The weekend is just around the corner, and you’re thinking…What should I do this weekend? Mill Avenue may just be the ticket to a fun-filled day. There are, of course, lots and lots of delicious restaurants to choose from, and unique shopping spots too. But there are so many activities such as hiking, biking, and arts and culture to experience too — perfect for a weekend of fun. Here’s a list of some of my favorite ways to spend a day in Downtown Tempe.
Hike up “A” Mountain:
In my opinion, the best times to hike “A” Mountain are early in the morning, or just as the sun is setting. It’s really easy to get to since it’s located in the heart of Downtown Tempe, adjacent to Mill Avenue and ASU. There are a few trailheads to start from, but I suggest the one near Mill Avenue and Third St. It’s a short, invigorating hike, providing a great little workout and gives you a burst of energy. The views from the mountain are absolutely amazing. Take a break at the top to enjoy the view (and catch your breath!).
Take a stroll through downtown and admire all the unique, beautiful, fun and funky public art pieces. There is something on almost every corner, from painted electric boxes, to metal sculptures to exhibitions at the U.S. Post Office windows at Fifth St. and Mill Ave.. One of my favorite pieces is Greetings From Tempe, located at 521 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281, near City Hall. It features a desert scene in bright, fresh colors in an intricate mosaic structure. It just says Tempe to me. Literally…”Tempe” is colorfully spelled out in mosaic tiles.
Take a step back in time in this quaint little used bookstore. When you walk inside, it has that wonderful “old book smell,” from the books overflowing the shelves. This is the kind of bookstore where you spend extra time just browsing and enjoying. You never know what obscure hard cover edition of a timeless classic you’ll discover. And a fun little bonus – they have used books outside even when they’re closed that you can purchase on the honor system. The owners are lovely, so make sure to say hello.
518 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 968-9881
A fun way to get around Tempe is on a bicycle. Get going by renting a bike at The Bicycle Cellar, located next to the Tempe Transportation Center. It’s just $20 for a 2 hour rental, $30 for 4 hours, and $40 for 8 hours. Tempe boasts a great network of bake paths and lots of them run right through Downtown Tempe. Feel the wind in your hair as you ride up and down Mill Avenue to check out the scene. Then head to nearby Tempe Town Lake to enjoy the views there. It’s located just north of downtown and offers a 5 mile route around the lake, passing by the Tempe Center for the Arts and the Tempe Town Lake Marina.
200 E. 5th St., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 219-7225
The Brickyard Gallery is located right smack dab in the middle of downtown at the Brickyard on Mill, Seventh St. and Mill Ave. I never thought I would enjoy looking at ceramics until I visited this gallery. It will knock your socks off. The center houses and displays an impressive ceramic collection of close to 4,000 objects and presents seasonally rotating exhibitions. You will discover pieces from some of the most extraordinary artists from around the world, representing several decades. Hours for the Brickyard Gallery are Tuesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
699 S. Mill Ave., Ste. 108, Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 727-8170
Break a Sweat
Catch some rays on Tempe Town Lake. Tempe Boat Rentals has a variety of watercraft options available for rent to match your comfort level. Choose from stand-up paddle boards, row boats, kayaks, pontoon boats or surrey top boats. My favorite is the stand-up paddle board. It’s both relaxing and invigorating at the same time! They are just $20 for a one hour rental, or $35 for two hours.
72 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, AZ 85282 | (480) 303-9803
Catch a flick in Downtown Tempe at AMC Centerpoint 11. Date night approved – this theater offers over-sized fancy recliners with built-in drink holders for the perfect movie watching experience – and is surrounded by a plethora of yummy restaurants to choose from. Book the babysitter!
730 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 207-2534
What your favorite things to do on Mill Avenue? Please share!