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.
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 the photo opportunities and the incredible views while swimming in their rooftop pool.
Tempe Mission Palms Hotel and Conference Center
60 E. 5th St., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 894-1400
Located within a block of Tempe Town Lake, Tempe Mission Palms is known for great hospitality, a beautifully landscaped courtyard and its location in Downtown Tempe. 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 “A” Mountain.
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 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.
Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown
108 E. University Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 968-6800
Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown features Alibi Tempe, a rooftop bar and pool on the 14th floor. This hotel is a newer 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! Check out their upcoming events.
11 E. 7th St., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 968-8885
The Westin Tempe is open and 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 will offer a place where you can sip, savor and watch the sunset in style.
Restaurants with Great Views
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.
5350 S. Lakeshore Dr., Tempe, AZ 85283 | (480) 531-4571
Located next to Pier 54, Lido is a new restaurant with the same golden hour appeal. Created from a love of food and travel, Lido Restaurant is a unique destination with a laid-back lake vibe. Enjoy great food, wine and live music while soaking up the views overlooking the neighborhood lake.
Lou’s Bar & Grill at Papago Golf Club
5595 E. Karsten Way, Phoenix, AZ 85008 | (602) 358-7004
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 around of cornhole or relaxing on their expansive patio overlooking their golf course.
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, enjoy a delicious meal and a nice glass of wine and watch the sunset over the city below.
8383 S. 48th St., Phoenix, AZ 85044 | (602) 431-6474
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 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!
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. 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 opportunity at the lagoon between Hole and the Rock and the Phoenix Zoo.
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.
Mill Ave. and Third St., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 350-4311
“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.
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.
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, Northshore WaterSport Rentals or by using their own personal watercraft.
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 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
Several pedestrian bridges around Tempe 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 all 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 the bridges of Tempe Town Lake, visit the City of Tempe website.