It is the time of year when many high school seniors are choosing the college or university they will attend. For those who choose, Arizona State University CONGRATULATIONS! I am the proud Mom of a freshman at Arizona State University (ASU). I know that I had many travel related questions when my son decided to become a Sun Devil and have had to do a lot of research to figure it all out. I thought I would share the information that I have gathered and hope that others will add to this thread to help other new (or not so new) Sun Devil families. I have tailored this to out of state parents but much of it may be helpful to those who hail from Arizona as well.
FLIGHTS and navigating to and from Campus.
It is hard to imagine that there is an easier university to visit from the local airport. Phoenix Sky Harbor airport is a few short miles from ASU. Transportation to and from campus comes in three very easy methods:
Light Rail Line: Imagine that you and your child are embarking on that nerve wracking but exciting trip to orientation at ASU. Imagine that you don’t want to worry about navigating with a car because you want to experience what life as a student (for many students) will be like. You hope there is an alternative that lets you experience Tempe without the burdens or expense of a car. Imagine no longer. After you retrieve your bags at baggage claim, look overhead for the Airtrain signs. Follow the signs to the Airtrain location. Board the Airtrain to the Phoenix Light Rail line station. You can’t miss it as it is the last station for the Airtrain. Now, exit the Airtrain Station and purchase a ticket ($2.00 per ride or $4.00 per day) for the light rail line in the direction of Tempe. For purposes of orientation, get off the light rail line less than 15 minutes later at the Tempe Transportation Center. From here, walk to your hotel (see descriptions of hotels that are located within walking distance of campus). Taking this trip is a very good idea if your child will need to fly home from school for holidays and breaks. Even students with little experience with mass transit find this method of departing from and arriving at school convenient, easy and inexpensive.
Rental Cars: PHX offers a very easy method for renting cars. You board a “Rental Car Shuttle” bus outside baggage claim and get off at the convenient rental car facility. All rental agencies are located in the same building. From the rental desk, you follow the signs to the rental company’s location within the parking structure to retrieve your car.
After you exit the rental agency, follow the signs to either I-10 East or US 202 East.
From I-10 East, exit on University Avenue. Follow University Avenue approximately 2 miles to Mill Avenue or a little further to the beautiful ASU Campus.
From US 202 East, exit on to Scottsdale Road/Rural Road. Follow Rural Road to University Avenue, turn right. You are on the beautiful ASU campus.
Both routes are less than a 10-15 minute drive if there is no traffic. All bets are off for timing if there is traffic!
Airport Shuttles: Many Tempe Hotels offer airport shuttles. This is an excellent way to get to and from the airport. Several Tempe Hotels also offer shuttle service to the campus and Mill Avenue (Embassy Suites for example). Check with your hotel to see if such service is offered.
Hotels that are convenient to ASU are categorized as follows: walkable to campus, close to campus or drivable to campus.
WALKABLE To CAMPUS
These hotels allow you to enjoy all that ASU and Mill Avenue have to offer without the need for a car.
Residence Inn Tempe Downtown: I LOVE this hotel. It is across the street from the Tempe Transportation Center so you can take the light rail line to Tempe, walk across the street, check in then enjoy your time on campus. It offers studio, one bedroom and two bedroom suites, breakfast each morning and happy hour Monday through Thursday evenings. The rooftop pool is small and could benefit from the installation of some shade umbrellas but the view of Sun Devil Stadium and “A” Mountain from this vantage point is unbeatable. Book early for Family Weekend and Homecoming.
Tempe Mission Palms Hotel/Resort: Beautiful resort hotel right down the street from campus. Located within one block of the Tempe Transportation center.
The Graduate: Located on the south side of Campus, this new hotel is quirky and fun!
Courtyard Marriott: Located just one block west of Mill Avenue, this hotel offers excellent access to the shops and restaurants. If you choose to take the light rail line to this hotel, get off at the Mill Avenue stop (one before the Tempe Transportation Center).
UNIVERSITY AVENUE HOTELS: These hotels are located near the I-10/University Avenue interchange. They are located within two miles of campus and tend to be more affordable than the hotels located on or near Mill Avenue. The La Quinta, Hilton Garden Inn and Fairfield Inn and Suites are a few of the hotels in this location.
APACHE BOULEVARD HOTELS: The Embassy Suites and Holiday Inn Express are two of the choices located on the south side of campus.
PARKING ON CAMPUS: Please know that parking on campus can be a challenge. For the most part, ASU Tempe is a pedestrian campus so vehicles are not favored and parking is less favored.
For activities taking place on the north side of Campus, the Fulton Center Building parking structure is your best bet. It is located just north of the Fulton Center Parking garage on College Avenue.
Gammage Auditorium Parking: There is ample available parking at this location. For business on the south west side of campus, this is your best bet.
SDFA parking structure: On the south side of campus you will find a parking structure located near the Sun Devil Fitness Center on Apache Boulevard.
If you have special needs that require accommodations in parking, contact the ASU parking authority.
ASU GEAR AND GARB: Now that your son or daughter is going to be a Sun Devil, you and your child want to look the part. Where can you find the best ASU gear around. Here are a few suggestions:
ASU Bookstore, near Memorial Union on campus. In my opinion, the largest selection of ASU gear and garb is found at the ASU Bookstore. From Nike shirts and shorts, to travel mugs and magnets. If you can’t find it here, it probably doesn’t exist.
