Paddle Boating at Tempe Town Lake in Tempe, AZ

#9. Tempe

A Phoenix suburb with enough personality to hold its own, Tempe, Ariz. provides an affordable and enjoyable vacation destination with a climate to suit.

Start your trip west at the pedestrian-friendly Mill Avenue District, where turn-of-the-century buildings house trendy restaurants, shops and entertainment. The district is home to the nationally recognized Tempe Festival of the Arts, held each March and December. Or strap on your lederhosen for the city’s free Oktoberfest celebration at Tempe Beach Park.

A popular attraction among locals and visitors alike, Tempe Beach Park attracts a much younger crowd in steamy summer months when spray fountains come alive at Cox Splash Playground. Looking for wild waterslides and an enormous wave pool? Then head to Big Surf Fun Waterpark. Another water attraction is Sea Life, which features an aquarium designed specifically for kids, more than 30 displays and a 360-degree ocean tunnel.

With winter temps in the mid 60s, there’s no excuse not to walk, cycle, or rent paddleboats and kayaks at the Tempe Town Lake. Located adjacent to the Mill Avenue District, Tempe Town Lake offers fishing and boating, and lake tours are available via horseback or Segway. In 2011, the park welcomed the Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge, a quarter-mile marvel connecting Tempe’s south and north shores.

Finally, sports fans can head to the Tempe Diablo Stadium, spring training home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and home field for night games of the Arizona League Tempe Angels.

Hotels: 25

Restaurants: 200-plus

Other Attractions: Papago Park, Gammage at Arizona State University, IKEA, Tempe Marketplace, Changing Hands Bookstore


Explore more cities like Tempe, AZ — college towns that offer plenty of outdoor activites and/or arts & culture:

Louisville, KY

Fargo, ND

Stillwater, OK


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