Explore Tempe during ASU Graduation

Celebrate ASU’s Spring 2024 Graduation Ceremonies in Tempe starting May 4.

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.

ASU graduation in Tempe is a momentous occasion for 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’re here to give you the scoop on how to make the most out of your graduation week!

ASU’s Spring 2024 Graduation Ceremonies kick off on May 4. For more information and a list of scheduled celebrations, visit the ASU Graduation Website.

Where to eat

OK, you’ve got your cap and gown, and your diploma will soon be in hand — it’s time to celebrate! 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, a Downtown Tempe favorite for more than 20 years, 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 years as a student.
  • 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.
  • Opened in 2023 by a Sun Devil, Hundred Mile Brewing Co. is a sprawling restaurant, bar, patio and onsite brewing operation with plenty of space and a variety of brews that pair perfectly with the elevated take on pub grub.
  • Culinary Dropout at the Yard Tempe is a revamped warehouse space that specializes in celebrations. Invite your party to this expansive gastropub with an oversized patio and be sure to try your hand at corn-hole and ping pong.
  • Located at Papago Golf Club, Lou’s Bar and Grill serves up spectacular views of Papago Buttes as well as posh American cuisine. Enjoy the golf course and city vistas in this airy dining space for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Tempe Marketplace is a 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

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’ll be fighting for the same spot as thousands of other graduates and their families. Don’t let that intimidate you. We’ve 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 and family photos. Take pics in front of the fountain, along the main stairwell or anywhere around the beautiful grounds, all of which make for a great offset location.
  • There is good reason Palm Walk is dubbed the most photographed place on campus: It is 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 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 the ASU Tempe Campus.
  • Every Sun Devil school year 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.
  • Arizona State University is home to artist James Turrell’s “Skyspace: Air Apparent.” Located near the intersection of Rural and Terrace roads, this artistic interpretation of Native American Hohokam shade ramadas and pit houses is especially dramatic at sunrise and sunset.
  • 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

In between the graduation ceremonies, picture taking and celebratory meals, there are countless places where the entire squad 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 such destinations around the state as Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and more.
  • 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 Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Take a shot at axe throwing at Lumberjaxes or Class Axe. You’ll be surprised at how good (or how bad) you and your crew are at throwing an axe. Regardless, you’re sure to have a fun time.
  • If you’re looking for something a bit more active and adventurous, try indoor rock climbing at Phoenix Rock Gym — home to more than 17,000 sq. ft. of climbing surface and walls over 30 feet high. It may sound intimidating at first, but no experience is necessary here. In fact, they’ll teach you everything you need to know. 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

You can’t spend four or more years 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 Stay Near ASU Tempe Campus

Tempe boasts a great selection of hotel properties next to or around Arizona State University. You’ll find a wide variety of accommodation styles, including full service, limited service, suite properties and economy hotels, all in close proximity 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.

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.

Congratulations to all this year’s ASU grads and their families. Go Devils! #ForksUp

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