Quick Guide: Kid-Friendly Things to do in Tempe

by Tykesha77

I’ve partnered with the Tempe Tourism Office to share a quick guide of family-friendly things to do in Tempe, Arizona.

Tempe, Arizona is a bustling college city (home of Arizona State University), located just outside of Phoenix. 

Courtesy of Slaven Gujic via Tempe Tourism Office

This southwestern American city offers a bevy of options for traveling families: from outdoor adventures and natural wonders to attractions of historical and cultural significance to the local Native American people.

Here’s a quick list of fun things your family can enjoy in Tempe.


SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium

Sea Life Arizona Aquarium Courtesy: Tempe Tourism Office

Even though Arizona is a landlocked state, there is a place dedicated to the exploration of the sea. The Sea Life Arizona Aquarium features a 360-degree ocean tunnel that offers/provides a unique way for visitors to learn about the ocean.

Hall of Flame Fire Museum

Hall of Flame Museum  Courtesy: Tempe Tourism Office

The National Firefighting Hall of Heroes is a museum dedicated to the history of firefighting. This museum offers fire safety exhibits, games, and activities for kids. There’s also a mock fire station where kids can dress up as firefighters and sit in a real fire truck.

Phoenix, Zoo (“Cruise the Zoo”)

Cruise the Zoo Courtesy: Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo is offering an augmented zoo experience called, “Cruise the Zoo” where visitors can drive through to see the animals. During this event, visitors can observe animals like elephants, giraffes, and flamingoes.

Desert Botanical Garden

Courtesy: Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden is located inside Papago Park which is right outside of Tempe. It’s a living history museum that features gardens with more than 55,000 desert plants from around the world. 

Tempe Town Lake at Tempe Beach Park

Tempe Town Lake Courtesy: Tim Trumble via Tempe Tourism Office

The Tempe Town Lake is adjacent to Downtown Tempe. The attraction offers fun on the water and/or along the shore. There’s a boat rental kiosk where visitors can rent a paddleboat, kayak, or pontoon boat for the day.

Downtown Tempe Scavenger Hunt

There are little rabbit sculptures located at various sites throughout the city. These minis are modeled after the larger metal rabbit sculptures that can be found around Tempe. During your trip, the kids might enjoy participating in a little scavenger hunt to try to find as many of the rabbits as they can. Clues for the scavenger hunt can be found in booklets at various locations in the city.

Cultural Experiences

Thousands of years ago, Native American tribes called Arizona their home. The rich history and culture of the people can be found throughout the region. If you’re planning a visit to the area and are interested in learning about Indigenous history and culture from this region, add these two attractions to your Tempe Must-See List. Visit the Tempe Tourism website for a more comprehensive list of Indigenous Cultural experiences.

“A” Mountain Courtesy: Tempe Tourism Office

“A” Mountain

Officially named Hayden Butte Preserve Park, this popular hike starts in Downtown Tempe.  “A”mountain is nicknamed after the 60-foot tall letter “A” embedded on the side of the mountain to represent Arizona State University.

It’s considered a moderate level hike and is said to offer spectacular views of the lake and downtown Tempe. But more than the views, this mountain is culturally significant to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community who consider the butte a sacred place. On the way up, explorers can see hundreds of rock art images that were created by the ancient Hohokam. The petroglyphs can be seen from the trail on the south side of the mountain.

Heard Museum

The nearby Heard Museum is a must-see for families who want to learn about the Indigenous history and culture of the region. The museum is recognized for its collections, exhibits, and educational programs that feature Native American artifacts and art from the region that spans from ancient times to contemporary.

COVID Guidelines

Courtesy: Desert Botanical Garden

For everyone over the age of two, masks are required in public places in Maricopa County (where Tempe and Phoenix are located).  If there’s enough space for social distancing, masks are not required for outdoor spaces (like on hiking trails or for activities on the lake).  Restaurants are open but can operate at 50% capacity.

To enter restaurants, masks are required, but they are not required while eating or drinking at a table.

Virtual Tourism

Explore some of these attractions from the comfort of your home. A virtual tour of Tempe is available online.


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Kay Webb October 27, 2020 - 5:03 PM

I am thrilled to see your places of travel. It makes it doable for me to go. You are so inspiring.

Tykesha77 October 27, 2020 - 9:17 PM

I’m so happy that this list provided you with some ideas.


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