Tempa Arizona, travel ideas, lets go, Spring Break

Arizona Spring Break + 3 College Tips

Spring Break in Arizona lets us pull our hair up into a scarf, wear a cute tee, get ice cream cookie sandwiches + rock climb a mountain named after the camel.

This week I wanted to share 3 college tips from our Arizona trip + 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.


Camelback Mountain, hiking, Arizona trip, travel adventures, family hike, Arizona spring break
Climbing Camelback Mountain with 3 stops contemplating if getting to the top was really worth it

Why Tempe? Nicholas wanted to tour Arizona State University again, and I wanted to get out of the freezing temperatures of a Midwest February. And Brian is up for any adventure.

Let’s start at the airport where we thought we had corrected our past car rental mistake. We were WRONG! Four-hours worth of wrong!

Last time we rented a car the line took roughly two hours to get a car. NO KIDDING. So this time we made sure to avoid renting from that car company. Turns out door #2 was wrong also, waiting almost three hours to drive away. But I did ask a few who worked there, “what’s the hold-up?” Seems Phoenix is the new hot spot for sports tournaments of all ages in the winter months. Everyone is flocking to Phoenix these days, and I guess, renting a car too.

Rental car VS Uber/lyft for Tempe

Unless you’re driving out to Flagstaff or Sedona, go with Uber/Lyft or the Light Rail. You’ll save time and stress on both ends of the car rental debacle.

The saga continued when we returned the car too. We called for an Uber from the rental car center back to the airport because the line for the shuttle wrapped around at least 3 football lengths. Shock took over my brain, and I forget to snap a photo. The sea of rollar-bag-humanity was depressingly impressive.

Have you ever asked how people can possibly miss their flights? Phoenix. airport. rental. car. shuttle. – that’s how. So, if you do rent a car, give yourself ample time to return your car, or plan on taking an Uber back to the airport.

Now let’s get to the fun stuff.

Where to Stay on your Arizona Spring Break

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

And 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 hoot…

Or rather, a SCOOT {yeah, bad Mom jokes are a thing 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 these two 16-year-olds, they’ll try almost anything. And they did on these dockless scooters. They’re a new alternative to Uber or Lyft + an ingenious idea in a college town with their ride & drop option. Pretty sure they’re not made for tandem ride, but again…. These two! πŸ˜‚

When I read the press on the company, it read as if a tandem ride is the least of the shenanigans tried with the scooters.

It’s all app operated::

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

Scooting along in warm weather to your dinner stop doesn’t get any easier. They’re $1 to start and .15-cents per minute after.

bird scooter, Tempe Arizona, traveling blog, vacation idea
No – they’re not tandem-riding scooters until you get a teen to say, “What if…”

Easy to ride too πŸ˜‚ {for students and their Dad’s}

Up Next for spring break Arizona… Wardrobe + What to do

When I saw the numbers 7 & 5 together, in that order, I couldn’t dig out my shorts + t-shirts fast enough. 75-degrees in February!!!

Day 1::

Shorts-wearing weather on day one plastered an enormous smile on my face. Pull up the hair in a scarf & off we 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 it’s fun atmosphere, restaurants, and my favorite, Slickables ice cream shop. The boys also gave their approval for Sparky’s Ice Cream. Nick is always willing to try + give me a review whenever I’m taking him out. He gave Slickables one more spoons-up review over Sparky’s in the end.


Nick is interested in Flying + a Business degree, so we explored the school of business building first. Day three we went over to the Polytechnic campus to look at their flying setup.

ASU, school of business, Arizona spring break, traveling fun, family trip, Tempe Arizona
ASU College of Business Building

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 right? If you’re a Midwesterner born-n-raised, then yes, probably a “mountain” by your viewpoint. For this born, raised, and mountain skiing North-westerner, I would catalog this in the “hill” category. It’s an easy climb with mostly a paved pathway and long-steps to the top. It took us about 15-minutes to reach the top and sit + see the views for miles.

I wanted to try this fun Tempe mountain challenge, but we were too early. But for your Arizona Spring Break it’s perfect! It’ an on-going challenge from March 12 – April 30th.

The colors on the t-shirt would have matched perfectly with my scarf too. Yes, you can hike, sweat and wear fun colors – It’s a thang {for me anyway}… Stylishly-Rugged πŸ˜‰

A Mountain, Tempe Arizona, Camelback Mountain, family trip, college visit, lets travel
A-Mountain steps Day 1 to the Camelback Mountain Rock climb on Day 2

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 as long as possible!

Climbing Camelback – Challenging 2-3 hour “hike’

I’d say HIKE in air-quotes if we were talking because hiking, by definition, involves a long walk, but not the hand-and-feet rock climbing that we did to get to the top. STILL FUN, 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, as we made our way back down, he was returning for round 2! Seriously!

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 good condition 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-TALKIN. Now that I’ve made it back down the mountain, I’d say 4 things::

  1. It was a challenging and fun venture. Thrilled we did it {Brian’s been wanting to climb it since his Arizona college days}
  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 {Nothing blocks that Arizona Spring Break sun}
  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 50+ Mama up & Brian followed behind to boost me in the 2-3 “no-short- legged-people-zones”} No, there weren’t signs saying that, but to reach the next level on the climb, my short legs reached their max width to get 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 they are primo spots with few spaces. So once again, taking an Uber/Lyft that drops you at the entrance would have been 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 get to tag-along with the boys on two ASU sunny campus’ 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. The shuttle runs about every 10-15 minutes between the campus’. All you need is your ASU ID card to ride.

ASU, polytechnic, warm weather travel, traveling fun, college visit
ASU Polytechnic Campus + Tour Registration

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 don’t get a sweatshirt? Or a t-shirt if you don’t have Winters like Chicago.

Arizona Spring Break, ASU, Arizona State University, travel fun, what to do
Arizona State University – Tempe Campus

ASU fits into the ubber-large size of colleges. “ubber-large” is my word – for a really big campus that is a city in-its-self. The Tempe campus has 54,800 in 2021 + the polytechnic with 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 is ranks pretty high and the polytechnic side had some plus’ too. All-n-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 April, in Chicago.

Last up on this Arizona Spring Break post are 3 tips + 2 blogs to continue your college search::

TIP #1/ Decide what campus size you want + remember this phrase – “You can always make a campus smaller, but never bigger.”

Meaning, if you choose a campus in the 35,000-50,000 range you can make it smaller within your dorm or greek life choice and your major. But a small university {1,500-3,000} will always be small. Neither choice is wrong, it only matters what is right FOR YOU.

TIP #2/ If you’re just getting started on the college journey, Check out this checklist from CollegeBoard

TIP #3/ Make a list. There is a lot of information to keep track of, so start a folder to jot down notes or questions so you have them at-the-ready. The second blog post below goes into more detail for you.

reduce the college visit overwhelm with these posts::

Spring Break is almost here – Are you ready to head to Arizona?

andrea, signature, shining-moments-photography

P.S. I stumbled across this in my research for this post. If you have Little’s along on your Arizona Spring Break trip, this scavenger hunt looked entertaining + a bit educational, and a good way to tire energy-filled kiddos out so Mom & Dad can relax on the ceiling patio by the fire pit.

Tempe Tales Scavenger Hunt

P.P.S. Thanks to my photo-partner-in-fun Mama + fellow photographer Suzanne Krull Photography for sharing her cell phone photos with me on this tripπŸ’–


Modern High School Senior Portraits + Headshot Photographer serving Dekalb County and Kane County


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