Families and Kids

Top Places to Catch a Sunset in Tempe, AZ

Where is a good place to watch a sunset in Arizona? Tempe, of course!

When the sun goes down in Tempe, you’ll be treated to a magnificent display of neon lights. Whether you’re on a hotel rooftop, a restaurant patio or exploring the Sonoran Desert, there’s no shortage of breathtaking locations to capture the orange, red and purple hues of Tempe’s sunsets. Check out our list of the best spots in Tempe to capture the most mesmerizing sunsets.

Sky-High Rooftop Pools

AC Hotel by Marriott Phoenix Tempe/Downtown 
AC Hotel Tempe is the ideal location for sunset watching. They have an accessible rooftop that sits against iconic Tempe landmarks such as “A” Mountain and the Hayden Flour Mill, and it is one of the only hotel rooftops where you can catch a glimpse of the sunset and Tempe Town Lake. Take advantage of all the photo opportunities and the incredible views while swimming in their rooftop pool.
100 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85281 | 480-642-6140

Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown 
Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown features Alibi Tempe, a rooftop bar and pool on the 14th floor. This hotel is the hot spot for viewing sunsets, eating scrumptious food and sippin’ on hand-crafted cocktails. Cool off in the pool or check out the many monthly happenings they offer, such as live music, themed soirées and more.
108 E. University Drive, Tempe, AZ 85281 | 480-968-6800

Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU
Enjoy stunning views and breathtaking sunsets at the Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU’s rooftop restaurant and terrace, Lucero. With both indoor and outdoor seating options, you can capture the perfect vantage point of the sunset as it descends on Downtown Tempe. While taking in the view, indulge in a variety of small bites and signature dishes from their tapas-style menu.
7 E. University Drive, Tempe, AZ 85281 | 602-794-8600

Residence Inn by Marriott Tempe Downtown/University
Observe Tempe’s glowing lights before or after attending an ASU football game, ASU Gammage show or one of the many events in Downtown Tempe by booking accommodations at the Residence Inn by Marriott Tempe Downtown/University. This hotel is in the middle of all the action and offers incredible views from its expansive rooftop and pool area.
510 S. Forest Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281 | 480-967-2300

Westin Tempe 
The Westin Tempe is ready to elevate your experience at their rooftop lounge and infinity pool, Skysill Rooftop Lounge. Soaring eighteen stories above Downtown Tempe, Skysill is the Valley’s highest open-air bar, offering the best vantage point for sunsets. The Westin Tempe provides a place to sip, savor and watch the sunset in style.
11 E. 7th St., Tempe, AZ 85281 | 480-968-8885

Restaurants & Bars with Great Views

Pier 54 
It’s hard to find a better place in Tempe where you can appreciate great food and an even better view. This outdoor restaurant and bar offers a unique panoramic view of a beautiful man-made lake, making it an ideal setting for catching sunsets. Enjoy the twilight while choosing what to eat from their made-from-scratch menu.
5394 S. Lakeshore Drive, Tempe, AZ 85283 | 480-820-0660

Lou’s Bar & Grill at Papago Golf Club
Have you ever seen a sunset over red rocks? And no, we’re not talking about driving to Sedona. Lou’s Bar and Grill serves up delicious food and the perfect ambiance to watch the sunset over the spectacular Papago Buttes. Bask in the amazing hues while playing a round of cornhole or relaxing on their expansive patio overlooking their golf course.
5595 E. Karsten Way, Phoenix, AZ 85008 | 602-358-7004

Top of the Rock Restaurant 
Located at the Phoenix Marriott Resort Tempe at The Buttes, Top of the Rock Restaurant sits on a hilltop, offering diners a 360-degree view of Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale. If the weather is nice enough, sit outside on their patio, enjoy a delicious meal and a nice glass of wine and watch the sunset over the city below.
2000 W. Westcourt Way, Tempe, AZ 85282 | 602-431-2370

Rustler’s Rooste 
If you’re looking for an authentic Arizona experience, make your way to Rustler’s Rooste. Here, you’ll find an indoor slide and waterfall, cowboy hat-adorned staff, live country music and Western fare, including rattlesnake and extra-large steaks with all the fixings! With all that Rustler’s Rooste has to offer, there is nothing that can compare to their patio. The point of view from there is unlike anything you have ever seen. Not only do you get unparalleled views of the city lights, but you can watch the most amazing sunsets here.
8383 S. 48th St., Phoenix, AZ 85044 | 602-431-6474

Upbar at Vīb Tempe
Head up to the fifth floor of Vīb Tempe and you’ll find yourself at Upbar Tempe, a rooftop concept with picture-perfect views of “A” Mountain and other noteworthy Tempe landmarks. Toast above the city with cocktail flights, infused drinks and local craft beers during golden hour. As sun sets, the ambiance transforms into an event space that features buzzy programming for turning up as well as loungers and delicious menu items for winding down.
511 S. Farmer Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281 | 480-805-2070

Urban Hiking Trails

Papago Park 
Papago Park is one of the busiest parks you can visit during golden hour. Papago Park offers several hikes, and it’s easy to get to from any part of the Valley. Hole in the Rock is the most notable hike for peak sunset views. The hike to the “hole” will only take about 10 minutes and offers a beautiful outlook over the city and the desert below. Also, take advantage of the photo opportunities at the lagoon between Papago Park and the Phoenix Zoo.
1000 N. College Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281 | 480-350-5200 | Explore before you go: Visit Papago Park with a 360-degree virtual tour.

