Tantalizing Tempe, Arizona on a Sunny Day

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Tempe, Arizona is a city of surprises

An afternoon in Tempe is only enough time for a glimpse of this vibrant city. But if that’s all the time you have, there are some marvelous ways to spend it. Opt for a meal at one of the dozens of locally owned restaurants. We chose Caffe Boa Bistro and Wine Bar for lunch where I had dessert and a glass of wine—who can resist homemade tiramisu? Alex had a panini and salad, also tasty.

If Tucson and Phoenix were overwhelming in size, scope and speed, Tempe was a wonderful way to wind down and finish off our southwest trip. It’s a simple town to navigate with large signage, abundant public parking and humor tucked into unexpected places.

There are three jackrabbits you’ll want to seek out just off Mill Avenue (and I understand there are some tiny bunnies scattered here and there). At 8, 12 and 14 feet tall, they’re hard to miss even if you don’t go on the search for them. There’s a walking guide to the art scattered around downtown Tempe, you can download it here.

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A bit of meandering down main drag South Mill Street led us to the Tempe Town Lake, a thriving park area even in February. The two-mile long lake was created from damming the dry Salt River and adding water. The lake serves the municipal purpose of flood protection but adds to the livelihood of the community with its recreational opportunities. This is a place for lots of hot-day activities—both on the water (paddling, electric boats) and alongside it: running, picnicking and enjoying a slide area to be unveiled this spring.

On the walk to the lake, we passed a huge abandoned building that turned out to be a historic marker—the Hayden Flour Mill. The mill was instrumental in the growth of Tempe and the site of flour operations from 1874 until 1998. There are windows available for peeking in and exhibits outside for education.

From October through May, Sundays will find 6th Street converted to an open air market with music, brunch and interactive art. That’s a good reason to plan for a weekend stay. If you’re there on a Thursday, seek out the Hayden Square Amphitheater for “Live Music, Beer + Wine and Food from Downtown Tempe Eateries.” What a great way to sample the city’s artistic side—from cuisine to tunes.

Lest you think Tempe is nothing more than a college town—home to America’s largest public University, Arizona State—think again. Both ZipRecruiter and Endurance International Group have their headquarters here with plans to expand both real estate and number of employees in 2017. Other employers of note include Insight Computers, Wells Fargo, Honeywell, and Edward Jones Investments. For a population of under 200,000, the city thrives far beyond university bounds.

The city is 10 minutes from Sky Harbor International Airport and has a Metro system of both light rail and buses.

If you have more than an afternoon, check out the Tempe History Museum locate on E. Southern Avenue. If you can’t get there, you can easily view exhibits through their online museum, click here. What a great way to tour the city’s history.

Tempe Street
Tempe Street


Also published on Medium.

4 Responses

  1. Donna Janke
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    When we wintered in Mesa, I visited Tempe a number of times. It has a nice, easy but lively vibe. The area we stayed in Mesa was rife with 55+ communities and it was treat to go to Tempe and see all the young people around the University. Shopping and restaurants are nice on Mill Street and at Tempe Marketplace. Tempe Festival of the Arts happens twice a year – a weekend in spring and another weekend in fall. Mill Street is blocked off from 3rd to University Drive and filled with artist booths (over 300), and food booths which also run down 5th, 6th and 7th off Mill Street. It’s a fun event. I have not made it to the Tempe History Museum though – something for a future visit.
    Donna Janke recently posted..Come Walk with the BeingsMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
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      Donna, the arts festival would be grand fun. I love Mill Street! I look forward to reading more from you about Tempe. Have to pop over to your blog!

  2. Marquita Herald
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    Looks like an interesting town. I’ve never been to Tempe but I think it might be worth a visit just to check out the giant lounging rabbit! There are so many fascinating towns in America this reminds me of why I used to love our annual family road trips across the country. I’d love to do that again one day.
    Marquita Herald recently posted..The Secret to Embracing Life’s Unexpected DetoursMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Marquita, although both Phoenix and Scottsdale have a lot to offer, I’d love to spend more time in Tempe and explore where all those rabbits may be lounging! Ah, road trips–aren’t they the best?

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