Ballpark: Tempe Diablo Stadium
Team: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Located to the east of Phoenix, Tempe is more than just a quaint college town, home to Pac-10 powerhouse Arizona State and the Insight Bowl. While sports, particularly football, have traditionally been the main draw for visitors and locals, an emerging arts scene has boosted the city’s “hip” quotient. At night, Mill Avenue becomes a regular romping ground for 58,000 students, but there are a few sophisticated outposts for the 22-and-over set who prefer jazz, folk and bluegrass over the twee sounds of indie pop. But watch out for that little red man with the pitchfork -- Sparky the Sun Devil has been known to roam the premises.
Go the Distance
While the light rail can zip you along 20 miles of sports and entertainment goodness, Tempe’s Rio Salado Paths are a treasured secret for pedalers who prefer to take in their cities at a more leisurely pace. While the 165-mile bikeway system may attract Ironman devotees, the Rio Salado Paths are flanked by the ASU campus and Sun Devil Stadium, and take bikers along five miles of paved lanes for an urban tour of downtown Tempe.
The Tempe Mission Palms hotel, situated downtown and steps away from the Sun Devil Stadium, offers customizable golf packages and a heated rooftop pool for a starting rate of $161 a night.
If you want your home base to so close to the Tempe Diablo Stadium that you can roll out of bed and be in your bleacher seat by game time in under five minutes flat, The Buttes, A Marriott Resort is the perfect spot. Sitting atop a 25-acre valley landmark, The Buttes exudes a southwestern charm and breathtaking views of Tempe. Book a room early, and you can get almost $100 off a night with the advance rate.
Also nearby, the Homewood Suites by Hilton is a great extended stay spot, with fully equipped kitchens and all the amenities of home.
Dine alfresco out in the sun-dappled patio of House of Tricks where contemporary American cuisine is served up in two historic bungalows that bookend a canopy of old vines. Enjoy the seafood-stuffed poblano pepper or the coffee cardamon duck breast.
If you need a shot of espresso to jolt you out of that sun-induced lethargy, caffeine salvation can be found at Cartel Coffee Lab, which is one part coffee shop, one part hipster hangout.
Sadly, there’s not much in the way of sit-down dining near the Diablo Stadium, except a smattering of fast food joints, but there are more than 70 restaurants alone packed into the stretch of two blocks in the Mill Avenue District, where you could conceivably dine out for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day if you so wish.
Out of Sight
If you decide to catch the last gasp of spring training in the final week of March, don’t be surprised when downtown Tempe is transformed into one of the southwest’s biggest free outdoor fairs, the Tempe Festival of the Arts. From March 25-27, class it up along Mill Avenue with the locals to catch a Jazz show, wine tasting, street fare and tasty edibles from the 400 or so vendors.
If you’ve got a craving for some wings and five layer nacho dip -- which begs to be washed down by a pint of the trademarked Kilt-Lifter Scottish-Style Ale, Four Peaks Brewing Company is where it’s at.