Tempe Town Lake on the north edge of downtown Tempe is Arizona’s second-most visited public attraction.

What to do during Arizona State University commencement? Six must-see spots in Tempe

It’s graduation season at Arizona State University, a time when Tempe buzzes with excitement. As friends and family from around the country head to Tempe to join the momentous celebration, here are six must-see spots in town where the good times can continue to roll.

Located in the heart of downtown Tempe, Hayden Butte, known to locals as “A” Mountain because of its striking 60-foot gold “A” (which stands for Arizona State University, of course) on the south side of the butte, is a popular hiking spot. If you and your guests are interested in a morning run, evening walk or midday stroll, this enjoyable destination is worth a look. Just remember to stay on the trail and stay hydrated!

At the tip of the butte, get a beautiful 360-degree view of Tempe and the surrounding areas, including Tempe Town Lake. And before you even head up the slope, explore the famed Hayden Flour Mill at the base of the butte and read a little about Tempe’s history.

The “A” of “A” Mountain remains gold year-round, except at the beginning of ASU’s fall semester. An annual tradition since the 1930s, the incoming freshman class whitewashes the “A” during Welcome Week, indicating the beginning of another year at Arizona State University. Photo: Arizona State University

Within walking distance of ASU’s Tempe campus, downtown Tempe, otherwise known as Mill Avenue, boasts a variety of recreational and entertainment options. Whether you want to grab a quick bite, browse a few shops, watch a movie, or even enjoy a five-star dining experience, downtown Tempe is the place to be!

It’s not a mirage. In the heart of the desert, the 2-mile-long Tempe Town Lake shimmers in the sunlight as sailboats drift lazily by sleek high-rises. Pathways invite visitors to walk, jog or bike along the shores of this manmade lake, which is a popular spot to launch a kayak, canoe or sailboat. Several parks and attractions dot the lake’s shores, including the Tempe Center for the Arts, Town Lake Marina, volleyball courts and habitat areas. It’s no wonder Tempe Town Lake on the north edge of downtown Tempe is Arizona’s second-most visited public attraction.

Photo: Arizona State University

World–renowned artist James Turrell has left his touch on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.

Located just off of Rural Road, between Apache Boulevard and University Drive, is Turrell’s “Skyspace: Air Apparent” exhibit. The hard geometric shapes of the building open up to the Arizona sky, creating a perfect harmony of manmade construction and nature.

P.S. It’s especially beautiful at sunset!

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Photo: Arizona State University

Where can you find a cultural fix? Tempe Center for the Arts offers everything from art shows and theater performances to live entertainment and more, a wealth of experiences perfect for the entire family. And if you’re just looking for a memorable place to gather with your guests, don’t miss happy hour on the Edge of Tempe Town Lake.

Even from the outside, it’s easy to see why this stunning venue makes a lasting impression on both residents and visitors.

Photo: Downtown Tempe Authority

Commencement happens to coincide with the Valley’s most perfect weather, and there’s no better place to enjoy it than Papago Park. Despite its Phoenix address, the park’s close proximity to Tempe makes it a local favorite. Hikers and bikers alike can enjoy the beauty of the desert from both higher vantage points and lower elevations along its many trails. The world-class Phoenix Zoo and stunning Desert Botanical Gardens are also found here.

Whether you need a break from commencement excitement or simply want to give your out-of-town guests a glimpse of what makes Arizona so unique, Papago Park provides the ideal opportunity.

Photo: Arizona State University

With diverse activities, beautiful architecture and fun for the whole family, Tempe offers more to do when you’re in town than you ever knew before. Bring your friends, gather up the family and celebrate the success of your #ASUgrad Sun Devil style!

ULTIMATE ASU COMMENCEMENT GUIDE: Here’s everything you need to know to make your big day unforgettable

MORE SIGHTSEEING: Our campuses are beautiful, and you’ll want to show your guests all your favorite spots. We’ve made a list of all the must-see spots on ASU’s Tempe, Downtown Phoenix, West and Polytechnic campuses to help you out.

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