Why Tempe is the hidden gem that needs to be on your winter bucket list

Oct 4 2018, 11:20 pm

It’s October, and winter is looming over Toronto. You know what’s ahead, so who would say no to a sunny vacation getaway?

Don’t worry, we’re not trying to suggest somewhere you’ve already visited 10 times over. We’re talking about the hidden gem you’ll want to add to your list that’s located east of Phoenix, Arizona: Tempe.

If you’re ready to swap the cold in Toronto for a temperate, sunny destination, Tempe has what you need. The vibrant city is one of Arizona’s best-kept secrets, featuring lively bars and restaurants, amazing shopping, and the activities you’ve been longing to do since summer ended in Ontario.

You only need to pack light because Tempe has a temperate climate year-round, meaning you’ll definitely need your tees, shorts, shades, and sandals. As soon as you arrive, you’ll consider making this trip a new winter tradition. Here’s why.

Go exploring Downtown Tempe

Tempe is one seriously cyclable city so you’ll want to rent a bike and go exploring. You’ll find local art stores, handmade jewelry, clothing stores, a vintage candy fantasyland, an ASU branded merchandise store, and more downtown. Approximately 70% of businesses located in the downtown core are independent, meaning you’ll likely end up in conversation with the local store owners.

If you visit Tempe between October 14 and April 14, the 6th Street Market will be taking place on Sundays. You can shop for local artisan goods and enjoy bites of small-batch locally-made food.

Play a round at ASU Karsten Golf Course

You might have put away your golf clubs for the year in Toronto, but you can still play like a PGA pro in Tempe. The ASU Karsten Golf Course boasts exceptional playing conditions throughout the year.

Located on the ASU campus close to Downtown Tempe, it offers some of the most amazing mountain views which make every game completely worthwhile, whether you consider yourself a pro or a total newbie to the golf course.

Shop alfresco at Tempe Marketplace

Tempe Marketplace/Harkins Plaza

Shop your favourite brands at Tempe Marketplace where you can catch some rays and grab a bite in between visiting different stores. Located in the heart of the Valley at the Loop 101 and 202 crossroads just minutes from Phoenix, you’ll be able to get there with ease. With brands like H&M, Nordstrom Rack, Target, and Journeys, you’ll likely end up shopping until you can’t fit anything else into your suitcase.

Enjoy a beer at Four Peaks Brewing Company

Bar interior/Four Peaks 8th Street

Embrace the warm weather vibes in Tempe with a seat on the patio at Four Peaks Brewing Company. The brewery has been open since 1996 and serves up seasonal specialities on tap. Whether you’re a craft brew enthusiast or not, you’ll be captivated by the charm of this brewery, set in a building that dates back to the 1890s.

Today, locals and visitors alike gather here to enjoy the brewery’s seasonals, single tank series, cask-conditioned and barrel-aged beers and mainstays like the famous Kilt Lifter. Pair your favourite brew with lunch or dinner on their shady patio.

Spend the day exploring Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake SUP/Slaven Gujic

It’s still summer somewhere; specifically, in Tempe. In winter, temperatures here are similar to what you’d expect to experience in the midst of summer in Toronto (60 – 80+ °F). This kind of weather invites summer-inspired activities like taking to the water in an electric boat, kayak, or on a stand-up paddleboard.

You don’t need to wait until next year to make it happen again because you can do this kind of thing in Tempe every day. If you’re in Tempe on December 8, make sure to check out the Fantasy of Lights Holiday Boat Parade at Tempe Town Lake — it’s magical.

Attend the 50th annual Fall Festival of the Arts

If you want to experience the true culture and heart of the city, the Tempe Fall Festival of the Arts is a must. The highly-anticipated three-day event is taking place from November 30 to December 2 in Downtown Tempe and showcases everything from art to live entertainment, and bespoke food and beverage vendors.

You’ll see works by hundreds of artists across North America throughout the event and get a shopping experience like no other in Arizona with vendors selling handcrafted goods and live entertainment throughout the event. Best of all, it’s completely free to attend and this year you’ll be part of the big 50th anniversary celebrations.

Go hiking up “A” Mountain

A Mountain/Tim Trumble

You don’t often find a mountain right in the middle of the downtown area of a city, but you will find “A” Mountain in Downtown Tempe. You can enjoy hiking here early in the morning or during sunset as you pass desert plants along the way.

When you get to the top you can see epic vistas of downtown and the ASU Tempe Campus. You can drive to the trailhead or take transit if you’re not renting a car. Who said hiking season was over?

Visit Tempe Tourism to check for the latest accommodation deals and book your flights for the ultimate urban winter vacation in Tempe.

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