Families and Kids

Top places to catch a sunset in Tempe, AZ

What’s your favorite thing about Tempe? It’s a simple question, yet it is hard to give just one answer. There are many things to brag about, but I say the most impressive attribute would have to be Tempe’s awe-inspiring sunsets. There is nothing quite like seeing Tempe’s landscape and skyline illuminated by dramatic orange, red and purple hues. Before temperatures start to rise, we encourage you to check out some of the best spots in Tempe to capture the most mesmerizing sunsets. 

Tip: Currently, in early April, the sun starts to set right around 6:30 p.m. in Tempe, Arizona. We recommend getting to your designated sunset spot around 6:00 p.m. to view the rays from beginning to end.   

Hotel Rooftops 

AC Hotel by Marriott Phoenix Tempe/Downtown 
100 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 642-6140 

AC Hotel Tempe is the ideal location for sunset watching. Not only do they have an accessible rooftop that sits against iconic Tempe landmarks such as “A” Mountain and the Hayden Flour Mill, but 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 of the photo opportunities or simply take in the incredible views while swimming in their rooftop pool.  

AC Hotel sunset credit Monica Ortega
Photo by: Monica Ortega at AC Hotel

Tempe Mission Palms Hotel and Conference Center 
60 E. 5th St., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 894-1400 

Tempe Mission Palms is known for great hospitality, a beautifully landscaped courtyard and its location in Downtown Tempe at the base of “A” Mountain and within a block of Tempe Town Lake. From the rooftop pool area, hotel guests can capture the very essence of what makes Tempe among the best cities in Arizona to catch sunsets. It combines a sparkling pool, palm trees and an awesome view of the mountain.

Tempe Mission Palms @fashiontravelrepeat
Photo by: @fashiontravelrepeat at Tempe Mission Palms

Residence Inn by Marriott Tempe Downtown/University 
510 S. Forest Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 967-2300 

Observe Tempe’s glowing lights before or after attending an ASU football game, ASU Gammage show, or for 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 of the action and offers incredible views from its expansive rooftop and pool area. 

Residence Inn Tempe DowntownUniversity by Marriott pool
Residence Inn by Marriott Tempe Downtown/University

Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown 
108 E. University Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 968-6800 

Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown features a rooftop bar on the 14th floor, Alibi, and is a newer hot spot for viewing sunsets, eating scrumptious food and sippin’ on hand crafted cocktails. Head on over to their rooftop to cool off in their pool or take part in the many happenings that they offer such as live music, themed soirées and more! Check out their upcoming events here.  

Canopy by Hilton Hotel Tempe Rooftop Pool
Photo from Canopy by Hilton Tempe

Westin Tempe 
11 E. 7th St., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 968-8885 

I’m no fortune teller, but I have a feeling that the newest rooftop that is about to hit the scene will have the ultimate viewpoint for beautiful sunsets. The Westin Tempe will be ready to elevate your experience at their rooftop lounge and infinity pool starting late summer-early fall 2021, and we’re already swooning over the details. With expansive views overlooking Downtown Tempe, The Westin Tempe will offer a place where you can sip, savor and watch the sunset in style. 

Restaurants with Great Views 

Pier 54 
5394 S. Lakeshore Dr., Tempe, AZ 85283 | (480) 820-0660 

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 offer a unique panoramic view of a beautiful, man-made lake that is an ideal setting for catching sunsets. Enjoy the twilight while choosing what to eat from their made from scratch menu.   

Pier 54 Tempe
Pier 54 Tempe

Top of the Rock Restaurant 
2000 W. Westcourt Way, Tempe, AZ 85282 | (602) 431-2370 

Located at the Phoenix Marriott Resort Tempe at The Buttes, Top of the Rock Restaurant is on a hilltop, with panoramic windows that give diners a 360 degree view of Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale. If the weather is nice enough, sit outside on their patio and enjoy a delicious meal, a nice glass of wine and watch the sunset over the city below. 

Top of the Rock in Tempe at sunset
Top of the Rock

Rustler’s Rooste 
8383 S. 48th St., Phoenix, AZ 85044 | (602) 431-6474 

If you’re looking for a true 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 such as rattlesnake and extra large steaks with all the fixings! With all that Rustler’s Rooste has to offer, there is just 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! 

Rustler's Rooste
Rustler’s Rooste

Hikes 

Papago Park 
1000 N. College Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 350-5200 

One of the busiest parks you can visit during golden hour is Papago Park. Papago Park offers several hikes to choose from and it’s easy to get to from any part of the Valley. The most notable hike for peak sunset views is Hole in the Rock, a very appropriately named butte. The hike to the “hole” will only take about 10 minutes and offers a beautiful outlook over the city and the desert below. There is also a lagoon between Hole and the Rock and the Phoenix Zoo that is a nice photo spot.   

Getting there:  Enter the Phoenix Zoo parking lot and veer to the left. There will be gates to pass through to 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.  

Papago Park Sunset
Papago Park Sunset

“A” Mountain 
Mill Ave. and Third St., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 350-4311  

With a quick jaunt to the top of “A” Mountain, also known as Hayden Butte, you can witness panoramic views of the sunset illuminating Downtown Tempe, Tempe Town Lake, and Arizona State University. 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. 

Getting there: Trailheads 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. 

A Mountain and the Mill at sunset
A Mountain and the Mill at sunset

From Tempe Town Lake 

Tempe Town Lake is the perfect spot to experience some fun and enjoy the outdoors, especially during sunset time. 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 from Tempe Town Lake. Visitors can experience the sunset by walking or running along the designated paved path or they can get a front-row seat to the magic by renting a boat from Boat Rentals of America – Tempe Town Lake or Northshore WaterSport Rentals or on their own personal watercraft

Tempe Town Lake sunset
Tempe Town Lake at sunset

Another vantage point at Tempe Town Lake is in 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 and soon Obon Sushi. 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 a glistening sunset. 

Tempe Pedestrian Bridges 

There are several pedestrian bridges around Tempe that can be the perfect catalyst for an epic sunset picture. One of which is the University Bridge, also known as the Palm Walk Overpass, on the Arizona State University Tempe Campus. This pedestrian bridge arches over University Drive and connects students from the north side of campus to the south side of campus and is a great spot to see a sunset over the main drag of Downtown Tempe. Another option is one of the Mill Avenue bridges that stretch over Tempe Town Lake. These bridges are illuminated by beautiful string lights and are the ideal spot for capturing the sunset adjacent to downtown. Another bridge that crosses over Tempe Town Lake is the Elmore Pedestrian Bridge, near 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 bridges of Tempe Town Lake, visit the City of Tempe website. 

Tempe Pedestrian Bridge
Tempe Pedestrian Bridge
Alicia Griffith
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!