Families and Kids

Top 20 Summer Activities in Tempe

Those lazy days of summer are upon us in Tempe, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to just lounge by the pool. Here are our top 20 summer activities in Tempe to help make this summer your best one yet.

1. Big Surf Waterpark: Everyone, from big kahunas to little splashers, will have fun staying cool at Big Surf Waterpark. Boogie boarders can catch a wave at Waikiki Beach, America’s original wave pool. Thrill seekers can get a wet and wild ride on speed slides with names like Hurricane Falls, Tornado Twister, Black Hole, White Serpentine and more. Airborne thrills are in store for anyone who rides the brand new Mauna Kea Zip Line, named after the highest peak in Hawaii. It speeds through the air over the wave pool for heart-racing 300 feet. Little ones can make a tamer splash at Captain Cook’s Landing, Bora Bora Bay and the Otter Slides. Big Surf Waterpark hours: Open daily this summer from May 26-August 4. Open weekends at the beginning of the summer season from May 4-19, and at the end of the summer season from August 10-September 2.
1500 N. McClintock Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 994-2297

2. SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium: Located in Arizona Mills, SEA LIFE is designed to provide a fun, interactive and educational experience for kids (and adults too). Explore the 12 different habitat zones housing more than 32 tanks with thousands of marine life, including colorful coral reefs, jewel-colored fish, undulating sting rays, a huge slithery eel and graceful sea horses. An underwater tunnel provides a 360 degree view and the sensation of swimming underwater, surrounded by sharks and other deep ocean dwellers.
5000 Arizona Mills Cir., Tempe, AZ 85282

3. LEGOLAND® Discovery Center: Fun comes in all sizes at shapes from the little LEGO blocks to huge dinosaurs at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center.  Kids can easily while away a summer day playing with thousands of LEGO blocks in 10 build and play zones, or on the two  rides and viewing a movie in the LEGO 4-D cinema.  In the Dino Explorer exhibit they’ll have some giant fun with all kinds of Dino activities. LEGOLAND® Discovery Center is located at Arizona Mills across from SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium.
5000 Arizona Mills Cir., Tempe, AZ 85282

4. ASU Art Museum: The cool, inviting interiors of the ASU Art Museum beckon you to come in and explore the five galleries filled with contemporary art. Check out the summer exhibition, Clayblazers: Women Artists of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, through August 10, 2019. With close to 100 artworks, “Clayblazers” celebrates women in the ceramic field during the mid-20th century. Legendary artists like Maija Grotell, Susan Peterson and Marguerite Wildenhain were educators, mentors and masters of their craft and inspired future generations. All of the works in the exhibition are drawn from the ASU Art Museum’s ceramics collection of 3,800 objects, representing the full range of technique, aesthetic approaches and possibilities within the field.
51 E. 10th St., Tempe, AZ 85287
(480) 965-2787

5. Tempe Center for the Arts: The beautiful Tempe Center for the Arts is offering fun and free Arts & Sciences Workshops to keep you entertained all season long. Each workshop includes activities, discussions and opportunities for learning for any age group. Families will enjoy the make and take art activities while adult audiences may enjoy artist led discussions and demonstrations. Stop in to participate in the  workshops with exhibiting artists every Saturday June 1-July 27, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. And don’t miss the free all-day Draw-A-Thon on June 22, from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., featuring drawing activities and demonstrations all day long! Mornings are for families, afternoons for teens and evenings are for the adults happy hour.
700 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 350-2822

6. Frosty refreshments are key to summer survival and Tempe has plenty of options to choose from. You’ll find flavorful frosty frozen concoctions, cool smoothies, frothy favorites and icy blends to cool you from the inside out. Whether you enjoy favor fruity flavors or are more prone towards exotic teas, Tempe has the perfect refreshing, summer survival drink for you.

7. Desert Botanical Garden Flashlight Tours:  Fetch your flashlights and hit the trail for a fun, cool and interesting nighttime tour at Desert Botanical Garden. Flashlight Tours are held from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday evenings from June 1 – August 31. You might see nighthawks, snakes or other furry or scaly nocturnal desert dwellers. The self-guided tour lets you set your own pace along the trail which takes you self-paced discovery stations.
1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix, AZ 85008
(480) 941-1225

8. Hall of Flame Fire Museum: A visit to the Hall of Flame is sure to spark an interest in the history of firefighting. The Museum holds a huge collection of fully restored fire engines and other examples of firefighting apparatus used in the U.S., England, France, Austria, Germany and Japan from 1725 to 1969. The fire engines are especially impressive, beautifully restored in pristine condition. The knowledgeable volunteers (all retired firefighters) are always eager to answer questions and give tours with advance notice. The Hall of Flame Fire Museum is geared for all ages.
6101 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix, AZ 85008
(602) 275-3473

9. Shopping: Whether you like to leisurely shop or you’re on a mission to find that perfect thing, there are lots of shopping options in Tempe.

