Arizona Spring Break With Teens

Traveling to Arizona, Spring Break, Arizona State University

A spring break in Arizona let me pull my hair up in a scarf, wear a cute tee, get ice cream cookie sandwiches + rock climb up a mountain named after a camel.

Camelback is so named because the two rocky mountains look like the humps of a camel {fact}. OR, it’s called Camelback because it’s dusty and dry like the desert a camel lives in, and when you sit at the top without a drop of water left in your bottle, it’s the only time you want to store fat in your body like a camel so you won’t think about how thirsty you’re going to be climbing back down that mountain.

{one other fun fact ~ camels store fat in their humps, not water.} Little random camel fact for your next trip to the desert!

Back To Our Arizona Spring Break Trip

This week in travel, I wanted to share our Tempe, Arizona trip through the eyes of a teenage boy {and what it’s like if your youngest is looking at colleges too}.

Three College Tips + What To Do in Tempe, Arizona

We went during our 4-day weekend in February, but the weather only gets better for an Arizona spring break. Temperatures were mid-70’s, and it was perfect climbing weather on the back of that camel.

Why Tempe?

  1. Nick wanted to tour Arizona State University again {he didn’t pay much attention when we toured before}
  2. I wanted to get out of the frigid temps of a Midwest February
  3. Brian is up for any adventure

Let’s start at the airport, where we thought we had corrected our past car rental mistakes.

WRONG! Four hours worth of wrong!

Last time we rented a car, the line took roughly two hours. NO KIDDING. So this time, we made sure to avoid renting from that car company. Turns out, Door #2 was also wrong.

Four hours after landing, we were driving away.

Travel Tip::

Seems Phoenix is the new hotspot for sports tournaments of all ages in the winter months. Everyone. Is. Flocking. To. Phoenix. And renting a car. Unless you’re driving out to Flagstaff or Sedona, go with Uber/Lyft, Light Rail, or even a camel. You’ll save time and stress on both ends of the car rental debacle.

On the return end, the line of people to jump on the shuttle wrapped around 3 football fields. Add in the sea of roller-bags attached to that line of humans, and the view was laughable.

In my calmest, ‘sweet mom’ voice, I say, “We’re not waiting in this line.” And in case you’ve never heard my made-for-silent-films voice, no one in forever has described it as “sweet” or “calm” when it comes to missing my flight.

Have you ever wondered how people can possibly miss their flights? It’s the Phoenix airport rental car shuttle — that’s how. So, if you do rent a car, give yourself hours of extra time to return said car, or just plan on buying from the company and driving it home.

Now let’s get to the good part…

Where To Stay On Your Arizona Spring Break

We stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott in Tempe, and it was walkable to ASU, Mill Avenue, ‘A’ Mountain, + almost everywhere we went.

If you skipped the rental car, catch the Light Rail outside the door at the Mill Avenue stop. You can go to downtown Phoenix or Mesa stops using the Rail. We ran out of time to try it this trip.

No Car — No Walking — No Problem…Option 3 is a Hoot!

Or rather, a SCOOT {yeah, bad mom jokes exist too}.

Being near a large college campus like ASU, you’ll see the next big college pop-up idea. Have you heard of Bird e-Scooter? I hadn’t until this trip.

But with two 17-year-olds, they’ll try almost anything. And they did — on dockless scooters. They’re a new alternative to Uber or Lyft + an ingenious start-up in a college town with their ride & drop option. With two 17-year-olds on this trip, they turned the scooter into a tandem ride.

I read up on some press of the company, and tandem riding is the least of the shenanigans tried with the scooters. Think tall trees, ponds, and a skyscraper. Okay, I made up the skyscraper to see if you were still reading.

The scooters are all app-operated::

  • Download the Bird app to your phone to locate scooters near your location
  • Scan the QR code on the scooter
  • Get scootin’
  • When you’ve made it to your spot, drop the kickstand and walk away. YOU JUST WALK AWAY!

They’re $1 to start and 15 cents per minute after.

Up Next For Spring Break Arizona… Wardrobe + What To Do

When I saw the numbers 7 & 5 in that order, I stared at that forecast like Charlie looking at his golden ticket into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, and NO COAT!

Day 1::

Shorts-wearing weather on day one plastered an enormous smile on my face. Pull up the hair in a scarf & let’s go! We stayed nearby the first day to walk the ASU campus, climb A-Mountain, and explore Mill Avenue. It’s well-known at ASU for its fun atmosphere, restaurants…and my favorite, Slickables’ ice cream shop. The boys also gave their approval for Sparky’s Ice Cream. Nick gave Slickables one more spoons-up review over Sparky’s.

ASU CAMPUS

Nick is interested in aviation + a business degree, so we explored the school of business’ building first. We’ll drive out to the flight center on day 3.

Climbing A-Mountain

Head out the hotel door, across the street, check for trains {Light Rail crossing} and head up A-Mountain. Now “mountain” is a stretch for this Northwest girl — more like a “hill”, in case you’re wondering.

