Papago park is on the border between Phoenix and Tempe. It has a history of being an Indian reservation, a national monument, and a prisoner of war camp. Today however, it is a beautiful picnic area minutes drive from downtown Tempe. It has a great fishing pond that needs a special permit, mountain bike and hiking trails, and terrific views of the city and the Phoenix zoo.
When it was a prisoner of war camp in wwII, it housed 1700 German prisoners in barracks. In Dec of 1944 the largest POW escape in the U.S. happened after they dug a tunnel 178 feet outside the prison fence and 25 people escaped. The escape went undetected for several days until one of the cold and hungry Germans returned to camp and turned himself in.
Mill ave. is part of Tempe's history. The mill is where the founder of the town, Charles Hayden first started the town in 1867 with a store on Mill ave. He ran a cable across the Salt river and began a ferry service when the river was too high to cross. The flour mill that stands there today closed in 1997 and is the third one, as the other two burnt down. Today Mill ave. is filled with restaurants and shops, and home to several street festivals throughout the year.
In the center of Papago park there is a large white pyramid. There are several paths leading up the hill to it and when you get to the top you will find that it is actually a tomb, Hunt's tomb. George Hunt was Arizona's first governor. He then went on to be the 2nd, 3rd, 6th,7th,8th, and 10th governor. So maybe you don't want to climb the hill to look at a pyramid tomb but the views from up there are just fabulous in all directions, but especially cool was looking down and seeing giraffes and ostriches running around in the Phoenix zoo and the city behind them.
Gammage auditorium is on the Arizona state university campus. It seats over 3000 people but no one is more then 110 feet from the stage. It host broadway and off broadway shows. It was also the site of the last 2004 presidential election debate. It was one of the last buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright built in 1964. Now, I am a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright but I did not care for this building that much. By day it is fairly pretty but lit up at night it looks like a giant pink birthday cake.
Just across the river from the Mill Avenue District is Papago Park with many choices for things to do within its 1200 acres. Located between Tempe and Phoenix it is amazingly convenient to get away from the "city." The park is actually owned by Phoenix. Once an Indian reservation for the Maricopa and Pima tribes, and a German prisoner of war camp during World War II, Papago is now a stunning urban desert park with red rock formations and giant saguaro cacti. It has numerous picnic sites with ramadas, tables, grills, water and electricity. The park also contains fishing lagoons and bike paths as well as a zoo, a botanical garden, fire museum and a golf course. Two well known landmarks are in the park: Hole-In-The-Rock, a natural geologic formation called a tafoni; and Hunt's Tomb, the white pyramid burial place of Arizona's first governor.
It was Easter Sunday afternoon and I just got off work (yes I had to work that day!), so I decided to bring the family to Tempe and I was surprised to find the Kiwanis Community Park Lake! It was awesome - families were everywhere and they were all having fun, a lot of them with their personal boom boxes - music everywhere. My son ran towards the lake and saw boats being paddled, so we had to search where we could rent a boat!
Unfortunately, the boat rental was already closed (open 10AM to 6 PM only; $15 per hour?)...so we will just have to come back. But the place also had a lot of lakeside ramadas where families can have personal parties. And the children's playground was also protected by a huge tent and kids were running wildly around!
It also looked like people were actually fishing! The lake is stocked with catfish (April to October) and trout (November-March). A special Arizona Urban Fishing License is required for ages 14 and up!
They also have volleyball, softball and basketball fields and a batting range! And guess what - they even have a Kiwanis WAVE pool! The pool features a double spiral slide and tube rentals. Talk about a well-stocked park!
UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE!
FOUR YEARS LATER...
We just finished Easter 2013, and it is weird that I just found through my pictures here on VT that we were there on same day 4 years ago! Haha...well, this time, I made a video! I was also working again on this Easter weekend 2013, but found time to have fun! Haha....and we did the boat ride for $20 and also the bike which I think was $25 (per hour)
Hope you like this:
EASTER WEEKEND AT KIWANIS PARK, TEMPE
A great workout with some wonderful views. This is a fun way to get out and burn some calories. Its more than just a nature walk so be prepared. Bring water and hiking/running shoes. Yes girls that's means you. I'm amazed by the number of flip flops or even a pair of heels. This is a two mile workout full off hopping up boulders and scrambling over loose gravel. You really don't want to end your workout with a helicopter ride down because you wanted to look cute. BRING WATER not a little bottle but half a gallon each. It gets warm in Arizona. also clean up after yourself. If your old enough to go out and play your old enough to clean up after yourself, better yet clean up after someone else also.
Tempe is so lucky to have Gameworks!!! I am not really sure if it is wise to bring your kids here because once they're in, it's hard to get them out from playing the games!
When you get to the door, they sometimes give you a card which gives your free $10 playing benefits if you buy a gaming card (for $10 also I think). Then the fun begins there. Just be sure you keep a close watch on your small kids because they run around so much and it is confusing with all the noise...
