Outdoor and Active

Outdoor Options in Tempe during COVID-19

We have a new normal these days with the affects of the Coronavirus pandemic. What’s most important is doing our best to keep everyone safe and healthy. We encourage all Tempe residents and visitors to follow the current CDC guidelines.  Please note that Maricopa County has provided additional guidelines being enforced county wide, you can read the mandates and how it affects your time in Tempe.

To help cope with the new stresses that we are all facing, you may want to get outside and enjoy the Arizona sunshine. Remember to practice social distancing and stay at least six feet away from others at all times. The best times for outdoor fun this summer is early in the morning, or later in the afternoon or early evening around dusk.

We’re all in this together and everyone must make smart, informed decisions about what type of activities are safe. And, of course, if you’re not feeling well, please stay at home. To help guide your decisions, we suggest that you visit the Arizona Office of Tourism webpage with the latest updates for about COVID-19 in our state and links to local and national resources.  And, visit the Tempe Tourism Office web page for additional links to local information about COVID-19.

NOTE: Effective May 13, City of Tempe operated tennis courts, pickleball courts, disc golf areas and skate parks are open. Physical distancing guidelines must be followed and groups of 10 or more are not allowed. On June 1, the City of Tempe reopened dog parks, basketball courts, volleyball courts and athletic fields. Playgrounds, fitness and exercise equipment, splash play areas, ramadas and picnic areas remain closed until further notice.  For the latest news, information and resources on Tempe’s coronavirus response visit the City of Tempe website.

NOTE: Beginning Friday, September 4, all Tempe neighborhood park playgrounds and outdoor exercise equipment will reopen. The city’s three splash pads at Esquer, Hudson and Jaycee parks will also reopen. Kiwanis Tennis Center will resume leagues, drop-ins, challenge courts and mix & match. Kiwanis Park’s Fiesta Playground and The Cloud at Kiwanis Park will remain closed until further notice due to their size and the potential to attract crowds larger than 50.

Here are a few ways to entertain your inner circle as we face this crisis head on. Please check websites, social media channels or call the attractions below to learn their current hours of operation.  

Hiking Trails 

We can all use a little Vitamin D right about now. Hikers are encouraged to practice social distancing and access to some trails has been restricted to control crowds. See the press release from the City of Phoenix for more information about trail access. Visit our Tempe hiking blog to learn about some of our favorite local trails from “A” Mountain to South Mountain Park and Preserve. You can also try a trail that’s new to you, maybe at Usery Mountain Regional ParkTonto National Forest or Cave Creek Regional Park.  Please note that facilities, such as bathrooms and drinking fountains, may not be accessible at this time. Be prepared and check in advance of your hiking outing.

Outdoor Picnics 

There are lots of green spaces in Tempe like Kiwanis Park, Daley Park and Tempe Beach Park. In fact, there are more than 50 parks in Tempe. You can have a picnic with your quarantine buddies, just be sure to bring your own blanket. There are social distancing rules in place in Tempe parks that have closed some amenities like picnic tables, ramadas and playgrounds. See the City of Tempe COVID-19 page for information about safely using parks.

And, if your sandwich making skills aren’t up to par, we highly recommend ordering delivery or curbside take out from one of Tempe’s restaurants. All small businesses can use our support to help them get through this difficult time. You can take your pick from all types of cuisine – tacos, falafel, burgers, salads, soups and lots of desserts from local bakeries. Visit our blog for a list of Tempe restaurants offering curbside service and delivery, organized by type of cuisine.

The Tempe Tourism Office website is a good place to find local Tempe restaurants. Just check with them to confirm their hours of operation and find out what they might be offering for to-go orders or curbside service.  

Cholla Trail at Camelback Mountain
Cholla Trail at Camelback Mountain

Golfing 

Many of the golf courses in the area are open during regular hours and their staff would really appreciate your business. And, maybe playing a round would help your stress level. After all, this is a sport where you can easily practice social distancing while being social. Note, golfers are required to use one golf cart per person while out on the course.

Papago Golf Course is a gorgeous course located very close to Downtown Tempe near the Papago Buttes in Phoenix. It was designed by golf course architect William Francis (Billy) Bell, who also designed Torrey Pines in San Diego and the golf courses at Tucson Country Club and Wickenburg Country Club. Visit their website to book a tee time and read their new rules and policies in regards to COVID-19.   

Tempe’s municipal golf courses Ken McDonald and Rolling Hills offer rates from $13 to $59, depending on the day of the week, time of day and if you want to use a cart. Golfers are asked to pay for their fees before they arrive at either course. Call Ken McDonald Golf Course at 480-350-5250 or Rolling Hills Golf Course at 480-350-5275.

