Families and Kids

Picnics in the Park in Tempe

Winter in Tempe, Arizona isn’t the time to stay inside. Here in the desert, our winter days are sunny and warm and provide lots of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. We highly suggest a leisurely picnic at one of Tempe’s parks. There are 50 parks throughout the city, with lots of amenities from lakes to playgrounds, including some with inclusive playgrounds for kids of all abilities. Some of the most popular parks include Tempe Beach Park and Papago Park, but 2021 is a great excuse to check out some of the neighborhood parks where you can beat the crowd and relax.

To make your picnic seem more like a special event, order takeout from a nearby Tempe restaurant. For bonus points, go to a place that is new to you.

Here is a list of some of the Tempe parks that recommended by the Tempe Tourism Office team, along with restaurant suggestions near each one.

For more info about each park, visit the City of Tempe website, where you’ll also find up-to-date information about what amenities are currently open. FYI, glass containers and alcohol (without a permit) are prohibited. Park visitors should follow CDC guidelines including maintaining six feet away from people outside of your household, wearing a face mask, not gathering in groups and of course, please stay home if you’re not feeling well.

Estrada Park

1801 E. Palomino Dr. Tempe. AZ 85284

If you’re looking for a park where your kids won’t come home with sand or wood chips in their shoes, this is the park for you. A beautifully maintained park, Estrada features a foam floor under the park equipment, large mature trees for shade, and plenty of benches and picnic tables. The playground offers a playset with slides, multiple swings, a metal rope climber and several spinning park structures that the kids will love. There’s also an exercise circuit around the park as well as a basketball court next to the playground for those looking for a workout while the kids play.

A picnic at Estrada Park makes for a lovely way to spend the day. We stopped at nearby CoreLife Eatery for takeout before heading to the park to play and eat. My kids are picky eaters, so we packed sack lunches for them. Our bowls from CoreLife Eatery were delicious and very filling.

Estrada Park Tempe

NOTE: this park does not have bathroom facilities, so make sure everyone uses the bathroom first before heading to this park.

Here are a few great options for takeout just minutes from Estrada Park:

Kiwanis Park

5500 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85283

Honestly, Kiwanis is one of the most diverse parks with a variety of activity offerings. This 125-acre park is centralized around a lake and surrounded by mature trees which made our lunch at the park cool and comfortable. Prior to heading to the park, we drove around the Mill Towne Center on the Southeast corner of Mill Ave. & Baseline Rd. because it had a variety of food options, which could be great if your family/friends can’t decide on just one place to grab takeout from.

At Kiwanis, we parked on the street on Mill Ave. adjacent to the park and lake. We loved grabbing a semi-shady spot under the tree with our biggest beach towel. It is a very active park with nearby barbeques, joggers and dog walkers. On the weekends, be sure to include Boat Rentals of America – Kiwanis Park in your plans. They rent out surrey bikes, double kayaks and pedal boats, they even had duck shaped pedal boats when we went. They are only open on Saturdays and Sundays. The hustle and bustle of the park made sitting that much more enjoyable. For how busy the park was, it didn’t ever feel like we were too close to others.

You could spend a good half day here with friends or family with nearby playgrounds, water recreation, ramadas and plenty of grass space to play. Families were joyfully playing on the jungle gym, while others were playing frisbee with their beloved pets. There were even fishermen making a catch of the day. Kiwanis Park also has other sport fields, batting cages and a recreation center. During summer months, the water play area called The Cloud is a place where parents can bring their kids to cool off when the temperatures are warm.

NOTE: There are public restrooms on-site throughout the park.

Parking:

  • Easiest parking is street parking on Mill Ave. south of Baseline Rd.
  • You can also access parking lots from All America Way and walk down a hill to the main park.
    5922 S. All America Way, Tempe, AZ 85283
  • Lastly, you could park at The Cloud at Kiwanis Park.
    5233 S. Ash Ave., Tempe, AZ 85283

Here are the nearby takeout options:

Hanger Park

Rural Rd. And Knox Rd., Tempe, AZ 85284

Situated in the Warner Ranch neighborhood, Hanger Park is perfect for families, sports lovers and picnic goers. With two jungle gyms, two swing sets, and a tire swing, kiddos will have endless options at this park. There are two playgrounds, both adjacent to each other, with ramadas in between. Parents will have a great view from either the ramadas or the various benches situated near the playgrounds. Both play areas are equipped with sand and rubber surrounding the concourse, offering a safe environment to play.

For those who like to participate in organized sports, there are several designated zones for that too! Hanger is equipped with one basketball court, two soccer/mixed used fields, and one sand volleyball court. Each sports court or field is located away from the playgrounds, so you can be sure that your littles are safe from stray balls. If either of those activities don’t interest you, Hanger Park is also great to take in the scenery and enjoy the great weather that Tempe provides. Bring your bike, scooter or walking shoes, and enjoy the concrete paths winding in and around the park. As previously mentioned, there are three ramadas, ranging in different sizes, to have a picnic, host a birthday party or simply sit and relax.

