Educational, Entertaining Excursions off the Phoenix Light Rail

Nov 15, 2013 by

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The Light Rail can take riders throughout Phoenix.  You can check out a few of the Light Rail destinations listed below.  Photo By: Phil Sexton via Flickr, CC BY 2.0
The Light Rail can take riders throughout Phoenix. You can check out a few of the Light Rail destinations listed below. Photo By: Phil Sexton via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Ticket to ride

The Phoenix Metropolitan Light Rail System is taxpayer-funded and managed by Valley Metro. The current Light Rail route is a 20-mile line, with plans to extend the line north, east and west by 2023. It begins at 19th Avenue and Montebello in Phoenix, before turning southwest and following Central Avenue to Roosevelt Street. From there, the train heads west into Tempe and continues to Sycamore and Main Street in Mesa.

The ride runs on electricity and operates seven days a week (4:40 a.m.–11 p.m. weekdays; 5 a.m.–2 a.m. Saturday; and 5 a.m.–11 p.m. Sunday).

Using the Light Rail is easy. Just buy a ticket at the station or participating retail locations, hop on and soon you’ll be traveling with ease. Tickets are $2 for a single ride. $4 for an all-day pass. Use it as many times as you want in any direction the train goes.

Maps, train times and transit stops are available on this handy PDF from Valley Metro
Train cars are wheelchair, kid, bike and animal friendly (when in cages). The train is air conditioned and monitored by cameras and personnel who walk through cars to scan tickets.

In New York, it’s the subway. In Boston, it’s the “T,” and in Los Angeles, riders jump on the Metro. Nearly every established city in the country has a public transit system used by thousands of people every day–and Phoenix is no different.

More than 45,000 people use the Phoenix Metropolitan Light Rail System daily to get to downtown offices, entertainment and cultural districts, places of learning and the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, according to Valley Metro officials.

Off the Rail

One of the best parts of the Light Rail is … where it can take you. Check out some of the following stops and attractions off the Light Rail for educational or entertaining experiences.

Just off the Central Avenue and Encanto Boulevard stop is the Heard Museum.  The museum houses a vast collection of Native American Indian art. Six to eight exhibits rotate each year and include everything from jewelry and documentaries to musical instruments and pottery.

The Burton Barr Central Library is a short walk south from the Central Avenue and McDowell Road stop. The library is most known for its architecture, which was designed around the summer solstice. The physical alignment of the five-story building allows light to enter the building and cast a kaleidoscope of colors against library walls at high noon on the summer solstice. The library has more than 700,000 items in its catalog for readers and researchers to peruse.

The Japanese Friendship Garden, also a short distance off the McDowell stop, is a partnership between the city of Phoenix and its Sister City, Himeji, Japan. With a $5 admission fee, you can wander through the tranquil park, which includes a koi pond. On Saturdays (with a reservation), you can participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

On first and third Fridays each month, hop off the Light Rail at the Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street stop. Roosevelt Row is abuzz with people exploring the revitalized neighborhoods. There’s often live music, food trucks and open art galleries to explore on these evenings.

If you travel further down the Light Rail line to the Mill Avenue stop, you’ll find more eateries and lots of Sun Devils fans. Arizona State University’s main campus is located here and the streets are often alive with students and sports fans taking in games at the stadium.

A short walking distance from the stop is Tempe Beach Park/Tempe Town Lake. Here you can rent paddle boats and kayaks or enjoy a stroll around the lake. Dogs are welcome, and it’s a good place to grab an ice cream and enjoy the cooler fall weather.

 Recommended by the Editors:

Is moving maddening? It has been for me in the past but it also has turned into something oddly fun. I have moved to new towns, moved into a dorm, moved into apartments, and even moved a few businesses. Prior planning has always made the difference between the “piece of cake” and the disastrous.

When it comes to the madness of moving, my unofficial motto has become, “Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.”

Historically, I have been the go-to-guy when it comes to transporting “stuff” from one home to another because I own a pickup truck and I have a “happy to help” attitude.

That attitude has changed on occasion due to the lack of foresight on the part of others. Such maddening moving mishaps have occurred because:

  • Someone did not check the weather forecast for moving day.
  • Someone did not have the key to the home, building, or storage unit.
  • Someone had not begun to pack until help arrived.
  • Someone severely underestimated the number of trips or amount of material required to transition.
  • Someone did not clean the new place before the move began.
  • (My personal favorite) Someone wants to rearrange everything in every possible way.

Most people are simply under prepared and overwhelmed. One thing to consider is to make sure your stuff is insured before you move, as things can easily get damaged in the moving process.There are many things to juggle when you move, but hopefully these 6 tips will help keep you sane.

#1 Staying organized. Have plenty of boxes, labels, and markers handy. Organization can take a lot of effort but stick with it.  I’ve been there.  I start out keeping the dishes together and then the toiletries but by the end I am dumping drawers into any box with enough free space. If you find junk, take it to goodwill or the trash but do not take it with you.

#2 Proper planning.   Make a list of needs well before the move so you have an idea of what needs to be done. Divide the list into subcategories of before, during, and after the move and put timelines on each. What tasks should be done 1 month before the move? How about 1 week before the move or the day of? Tasks like setting up utilities at your new residence can be done in advance long before you move, whereas tasks like filling out your move in checklist can only be done after you move in. Try to get as much done in advance as possible to reduce the madness on moving day.

Here are a couple more tips to properly plan:

  • Check the weather for moving day and plan accordingly.
  • Price out and reserve trucks or trailers weeks in advance, not last minute.
  • If it’s in your budget to hire moving professionals ensure their references are checked – even going so far as to check with the American Moving and Storage Associate before signing on the dotted line.
  • Make sure you have enough insurance to cover items you’re moving and any additional coverage required for your new residence or belongings.
  • Record and document with photos the expensive items you’ll be moving. Store this information in a safe place in the event you’ll need to file a police report or insurance claim.
  • Keep all receipts in an easy to access spot for tax season.
  • Ensure your movers or helpers have a list of emergency contacts in case something happens en route to your new residence.

[continued in part 2]

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