Hidden Gems on ASU’s Tempe Campus

9 reasons to explore Arizona State University that you may not know about

The Arizona State University’s Tempe Campus is one of the largest campuses in the U.S. by student population. And there’s almost as many reasons to visit.

Among the buildings, walkways, breezeways and courtyards, you’ll find some of Tempe’s best hidden gems — ranging from public art and delicious dining to inconspicuous nods history and heroes. Over the years, our team of experts has explored many aspects of the ASU campus and the we’re proud to share our favorite places, spaces, flavors and landmarks with you.

No matter what brings you to the Tempe campus, here are a few spots you won’t want to miss:

ASU Art Museum
51 E. 10th St., Tempe, AZ 85281 | 480-965-2787 | Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Thursday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. during academic semesters

The ASU Art Museum isn’t exactly hidden, although it is nestled among some new additions Tempe skyline. Still, located at Mill Avenue and 10th Street. If you haven’t been inside, you wouldn’t believe the treasures that this place holds. They showcase contemporary art, especially art that makes a statement about our world today, created by regional, national and international artists. They have a focus on Latin American art, the largest collection of Cuban art in the U.S. and an award-winning print collection. Admission is always free.

Engrained Cafe
1290 S. Normal Avenue, Tempe AZ 85287 | 480-965-4239 | Hours: Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Engrained Cafe is located inside the Memorial Union (MU) on the second floor. From the moment you enter Engrained, you realize this place is unique. The hostess greets you as you walk in and directs patrons towards the kitchen to take a look at the dishes to choose from that day. They always look delicious, and they taste even better. The menu changes frequently based on the available seasonal produce and is harvested within a 150 mile radius. There are several yummy salads, sandwiches, pizzas and even sushi rolls to choose from. Beverages are complimentary with every meal, which is a fun bonus. Diners are treated to several informational placards hung on the walls, explaining that most of the materials used inside of Engrained Cafe come from recycled goods. For example, the chairs are made from recycled seat belts.

Gallery of Scientific Exploration
781 E. Terrace Road, Tempe, AZ 85287 | 480-727-2868 | Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, except ASU holidays

The Gallery of Scientific Exploration, housed in the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV (ISTB 4), features several interactive exhibits designed for engagement and discovery, and to encourage children to explore their futures as scientists and engineers. The first floor gallery invites visitors to explore earth and space sciences through digital media, visible laboratories and interactive displays. Exhibits include a replica of the Mars Rover Curiosity, EarthScope, an instrument used to measure and understand earthquakes and continental movement, and Magic Planet, a digital video globe with a six-foot diameter sphere-shaped screen. Head upstairs to explore the meteorite display, drawn from the extensive collection of ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies. Stretch your mind to the very edge while exploring the exhibits in this building, and learn lots of cool factoids along the way. The best place to park is at the Rural Road parking structure. In addition to the weekday hours, the gallery is also accessible on Saturday afternoons, before and after the 2:30 p.m. planetarium shows at the Marston 3D Theater.

Goodwin Stadium Historical Marker
Located at the intersection of East Lemon Street and South College Avenue | Open 24/7

Built in 1936, and named for former Tempe Mayor Garfield Goodwin, this stadium was home to the Sun Devils football team through 1958 — when they moved to Sun Devil Stadium (now Mountain America Stadium). Six years after that move, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Tempe and deliver his speech, entitled “Religious Witness for Human Dignity,” at Goodwin Stadium on June 3, 1964. Thanks to the archival efforts of ASU, photos and audio of that day can be found here. Although the stadium is long gone, and the land it occupied has transformed for new uses, visitors to the site will find landmark commemorating this piece of Tempe’s history today.

James Turrell ASU Skyspace: “Air Apparent”
Rural and Terrace Roads, Tempe, AZ 85287 | 480-965-2100 | Open 24/7

Across the Terrace Road from the Gallery of Scientific Exploration is the home of a significant part of ASU’s public art collection. “Air Apparent” was designed by renowned artist James Turrell, who is known for his skyspaces. You can walk into this space and observe the sky through a frame. It’s most dramatic at sunrise, sunset or after dark when the frame lights change color.

Mountain America Community Iceplex
411 S. Packard Drive, Tempe, AZ 85288 | 602-457-2500 | Hours vary by schedule

Hockey fans are surely familiar with ASU’s new Mullett Arena — home of the Sun Devils Men’s hockey team — but did you know this new addition to the campus also includes an adjacent sheet of ice for community use? Well, you do now. In fact, Mountain America Community Iceplex offers a robust line up of skating and hockey programming for the community — all ages and skill levels — to experience this new attraction. Times and dates vary by season. If you prefer spectating the Sun Devils men’s ice hockey team takes to the ice from fall through spring. And if you’re a die-hard sports fan, we recommend swinging by Shaq’s Big Chicken for a bite to eat on game day!

Palm Walk
From University Bridge on the north to the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the south | Open 24/7

Palm Walk is located in the center of campus and it serves as the main thoroughfare when getting around campus on foot. This wide walkway is bordered on both sides by dozens of picturesque palm trees. It’s the perfect spot for the quintessential ASU photo op. In fact, it’s the most photographed site on the Tempe campus. To get there, park at the Fulton Center Parking Garage and walk southeast toward the arched bridge that crosses over University Drive. Head over the bridge and begin your stroll through campus on ASU’s Palm Walk, which runs from University Bridge on the north to the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the south. Following along Palm Walk will lead you to several popular spots on campus such as the Memorial Union (MU) and the ASU Bookstore — both worth a visit while on campus.

Pat Tillman Statue
Located in the north end zone of Mountain America Stadium | Viewable during stadium events

In 2017, Sun Devil Athletics unveiled a bronze Pat Tillman Statue to honor the ASU and College Football Hall of Fame inductee. Tillman was a student-athlete at ASU from 1994 to 1998, earning a degree in marketing. In the 1998 NFL draft, Tillman was selected as the 226th pick by the Arizona Cardinals. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he left the NFL and enlisted in the U.S. Army. Tillman died in Afghanistan in 2004.

The life-size figure (over 7 feet in total) commemorates Tillman, ready to walk onto the Kush Field from the (now) Tillman Tunnel. This landmark is especially moving on game days, as the football team rallies around it ahead of kickoff. His legacy also lives on through the Tillman Foundation, the organization that produces Pat’s Run each April at ASU.

Secret Garden
1001 S. Forest Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281

If you’re looking for a way to escape the everyday hustle and bustle of busy campus life, sneak away to the Secret Garden for a spot of tranquility. Bordered by West Hall and Dixie Gammage Hall, the Secret Garden is located just south of McClintock Hall, and can be entered from either the north or the south side by walking down a somewhat steep incline. For decades, the garden’s ambiance — complete with grassy lawns, blooming flowers, banana trees, a fireplace and benches — has created a perfect place for students and visitors to reflect, study, celebrate and snap photos. It’s a must visit if you’re on campus.

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