains provided during the workshop. Book an in-person workshop or pick up a Hammer @ Home DIY kit. In-person workshops last around 2-3 hours, and attendees are welcome to bring their own snacks, beer or wine. Advance registration is required.

Tutugether, a new DIY crafting studio located on Mill Avenue, invites you to try your hand at rug tufting, paint pouring, decoden art and more. Here, you’re encouraged to bring your own design inspiration — and the friendly and knowledgeable staff is there to guide you along the way.

You may also want to check out the classes, programs and leagues organized by the City of Tempe each season.

17. Support local Tempe shops 

Nothing captures the essence of a city quite as well as its locally owned shops, makers, artisans, creatives and culinary delights. Tempe is home to a robust array of places to discover, shop, savor and take home elements of what makes this city so unique. From apparel and books to treats and art, be sure to check out these spots that make shopping local such a rich and eclectic experience. For lovers of all things vintage and retro, these are the shops for you.

18. Hit the links at Grass Clippings at Rolling Hills 

Opened just in time for 2024, Arizona’s very first fully lit 18-hole golf course opened in Tempe. Grass Clippings at Rolling Hills golf course now welcomes night golfers, as well as morning and afternoon golfers — thanks to new LED lights throughout the course. Located at Papago Park, the course is open daily, with play available nightly until midnight Friday through Sunday and 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Bonus: A live music venue and a new restaurant are slated to open later in 2024.

19. Schedule a tour of the Eisendrath House 

This beautiful adobe home 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. Restored to its grandeur in the 1930s, the house contains educational interpretive displays, period furniture and vista views of the Valley of the Sun.

The visitor’s center invites you to schedule a one-hour, docent-led tour of the house by calling (480) 350-5100. Tours, available between October and April, provide guests with the opportunity to hear the fascinating story of Rose Eisendrath and this historic home, including details on its architecture and occupants.

20. Head to Tempe Beach Park for a festival

Outdoor events are our specialty, and Tempe Beach Park is the perfect location for a wide variety of cultural celebrations, music festivals and other annual soirees in Tempe. Depending on your style and which season you’re considering, here are just a few of the happening that top our list each year!
March: Aloha Festival is a free event that celebrates Hawaiian, Tahitian, Samoan and other South Pacific cultures through dance, musical performances, cuisine, art and more.
March: Innings Fest is a music festival designed for spring training fans. New for 2024, this music festival will span two weekends.
May: Boots in the Park is a two-day music festival featuring chart-topping country artists, including Kane Brown, Lee Brice, Tyler Hubbard, Parmalee and more.
October: Four Peaks Oktoberfest
December: Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade is a free holiday event that kicks off with vendors and food trucks, followed by a dazzling boat parade, and concludes with spectacular fireworks show.

21. Take to the lake on a rental watercraft

We can say with 98% certainty that Tempe Town Lake is the most photographed spot in our city — and we love seeing your photos of the lake! (Don’t forget to tag us in your photos @tempetourism or #OurTempe.) The alluring juxtaposition of the colorful sky and the silhouettes of the lake’s landmark bridges are especially striking, and peaceful, during golden hour.
The most immersive way to experience — and capture — this bliss, however, is on the water. Depending on your party size, and the particular activity you’re looking for, Boat Rentals of America offers pedal boats, paddleboards, kayaks and electric donut boats for navigating the lake.

22. Plan the perfect picnic

Sure, picnics might have peaked in 2020 for some. But this trend reinvigorated our passion for pairing two of our favorite things: food and Sonoran Desert landscapes — specifically, Tempe’s many parks. Check out our complete list of parks to visit and the nearby restaurants to get takeout from. Looking to put a new spin on your next picnic? Try ordering delivery from one of our star-powered ghost kitchen concepts. Still slightly under the radar, Tempe is home to MrBeast Burger, a virtual brand by Mr. Beast aka Jimmy Donaldson — a popular YouTuber with over 215 million followers — and Another Wing, a chicken wing concept featuring seven signature flavors by Grammy Award-winning artist and record producer DJ Khaled (“another one, another one”).

Taco picnic at Hole-in-the-Rock Trail at sunset.
Taco picnic at Hole-in-the-Rock Trail at sunset | Credit: @blewerke14_9

23. Pair a sunset horseback ride with margarita sipping

About 11 miles from south Tempe, KOLI Equestrian Center is located on the Gila River Indian Community — home to miles of breathtaking Sonoran Desert scenery. Specializing in horseback trail riding adventures, hay wagon rides and cattle drives, KOLI has designed all excursions as “walking” rides to keep it simple and gentle on both riders and their horses.

Book the sunset margarita ride, and you’ll return just before sunset for margaritas, chips and salsa. Perfect ending to the evening! Rides, and several other activities, are available at various times throughout the day, so check the website for more information.

People horseback riding in Arizona desert
KOLI Equestrian Center

24. Check a hot air balloon ride off your bucket list

For four decades, Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Company has been offering the most-unique vantage point of the Sonoran Desert: from the basket of a hot air balloon that’s a couple of thousand feet above the ground! Will this be the year that you join the ranks of over 750,000 passengers that have taken to the sky above the Valley of the Sun? If so, you’ll find sunrise flights available year-round (weather permitting), and sunset flights available in the winter months.

Tip: We took a sunrise flight the morning after a summer monsoon. The weather was perfect and the clouds were particularly striking. There’s no off season when it comes to scheduling this experience.

Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Company
Tempe Sky Nav Open Tempe Sky Nav

Sports Newsletter

Get the inside scoop on the best sports in Tempe - straight to your inbox. We'll send you our list of local deals and activities when you do.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Meeting Planner Newsletter

Get the inside scoop on the best meeting venues, dining scene and hotels in Tempe - straight to your inbox. We'll send you our list of local deals and activities when you do.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.