USS Memorial Gardens at Salt River 

7455 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85258

USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River

This new outdoor attraction just opened on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community between Great Wolf Lodge and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Open from dawn to dusk, the USS Memorial Gardens at Salt River include an original boat house relic from the USS Arizona and over 1,500 illuminated columns silhouetting the dimensions of the USS Arizona representing those aboard December 7, 1941.

NOTE: The Relic Room is temporarily closed.

Boating in Tempe 

Boat Rentals of America at Tempe Town Lake and Boat Rentals at Kiwanis Park are open for business. They are taking extra precautions during COVID-19 and sanitizing each boat and bike upon its return.

The Tempe Town Lake boat rental location is located on the south side of the lake, near the Mill Avenue bridges. They rent kayaks, pedal boats, electric boats, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and surrey bikes.  

Please note: Certain areas of Tempe Town Lake and Tempe Beach Park remain inaccessible due to the ongoing cleanup effort from a train derailment on July 29, 2020. This includes the south side of the lake, from the Beach Park parking lot off of Rio Salado Pkwy., to the Elmore Pedestrian Bridge. For more information, please visit the City of Tempe’s website.

The Kiwanis Lake boat rental location is located in South Tempe at Kiwanis Park off of Baseline Rd and Ash Ave. They rent kayaks, pedal boats and surrey bikes.

Check their websites for current hours of operation:
Tempe Town Lake location | (855) 690-0794  
Kiwanis Park location | (855) 690-0794

Online boating permits for Tempe Town Lake are now available. Visit the City of Tempe website to purchase your permit and enjoy Tempe Town Lake on your own kayak, stand-up paddleboard, sailboat or canoe. Make sure to read all boating regulations before purchasing your permit. 

Take a self-guided Tempe public art tour

Get out and explore what makes Tempe’s art culture so inspiring through a self-guided public art tour. You can experience art around Tempe neighborhoods, private developments, Valley Metro transit stations and even art on ASU’s Tempe campus!

If you want to explore Tempe’s street art scene, we suggest hopping in your car for a self-guided driving tour of a few of our favorite Tempe murals. You can see all of these works of art from the road or a parking lot. And, if you practice social distancing, you can still get that perfect photo for Instagram. 

Biking in Tempe 

Need a safe social distancing activity? Take your bike out and explore 175 miles of bikeways, including bike lanes, desert trails and canal paths. Ride around Tempe Town Lake, down Mill Avenue or in Papago Park. Visit the City of Tempe website for additional information. 

Tempe E-Bike Tours is now offering private group rides for 2-5 people, by request only. Tempe E-Bike tours will provide the clean bikes, you just have to bring your own water, bag, and helmet. To book, contact Todd Davis at (602) 980-3798.

Horseback riding 

6940 W. Broken Ear Rd., Chandler, AZ 85226 | (602) 796-3495

KOLI Equestrian Center is located on the Gila River Indian Community Reservation just south of Tempe. They are still open and welcoming small groups and private rides. Their staff and guides are so kind and you can tell how proud they are of their tribal history. They’ll share stories about their tribe during your ride so you’ll learn something while you take a relaxing ride on one of their gorgeous horses.  

They are still running trail rides for groups with less than 10 people. They are sanitizing helmets, saddles and all surfaces in the office and restrooms. Each rider must complete the COVID-19 Self Declaration form prior to arriving to our site to aid in the prevention of spreading the virus.

Book your ride online or call (602) 796-3495 for more details. 

Green Line Overlook

1300 N. College Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 387-5357 

The Green Line Overlook is a little path adjacent to the main building which overlooks the riparian area between the Arizona Heritage Center and the O’Connor House. From the parking lot, walk to your left towards the dumpster and the palo verde tree. The trail starts there. There is a little stream that channels water from the Tempe water treatment plant to the park lake on Curry/College. It’s really beautiful and visitors have a good chance of seeing birds and other wildlife. It can be accessed via the parking lot, or if visitors are exploring trails in Papago Park they can use the entrance down by the O’Connor House.

Later, take a hot air balloon ride with Rainbow Ryders

Plan ahead and enjoy the fresh morning air at a higher altitude and take a sunrise hot air balloon with Rainbow Ryders. They are also offering gift certificates for future rides. That would make a great gift for sure.

Rainbow Ryders

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Toni Smith
Written Toni Smith

An Arizona native, Toni Smith loves to dine out, conquer hiking trails, go to concerts and survive hot yoga classes. She has also never met a dog she didn’t love instantly. She lives in Tempe with her husband and daughter.

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