19 Things To Do In Tempe For Business Travelers
Tempe, Arizona, is a rising star among corporate travel destinations. Over the past two decades, Tempe has actively competed with bigger cities like New York and San Francisco for a share of business and leisure tourism.
Located in the Phoenix metro area, Tempe is convenient to access via air travel and public transportation. Because of Tempe’s investments to draw more business travelers, it has a lot to offer as a destination for business meeting spaces, industry and leadership conferences and employee retreats.
A business trip to Tempe doesn’t have to be all work. One of the benefits of corporate travel in Tempe is the ample selection of activities to enjoy in your downtime! Make the most of your stay by checking out these 19 must-see things to do in Tempe for business travelers.
Explore The Business District
Chances are, your hotel and/or conference will be in Downtown Tempe.
This is the business district where all the professionals stay to network. Until recently, it was called Mill Avenue, so when you research the area or explore the streets, you’ll see references to that old name.
Downtown Tempe is an action-packed, centralized hub of restaurants, shops, nature and culture within a one-mile radius. If you’re looking for a brunch spot or a coffee shop for your break, you’ll find it here.
This area is a hotspot for business meetings, as well as “bleisure” travel (professionals who have extended their business trips to enjoy some personal tourism).
1. Bike or Walk
Thankfully, you don’t need a car to enjoy the variety of things to do in Tempe.
The city is pedestrian and bike-friendly. Change into your sneakers after a long day of meetings and explore the region. As we mentioned, the downtown area is only a square mile in size, so you can see most of what you want to check out by walking or pedaling around.
2. Take a Hike
What? Nature, in the middle of Downtown Tempe? Absolutely!
In Arizona, the majestic beauty of the outdoors is everywhere. All you need to do is look out a window, and you can see the magnificent landscape.
For a quick sweat and some great views, head north to “A” Mountain Hayden Butte trail. You’ll find the trailhead quickly, and it will take you to a 0.9-mile out-and-back trail that takes about half an hour to traverse.
Of course, the area’s hiking trails are full of scenic views — including the ASU Tempe Campus and surrounding vicinity — so you might want to plan extra time to stop and smell the palm trees. You can hike year-round in Arizona (although you’ll want to hit the trail as early as possible in the summer months to beat the peak heat).
3. Hit the Water
Speaking of the heat, if you’re in need of a cool-off, visit Tempe Town Lake or Tempe Beach Park on the northern side of Downtown Tempe.
Relax on the shores and just dip in the water, or rent a kayak, pedal boat or paddle board for a few hours of peaceful solitude out on the water.
If you’re an avid bike rider, the lake has a bike-friendly sidewalk around the perimeter.
4. Be Entertained
Smack in the heart of Downtown Tempe are a variety of entertainment options. Enjoy a live Broadway-style performance at the Tempe Center for the Arts or ASU Gammage. Sit back, relax and watch a movie in luxury at the AMC Centerpoint 11.
See The Cultural Attractions
Tempe is known as the go-to place for hosting year-round events, like the longest-standing arts festival in Arizona, the Tempe Festival of the Arts.
This designation has made Tempe popular for its diverse range of cultural pursuits, and brings plenty of attractions to the area.
5. Tempe History Museum
Three miles south of Downtown is the Tempe History Museum. This community center is free for everyone.
What you’ll find here depends on the events that are hosted during your stay, but can include:
- Detailed history lessons
- Rotating featured exhibits
- Family-friendly live music concerts
- Performing arts put on by local talent
6. Desert Botanical Garden
Technically, the Desert Botanical Garden is in Phoenix, but don’t let that address fool you. The gardens are only a quick three miles from Downtown Tempe.
The best part about this destination is the view you get at sunrise. Try to time your visit for a morning exhibit if possible.
If you can’t, you’ll still be in awe of this natural paradise’s spectacular flora and fauna.
Check before you go to make sure the gardens are open. They’re often closed on holidays and for special events.
7. ASU Art Museum
To take in the culture at your own pace, check out the ASU Art Museum at Arizona State University, where you’ll be transported back in history to prehistoric times.
The building houses the drawings of Tempe’s first civilizations and showcases a variety of national and international contemporary artists.
The art gallery is closed Monday through Wednesday and on university holidays, so plan accordingly.
8. AZ Heritage Center
The Papago Park preserve is the backdrop of the Arizona Heritage Center, a self-proclaimed oasis in the middle of the desert.
Here you’ll experience the origins of Phoenix and trace its path from its humble beginnings as a tiny civilization through the mega-metropolis it is today.
Take Advantage Of All The Entertainment And Fun
Tempe tourism is a large part of the area’s economy. This becomes clear when you see all the entertainment the city offers to both residents and travelers.
9. Tempe Marketplace
Shopping and dining are on the menu at the Tempe Marketplace, an indoor/outdoor centralized facility where more than 100 retailers sprawl out over 1.3 million square feet of space.
Spend the day window shopping and people watching, buying souvenirs and tasting the vast array of cuisines in Tempe. It’s a colorful, fun part of the city where everyone is welcome.
