Tempe, AZ vacation/hotel choosing!
December 22, 2019 5:15 AM   Subscribe

I have a work thing in Tempe, so Mr. TA and I are extending it to become a vacation! We have questions, mostly about scale and where to stay. Tempe locals, please weigh in!

We have made reservations at two hotels, one the Springhill Suites Airport and then also the Courtyard Marriott Downtown, and we need to pick one. The Courtyard seems to be more centrally located, but it is also slightly more expensive and the room is smaller. The Springhill is only 10 min away by bike (and we do hope to rent bikes while we're there), and has larger rooms/less expensive. What is that area of Tempe like? Are we crazy to think we'll be biking around there? In our experience, central location is usually better, but is the Springhill that far out of the way?

[We try to avoid renting cars while on vacation, because we commute a lot in real life. So we'll be taxiing/ubering/lyfting to locations we can't bike to, but we like to try to stay somewhere that we don't need a car for the rest/relaxation/restaurant parts. Also, we are kind of limited to these two hotels because we're using my work rate to pay much less than what we've seen for other hotels/airbnbs in the area. We could probably go further away from downtown and get something reasonable...but that doesn't seem like a solution.]

And then Part Deux, all suggestions for our visit are appreciated! We will be there in late January and have never been to Tempe or Phoenix before.
posted by Tandem Affinity to Travel & Transportation around Tempe, AZ (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The good news is, the weather will probably be pretty good! Maybe a little cold (by Arizona standards), but that's a lot better than the alternative!

How long of a bike ride do you count as comfortable? And how comfortable are you riding on roads without dedicated bike lanes? I ask because everything in Arizona is really sprawled out, and there are a lot of major roads without dedicated bike lanes in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Tempe, itself, tends to have good bike lanes. However, there isn't much to do in Tempe, unless you enjoy bars and restaurants aimed at college age kids. Phoenix is a lot more hit and miss on bike lanes.

One thing to keep in mind is that there's a lightrail in the Phoenix and Tempe area. It can take you to some good spots -- there's a lightrail stop just about half a mile (I think) from the Phoenix zoo and the botanical gardens. (The zoo is great, if you like zoos. There's an enclosure you can go into and hang out with monkeys.) If you plan on biking around, I definitely recommend using the lightrail. The good news is that both of those hotels are reasonably close to light rail stops. The Downtown hotel is right next to a lightrail station, whereas the Springhill Suites is just a couple of blocks.

Google Maps has information about the lightrail: try putting in the hotel location, some place you want to go, and click on the public transportation option. That might help you think through your options!
posted by meese at 8:56 AM on December 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don't know the area by Springhill Suites area of Tempe very well, but it doesn't look like there's much you could bike directly too. However, it's fairly close to the light rail, which will give you access to a lot of great things in Tempe, as well as in the greater Phoenix metro area. Unfortunately, Phoenix is not super bike friendly.

The Courtyard Marriott is right next to Mill Ave which is were all the bars are, as well as some coffee shops and restaurants. It's nice, but you're definitely going to be right in the middle of a lot of college hubbub. Tempe is very much a college town, and ASU is enormous. Because this, that area is actually a lot more walkeable/bikeable than other parts of the Phoenix area. It's even closer to the light rail than Springhill Suites and is also close to Tempe Town Lake, which is a great place to go biking.

As far as things to do, there's a lot great hiking (and most trails are bike friendly as well), the Desert Botanical Gardens, the Phoenix Art Museum, and Roosevelt Row + the surrounding area in downtown Phoenix.
posted by Alexandra Michelle at 8:58 AM on December 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: To answer some parts of my question that were not too well fleshed out...we are very comfortable with biking and regularly do 20-30 mile bike rides for an afternoon of relaxing, especially if things are flat. Bike lanes or no, but of course, bike lanes are always better, and biking on a freeway-like road is never pleasant. So was trying to get an idea of the neighborhood.

One thing we didn't think about until after I wrote my question is that it will get dark rather early, so despite warm-ish temps, it's going to be dark if we're biking to and from dinner/drinks... this is leaning us more heavily to Downtown, unless there's something around the Springhill/airport area....

Our one big thing that we want to do is bike up to the botanical gardens and check out all the green area around there, maybe go to the zoo or up to Scottsdale -- we've read some about the trails up there too. We are Northeasterners who have never been to the Southwest before, so just the scenery is going to be cool! (and we are prepping all about the difference in humidity and need to bring lots of extra water etc.)

OK hopefully this additional info will better inform my question. Thanks for the answer so far!!!!
posted by Tandem Affinity at 9:47 AM on December 22, 2019

The Springhill Suites would be bikeable to downtown Tempe. Priest is a big road, but you could cross at 5th and bike in the neighborhood. Twenty five years ago there were some very sketchy apartments in the area by Springhill. I hope that has changed. The downtown Tempe choices are fine. I think you could bike along the river (Tempe Town lake) and on trails in Papago park to get to the Desert Botanical gardens. But I would suggest checking out the area between them, at Mill Ave and Curry Rd to see if you'd be comfortable biking through there.
posted by SandiBeech at 7:14 PM on December 22, 2019

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