Tempe 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 lets you wind down a 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 to seek out off Mill Avenue—and some tiny bunnies scattered here and there. At 8, 12 and 14 feet tall, they’re hard to miss even if you’re not searching for them. There’s a walking guide to the art scattered around downtown Tempe, you can download it here.

Tempe Town Lake

Meandering the main drag South Mill Street leads 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. Fundamentally, the lake serves a municipal purpose of flood protection. It adds to the livelihood of the community with recreational opportunities. On a hot day enjoy the water with paddling and electric boats. Or chose offrunning, picnicking, and a new slide area.

Walking to the lake, we passed a huge abandoned building that was 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 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. On Thursdays, 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.

Tempe is More Than ASU

Lest you think Tempe is nothing more than a college town—home to America’s largest public University, Arizona State—think again. ZipRecruiter and Endurance International Group are headquartered here with plans to expand real estate and 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.

Arizona is Always Worth Visiting

The city is 10 minutes from Sky Harbor International Airport. It 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. What a great way to tour the city’s history.

*Read, Eclectic Downtown Tucson