It’s all perspective. If you’re a Midwesterner, then yes, probably a“mountain”. For this born, raised, and mountain-skiing Northwesterner, I’d catalog this in the “hill” category. It’s an easy climb with mostly paved pathways and long steps to the top. It took us about 15 minutes to reach the top, sit for a spell, snap the obligatory photos, and take in the dusty brown views for miles around. {On the other side’s view, that mountain with the two humps that we’d be climbing the next day.}

Try this fun Tempe mountain challenge if you’re in Arizona for Spring Break:: challenge from March 12 — April 30th.

The colors on the t-shirt would have matched perfectly with my scarf, and climbing the different spots would be the climbing du jour. Hike, sweat and wear cute-colored clothes — It’s a thang, and I call it Stylishly-Rugged. Follow me on Instagram or Pinterest, or go wild and follow me on both for other high-waisted-yoga-pant-hiking styles! {+ a plethora of scarf style ideas. I’ve been wanting to use plethora in a sentence for a week!}

I’m a 50+ Mom who’s penning and photographing my next chapter one trip, style idea, good book and blog post at a time. Or a-glimpse-a-day, you could say. ;)

Getting back to Tempe for day two -

Day 2::

Up and out the door in a tank-top/t-shirt, hiking boots, and water bottle. It was a serious climbing day, and the weather was perfect! We were off to tone down our pasty-white winter skin, check out all the hype of Camelback Mountain, and be outdoors for as long as possible!

I had no idea what was coming for me and my short legs.

Climbing Camelback — Challenging 2–3 hour “hike”

I’d say HIKE in air-quotes if we were talking to each other, because hiking, by definition, involves a long walk…not the hand-and-feet rock climbing we did to get to the top.

STILL a great day, but the word “hike” connotes use of my feet only, and that wasn’t happening. UNNNLESSSS, you’re the guy I saw TWICE on the mountain that day. He was climbing down {water bottle in each hand} as we were going up. AND THEN, making our way back down, he was returning for round 2! Seriously, dude?!

Some people’s conditioning strength makes the athlete in me feel like I’ve been working more towards the couch-sitting-oreo-eating-olympics {if that was a thing} rather than trying to stay in shape all these years.

All three of us are decently athletic, so climbing Camelback didn’t seem like it would be much of a challenge. That was the ROOKIE-CAMELBACK-CLIMBER talking. Now that I’ve made it back down the mountain, I’d say 4 things::

  1. It was a challenging and memorable venture. Thrilled we did it.
  2. Wear sturdy sneakers or hiking boots {there is loose gravel + weathered rocks everywhere}
  3. Bring a backpack with more water than you think you need, sunscreen, ball cap or sunglasses {Think camel in a desert — hot, dry, & no shade}
  4. There is NO RUSH! I was the slow climber of the 3 {Nick, my whipper-snapper teen, circled back a few times to pull his mama up, & Brian followed behind to boost me in the 2–3 “no-short-legged-people-zones”. No signs saying that, but to reach the next level on the climb, my short legs reached their max length to get me up {with a boost}.

At the base of the mountain, there are restrooms and a water station to refill your bottle. Parking is free, but there are few spaces. So once again, taking an Uber/Lyft that drops you at the entrance is a far better move. We had a 20-minute walk back to the car.

Time for Dinner on Mill Ave + meeting up with friends

Day 3::

A trip out to the polytechnic campus

Know how to make a college visit more fun? Go with a buddy!

Peeled off my hiking boots from day two and got to tag along with the boys on two sunny ASU campuses {in sandals!!}. Before their main campus tour, the six of us headed out to the ASU Polytechnic Campus to check out the flight program that the boys are interested in. {For students, shuttles run every 10–15 minutes between the campuses. All you need is your ASU ID card to ride.}

Main ASU Tempe Campus Tour and Talks

The afternoon was filled with touring the main campus, lunch, business school info, and getting the ASU merch — because did ya really go if you didn’t get a sweatshirt?

ASU fits into the uber-large college size category. It’s a really big campus that’s a city in itself — the Walt Disney World of colleges, if you will. The Tempe campus has 54,800 students in 2021 + the polytechnic campus adds another 5,500. That’s a lot of bodies. If you’re looking for a large, sunny, palm-tree-lined campus, this might be your place.

Their business school ranks pretty high, and the polytechnic side had some pluses too. All in all, it was a good trip to get more college information AND be able to pull out the shorts and sandals for a few days! Something we never get to do in February, or March…sometimes even May, in Chicago.

If you could leave the Winter behind for a weekend, where would you go?

Andrea
A Glimpse of Good
Traveler •Styler • Blogger • Books&Wine
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Andrea | A Glimpse of Good

Andrea | A Glimpse of Good

Writing for the next chapter in travel, 50-n-fabulous style, vacation rental re-do +forever searching for good coffee, great wine, & the next captivating book.