In collaboration with Tempe Tourism. Thank you for supporting the brands that support A Taste of Koko!
Photography by Ready Set Jet Set
Hey Arizona – this Texas gal is back for some more desert heat! I always find myself back in the desert every summer and this time, I’m exploring the city of Tempe Arizona.
SEE ALSO: Where To Eat, Stay & Spa In PhoenixWalking amongst the giant cactus at Desert Botanical Garden, swimming in the rooftop pools, watching Broadway shows, and eating at all the local restaurants – here are the top things to do in Tempe Arizona!
Table of Contents
VISIT THE DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN
The Desert Botanical Garden was the number one spot I wanted to visit in Tempe/Scottsdale and the #plantlady in me totally geeked out at the gardens. There are over 50,000 plants and 4,482 plant species in the garden collection! Did you know the cactus family is among the five most threatened groups of living organisms?
TIP: Please bring water with you – Arizona is extremely dry and dehydrating and it’s easy to lose track of time while exploring the 5 trails at Desert Botanical Garden so make sure to keep drinking lots of water!
TIP: The Sonoran Desert Loop is a 13.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Phoenix, Arizona.
TICKETS: General Admission (Daytime) – $ 24.95, June 1 – Aug. 31 (After 5 p.m.) – $14.95
1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ, dbg.org
HIKE PAPAGO PARK
Papago Park is located right next to Desert Botanical Garden. I highly recommend going early in the morning before it gets too hot for a hike. On the park’s east side is the Hole In The Rock that has an incredible view of the downtown skyline.
625 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ
SWIM IN THE AC HOTEL TEMPE ROOFTOP POOL
It’s hot in Arizona so you’ll want to take a dip in the pool and the AC Hotel Phoenix/Tempe in downtown Tempe has a rooftop pool with a front-row view of the iconic “A” Mountain. I definitely preferred watching the hikers hike up the mountain from the pool than hiking up the mountain myself!
We stayed at the AC Hotel during our stay and I loved how convenient it was to all the restaurants, shops, and Tempe Town Lake (paddle boarding and other outdoor activities). Plus, less than 15 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
100 E Rio Salado Pkwy, Tempe, AZ, achotels.marriott.com/hotels/ac-hotel-phoenix-tempedowntown
TAKE A PICTURES WITH THE PUBLIC ART IN TEMPE
You’ll see artwork sprinkled through Tempe as you’re driving around and that’s because one percent of the City’s total annual capital improvements budget is appropriated for the Municipal Art Fund in order to advance art in all its forms!
We took this picture in front of the mural behind Social Hall – they have drinks and live music inside. Here’s an interactive map of the Tempe Public Art.
715 S McClintock Dr, Tempe, AZ
WATCH A BROADWAY SHOW AT ASU GAMMAGE
Escape the AZ heat and watch a Broadway show at ASU Gammage. ASU Gammage is a multipurpose performing arts center in Tempe, Arizona on the campus of Arizona State University. Tempe is a college town after all being home to Arizona State University!
FUN FACT: American architect Frank Lloyd Wright originally designed the model as an opera house in Baghdad, Iraq but when King Faisal II of Iraq was assassinated on July 14, 1958, all plans were ceased. In the late ‘50s, ASU President Grady Gammage approached Wright, a good friend, and asked him to design an auditorium for ASU so he pulled the original designs of the opera house.
1200 S Forest Ave, Tempe, AZ, asugammage.com
TAKE PICTURES WITH THE BLOOMS
I was so surprised to see so many flowers in bloom with the summer heat while driving around town!
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN TEMPE
- Tempe History Museum
- Sea Life Aquarium
- ASU Art Museum
- Tempe Diablo Stadium
- Four Peaks
- Hayden Butte Preserve Park
- Tempe Center for the arts
- Kayak on Tempe Town Lake
- Tempe beach park
- Tempe Marketplace
- Arizona Mills
- Day trip to Mesa
- Tempe Festival of the Arts
- Tempe Farmers Market
- Tubing on Salt River
- Big Surf Waterpark
- SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium
- Weekend trip to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend Arizona
BEST RESTAURANTS IN TEMPE
Matt’s Big Breakfast – a local breakfast spot in Arizona with cage-free eggs and real butter. If you like bacon, be sure to order the bacon at Matt’s – it’s thick-cut & peppery!
Morning Squeeze – this local cafe serves a breakfast and lunch menu with fresh, organic, locally grown ingredients. Breakfast platters, acai bowls, sandwiches, wraps, smoothies, juices, and a dog-friendly menu. Yup, in addition to having a dog-friendly patio, Morning Squeeze has a doggy section on the menu so you can order food for your dog like the biscuits and gravy!
Snooze – we have Snooze in Austin and it’s one of my favorite breakfast spots! Snooze is located on Mill Avenue District where there are a lot of restaurants.
Perfect Pear Bistro – we had a quick lunch on the shaded patio at Perfect Pear Bistro and I loved the green chili cheese dip and Mexicali quinoa bowl.
Ted’s Hot Dogs – for a quick meal go to the local college spot, Ted’s Hot Dogs for a hot dog with chili cheese fries and a milkshake. I had a late-night meal here and loved it!
Ghost Ranch – Ghost Ranch was hands down my favorite restaurant in Tempe. Start with the ceviche with shrimp and fire-roasted tostadas and queso fundido with handmade tortillas. The tortillas are SO good – chef says the corn is local from Sonorita (native corn to Arizona). The sampler platter with grilled skirt steak, pork enchiladas, chicken enchiladas, and cheese-filled Chile Relleno is perfect for sharing. You’ll be thirsty so order the prickly pear frose ‘rita or the prickly pear sparkler (non-alcoholic).
Cotton & Copper – this craft cocktail bar serves organic and farm to table food with farms all around Phoenix and wild game like deer, elk, and boar. Try the spicy Agua Caliente cocktail!
Mango Rabbit – Mango Rabbit serves boba tea and bubble waffles with ice cream. I loved the ube ice cream!
Hurts Donuts – you know I love my donuts and Hurts Donuts is a local donut shop that is open 24 HOURS. Their delivery truck is an ambulance!
Matt’s Big Breakfast