Explore Tempe during ASU Graduation

ASU’s Spring 2022 Graduation Ceremonies kick off on May 7th. We’re here to help you make the most out of your graduation week in Tempe.

Graduation season at Arizona State University (ASU) is upon us, and that means students are transitioning from adolescent college years into mature (hopefully employed) alumni. And parents, well… you’re probably more focused on how many tissues you will need to get you through the ceremony. Pro tip: about 75 tissues come in one box of Kleenex, so two boxes should suffice. You’re welcome.

Let’s be real, ASU graduation in Tempe is a momentous occasion for both parents and students alike. And although this should be a joyful time, we know that wrapping up your college experience can get a bit stressful. That’s why we are here to give you the 4-1-1 on how to make the most out of your graduation week!

ASU’s Spring 2022 Graduation Ceremonies kick off on May 7th. For more information and a list of scheduled celebrations, visit the ASU Graduation Website.

Where to eat

Pedal Haus Brewery in Tempe

OK, you’ve got your cap and gown, and your diploma will soon be in hand (well, they actually mail you your real diploma, so no funny business on graduation day); it’s time to C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E good times, come on! Rejoice in this big accomplishment with all your friends and family at these Tempe restaurants. Be sure to call ahead to reserve your tables and give businesses a heads up, especially when dining out with a large group.

  • Top of the Rock is a local favorite and must see. Located at the Phoenix Marriott Resort Tempe at The Buttes, they offer beautiful panoramic views of the Valley, locally sourced and chef-inspired cuisine, signature cocktails and an extensive wine list.
  • Caffe Boa has been a Downtown Tempe favorite for more than 20 years. Caffe Boa serves Italian dishes, such as handmade pasta and fresh seafood, crafted from the finest organic and natural ingredients.
  • Housed inside a 100-year-old former creamery and ice factory, Four Peaks Brewing Company’s 8th Street location is the original and the best place to showcase where your money was really spent during your four years of college.
  • Pedal Haus Brewery is large and spacious enough to accommodate any party size. Reserve a section of their patio where you can enjoy cornhole or ping-pong or go for a more exclusive atmosphere in their glass-encased private dining area.
  • Located at Papago Golf Club, Lou’s Bar and Grill serves up spectacular views of Papago Buttes as well as posh American cuisine. Enjoy golf course and city vistas in this airy dining space for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Tempe Marketplace is an all-inclusive shopping, dining and entertainment destination that will satisfy your entire graduation party. Some great options for a graduation celebration include The Keg Steakhouse + Bar, Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill, Barrio Queen, Gen’s Korean BBQ House and Dave & Busters.

Where to take photos

Outside Hayden Library

The ASU Tempe Campus is large, and it can be quite daunting to find the perfect spot to take your graduation photos. Not to mention, you will be fighting for the same spot as thousands of other graduates and their families. Don’t let that intimidate you. We have put together a list of the most iconic buildings, walkways, breezeways and courtyards, where you’ll find the perfect background for your graduation photos.

  • Constructed before Arizona achieved statehood, Old Main is an iconic venue on campus and is the perfect backdrop for senior portraits. Take photos in front of the fountain, along the main stairwell or anywhere around the beautiful grounds that make for a great offset location.
  • There is a reason why this is dubbed the most photographed place on Campus; Palm Walk is the perfect spot for the quintessential ASU photo op. This iconic ASU walkway is lined with over 100 eloquently groomed palm trees spanning 4/10th of a mile, connecting the north and south side of campus. Palm Walk will lead you to several popular spots on campus, such as the Memorial Union (MU), the ASU Bookstore and the Sun Devil Campus Store, where you can grab your last-minute ASU memorabilia.
  • The newly revamped and extended Hayden Library is another amazing location to take photos. Plus, it makes you look super smart! During the spring, the pink bougainvilleas bloom outside the library, making for a colorful backdrop.
  • If you’ve ever driven down University Drive between Mill Avenue and Rural Road, you know that the ASU University Bridge is something that must be photographed. Stand in front of the bridge where the ASU sign can be seen, or stand on top and capture the heartbeat of ASU Tempe Campus.
  • Every Sun Devil story kicks off with whitewashing the “A” on “A” Mountain, so it is only fitting to close this chapter by taking a graduation photo in this very spot. The best place to capture the “A” is from the first lookout point halfway up the mountain. This is also a great spot to capture pictures of Downtown Tempe.
  • Bordered by West Hall and Dixie Gammage Hall, the Secret Garden is located just south of McClintock Hall. The Garden holds green grassy lawns, blooming flowers and banana trees, making it the perfect spot for taking your professional headshots.
  • Don’t think we forgot about you, parents! Those who are ASU alums or have been around Tempe for years, should be familiar with the infamous Bandersnatch pub. Now’s your chance to relive those glory days and snap a photo in front of the Bandersnatch doors inside Residence Inn Tempe Downtown, where they pay homage to the very pub that stood in the same location for years.

