Recently, I took a ride on Valley Metro Rail and the PHX Sky Train to the airport. And what I discovered was just how easy it is to get around Tempe, Phoenix and the neighboring cities without a car. Tempe is just a quick 10 minute commute from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).
We departed from the Tempe Tourism Office one morning, paid for our light rail boarding passes (just $4.00 for an all-day pass), and waited at the Third St/Mill Ave light rail stop. The light rail arrived, and I was impressed by how quickly and efficiently the passengers boarded the train. Before I knew it, we were gliding away from Mill Avenue towards the airport. The light rail has 28 stops along its transportation loop, stretching from 19th Avenue and Montebello in Phoenix to Mesa Drive and Main Street in Mesa. There are maps near the train doors with route information, which was very helpful for me as a first-time passenger. I watched the scenery fly by outside of my window, and I realized that you get to see the valley in a whole new way; I was able to relax and enjoy the trip.
We stepped off the light rail at the stop on 44th and Washington and transferred to the PHX Sky Train to arrive in Terminal 4 at the airport. The PHX Sky Train is free, offering transportation to and from the Valley Metro Rail at 44th and Washington streets and terminals 2, 3 and 4. Our journey on this train was a short one, and the transition was seamless. When we arrived at terminal 4, what I saw amazed me. Not only is this airport full of local eateries far outside the “fast food” boundary, but it is also aesthetically exceptional. It is filled with artwork from local artists and has a truly unique “Arizona” feeling about it. Arizona history is present everywhere, and you can even learn a little about the state through the mini historical exhibits located around the terminal. Phoenix Sky Harbor is one of the few airports in the country to have adopted a more local approach to food and art within its terminals. Some of the most popular eateries include Joe’s Real BBQ, Press Coffee, Wildflower Bread Company, Four Peaks Brewery (past security) and Matt’s Big Breakfast (past security).
My visit to the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport using the Valley Metro Rail is one that I won’t soon forget. I realize now that we have one of the most unique airports in the country as well as a light rail system that includes stops in Downtown Tempe, Phoenix and Mesa. As a city with ample opportunities to use public transportation, Tempe offers visitors the ability to explore, even in large groups, without a personal vehicle.