In March of 1997, the first GameWorks opened in Seattle, Washington. It was considered an innovative concept formulated Dreamworks SKG/Steven Spielberg, Universal Studios, and Skip Paul, GameWorks Chairman & Co-founder.
Then, GameWorks was acquired by SEGA and the Sega Sammy Group in May 2005, and Sega Entertainment U.S.A., Inc. (SEUI) was formed. Now, there are branches in California, Minnesota, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Texas...the company is booming!
Visit Arizona Mills and be amazed when you enter the food court that there is this giant golden carousel for the kids - right in the middle of the foodcourt! Amazing!
Of course, our kids ran directly to the carousel which charged only $2 per ride - and for our young kids, accompanying adults are free...
Then after the carousel ride, you can either eat and ride again, or just go around the wonderful shops in this amazing mall (close to the Arizona State University)...
So, here I am lounging on a Scottsdale hotel patio right now May 17, 2009- but I plan to take the kids to Tempe Town Lake today so I can have more current pics of this great place.
Tempe has done a great job in transforming this place from the dry riverbed of Rio Salado (dried due to the upstream diversions) to a vibrant lake with a marina, boat rentals, a water playground, trails and even an archeological marvel - The Tempe Center for the Arts.
The engineers found a way to fill in the two mile water reservoir through inflatable dams in 1997 - now it is a favorite place for locals and tourists alike -- when a train passes through, the LED Bridge illuminates!
............just got back from the Tempe Town Lake and there were people fishing even under the 108 degree sun! There are several activities around the lake and Tempe thrives because of it --- the Tempe Beach Park where my kids had fun with the water fountains (we totally went into them with more than 200 kids around) and even a nice stroll by the Tempe Culture and Arts Center (well moire like a run that I did, hehehe). But I've never been around close here at night when a train passes by and the bridge lights up...maybe you will...
Hayden's Butte is also called Tempe Butte or A Mountain. It was inhabited by the Hohokam people and petroglyphs, pot sherds, scrapers, and metate have been found there. The area just west of the butte was settled in the 1870's and called Hayden's Ferry, after the ferry crossing the Salt River which flows just north of the butte. The area looks like Vale of Tempe near Mount Olympus in Greece, thus Tempe's name. The elevation difference from bottom to top is about 350 feet. Many people hike or jog up the Leonard Monti Trail to get a good workout.
When in Tempe, you have to check out this wonderful piece of architecture right beside the Tempe Lake! I went on the ledges of the fountains and attempted to get a jumping picture as I had my "10 second timer" on the digital camera on - and after about three attempts, I realized the people in the lounge were laughing at my antics through the glass windows, hehehe...I just waved at them.
The design was made by Tempe-based Architekton and award-winning Barton Myers Associates of Los Angeles and the building has a very modern 600-seat proscenium theater, a 200-seat studio theater and a 3,500 square-foot gallery.
Beside the building is a 17-acre lakeside art park developed by Design Workshop which is a Tempe landscape architecture firm.
Plans are underway for a pedestrian bridge scheduled for completion in 2010 that will complete a loop around Tempe Town Lake and join the north bank with the south in front of the TCA.
The Arts Center has several regular activities for us Arizonians and visitors, and this included: Childsplay, Tempe Little Theatre, the Tempe Symphony Orchestra, the Tempe Community Chorus, A. Ludwig Dance, Desert Dance and the Tempe Wind Ensemble perform on the center’s stages.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday-Friday
11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday
Administrative office hours:
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday except on
The Tempe City Hall is one of the most architecturally unique I have ever seen. I am afraid if I had a corner office here I would be afraid of falling out through the window. The sculpture out front is made from a remnant of the historic Ash Street Bridge.
We were driving around Tempe on a very hot 108 degree Sunday afternoon, and then we saw some activity by the road. It looked like people having fun with spraying water - we had to check it out!
It was the Tempe Beach Park and it had a Splash Playground. We parked on one of the two big parking lots and as you can see in the picture, the twins ran ahead of us towards the Splash playground. At the time, there were about 200 kids from diapered months-old to moms and dads all enjoying the cool break from the sun.
Fortunately, I was wearing my cargo pants whose lower leg can be "zipped" off and so I just joined into the wetness. The first thing my son went for were these giant water guns which you can use to spray at unsuspecting people...hehehe...There were 3 slides and lots of running ground.
Truly a place to be when it's hot in Arizona and your kids are bored. Just remember to bring sunscreen, hat and sunglasses....
54 W Rio Salado Pkwy, Tempe, AZ 85281
The top of Hayden's Butte is a great vantage point. To the north is Tempe Town Lake and Papago Park. To the east is Sun Devil Stadium. To the south is Arizona State University and the Mill Avenue District. To the west is Hayden's Mill, the new Tempe performing arts center and downtown Phoenix.