Outdoor and Active

There’s so much to do at Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake is the perfect spot to experience some fun and enjoy the outdoors.

It’s a bit unexpected for visitors to find a large body of water right in the heart of the city, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Tempe Town Lake. From January to December, winter or summer, the lake is an excellent place to visit throughout the year.

Please note, swimming at Tempe Town Lake is never permitted (special events excluded).

Located on the northwest corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe Town Lake is one of Arizona’s most visited tourist destinations. This two-mile-long lake is so much more than just something nice to look at when you’re driving on the Loop 202 Freeway.

Rent a boat

Boat Rentals of America – Tempe Town Lake, located on the south shore of Tempe Beach Park, offers visitors the opportunity to rent all kinds of watercraft.

If you’re with a group of friends, I suggest checking out the newly-added donut boat, which holds up to 10 people. It costs $140/hour, which is a pretty good deal if you split the cost amongst the people in your group. The donut boat features a round table in the middle, perfect for sharing food and beverages, plus it is pet friendly!

They also have a 16′ electric pontoon starting at $75/hour that fits 8 people. But some of the more popular rentals are kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. There are two kayak options to choose from: single and double. Both options are sit-on-top kayaks, similar to how a canoe might look. They have recently added Swan, Duck and Dragon Pedal Boats to their inventory. They are totally adorable.

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

My personal favorite is the stand-up paddleboard (SUP). I know it looks complicated, and everyone thinks they’ll fall off, but I’m here to tell you it’s easier than you think. All the paddleboards have a traction grip that you stand on. Yes, it’s a bit of a balancing act, but it’s pretty easy to stay on. You can find a complete list of boats and rental rates here.

City of Tempe boating classes

If you’re looking to get more comfortable with your boating skills before venturing onto the lake by yourself, the City of Tempe has you covered! Check out the many classes offered for you to get more acquainted with boat safety and boat handling. Search for “boating” in the activities search box to find upcoming classes.

Go for a run or walk

If you’re more of a land lover, you can still enjoy the lake from the shore. Grab your sneakers and go for a jog or walk along the 5-mile path around Tempe Town Lake. To utilize both the north and south shore sidewalks, use the pedestrian bridge located by the Tempe Center for the Arts. On the north side of the lake, you can cross back over the water by using the stairs just east of the train and light rail tracks (if you pass the North Shore Beach, you have gone too far). From the top of the stairs, take a quick right, leading you to the Mill Avenue bridge. Head south to get back to the entrance of Tempe Beach Park at the corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway.

Jogging at Tempe Town Lake
Tempe Town Lake | Photo Credit: @ethanhillmedia

Enjoy a bike ride

If you’d rather experience the lake on two wheels, take a relaxing bike ride instead. No bike? No problem. You can easily rent a bicycle from The Bicycle Cellar, located at Fifth Street and Forest Avenue next to the Tempe Transportation Center located in Downtown Tempe. Or try your skills on an electric scooter, which you can rent throughout Tempe Beach Park. Enjoying a fun ride along the water isn’t something that you’d expect in the desert, but it’s just one thing that makes Tempe an exceptional place.

E-bike_Tempe Town Lake
E-bike at Tempe Town Lake

Go fishing

Fishing at Tempe Town Lake is another popular activity. Trout, bass, catfish and sunfish can all be found in Tempe Town Lake, but make sure you have the proper fishing license before dropping your line. Fishing licenses can be purchased at any Arizona Game and Fish office, most fishing supply stores, or sporting good stores. Trout are stocked every month from November until February, depending on water conditions. You will also find bass, catfish and sunfish stocked year-round.

Explore public artwork

And, last but not least, in a college town like Tempe, you can expect art at every turn, and that’s true at Tempe Town Lake. Many public artworks along the lake, from the lights that line the Valley Metro Rail bridge to the “Words Over Water” tiles that line the lake’s south shore. Use the City of Tempe brochure to take a self-guided tour of Tempe Town Lake public art.

For more information about things to do in Tempe, visit our website or call 480-894-8158.


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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!