For more notable picturesque places, visit our blog.

Things to do in Tempe

Donut Boat at Tempe Town Lake
Donut Boat rental at Tempe Town Lake

In between the graduation ceremonies, picture taking and celebratory meals, there are lots of places where the whole brood (family and friends) can enjoy Tempe and our desert scenery. Here are a few ideas of things to do in Tempe during ASU graduation week.

  • Leave the driving and trip planning to someone else and go on a guided tour. Check out our sightseeing and tours page for details on local tour companies, including hot air balloon rides, mountain bike adventures and excursions to destinations around the state such as Sedona, the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon.
  • Visit the Tempe Center for the Arts, located on the south shore of Tempe Town Lake. Check out the Gallery at TCA, where you can view works of art by local and national artists covering a wide range of topics and perspectives. The gallery is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Try something new and go axe throwing at Lumberjaxes. You will be surprised at how good (or how bad) you and your crew are at throwing an axe. But, whether you are great at it or not, you’re sure to have a fun time.
  • If you want something a bit more active and adventurous, try the indoor rock climbing gym at Phoenix Rock Gym! They have over thirty-foot high walls with over 17,000 sq. ft. of climbing surface. It may sound scary to some, but they teach you everything you need to know, even if you’ve never touched a rope in your life. No experience is necessary, plus it’s indoors with A/C. What more could you ask for?!
  • Take a relaxing boat ride on Tempe Town Lake. Boat Rentals of America – Tempe Town Lake has stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, pedal boats, swan boats, electric boats and donut boats.
  • May is ideal for enjoying the cool morning temperatures; take full advantage of hiking at a nearby trail. Favorites include “A” Mountain in Downtown Tempe, Hole in the Rock at Papago Park and South Mountain Park and Preserve. Visit the Tempe Tourism hiking blog to learn about each trail. 
  • There’s always a sense of calm when you visit Desert Botanical Garden. From the trails, you can see thousands of plants from arid climates around the world, and you will learn more about the flora and fauna that call the desert home.
  • Go shopping at Tempe Marketplace or Arizona Mills. Whether you’re looking for items for a new apartment, clothes for job interviews, in need of a last-minute gift item, or you want a great place to grab a coffee or dessert; these shopping destinations have you covered.

Where to buy ASU gear

Cactus Sports
Cactus Sports

You can’t spend four years or more at Arizona State University (or send your kids there) without having a collection of ASU shirts, stickers, license plate holders and other items emblazoned with the ASU logo. Cactus Sports, the Sun Devil Campus Store and Sun Devil Marketplace are hubs for all things ASU. Read our ASU gear blog for more info on each place and learn about what items they carry.

Where to Park for ASU Graduation

When it comes to finding a place to park your car at ASU’s Tempe Campus, you have options. Lots of them. The trick is to park in an area that’s open to the public and within reasonable proximity to the graduation ceremony. Check out a few helpful tips on parking, transportation, and navigating to events and attractions during ASU Graduation week.

Where to Stay Near ASU Tempe Campus

Tempe boasts a great selection of hotel properties next to or around Arizona State University. With a mix of property types, including full service, limited service, suite properties and economy hotels, you’ll enjoy being close to campus. Check out our list of hotels within 2 miles of the Memorial Union, also known as the heart and soul of ASU’s Tempe Campus.

The Tempe Tourism team is always happy to help with any questions that you might have. Reach out to us at (480) 894-8158 or find us on social: @tempetourism. Be sure to tag your Instagram posts with #ourtempe so we can follow along with your graduation celebrations.

Congratulations to all ASU grads and their families. We’re proud of you all and we’re so glad that you chose ASU. Go Devils! #forksup

Written Alicia Griffith

Alicia is an ASU Alumna and Tucson native who is unapologetically herself. When she is not sharing her passion for Tempe, she is a devoted dog mom and reality TV enthusiast who has a weakness for charcuterie boards and wine!

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