Fun fact: Hanger Park was designed to be used as an overflow retention basin for the Gila Drain. If you visit this location during monsoon season or after a great rain fall, you may notice that this park looks more like a lake. While some might be tempted to bring a kayak or floatation device, don’t. We strongly advise against this!

Here are a few great options for takeout just minutes from Hanger Park:

Creamery Park

1520 E. 8th St., Tempe, AZ 85281

Creamery park is on the smaller side but it has plenty of space for your dogs (and kids!) to run around. They have a basketball court, a ramada and a playground. Plus, it is conveniently within walking distance to one of our favorite spots, Four Peaks Brewing Company. We got takeout from there and walked to the park to enjoy our delicious meal of 8th Street Chicken Strips with a side of their famous fries and Greek pita! We even got to watch a couple of people having a lacrosse match with still plenty of space to set up our picnic on the field. Another great walking-distance spot from the park is Infusion Coffee & Tea Crafters. This park is a perfect place for a Sunday morning walk with a cup of freshly brewed coffee from Infusion!

Fun fact: This park was named after a creamery, Borden Milk Co. Creamery and Ice Factory, which was once a major employer and a historic site in Tempe. The creamery is now occupied by Four Peaks Brewing Company and has since become a prominent local restaurant.

Here are a few great options for takeout near Creamery Park:

Selleh Park

Los Feliz and Aspen Dr., Tempe, AZ 85282

This is definitely a hidden gem. Selleh Park is located in the middle of a neighborhood off of McClintock Drive between Broadway and Southern. Its most unique feature is a pond with lots of ducks and even a turtle or two. It also has a basketball court, a playground with a fun climbing tower, restroom facilities and lots of picnic tables and grills.

I went with my family on a recent Sunday afternoon. We brought our dog, Zoey, and a picnic blanket and ordered takeout from Los Reyes de la Torta. There were a few people enjoying the park, but there was lots of room to spread out. A walking path provides easy access around the park, including great views of the pond. It’s a quiet spot and honestly, I felt much more Zen after spending time there. And, it doesn’t hurt that Los Reyes de la Torta’s Mexican food is oh so delicious.

Fun fact: Selleh Park is named for Joe Selleh, a long-time Tempe resident who owned a local sporting goods store, helped gain support for Tempe’s first municipal golf course, Rolling Hills, and helped found the local Boys & Girls Club.

Here are a few good options for takeout near Sellah Park:

Daley Park

1625 S. College Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281

Daley park is a 17-acre local gem, one of the largest public parks in Tempe. They have all the amenities you can possibly think of: basketball courts, baseball and softball fields, volleyball courts, built-in horseshoe pits and concrete corn hole setups. You will never get bored here. The playground is quite large with about 7 or 8 slides and different kinds of swings. If you’ve been here before, you may have noticed the 400-foot mural by College Avenue in between Broadway Road and Apache Boulevard next to the railroad tracks. This colorful mural is called “Meet Me at Daley Park” painted by Jake Early. It is an amazing artwork portraying a historical timeline of the neighborhood so check it out if you haven’t seen it! Read about it more on our mural blog.

We set up another picnic here with our takeout from Board & Brew which is a great place to get specialty sandwiches and craft beers. We chose this place because it is only a five-minute drive from Daley Park and their sandwiches are perfect to just grab and go. Their portions are massive, but boy, did it blow our mind for how good it was! We got the California Delight and the Beef Dip with Au Jus. But the best part about Board & Brew is their specialty secret sauce to dip your sandwiches in. Okay, I’m drooling just writing this.

Here are a few options for takeout near Daley Park:

  • Board & Brew
    1015 S. Rural Rd. #105 Tempe, AZ 85281 | 480-781-2900
  • Doner Dudes
    681 E. Apache Blvd. #107, Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 378-8384
  • Ahipoki
    1015 S. Rural Rd., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 248-9834

Ten01 Park

contribution by Lacy Cain, owner of Wild Joy Experiences

Picnics are more fun in private so that’s why we love to go to the “Ten01” Park located on Tempe Town Lake. If you go to the north side of the lake, and take the bike path east past Rural Road, you’ll find this little hidden gem park wrapped along the sidewalk. Part of the park is designed to be more of a dog park with the other half is super close to the lake itself with blue picnic tables and a grassy area. We love to sit on the grass and stare at the gorgeous Tempe skyline and “A” Mountain before hopping back on our bikes to continue exploring lakeside. 

Here are a few options for takeout near Ten:01 Park:

  • Monroe’s Hot Chicken at The Watermark Tempe
    430 N. Scottsdale Rd., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 687-0007
  • DogHaus Biergarten at The Watermark Tempe
    430 N. Scottsdale Rd., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 912-1946
  • WaBa Grill
    555 N. Scottsdale Rd. Unit 101, Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 912-5333
  • In N Out Burger
    920 E. Playa Del Norte Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (800) 786-1000
photo credit Wild Joy Experiences
Written Toni Smith

An Arizona native, Toni Smith loves to dine out, conquer hiking trails, go to concerts and survive hot yoga classes. She has also never met a dog she didn’t love instantly. She lives in Tempe with her husband and daughter.