Free Activities in Tempe

Tempe Marketplace

Short on cash? No problem…Tempe is full of free activities. Here are just a few ideas.

Museums and Galleries

  • ASU Art Museum is considered to be one of the Southwest’s most significant contemporary art institutions. Collections include a permanent American art gallery and rotating, thought-provoking exhibits. Admission is always free.
  • See a replica of the Mars Rover, Curiosity, and view interactive exhibits at the Gallery of Scientific Exploration on the ASU Tempe Campus.  This gallery is open Monday-Friday, with ticketed 3D astronomy shows on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Check their website for details.
  • Across from the Gallery of Scientific Exploration, you can also visit the skyspace, Air Apparent, designed by James Turrell. The best time to visit is at sunrise and sunset when the sky becomes framed with lights that change from one color to another.
  • The Gallery at TCA (Tempe Center for the Arts) features a variety of curated, touring and juried exhibitions throughout the year. Admission to the Gallery is free. Closed Sunday and Monday.
  • The history of Tempe comes to life at the Tempe History Museum. This free museum is filled with interactive exhibits, a play area for children and frequent special events and musical performances.
  • Learn more about Tempe history by taking a free tour of the Eisendrath Center for Water Conservation in Papago Park. This 1930s Spanish revival adobe house is open for tours on Thursdays and Saturdays. Visit the website for tour information.

Arts, Shopping and Entertainment

  • Listen to free live music every  Saturday evening at Tempe Marketplace. Music styles range from acoustic sets to blues to alternative rock.
  • The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at the ASU Tempe Campus features lots of theater productions, concerts, dance performances and other events annually. Search their event calendar for free events, or events that have a nominal ticket cost.
  • In December and March/April every year, Downtown Tempe is home to more than 350 artists, food vendors and entertainers at the Tempe Festival of the Arts. You never know what treasures you’ll find. Admission is free.
  • From October-April, visit the 6th Street Market in Downtown Tempe on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Local artisans sell their wares, including jewelry, soap, candles, clothing and other unique items. Food trucks, live music and Foot in Root Farmers Market will add to the fun.
  • Germany in Arizona? Experience it every October at Four Peaks Oktoberfest at Tempe Town Lake. There’s something for everyone: beer gardens, live entertainment, children’s activities, German food and a polka stage. Admission is free.
  • The City of Tempe’s public art collection includes permanent and temporary installations throughout the city, including Downtown Tempe, Tempe Center for the Arts, neighborhoods, pathways, parks, light rail and bus stops.  While you’re strolling around Downtown Tempe, watch for the newest additions to the streetscape,  the “She Tempe” public art project commissioned by the Downtown Tempe Authority. Eight local female artists created custom works of art that are installed on news racks along Mill Avenue. Each news rack has a map so visitors can take a self-guided tour of these unique, colorful works of art.
  • ASU has one of the best collections of public art ranging from Depression-era murals to contemporary sculpture located throughout the 720-acre campus. A must-see on campus is “Air Apparent,” a Skyspace designed by internationally renowned artist James Turrell.

Outdoor Activities

  • One of Tempe’s most unexpected attractions is Tempe Town Lake, located just north of Downtown Tempe and Arizona State University. Enjoy biking and walking paths around the perimater of the lake, picnic space and public art.
  • Tempe has an abundance of natural desert beauty, best seen by hiking or mountain biking. Choices include Papago Park, with 11 miles of trails and “A” Mountain, offering great views of Downtown Tempe, ASU and Tempe Town Lake. Located just south of Tempe is South Mountain Park and Preserve, one of the nation’s largest municipal parks, with seemingly endless trails and city views.
  • Take the kids to the Splash Pad at Tempe Marketplace, located near Barnes & Noble. Open daily, this is a great place for kids to cool off while parents relax at a table or couch nearby.
  •  Kids will love The Cloud at Kiwanis Park, Tempe’s newest aquatics feature. The one-of-a-kind structure boasts 5,000 square feet of water play, including loops, jelly sticks, misting sprays and pillars. There’s also plenty of shaded seating nearby.