  • Arizona Mills: You can easily spend the whole day at Arizona Mills. This indoor mall is home to a mile of retail stores, outlets and entertainment venues. You’ll find great deals at  NIKE Clearance Store, H&M, Buckle  and Justice. Spend hours at SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium and LEGOLAND® Discovery Center, play the latest games and some of your retro favs like Pac Man at Tilt Studio, see a movie at Harkins Luxury 25 Theatres or IMAX and have lunch or dinner at Villa Food Hall or sit-down restaurants like Rainforest Café, Garcia’s and Joe’s Crab Shack.
    5000 S. Arizona Mills Cir., Tempe, AZ 85282
    (480) 491-7300
  • Tempe Marketplace: One of the city’s most popular gathering spots, Tempe Marketplace is filled with large national retailers, boutique shops, restaurants, cafes and the latest blockbuster movies at their Harkins Theatre. For families, Tempe Marketplace offers a splash pad near Barnes & Noble and painting at As You Wish. On Friday and Saturday nights, catch free live music on the District Stage. Nightlife and dining option include Dave & Buster’s, Bar Louie and Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill.
    2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, AZ 85281
    (480) 966-9338
  • IKEA Tempe: Find everything that you need for your entire home at IKEA in Tempe. They have individual room settings and complete home displays to inspire you and a casual restaurant to keep your energy up as you wander through the aisles of this mega-store.
    2110 W. IKEA Way, Tempe, AZ 85284
    (480) 496-5658

10. Marston Exploration Theater: What could be cooler than a trip into outer space? You’ll feel like you’ve actually traveled into the furthest reaches of the universe at one of three shows at the Marston Exploration Theater on the Arizona State University (ASU) Tempe Campus. The incredibly realistic 3-D shows are projected onto a huge screen and are narrated by ASU faculty. Marston Exploration Theater is located in the Gallery of Scientific Exploration which also houses some interesting interactive exhibits. Show times are Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m.
ASU Tempe Campus
Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV
781 E. Terrace Rd., Tempe, AZ 85287

11. The Madison Tempe: Who needs an outdoor bike ride when you can take a spin class at The Madison Tempe? This “party on a bike” class is something to take literally. Their upbeat spin classes, sometimes accompanied by a live DJ and always accompanied by a wall to wall light display, are so fun, you might not even realize that you’re getting a killer workout.
149 S. Farmer Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 967-0835

12. Tempe is home is home to a fantastic array of tasty breakfast spots. Try a delicious savory and sweet crepe at The Crepe Bar (Rural and Elliot), an example of a food truck that was successful enough to open a permanent location. Or check out one of Tempe’s newest breakfast spots, the Morning Squeeze, located in Downtown Tempe just off Mill Avenue.

13. Phoenix Rock Gym: Looking to stay active without the heat? The Phoenix Rock Gym is here to save the day. Located near Dorsey Ln. and University Dr., the Phoenix Rock Gym is an indoor rock climbing facility, featuring high walls and an abundance of space to climb to your heart’s desire. From beginners to experienced climbers, everyone will have a great time at this air-conditioned location.
1353 E. University Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 921-8322

14. As You Wish at Tempe Marketplace: Do you have a creative side? As You Wish, located within the District at Tempe Marketplace, is a place where you can discover imaginative possibilities. At As You Wish, you pick out a piece of pottery and decorate it as you please with store-provided paints. There are also classes available for all ages, and the location will happily host events like birthday parties or other group activities.
2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., Ste. 1141, Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 557-9100

15. IMAX: Take your movie-watching experience to the next level. Harkins IMAX, located within Arizona Mills, offers several showings of films in 3D, which can captivate your senses and send your heart racing. With their convenient location inside Arizona Mills, movie-goers can also shop and dine before or after their feature film.
5000 S. Arizona Mills Cir., Tempe, AZ 85282
(480) 820-0387

16. Taste something new: There are so many restaurants in Tempe, it’s always hard to choose where to go. But, give yourself a challenge this summer and try a new place. Maybe you’re intrigued by the Ethiopian cuisine at Café Lalibela (Hardy and University) or you haven’t tried the amazing pastas and salads at Perfect Pear Bistro (Priest and Ray). Check out a brand new neighborhood spot like Ghost Ranch on Rural and Warner or Tres Tempe on Price Rd. between Guadalupe Rd. and Elliot Rd.

17. Marquee Theatre: The Marquee is the place to see live music this summer. Upcoming shows include established acts like Social Distortion and Everclear and newer artists like Jamie xx and George Ezra. It’s located on Mill Avenue and Curry, just north of Tempe Town Lake.
730 N. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 829-0607

18. Tempe Improv: It’s impossible not to have a good time at a comedy club and the Tempe Improv is one of the best. This summer, you can laugh along with comedy giants like Dan Cummins and Christopher Titus. There is a two drink minimum at all shows and they serve a tasty food menu. Most shows are for guests 21 and up, but some shows are open to people who are 18+. Check their website for details.
930 E. University Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 921-9877

19. Kiwanis Wave Pool: What’s better than a pool in the summer? A pool that’s indoors. The Kiwanis Wave Pool is inside the Kiwanis Park Recreation Center. It’s a great spot for family fun with comfortable water temperatures and specific hours for lap swimming, the wave pool and the spiral water slide through Labor Day. Rafts and tubes are available for rent. Or head to the newest splash pad in Tempe, The Cloud at Kiwanis Park. The one-of-a-kind structure boasts 5,000 square feet of water play, including loops, jelly sticks, misting sprays and pillars.
6111 S. All-America Way, Tempe, AZ 85283
(480) 350-5201

20. Main Event Tempe: You’ll find plenty of fun at Main Event, Tempe’s newest and biggest indoor entertainment venue. You could spend many happy days in this huge facility that has entertainment options for all ages, including state-of-the-art bowling, billiards, laser tag, a ropes course, more than 100 virtual and interactive games, free Wi-Fi, attractive dining options and full-service premium bars.
8545 S. Emerald Dr., Tempe, AZ 85284
(480) 753-1200

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.