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Best Things to do in Tempe in the New Year

By Tempe Tourism, 11/22/21, 6:15PM EST


Explore all the wonderful things Tempe has to offer to start the New Year off right. This is a great guide to help you plan your trip to Tempe.  

1. Hike "A" Mountain 

“A” Mountain is a wonderful and popular hike in Downtown Tempe that is frequented by many, especially at sunset and at sunrise. It’s a quick and somewhat challenging hike up to the top but going at sunrise helps you avoid the crowds, get a jump on your day and get amazing photos.  
Insider tip: after you hike, you can reward yourself with breakfast at one of the hot spots, Daily Jam or Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. 

2. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden  

No matter what is happening in the world, the beauty of the desert is a constant. The Desert Botanical Garden showcases plants from arid regions from around the world and lucky for us, it’s in Phoenix, just a few minutes from Downtown Tempe. To ensure safety, reservations are required in advance. Their website has all the details.  

This winter and spring, guests can explore Chihuly in the Desert, an exhibit showcasing Dale Chihuly’s stunning, large-scale installations nestled among the Garden’s world-class collection of desert plants. The exhibition is on view from December 3 through June 19, 2022. 

3. Visit the Arizona Heritage Center  

Even native Arizonans will learn something new at Arizona Heritage Center. This beautiful museum in Papago Park is filled with artifacts that explain the contemporary history of the 48th state. You’ll learn about copper mining, agriculture, and even how the invention of air conditioning led to the development of metro Phoenix. Featured special exhibits include “Unframed: A Photo Journey Through Navajo and Hopi Nations.” Their hours are reduced at the moment, but you can visit Tues.-Sat. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

4. Visit the ASU Art Museum 

ASU Art Museum was cited in “Art in America” as “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona.” ASU Art Museum exhibits nationally and internationally known contemporary artists, with a focus on Latin American art. The Museum also houses the largest collection of Cuban art in the U.S. and an award-winning print collection. 

5. Schedule a tour of the Eisendrath House  

A beautiful adobe home that was built more than 80 years ago by Rose Eisendrath as a sign of protest against the Arizona resorts that wouldn’t accommodate her because of her Jewish heritage. Sign up for a tour ahead of time to hear the fascinating story of both Rose Eisendrath and the restoration of this iconic historic building. Docent-led tours are available on Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. by appointment only.  

6. Hike to Hunt’s Tomb in Papago Park 

Hiking in Papago Park, especially the Hole in the Rock trail, are very popular places to explore and we recommend them both. However, many residents and visitors haven’t explored the path to Hunt’s Tomb. It’s a bit farther than walking to Hole in the Rock but it’s well worth the trek to experience the history of this landmark. It happens to be the final resting place for Arizona’s first Governor, George W.P. Hunt, who was fascinated by the pyramids that he saw on a trip to Egypt. Governor Hunt, his wife and several family members are buried at this landmark. 

*Directions: Follow Galvin Pkwy. Signs to visit the Phoenix Zoo. Along the pathway you enter the zoo parking lot, park as close as you can to the zoo, or head to the left through a secondary gate where you’ll find a small parking lot just below Hole in the Rock. Knock out two hikes in one! The pyramid should be in your line of sight east of Hole in the Rock or behind the zoo.   

7. Self-guided tour of Downtown Tempe with the Public Art map  

Tempe is a city that showcases the arts through murals, prints, and sculptures. Check out the self-guided tour of Downtown Tempe with the Public Art Map that showcases 50 pieces of public art. If you want to explore more of Tempe’s art scene, we suggest hopping in your car for a self-guided driving tour of a few of our favorite Tempe murals. Check out our blog, Murals in Tempe, Arizona Part I and Part II to see the City of Tempe’s public art collection and you’ll be amazed at the creativity all around the city. 

8. Visit the Phoenix Zoo 

Voted one of the top 5 zoos for kids, the Phoenix Zoo is an awesome place to spend the day. It is one of the largest non-profit zoos in the U.S., caring for over 3,000 animals with nearly 400 species represented, including many threatened/endangered species like the African Lion, Golden Eagle, Orangutan and the Jaguar.  

9. Brunch crawl in Tempe with your friends/family  

Our New Year’s motto is “Work hard, brunch harder”. Grab your best foodie partners and plan an awesome food tour throughout Tempe. Host your own with friends/family with the guidance of our  Top Breakfast Spots blog. Maybe a walking tour is best because you’ll burn off some of the calories. Or, drive between places in north and south Tempe to allow a little time for digestion. Totally up to you!  

10. Go axe throwing at Lumberjaxes Axe Throwing  

We love axe throwing!! It’s fun and only slightly dangerous, but you may discover your own hidden talent. Grab some friends or have a unique date night.  For every group, they provide an “axe-pert” who will teach you everything that you need to know about this fun sport. Social distance and safety measures are implemented and they provide you with your own sanitized axe. You’ll have a great time and as a bonus, you can bring your own food and drinks after 4 pm! 

11. Go indoor rock climbing at Phoenix Rock Gym  

This New Year, "become a better you" and commit to a full-body workout at the Phoenix Rock Gym. This unique activity will help you reach your resolution in no time, especially if you're focusing on health and new experiences! Rock climbing feels a little risky, but not as risky as going on your own out in the desert. We definitely don’t recommend that.  

12. Shop local at Tempe shops  

Shop local more than ever this year to support Tempe businesses. Tempe has a wonderful array of local shops to explore. Find that perfect outfit at Creations Boutique, show your ASU spirit by shopping at Cactus Sports, head to Great Harvest Bakery for that perfect muffin, or spend some time finding your next great read at Changing Hands Bookstore.  

13. Listen to live music at Tempe Marketplace 

Enjoy live music every Friday and Saturday night at Tempe Marketplace at the District Stage, located in the heart of the shopping complex. The outdoor stage is the perfect setting to enjoy the beautiful Arizona weather, a stunning sunset and food from a nearby restaurant. 

14. See a Broadway show at ASU Gammage 

Tempe’s ASU Gammage 2021/2022 Desert Financial Broadway Across America – Arizona series has kicked off and includes shows such as TOOTSIE, HADESTOWN, COME FROM AWAY and family favorite THE LION KING. 

P.S. If you haven’t walked the beautiful grounds of ASU Gammage, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture of the building is inspiring. You’ll be in awe of its grandness. 

15. Explore Tempe Town Lake by boat  

We can say with 98% confidence that Tempe Town Lake is the most photographed spot in Tempe. We have a strong appreciation for how beautiful the sunset looks at the lake. It brings a sense of peacefulness in an otherwise busy city. While you're visiting the lake, check out the surrounding bridges and the Tempe Center for the Arts.  

Enjoy Tempe Town Lake from the water! Rent a paddleboard, kayak, or bring a few friends and family for a cruise on a donut boat. However you decide to explore the lake, our friends at Boat Rentals of America will help you have an awesome and safe time!