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 for travelers.  

To help you cope with the new stresses that we are all facing, you may want to get outside and enjoy the warm Arizona sunshine that comes with spring. You can practice social distancing and experience the outdoors at the same time.   

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.

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. There are hiking trails aplenty in and around Tempe with plenty of space for all. 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 Camelback MountainUsery Mountain Regional ParkTonto National Forest or Cave Creek Regional Park.  

Outdoor Picnics 

Another way to get outside is by planning a picnic. 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.  There are social distancing rules in place in Tempe parks that have closed some amenities like ramadas, playgrounds, sport courts and dog parks. 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


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.  

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. Check the Papago Golf Course website for daily deals.  

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.  

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 has two locations that are open for business – Tempe Town Lake and Kiwanis Lake. They are taking extra precautions during COVID-19 and sanitizing each boat and bike upon its return.  The City of Tempe has restricted all rentals to only 1 person per boat, including pedal boats, or bike. As a result, there is a minimum age of 14 for rentals. Check their website for prices, many of which have been reduced at this time.  

The Kiwanis Lake location is at Kiwanis Park, of course. They rent kayaks, pedal boats and surrey bikes.  

The Tempe Town Lake 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.  

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

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 santizing 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 Arizona Heritage Center at Papago Park is temporarily closed to the public, however visitors can explore the adjacent park and scenic Green Line Overlook area during this time.

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.

Take a hot air balloon ride with Rainbow Riders

Plan ahead to enjoy the fresh morning air at a higher altitude and take a hot air balloon with Rainbow Riders. Operations are suspended through April, but they are offering a big discount on gift certificates for future rides.

Rainbow Ryders

Gift certificates are available at a steal for $119 per person! These can be purchased online or call 1-877-725-2477 (7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily)

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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.