10. Sea Life Arizona Aquarium
Although Arizona isn’t exactly known for its oceanfront property, you can still experience marine life in Tempe at the Sea Life Arizona Aquarium.
Touch ponds, rotating exhibits, feeding talks and an immense ecosystem of ocean creatures are on display seven days a week until 5 p.m.
The Los Angeles Angels MLB team does its spring training at Diablo Stadium, and you can score tickets to watch them in action.
The Sun Devils have a loyal crowd of fans filling the seats during football season. Catching a game is a great way to spend a few hours cheering on the team and munching on classic stadium snacks.
Go on a Sightseeing Tour
When you only have a few free hours between meetings or at the end of your work days, it can be hard to manage your time efficiently on a business trip and see as much as possible — especially if you aren’t familiar with the area or don’t have access to your own transportation.
A sightseeing tour may be the way to go.
You can find tours for almost anything in Tempe, from outdoor activities like stand-up paddleboarding and climbing rock formations at the national parks, to cultural arts.
The thing to remember while you create an itinerary for your first time here is that as long as you get outside, you’ll see something new.
Here are a few of the top tours to book during your stay:
12. Sonoran Desert Guided Hiking Adventure
Mad Desert Trekking sets you up with a knowledgeable guide for a two-hour hike into the desert during sunrise or sunset for stunning views that avoid the midday heat.
13. Taliesin West Tour
Got a couple of extra hours between meetings?
Check out famed architect and artist Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home in Scottsdale.
At the foot of the McDowell Mountains, Taliesin West remains open to the public, and you can book a variety of tours to learn more about this incredible architectural wonder.
14. City and Nature Tour
A four-hour tour will take you through the highlights of Downtown Scottsdale, Tempe and the Phoenix area. Enjoy the fun things these areas have to offer, from nature to shopping and more, all on your day trip.
15. Four Peaks Brewing Co.
If you’re around Tempe on a Saturday, sign up for a tour of the Four Peaks Brewing Co. on 8th Street.
You’ll explore the century-old building and learn how it once housed a creamery, ice factory and recording studio before becoming the landmark brewery it is today. Some tours include free samples of the special craft brews on tap.
Restaurants and Other Can’t-Miss Cuisine
Foodies from all over come to Tempe for dining.
You’ll find all your favorite chains in Downtown Tempe, but the area also boasts more than its fair share of unique eateries.
16. Culinary Dropout
Ideal for hosting business meetings or relaxing after a long day, Culinary Dropout’s menu includes bar foods, ice-cold beer, burgers and more. Eat as you listen to the live band playing in the background, play games or watch sports on the big-screen TVs.
17. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
Breakfast, lunch and classic brunch cocktails are on the menu at Snooze A.M. Eatery. Sign up online for “bennyfits” before you go to get discounts.
18. House Of Tricks
Serving contemporary fare with an old-fashioned atmosphere, House of Tricks is a delight for residents and visiting foodies alike. Make reservations for a business gathering or relaxing solo meal. You won’t regret it.
19. Perfect Pear Bistro
Owned by a local family in Tempe, Perfect Pear Bistro provides a menu full of American comfort food with a twist. Craft beers, wine and specialty cocktails accompany the delightful food choices you can order seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
Transportation In Tempe
Before you head out on the town, plan your transportation.
Tempe is located in the East Valley section of the metropolitan Phoenix area, nestled between Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa. The main campus of Arizona State University is in Tempe.
Knowing where your lodging is in the midst of all these populated areas will help you narrow down your trip itinerary.
Of course, the city has the usual rideshares and cabs, but there are other ways to explore Tempe that are easier on your budget and the environment.
Bus service is available on major streets, with thirteen bus routes and two express routes. Access these transportation methods every day, including on holidays.
Tempe’s Light Rail is a convenient train line for getting around. The rail runs from northwest Phoenix to east Mesa, with many strategic stops in Tempe.
Paratransit is available for people traveling with disabilities. Eligible riders can apply for free online or in-person.
If you have a disability that prevents you from using the Valley Metro bus or light rail service independently, you can qualify for free paratransit.
The 3.1-mile streetcar travels down Dorsey and Apache Boulevard, and Marina Heights and Rio Salado Parkway, making frequent stops at popular destinations along the way.
E-Bike and E-Scooter Rental
As a college town, it’s no surprise that Tempe offers access to the electric bike and scooter rentals that have been popping up in some of America’s hottest cities. Bird, Razor, Spin and Wheels have hubs across downtown and the surrounding areas.
Just download the app for the bike or scooter brand you want to use, connect your credit card, and grab your vehicle of choice for a quick jaunt around the city!
Tempe is a highly accessible city where a little of everything is nearby.
If your company is sending you to Tempe on business, you’re in luck! This small (but fast-growing) southwest city is a great destination to explore.
While you’re in the area, treat the trip like a short getaway, and indulge in some or all of these 19 nearby things to do in Tempe to make the most of your time.
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.