Tempe’s most well-known north-south street since the late 1800s, Mill Avenue — so named for the now-empty Hayden Flour Mill at the historical north end — still plays an important part in Tempe life.
Although it runs several miles from Baseline Rd. in the south up to Priest Dr. at the north just past the Phoenix Zoo, when people say Mill Avenue, they mean the three-quarter mile stretch that borders the west side of the Arizona State University campus. This runs from ASU Gammage in the south to Tempe Beach Park and “A” Mountain at the north, and anchors Tempe’s downtown.
The tree-lined section of the road that begins at University Dr., as well as the surrounding streets, boasts numerous bars, restaurants, shops, a movie theater and more to attract students, locals and visitors. You will also find Tempe City Hall, several new high-rise developments and other professional businesses.
Multiple times a year, the street closes to host major art festivals and holiday parades like the Fantasy of Lights that attract tens of thousands of people from around the Valley. Even on a regular day, however, a walk down Mill Avenue can be a nice diversion. During the summer months, the trees and outdoor misting systems keep the temperature manageable.
The only major issue is parking. Unless you’re lucky enough to find a spot on the street or adjacent parking lot — nearly impossible while ASU is in session — you will need to park at a lot a few streets over and walk in. You can also take the light rail.
Location: University Dr. and Mill Ave., Tempe
More info: www.downtowntempe.com
– Justin Ferris, Phoenix.org