East Valley Arts & Culture

Editorial StaffSeptember 28, 2021
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Explore the wide variety of things to do and see in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Apache Junction and Superior.

Photo by Tim Trumble

Arizona Museum of Natural History

The state’s premier museum of cultural and natural history and a must-see for dinosaur lovers, this 80,000-square-foot museum offers visitors a trip to the Southwest’s prehistoric – and more recent – past with a range of exhibits and activities that cover archaeology, paleontology, geology, art and more. A selfie with a life-sized dinosaur sculpture “bursting out” of the upper levels of the museum is worth the trip alone.

53 N. Macdonald St., Mesa


ASU Art Museum

Founded in 1950, the contemporary museum is located in Antoine Predock’s award-winning Nelson Fine Arts Center on the western edge of the Tempe campus, boasting six expansive galleries and three sculpture courts. Best of all, it is the only major museum in the Valley that is always free.

ASU Nelson Fine Arts Center
51 E. 10th St., Tempe


ASU Gammage Auditorium

Some of today’s biggest hits straight from Broadway highlight ASU Public Events’ Broadway Across America series. The historic hall was designed by internationally renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Highlights: Hamilton, Sept. 8-Oct. 10; Mean Girls, Nov. 2-7; My Fair Lady, Dec. 7-12; The Band’s Visit, Feb. 8-13; Tootsie, March 15-20; and Hadestown, April 19-24.

1200 S. Forest Ave., Tempe


Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Nestled against the base of Picketpost Mountain, this 392-acre museum of living plants features a system of nature trails that weaves throughout the botanical gardens, and demonstration gardens that provide inspiration for home landscapes.

37615 E. Arboretum Way, Superior


Chandler Center for the Arts

Quality cultural programming at an affordable price is the hallmark of this venue, which opened in 1989. Highlights: Clint Black, Oct. 6; Amy Grant, Oct. 23; Boney James, Nov. 6; Sons of Serendip, Dec. 22; We Banjo 3, Feb. 5; Glenn Miller Orchestra, March 6; Buddy Guy, March 16; and Meow Meow, April 1.

250 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler


Chandler Museum

This 10,000-square-foot facility bridges Chandler’s history with its future through a mix of local displays and nationally traveling exhibits.

300 S. Chandler Village Dr., Chandler


Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona

Get up close and personal with history at this combat aviation museum. Walk through a working hangar and watch aircraft mechanics bring muscular engines to life. Climb aboard one of the rarest B-17 bombers in the world or, better yet, book a once-in-a-lifetime flight in an authentic warbird. The gift shop offers unique finds and war memorabilia.

2017 N. Greenfield Rd., Mesa


Hale Centre Theatre

This Gilbert theater provides family-friendly entertainment at an affordable price. Highlights: Mary Poppins, Oct. 7-Nov. 20; A Christmas Carol, Nov. 26-Dec. 24; Brigadoon, Feb. 10-March 26; and The Music Man, March 31-May 7.

50 W. Page Ave., Gilbert


Historic Downtown Chandler

Eclectic art galleries, boutiques and restaurants surround Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, the city’s original town square. The National Historic District also boasts a microbrewery and numerous craft cocktail and wine bars.

Arizona Avenue just south of Chandler Boulevard, Chandler


i.d.e.a. Museum

Interactive activities are a hallmark of this 20,000-square-foot facility, which is designed to inspire children of all ages to experience their world differently through art, creativity and imagination, with an emphasis on science and technology.

150 W. Pepper Pl., Mesa


Mesa Arts Center

Mesa Arts Center

This versatile arts and entertainment complex offers the finest live entertainment and performances, plus a variety of visual art exhibitions, arts education classes and annual festivals. Highlights: Emmylou Harris, Oct. 7; The Fab Four, Oct. 23; Alton Brown, Nov. 11; Dave Koz, Dec. 15; Jazz at Lincoln Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Jan. 20; Kristin Chenoweth, Jan. 29; Riverdance, Feb. 9-13; Neil Sedaka, March 2; Black Violin, March 16; Drum Tao 2022, April 2; and Jackson Galaxy, April 16.

1 E. Main St., Mesa


Superstition Mountain Museum

Sprawling across 12.5 acres in the shadow of the storied mountains, the nonprofit museum is the keeper and purveyor of colorful tales of bygone days, with exhibits that examine the geology and native culture of the area, plus the legend of the mysterious Lost Dutchman Mine. The Apacheland Barn and Elvis Chapel are highlights.

4087 N. Apache Trail, Apache Junction


Tempe Center for the Arts

This lakeside venue boasts two performance halls and a gallery, with local favorites including Arizona Wind Symphony, CONDER/dance, Desert Dance Theatre, Stray Cat Theatre and Tempe Winds gracing its stages.

700 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe


Tempe History Museum

The museum shares the story of Tempe through a variety of media, including artifacts, video presentations and art displays. Check out its Sunset Series this fall: day-ending dance, creative writing and other programming.

809 E. Southern Ave., Tempe