Tempe Downtown

The rest of the country is learning what Valley residents already know about Tempe: it’s one of the best downtowns in which to live and play.

The editors at Livability.com recently ranked Tempe seventh on its 2016 list of the Top 10 Best Downtowns, citing among other things new development, rising population, affordability and culture and nightlife.

Speaking specifically on Tempe, Livability.com calls this East Valley city’s downtown a magnet for high-tech and innovative companies pointing to a number of businesses, small and large, that have added their names to the city’s skyline.

Downtown Tempe also got a thumbs up for its expanding housing options with the growth of high-rise developments alongside the area’s bustling businesses that include more than 100 restaurants, retailers and nightclubs.

Sidewalks and paths also give downtown Tempe a high score for walkability, exercise and entertainment. Residents and visitors can take in art exhibits and live performances at the Tempe Center for the Arts; shop for trendy fashions and unique gifts among the retailers along  downtown’s well-traveled Mill Avenue; and for sports enthusiasts there is Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium, which plays host to football games and other events.

Livability.com reviewed data on more than 2,000 small to mid-size cities across the country to come up with its Top 10 list of the Best Downtowns.

Livability.com’s Top 10 Best Downtowns, 2016:

  1. Alexandria, VA
  2. Santa Monica, CA
  3. Greenville, SC
  4. Bellevue, WA
  5. Pittsburgh, PA
  6. Boise, ID
  7. Tempe, AZ
  8. Plano, TX
  9. Colorado Springs, CO
  10. Evanston, IL

First on the list is downtown Alexandria, Virginia, which Livability.com describes as “loaded” with restaurants, cultural venues, entertainment options, historical architecture and people. The site also notes that the PBS series “Mercy Street,” which is set in Civil War-era Alexandria, might have a little something to do with the growing interest in the city’s historic sites.

Tempe also has a lot to offer for history buffs. Established in 1871, the city has seen major changes in recent decades, much of which has been documented by the Tempe Historical Society, the Tempe History Museum, the Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation, the Downtown Tempe Authority, among others.

These groups have teamed up for a special daylong observance of all things Tempe on Saturday, March 19th. Dubbed “Hayden’s Ferry Days,” the event will include a “Walk Through History” that will revisit Tempe’s historic buildings, a Continental breakfast at the Hackett House, a guidebook and souvenirs. Find out how to register by visiting the website.

– Suzanne Wilson, Phoenix.org