Arts and Culture

Photo-Worthy Places in Tempe

By Jamie Killin

Tempe has it all, from stunning desert scenery to innovative public art, to top-tier restaurants and bars—all of which offer photo-worthy moments you’ll want to remember for a lifetime. To help you find your next Instagram-worthy shot, we’ve rounded up these can’t-miss, photogenic attractions from around the city.

“A” Mountain

With a quick jaunt to the top of “A” Mountain, also known as Hayden Butte, photo takers are rewarded with views of Downtown Tempe, Sun Devil Stadium and Tempe Town Lake.

Photo tip: Take a shot of the 60-foot-tall, gold-painted letter “A” down below from Mill Avenue, or high up from the mountain’s peak. There’s also a lookout spot halfway up the mountain that’s perfect for photo-taking.

A Mountain sunrise
“A” Mountain | Ethan Hill Media

Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake is one of Arizona’s most visited and scenic sites. And for a good reason: The picturesque, 2-mile lake is home to more than 40 special events each year, as well as a variety of recreational activities from kayaking to biking. On its own, though, the stunning lake makes for the perfect backdrop for any photo.

Photo tip: For a truly unique perspective, rent a pedal boat from Boat Rentals of America – Tempe Town Lake and glide across the water as you take photos of the lake from a water’s edge view.

Kayaking at Tempe Town Lake
Kayaking at Tempe Town Lake | @telle_tells

“Our Tempe” Public Art

This colorful addition to Tempe’s public art scene was painted by artist Kyllan Maney and created in partnership with the Tempe Tourism Office and Downtown Tempe Authority (DTA). Located next to the historic Hayden House, the vibrant art piece signifies people from all walks of life coming together.

Photo tip: Show your love for Tempe by sharing this art piece on social using #OurTempe. Located at Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway.

“Our Tempe” Public Art

“Get Together Tempe” Mural

Street murals offer the perfect backdrop to an impromptu photoshoot. Located at the parking lot of the Social Hall restaurant, this fun, welcoming piece painted by Morgan Delaney has the look of a postcard with desert plants.

Photo tip: Stay true to the theme by getting a group shot in front of the iconic Tempe mural. Then, head inside to celebrate your gram-worthy pics with a round of sips and nibbles.

Get Together Tempe @malleyinlove
Get Together Tempe Mural | @malleyinlove

Palm Walk

Palm Walk is one of the most iconic spots at ASU and the ideal location for grads and prospective students to commemorate their experience. The palm-tree-lined corridor has been in place for more than 100 years and is a must-visit when you’re at ASU.

Photo tip: For the perfect photo, stand in the middle of the corridor and get a vertical shot with the palm trees towering above.

ASU Palm Walk
ASU Palm Walk | @jenonajetplane

Hole in the Rock at Papago Park

Papago Park has many different attractions, from the first Arizona governor’s tomb (appropriately named Governor Hunt’s Tomb) to biking trails and fishing lagoons. However, one of the most popular—and photo-worthy sights—is Hole in the Rock. To reach the rock formation, park in the lot adjacent to the Phoenix Zoo and follow the short trail to see an incredible view. For an extra special view, visit at sunset—it’s worth it!

Photo tip: Once inside, get panoramic views of the city or use it as a natural frame when composing your images.

Hole in the Rock by @mollymeetstheworld
Hole in the Rock at Papago Park | @mollymeetstheworld

Tempe’s Hotel Rooftops

Tempe has a variety of hotel rooftops with awe-inspiring views perfect for a frame-worthy photo. A few standouts are the Skysill Rooftop Lounge at the Westin Tempe and the Alibi Rooftop Lounge located at the Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown. Both destinations offer a great view of the city, as well as delicious cocktails and bites.

Photo tip: Take your photos at sunset, when you’ll watch the city turn from golden hues to bright city lights.

The Westin Skysill Rooftop Lounge

Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge

Located next to the Tempe Center for the Arts, this iconic bridge—officially known as the Elmore Pedestrian Bridge after James Elmore, ASU’s founding Dean of Architecture—is perfect not only for a scenic lifestyle photo but also serves as a great spot to get an unforgettable shot of the lake and city. At night, it lights up for an extra special view. (For other great bridge views, get snap happy at the Mill Avenue bridge or the Valley Metro Light Rail bridge.)

Photo tip: Get open views of the western sky at sunset or catch the sunrise over the Tempe skyline to the east.

Tempe Pedestrian Bridge
Tempe Pedestrian Bridge

Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful places in Arizona, with more than 50,000 plant displays showcasing the unique landscape of the Sonoran Desert. In addition to stunning plant life, the garden also offers a variety of exhibits throughout the year that will have you snapping photos left and right.

Photo tip: For the most iconic Arizona scene, get a shot with the unique and rare crested saguaro cactus along the Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Trail.

credit @readysetjetset Desert Botanical Garden
Desert Botanical Garden | @readysetjetset

Kiwanis Park

Commemorate a fun-filled day at Kiwanis Park. This 125-acre park features all kinds of attractions, including a 12-acre lake for paddle boarding and kayaking, an indoor wave pool, golf course and pickleball courts, just to name a few!

Photo tip: For wildlife lovers, the park’s lake attracts countless birds and animals. Get a shot of various ducks, including the ring-necked and mallard, or spot a painted turtle.

Kiwanis Park strolling
Kiwanis Park

Downtown Tempe

Downtown Tempe is the heart of the city, offering community events, public art pieces, local shops and one-of-a-kind restaurants.

Photo tip: Downtown Tempe is ripe with photo ops for art lovers. Snap a photo of wonderful local art at the Tempe Festival of the Arts or take a selfie in front of one of the area’s many public artworks.

Downtown Tempe | @calistadiamante
Downtown Tempe | @calistadiamante

ASU Art Museum

Thanks to the award-winning American architect Antoine Predock, ASU Art Museum offers a multitude of photo opportunities before you even enter the building. Once you’re inside, explore groundbreaking contemporary art pieces by world-renowned artists and ASU students in various mediums, including ceramics, sculpture, installations and paintings.

Photo tip: Use the various lines in the design of the building’s exterior, along with midday shadows, for the most interesting angles.

ASU Art Museum credit Tim Trumble
ASU Art Museum credit Tim Trumble

ASU Gammage

Even if you’re not catching a Broadway-worthy production at ASU Gammage, it’s well worth seeing for its show-stopping architecture, designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Originally designed to be an opera house in Bagdad, this iconic Tempe landmark will make your photo oh-so-special.

Photo tip: Any vantage point is good here but be sure to explore the iconic winged walkways where you’ll get an elevated view of the historic building.

ASU Gammage bridge
ASU Gammage

Tempe Marketplace

Tempe Marketplace is more than a shopping center: It’s a one-stop destination for live music, blockbuster movies, delicious dining and, of course, photo ops. Whether you’re posting a foodstagram at Barrio Queen or sharing a shopping selfie from Divaz Boutique, there’s no shortage of great photo opportunities.

Photo tip: Make full use of the retail center’s colorful buildings, yearly pop-up art installations, cozy fireplaces and unique water features.

Tempe Marketplace The District Credit Emily Piraino Photography
Tempe Marketplace | Emily Piraino Photography
Written Tempe Contributor

Tempe Sky Nav Open Tempe Sky Nav