mill ave shrunkAs summer winds down in the Midwest, I’m already thinking about where I’m going to escape to this winter. When I need my vitamin D fix, I head straight for the Valley of the Sun’s East Valley… Tempe, Arizona

Walk around Arizona State University’s campus in Tempe, and it’s easy to understand why the Sun Devil is the school mascot. The sunny attitude seems to be contagious, with most people being in a generally good mood. Who wouldn’t be? There’s a great arts scene, good weather, nearby mountains for nature lovers and plenty of teams for sports lovers.
downtown tempe shrunk Shop Around
Mill Avenue is the hub of downtown Tempe and a rare walkable urban district in car lover’s country. Like any college town, there are plenty of pubs, but you’ll also find trendy restaurants and delightful shops and galleries. 

Milling About
One of the best places to stay just off Mill Avenue is the Courtyard Tempe Downtown. A hip lobby, pool, free Wi-Fi and a complimentary ten minute shuttle to and from Sky Harbor Airport makes this hotel an easy and affordable option for a weekend stay in Tempe. No car necessary! You can walk to ASU and there are plenty of shops and restaurants also within walking distance. 

courtyard tempe

Best Buds 

When you want to trade the sidewalks for the desert landscape, take Courtyard Tempe’s free shuttle van over to the Desert Botanical Garden. Over 50,000 plants are blooming on 145 acres, including many threatened and endangered species from around the Southwest. Budding gardeners will find plenty of kid-friendly activities as well. When we toured the gardens there was a magnificent butterfly exhibit.

desert botanical garden Touring Tempe is always time well spent for this Midwesterner.
Andrea Guthmann is a freelance journalist. She spent many years as a writer and producer for WTTW-TV, the PBS station in Chicago. Her travel stories have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent, Make It Better and on-line travel sites. 

A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from tot to teen. After giving birth to 2 beautiful children she’s had the joy of becoming a mom again through adoption. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago. Being a scenery starved city girl, she loves escaping to the outdoors during vacations and is working hard to raise 3 happy campers! You can follow her on Twitter at @AndreaGuthmann.

Information was gathered on a trip sponsored, in part, by the Tempe, Arizona Tourism Office.