Families and Kids

Top 20 Summer Activities in Tempe

Summer fun has officially begun! As Arizona starts to heat up, we have created a list of our top 20 summer activities in Tempe. Check out the list (in no particular order) below to help get your summer off to a great start!

1. 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 stingrays, 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

SEA LIFE Aquarium Arizona Mills @TrulyTerah
Photo Credit: @TrulyTerah
Hotshots Axe Throwing Tempe
Hotshots Axe Throwing

2. Axe Throwing: This summer, try your luck at wielding an axe! Tempe now has three indoor axe-throwing facilities – very similar to a shooting range, except your weapon of choice is an axe! Make sure to pay attention because there is nothing more satisfying than finally making your axe stick. You will want to bring closed-toe shoes and a fun attitude!

Lumberjaxes Axe Throwing: 3105 S. Fair Ln. #100, Tempe, AZ 85282 | (480) 773-6551
Class Axe Throwing: 1625 W. University Dr. 122 B, Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 676-3386
Hotshots Axe Throwing: 1290 N. Scottsdale Rd. #102, Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 591-9118

3. 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 fruity flavors or are more prone to ordering exotic teas, Tempe has the perfect refreshing summer survival drink.

Sundae from Joe's Italian Ice
Joe’s Italian Ice | Photo Credit: Will Coles Media

4. Shopping: There is a wide array of shopping destinations in and around Tempe, from unique specialty shops to nationally known favorites and everything in between.

  • Arizona Mills – 5000 S. Arizona Mills Cir., Tempe, AZ 85282 | (480) 491-7300
    You can easily spend the whole day at Arizona Mills as it is the state’s largest indoor, climate-controlled outlet destination 10 minutes west of ASU. Experience more than 185 stores, including H&M, Nike Clearance Store and The Disney Store Outlet.
  • Tempe Marketplace – 2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 966-9338
    The expansive retail center is an outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment experience with more than 100 shops, restaurants, live music and a 16-screen cineplex. This vibrant modern hub is also a social gathering spot with cozy fireplaces, unique water features, pop-up art installations and lush landscaping.
Daily Dose Tempe
Daily Dose

5. Tempe 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 locally owned Daily Dose, located near Tempe Marketplace, for all your breakfast favorites.  

6. Phoenix Rock Gym: Are you 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.

*Hours: Monday-Friday: 3 p.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
1353 E. University Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 921-8322

7. Do you love painting pottery? If the answer is yes, check out As You Wish at Tempe Marketplace.
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

8. Taste something new: Tempe restaurants offer an eclectic array of dining and drink options. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly eatery that can satisfy your whole brood, a casual patio perfect for dining alfresco, a bright breakfast spot to fuel up for the day, or an international gem that will take you on a global culinary journey, Tempe hast it all. This summer, give yourself a challenge and try a new place.

Two Hands Fresh Corn Dogs
Two Hands Fresh Corn Dogs
Downtown Tempe outside of Cactus Sports
Downtown Tempe

9. Take a stroll through Downtown Tempe: Spend the day in Downtown Tempe. Enjoy an early a.m. hike up “A” Mountain and then refuel at one of the many restaurants in downtown for a delicious breakfast or a refreshing smoothie. Do some shopping and then head south a few blocks to explore the ASU Art Museum. This free contemporary art museum features exhibits, residencies, collections and programs focused on perspectives of regional and emerging artists, students and the public. Visit the ASU Art Museum website for more details. And just a few blocks north of downtown is Tempe Beach Park and Tempe Town Lake, offering lots of things to enjoy outside.

10. LEGOLAND® Discovery Center: An ultimate indoor playground where visitors can explore landmark replicas of the Grand Canyon State built with 1 million LEGO BRICKS, take interactive adventures, watch movies at the LEGO 4-D cinema and build LEGO creations with master builders. Check out the LEGO store and café that are also onsite.

5000 Arizona Mills Cir., Tempe, AZ 85282 | (877) 526-3960

LEGOLAND® Discovery Center
The Phoenix Zoo

11. The Phoenix Zoo:
Get up early to beat the heat and plan a visit to the Phoenix Zoo. Favorite spots include a stop at Orang-Hutan, the Orangutan habitat, and the Sumatran tigers of the “Isle of the Tiger” habitat. And don’t miss a stop at the Camel Rides, a favorite of both the kiddos and adults.

455 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix, AZ 85008 | (480) 757-541

12. Rent a boat from Boat Rentals of America: The weather is warm, not too hot, and perfect for a lovely boating excursion on Tempe’s urban oasis in the desert, Tempe Town Lake and Kiwanis Lake.

Boats of all types can be rented at Tempe Town Lake, including kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, pontoon boats, pedal boats and electric boats. They open at 10 a.m. every day.