Getting there: Enter the Phoenix Zoo parking lot and veer to the left. There will be gates to pass through. Enter the Hole in the Rock parking lot. Follow the road to the right to a parking lot and ramada. The trail is accessible on the right side of the mountain.

“A” Mountain 
“A” Mountain strikes an iconic silhouette in the center of the city. The steep, short and winding trek pays off with clear views of the sunset, Arizona State University and downtown as Tempe lights up for the night.

Don’t feel like hiking to the top? No worries. Hike halfway up to the first lookout spot, and you will still be able to experience sunset greatness. Hikers, beware: If you watch the sunset from beginning to end, be careful on your descent down, as the last part of the hike is steep. And, when you’re finished, the restaurants and taverns along Mill Avenue are ultra-convenient.
Mill Ave. and Third St., Tempe, AZ 85281 | 480-350-4311  | Explore before you go: Visit “A” Mountain with a 360-degree virtual tour.

Getting there: Trailheads are located behind Tempe Mission Palms Hotel off Third and Fourth Street and Mill Avenue, behind the Hayden Flour Mill at Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, and behind the Tempe Transportation Center on Veterans Way and College Avenue.

From Tempe Town Lake 

Tempe Town Lake is the perfect spot to experience fun and enjoy the outdoors, especially during sunset. Visitors are typically perplexed 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. And let me tell you, you have not seen a true Arizona sunset until you have seen one reflecting off the water of Tempe Town Lake. Visitors can experience the sunset by walking or running along the designated paved path or get a front-row seat to the magic by renting a boat from Boat Rentals of America – Tempe Town Lake, Northshore WaterSport Rentals or by using your own personal watercraft.

Another vantage point at Tempe Town Lake is on the northeast side of the water at The Watermark Tempe. This large multi-use development features a variety of dining options from savory to sweet, including Monroe’s Hot Chicken, Dog Haus, Sweet Republic, Crumbl Cookies and Hundred Mile Brewing Co. We’re so happy to have one more oasis of foodie goodness near the lake. You could even take your meal to go, walk towards the shore and have a picnic with a view of the glistening sunset.

Explore before you go: Visit Tempe Town Lake with a 360-degree virtual tour.

On An Iconic Pedestrian Bridge

Several pedestrian bridges around Tempe can be the perfect catalyst for an epic sunset picture.

University Bridge
University Bridge, also known as the Palm Walk Overpass, on the Arizona State University Tempe Campus arches over University Drive, connects students from the north to the south side of campus and is a great spot to see a sunset over the main drag of Downtown Tempe.

Mill Avenue Bridges
The Mill Avenue Bridges are two bridges stretching over Tempe Town Lake. These bridges are all illuminated by beautiful string lights and are the ideal spot for capturing the sunset adjacent to downtown. While the bridge is open to vehicular traffic, pedestrians are able to view the sunset by using the walking path. This is a great location to view the sunset over the various events at Tempe Beach Park and Tempe Town Lake.

Elmore Pedestrian Bridge
The Elmore Pedestrian Bridge is located near the Tempe Center for the Arts on the west end of the lake. This bridge is closest to the action, as it sits just feet from Tempe Town Lake, creating the ultimate vantage point for all photos.

For more information on the bridges of Tempe Town Lake, visit the City of Tempe website. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Sunsets in Tempe:

Q: Where can I watch sunsets in Tempe?

A: Everywhere! Tempe has various opportunities to view the sunset from any vantage point. Whether walking along the path of Tempe Town Lake and Tempe Beach Park, hiking “A” Mountain or Papago Park or simply taking in the views from hotel rooftops or area restaurants, there is no bad seat in the house!

Q: What months have the best sunsets in Arizona?

A: The limit does not exist! Arizona, specifically Tempe, boasts beautiful sunsets year-round. However, you will find the most intense colors in the fall and winter (November-January).

Q: When is the best time to watch sunsets in Tempe?

A: Currently, the sun starts to set just before 7 p.m. in Tempe, Arizona. We recommend getting to your designated sunset spot ahead of time to view the rays from beginning to end. In winter months, the sunset can start as early as 5:20 p.m.

Q: Why is Tempe the best place to watch sunsets?

A: While all Arizona sunsets are stunning, Tempe is the only place where you can see water, mountains and the city, all illuminated by dramatic orange, red and purple hues simultaneously.

Q: How can you predict that a dramatic sunset will happen?

A: Tempe is known for dramatic sunsets, but we must admit, the weather does play into account. Clouds can either make or break a spectacular sunset. There needs to be a perfect balance in cloud coverage; without clouds, there won’t be much to see, and with too many clouds, it will be too dark and gloomy. We suggest viewing a detailed weather report for cloud cover percentages. Try to aim between 30% to 70% at sunset for the best view. The wind can also play a factor. If it’s too windy, it can blow away all the clouds. Lucky for you, Tempe gets 330 days of beautiful sunshine per year and usually has the ideal weather to guarantee a great sunset.

Tip: Be sure to stick around for the afterglow to capture the most intense colors of the sunset. This typically occurs 15 to 20 minutes after the sun sinks below the horizon.


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