Day trip: Downtown Tempe, AZ

Forget football and focus on the emerging art scene in Tempe, AZ this fall

Tempe Center for the Arts in downtown Tempe, AZ

Catch a jazz concert or a ballet in the open air amphitheater at the Tempe Center for the Arts during your visit to downtown Tempe, AZ.

Andrea M. Gómez

Tempe, AZ Day Trip: Harkins Valley Art Movie Theater

Who says you can't mix pop culture with history? The restored Harkins Valley Art theater in downtown Tempe, AZ boosts brand new indie flicks along with its original marquee from 1940.

Andrea M. Gómez

ASU Art Museum in Tempe, AZ

New at the ASU Art Museum: a multimedia exhibition from Dinh Q. Lê who uses bicycles and motorbikes as a way to look at his native Vietnam.

Andrea M. Gómez

La Bocca Urban Pizzeria & Wine Bar in Tempe, AZ

Tempe may be a college town, but you don't have to settle for beer with your pizza. Pair a gourmet slice with a fine wine at La Bocca Urban Pizzeria & Wine Bar.

Andrea M. Gómez

Getting to downtown Tempe

  • Tempe, AZ map

    From I-17 or I-10, get on Loop 202. Take Priest Dr. south, then head east on Rio Salado Pkwy. about 1 mile to S. Mill Ave. Info

Why go to Tempe now: Long equated with ASU football, this neighborhood has quietly emerged as a hot arts destination. ASU’s campus has a dozen art galleries and collections, and September kicks off the season of plays, concerts, and exhibitions.

What started it all: The opening of the dazzling Tempe Center for the Arts three years ago.

Our favorite gallery: Northlight Gallery (closed Fri and Sun; free), which has a knack for discovering local photographers.

Best place to see public art: The Mill Avenue and Third Street light-rail station, where glass panels with desert motifs shimmer by night.

Showtime: The Frank Lloyd Wright–designed ASU Gammage theater lands big Broadway productions ( for tickets). 

Make it a weekend: Tempe Mission Palms Hotel puts you within striking distance of it all (from $139). 

Street smarts: Don’t circle the block looking for scarce parking—head for one of the public garages just off Mill Avenue.

Things to do in Tempe

Where to eat

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