The Kiwanis Park location rents kayaks and pedal boats and is open on Mon.-Fri. from noon to 5 p.m. and Sat. and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Swan Boat at Tempe Town Lake
Swan boat at Tempe Town Lake

Boat Rentals at Tempe Town Lake | 72 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, AZ 85282 | (855) 690-0794
Boat Rentals at Kiwanis Lake | 5203 S. Ash Ave., Tempe, AZ 85283 | (855) 690-0794

Have your own watercraft? 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.

13. Fun and Games: Get into the game – the arcade game, that is! Tilt Studio, located inside Arizona Mills, and Dave & Busters, located at Tempe Marketplace, are open for some cool fun this summer! From arcade games to delicious eats, each location has something unique to offer. Main Event Tempe also offers 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.

Tilt Studio at Arizona Mills | 5000 S. Arizona Mills Cir., Suite #669, Tempe, AZ 85282 | (480) 648-1222
Dave & Buster’s at Tempe Marketplace | 2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 281-8456
Main Event Tempe | 8545 S. Emerald Dr., Tempe, AZ 85284 | (480) 753-1200

Tilt Studio at Arizona Mills
Tilt Studio

14. Escape Rooms: This summer, challenge your brain and compete with a team through one of Tempe’s escape rooms. Check out escape rooms like Escape Rooms Tempe and Inferno Escape Room. Pick out your favorite theme and grab a group of friends (or co-workers) and try to beat the clock in 60 minutes or less!

Escape Rooms Tempe | 414 S. Mill Ave., Suite 112, Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 666-5550
Inferno Escape Room | 1415 E. University Dr., A-105, Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 567-0190

15. Water Play: The Kiwanis Pool is perfect for the whole family. This indoor pool features water slides and 3’ waves. Check the website for more details, including hours of operation. For the littles, visit the Splash Pad at Tempe Marketplace. It’s surrounded by a shaded seating area for parents and it’s close to a few spots where you can get an iced beverage or dessert. Open daily from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Check out one of Tempe’s neighborhood splash pads. Kiwanis, Esquer, Hudson and Jaycee neighborhood parks are open daily 8 a.m.-10 p.m from April through October.

The Cloud at Kiwanis Park – 5233 S. Ash Ave. Tempe, AZ 85283
Jaycee Park | 817 W. 5th St., Tempe, AZ 85281
Esquer Park | 2407 E. McArthur Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281
Hudson Park | 1430 S. Cedar St., Tempe, AZ 85281

16. Snakes & Lattes:
Snakes & Lattes has great food, from burgers to poutine, and beverages, from coffee creations to beer and cider. But, the best part is that you can combine your meal with your pick of hundreds of board games. They have classics like Clue and Mall Madness to the newest in strategy games. And, you can enjoy games with friends on their shady patio.

20 W. 6th St., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 361-6644

Snakes and Lattes
Snakes & Lattes
A Mountain
A Mountain

17. Take a Sunrise or Sunset Hike: We can all use a little Vitamin D right about now. In the summer, you can still go for a hike early in the morning. Visit our Tempe hiking blog to learn about some of our favorite local trails, from “A” Mountain to South Mountain Park and Preserve. We advise you to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, a hat and proper hiking shoes. 

Looking to watch the sunset without the exercise? We compiled a list of the top places to enjoy a stunning sunset in Tempe.

18. Enjoy an Outdoor 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. Need some ideas about which park to check out or where to grab takeout for your picnic? We have you covered with our Picnics in the Park blog post.

19. Go to the Movies: Pop the popcorn and keep cool while watching the newest releases at Harkins Theaters at Tempe Marketplace and Arizona Mills. Check their website for showings, showtimes and to reserve tickets.
Majestic Phoenix is a fun movie theater experience, plus the bonus of having restaurant service while enjoying the film on the big screen. Enjoy new releases, curated classics and a full bar and grill menu.

Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16 | 2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy. #1160, Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 557-0027
Harkins Theatres Arizona Mills 18 w/ IMAX | 5000 Arizona Cir., Tempe, AZ 85282 | (480) 820-0387
Majestic Phoenix | 1140 E. Baseline Rd., Tempe, AZ 85283 | (480) 795-6622

20. Biking in Tempe: Take your bike out and explore 217 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 bikes, you just have to bring your own water, bag and helmet. To book, contact Todd Davis at (602) 980-3798.

Biking at Papago Park
Biking at Papago Park

*Bonus Activity

You Are Amazing Mural by @jayarr.art
“You are Amazing” mural by @jayarr.art

21. Enjoy Tempe Public Art from the comfort of your own car: Enjoy the City of Tempe’s public art collection, and you’ll be amazed at the creativity all around the city. From live theatre to concerts to museum exhibitions, you will notice art shows up in unexpected places.

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. 

If you need more ideas about what to do this summer, follow Tempe Tourism Office on social: @tempetourism and visit the Things to Do section of our website.

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!

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