Seven exciting things to do in Tempe during ASU Commencement

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for graduating ASU students, that is.

As students gear up to don a cap and gown before receiving their ASU diploma, friends and family will head to Tempe to join in their favorite Sun Devil’s big moment. But where to go? What to see? What should you do before the big day? Have no fear, because we have some fun and inexpensive ideas of what to do in and around Tempe for families, friends and special guests of our ASU grads.

1.Tempe History Museum

Photo: City of Tempe

Tempe isn’t just a thriving college town in the desert — it has an intriguing history. Why not start off with a quick trip to the Tempe History Museum to see what this city is all about?

Here, you can visit the exhibit, “Trains of Tempe,” which includes fun interactive activities such as dressing in train worker garb and snapping a selfie, and sending and receiving messages in Morse Code at telegraph stations.

Be sure to also check out Performances at the Museum, a free concert for the entire family, with performances on May 6 and May 12.

The museum, located at 809 E. Southern Ave., is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m.

2. Petersen House

Photo: City of Tempe

Looking for more history about our great city? You should look no further than the prestigious Petersen House. Built in 1892 by Danish immigrant Niels Petersen, it is one of the oldest residences in the Salt River Valley. It is maintained and operated by the City of Tempe.

The historic Petersen House will offer two open houses in May, giving ASU graduates and their families an opportunity to tour this Tempe treasure. The open houses, timed to align with ASU graduation, will take place on Saturday, May 6, and Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both days. Admission is free; however, donations are always welcomed to support the continued preservation of the house ($5 suggested).

The house is located at 1414 W. Southern Ave. To book a tour, call (480) 350–5100 or email

3. Tempe Center for the Arts

Tempe Center for the Arts, as seen from Elmore Pedestrian Bridge. Photo: Arizona State University

Where can you go to soak in culture? One great option is the iconic Tempe Center for the Arts, which always has plenty to do and see. With theater performances, art shows and live entertainment, the center also is home to the EDGE Happy Hour. It’s the perfect spot to listen to live bands and grab a drink with your special visitors coming to town for commencement!

Located at 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, the Center is open Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m; and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The EDGE Happy Hour is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 6 to 8 p.m.

4. Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake. Video: Arizona State University.

A Tempe treasure, Tempe Town Lake provides an oasis in the desert. With walkways perfect for running, biking or just strolling along the water, it’s a prime location to take in the majestic views of an Arizona sunset. Or you can rent a kayak, pontoon boats or paddle boards for the day (just be prepared to get wet)!

Boat rentals, located at 72 W. Rio Salado Parkway, are open Mondays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

5. Downtown Tempe

Within walking distance of ASU’s Tempe campus, downtown Tempe boasts endless entertainment and recreational options, both before and after sunset. Grab a quick bite, watch a movie, or have a five-star dining experience — all can be done in downtown Tempe.

6. “A” Mountain.

“A” Mountain. Video: Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU.

An easy, family-friendly hike in Hayden Butte Preserve Park takes you right below the famous “A” and on to gorgeous panoramic views at the top of the mountain. As you take in the 360-degree views of Tempe and the ASU campus, it’s only natural to feel emotional. Go for an early morning workout before it gets too hot, or end the day with a relaxing sunset hike. Either way, it’s bound to make for some great Instagram pictures!

7. Arizona State University — Tempe campus

And finally, ASU’s Tempe Campus. You spent the last few years of your life here — why not show your campus off? Landmarks include the iconic, century-old Palm Walk; Old Main, the oldest original campus building; Sun Devil Stadium and ASU’s other Pac-12 athletic venues; and the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Gammage Auditorium, as well as numerous research centers and art museums. There’s something for everyone. With ASU’s unrivaled commitment to sustainability, Tempe has the most most solar-powered campus in the nation, with easy access to all of metropolitan Phoenix via public transit, including light rail.

This is a thrilling time for Sun Devils and their families. Be sure to enjoy it in a city as thrilling and special as commencement!

Oh, and one last thing…


Fork ’em Devils!

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