ASU Marketplace on College Avenue: Located in one of the newest buildings on campus, the ASU Marketplace offers a wide selection of ASU gear and garb. Hats galore, higher end shirts and ties, every manner of golf shirt, mini cheerleading uniforms for the future Sun Devils out there, you will find it all here.
ASU Store in Sun Devil Stadium A nice selection of ASU gear and garb is offered in this fun location.
College Avenue: There are a few ASU gear stores located on College Avenue between University and 6th.
Mill Avenue: Several stores are located on Mill Avenue.
WHERE TO SHOP FOR YOUR NEW SUN DEVIL!
It’s time to move in to the dorm and you need to shop. For the student from a distant location, here are the things that worked for us.
Bed Bath and Beyond: Located in the nearby Mesa. Go to your local Bed Bath and Beyond. Go to the customer service desk and let them know that your child will be attending ASU in the fall and you would like to make his/her selections. The Customer Service rep will look up ASU for a list of items suggested by the university. Our local Bed Bath and Beyond in New Jersey even had a suggested list sorted by dorm at ASU. We completed some paperwork, it was entered into the computer then we were handed a scanner gun and proceeded to select items for my son. When we were finished, we returned the scanner to the customer service department, the scanner information was downloaded onto the Bed Bath and Beyond system and we were handed a print out of our selections. We are also told if any of our selections were unavailable at the Tempe Bed Bath and Beyond. When we arrived in Tempe, we went to Bed Bath and Beyond and our items were neatly packed and waiting for us. What a convenient way to shop! Over the months prior to the move, we saved as many 20 percent off coupons as possible. We also received an e-mail for 20% off of our entire purchase prior to the day we picked up the items. This was a most convenient way to shop for college! Home Depot is located in the same shopping center.
Tempe Market Place: Best Buy, Target, Barnes and Noble, and so much more are located in this very useful shopping center.
Ikea is located at the Arizona Mills Mall. Costco is located in Scottsdale.
Now for the fun!
So, you want to go to a football game…lucky you! The Sun Devils know how to do it right. Please know that I am a proud Michigan State University Alum. I also have a daughter at The Ohio State University (if you are interested check out a thread I started three years ago called “the Dummies Guide to Ohio State Football Pre-Game” on the Columbus, OH forum) . I love college football. In the fall, my family attended ASU’s Family Weekend and had an amazing time. ASU offers great school spirit and wonderful welcoming activities, even if you are new to the school and don’t have your own tailgating tradition.
“Devils of Mill” offers so many fun activities that the idea of tailgating in a parking lot behind a mini van or SUV will seem positively boring. From carnival rides behind the Tempe Town Hall to foodtrucks offering all kinds of delicious taste treats to bands and DJs rocking the street, everyone is sure to have a great time. The best part, it is just steps from the stadium and the walkable hotels referenced above.
ASU offers a wonderful family weekend in the fall that coincides with a home football game. Activities are planned at each college and for the entire university. There is a wonderful tailgate offered on the veranda around the Tempe Town Hall during Family Weekend. Hamburgers, vege burgers, salads and more are served. It is a great way to meet other families.
Restaurants: It is hard to describe the choices available near the ASU campus. From nearly every fast food chain to unique , inexpensive choices, to high end dining, all may be found on or near Mill Avenue.A few of our favorites are the following:
Postino Annex: This is tapas oriented wine bar is located on College Avenue near the Foundation Building. It offers a wide selection of bruschetta (my favorite was goat cheese with fig and apple) as well a long list of wonderful wines by the glass.
My Pie: For those of us from the New York City area, finding great pizza near campus can be a challenge. My Pie does the trick. Brick oven pizza that is baked in less than 5 minutes. Fresh Mozzarella, fresh sauce and a crisp thin crust round out this delicious taste treat.
Slickables: Care for a homemade ice cream sandwich where you choose the cookies and the ice cream flavor, all for two dollars? You can get it and enjoy it at Slickables on Mill Avenue.
Tacos: For delicious street tacos, don’t miss Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Cheap, fresh and delicious.
Hot N Juicy: If a paper table cloth, plastic gloves and delicious seafood sounds good to you, Hot N Juicy shouldn’t be missed. Order a pound of shrimp, crawfish, king crab legs or other seafood of your choosing. It will arrive in a plastic bag filled with delicious goodness. Tear into the bag and dive into the messy delights of the freshest seafood around. Make sure you wear your bib to prevent any gratuitious messes spills of that delicious sauce.
For great beer, delicious food and a fun atmosphere, try Gordon Biersch. Located at Mill Avenue and 5th, the food is consistently good as is the service. If weather permits (not too hot) opt for a table on the verandas overlooking the street.
Z Tejas: Oh how I love their margaritas and their fresh preparations of familiar Mexican foods. The Guacamole is divine! Again, if weather permits, dine outdoors. Lovely!
That’s it for now. I will add more information as I think of it. If you are a local or an ASU parent with information to share, please add to this thread. We can all help each other navigate the wonderful world of ASU by contributing to this thread!