The Arizona State University (ASU) Tempe Campus is one of the largest campuses in the U.S. by student population. Don’t let that intimidate you. It’s a fun campus to visit and it’s easy to navigate. Among the buildings, walkways, breezeways and courtyards, you’ll find some of Tempe’s best hidden gems from public art to places to eat. I’ve been lucky enough to be introduced to these hidden gems over the years, and now I’d like to share them with you. If you’re a student at ASU, a parent of a student, or a visitor looking to explore the campus, here are a few places you won’t to miss:
ASU Tempe Campus – 2nd Floor, Memorial Union Building
1290 S. Normal Avenue, Tempe AZ 85287 | (480) 965-4239
Hours: Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Engrained Cafe is located inside the Memorial Union (MU) on the second floor. From the moment you enter Engrained, you realize this place is unique. The hostess greets you as you walk in and directs patrons towards the kitchen to take a look at the dishes to choose from that day. They always look delicious, and they taste even better. The menu changes frequently based on the available seasonal produce and is harvested within a 150 mile radius. There are several yummy salads, sandwiches, pizzas and even sushi rolls to choose from. Beverages are complimentary with every meal, which is a fun bonus. Diners are treated to several informational placards hung on the walls, explaining that most of the materials used inside of Engrained Cafe come from recycled goods. For example, the chairs are made from recycled seat belts.
Gallery of Scientific Exploration
781 E. Terrace Road, Tempe, AZ 85287 | (480) 727-2868
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, except ASU holidays
The Gallery of Scientific Exploration, housed in the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV (ISTB 4), features several interactive exhibits designed for engagement and discovery, and to encourage children to explore their futures as scientists and engineers. The first floor gallery invites visitors to explore earth and space sciences through digital media, visible laboratories and interactive displays. Exhibits include a replica of the Mars Rover Curiosity, EarthScope, an instrument used to measure and understand earthquakes and continental movement, and Magic Planet, a digital video globe with a six-foot diameter sphere-shaped screen. Head upstairs to explore the meteorite display, drawn from the extensive collection of ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies. Stretch your mind to the very edge while exploring the exhibits in this building, and learn lots of cool factoids along the way. The best place to park is at the Rural Road parking structure. In addition to the weekday hours, the gallery is also accessible on Saturday afternoons, before and after the 2:30 o.m. planetarium shows at the Marston 3D Theater.
“Air Apparent” – Skyspace designed by James Turrell
Rural and Terrace Roads, Tempe, AZ 85287 | (480) 965-2100
Across the Terrace Road from the Gallery of Scientific Exploration is the home of a significant part of ASU’s public art collection. “Air Apparent” was designed by renowned artist James Turrell, who is known for his skyspaces. You can walk into this space and observe the sky through a frame. It’s most dramatic at sunrise, sunset or after dark when the frame lights change color.
1001 S. Forest Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281
If you’re looking for a way to escape the everyday hustle and bustle of busy campus life, sneak away to the Secret Garden for a spot of tranquility. Bordered by West Hall and Dixie Gammage Hall, the Secret Garden is located just south of McClintock Hall, and can be entered from either the north or the south side by walking down a somewhat steep incline. The Garden holds green grassy lawns, blooming flowers, banana trees and benches for sitting and relaxing the day away. The ambiance has provided students and visitors the perfect place for reflection, studying, celebrations and more for decades. It’s a must visit if you’re on campus.
Palm Walk is located smack dab in the middle of campus and provides the main thoroughfare to get around campus on foot. To get there, park at the Fulton Center Parking Garage and walk southeast towards the arched bridge that crosses over University Drive. Head over the bridge and begin your stroll through campus on ASU’s Palm Walk. This wide picturesque walkway is bordered on both sides by dozens of picturesque palm trees. It’s the perfect spot for the quintessential ASU photo op. Following along Palm Walk will lead you to several popluar spots on campus such as the Memoral Union (MU) and the ASU Bookstore – both worth a visit while on campus.
ASU Art Museum
51 E. 10th St., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 965-2787
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Thursday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. during academic semesters
The ASU Art Museum isn’t exactly hidden…it’s prominently located on Mill Avenue and 10th Street. If you haven’t been inside, you wouldn’t believe the treasures that this place holds. They showcase contemporary art, especially art that makes a statement about our world today, created by regional, national and international artists. They have a focus on Latin American art, the largest collection of Cuban art in the U.S. and an award-winning print collection. Admission is always free.