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Light Rail Phoenix: A Beginner’s Guide

Posted by on May 27, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Mesa light rail station with train

People have asked me how to take the Valley Metro light rail in the Phoenix area, so I made a video guide.

However, if you prefer tips in written form, read on!
Phx light rail station Big map

1. Find where to go.

There’s just one line with 2 directions, Eastbound and Westbound. You can ride anywhere on the line all day for $4.

Westbound train route:

  • begins in downtown Mesa (Mesa Dr./Main St.)
  • ASU Tempe campus
  • Sky Harbor Airport
  • Downtown Phoenix (Phoenix Convention Center, Talking Stick Resort Arena, Chase Field)
  • Central Ave. (turns north)
  • Roosevelt Row/arts district
  • ends at 19th Ave. and Dunlap (near Metrocenter)

Eastbound trains start at 19th Avenue and Dunlap, retracing basically the same route, heading south and then east and ending at Mesa Drive and Main Street.

Phx light rail station At night


To find where to get on and off the train and get schedule information, pick up a Transit Book, check the Valley Metro website, download the Ridekick app, or try Google Maps. If you don’t want to bother with the schedule, you can just show up. Trains run about every 10-20 minutes until around 1am.
Mesa park and ride with grid bike


If there’s not a stop near you, you can drive to one of the 11 Park-and-Ride lots, where there’s free parking for people riding the light rail or bus. You just find a spot, lock your car, and head to the station platform.

Phx light rail station On Jefferson

2. Get your ticket.

You can easily get a pass from a fare vending machine at your stop before you leave.

Follow the prompts on screen to select an all-day pass and activate it immediately. Then pay with cash, credit or debit.

Your pass and receipt print from two different places. Make sure to pick them both up!

Tempe light rail station

On the Station Platform

While you’re waiting, check the signs to make sure in the right spot for the train going in your direction.

Stations have…

  • fare vending machines
  • scrolling LED signs that say when to expect the next train
  • seating
  • some shade
  • route maps (simplified to highlight the stops – not to scale)
  • drinking fountains
  • artwork inspired by the local area

Mesa light rail station art - serpentine

Stations don’t have…

  • restrooms
  • food or anything for purchase (except rail passes)

You can bring your own beverage with a lid on it.

On board Phx light rail station

3. Get on board.

Trains stop at every station. You don’t have to flag them down. If one looks like it’s not stopping, Don’t panic! It’s probably just pulling up farther.

When the train pulls up to the station, it will come to a complete stop, the doors automatically open, and you can step into any car. Find a seat or or a place to stand and hold on to the railing. If you are standing, try to move back away from the doors, so people can easily get on and off.

Phx light rail station Art

There’s usually not anyone checking tickets as you get on. It’s kind of on the honor system. Occasionally, though, transit officers in black and white uniforms will come through and check tickets after the train is in motion. Not having one can get you fined up to $500.

Watch and listen for your stop. You can find a route map above some of the doors. And before each stop, a recording will say “approaching station” then the station name and whether you’ll exit the train on the left or right side. The information is also on scrolling LED signs in the middle of the ceiling of each car. Once you arrive, wait for the train to stop and doors to open, and you’re there!
Tempe light rail station art - hands

– More light rail info –

  • Fare details.
  • Make sure you are waiting for the train going the direction you want to go. Most of the platforms are in the middle of the street and trains going both directions share them. However, around downtown Phoenix the line splits. So if you’re at the Phoenix Convention Center for example, the station for westbound trains is at Washington and eastbound trains stop a block south of there at Jefferson.
  • If you’re only going one way (to the airport, for example), you can purchase a 1-ride ticket. Once you purchase it, take your ticket and receipt. You have a two-hour window after purchasing to make your trip in one direction.
  • You may notice that there’s a “buy online” option on the Valley Metro website. This is NOT for last-minute purchases! Since electronic tickets are not accepted, you can order tickets online, and then they’ll be shipped to you via snail mail.
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Citrus Season in the Southwest

Posted by on Jan 23, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 14 comments

Citrus at tucson market

It’s citrus season here in Phoenix! Farmers’ markets and roadside stands are overflowing with oranges, grapefruit, and lemons (so is my Instagram feed).

When we were in Tucson just before Christmas, there were baskets of beautifully bright oranges, tangerines, and kumquats at the Thursday Farmers’ Market at Mercado San Augustin.

Citrus park in Riverside, CA

California Citrus Historic State Park in Riverside, which we’ve enjoyed visiting when we’re in Southern California, currently has extended hours for the season and special events like a harvest tasting on February 26.

The Pasadena Farmers’ Market lists lemons, navel oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and tangelos as being in season right now. (When I was there this summer, it was piles of peaches and pecks of peppers.)

Pasadena farmers market

On the theme of citrus…

What’s in season where you are?

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Downtown Mesa Community Garden

Posted by on Sep 6, 2016 in Travel | 4 comments

There’s a community garden in Downtown Mesa that I’d heard about but hadn’t been to until my sister-in-law Liz was in town.

Mesa community garden

Isn’t it funny how you tend to see more of your city when someone is visiting?

Mural in urban garden, Mesa

Anyway, after lunch at Republica Empanada (at Hibbert and 1st Ave.), she asked about the gate next to the restaurant that leads into the Mesa Urban Garden, and we went to check it out.

I wasn’t expecting to see much, because August in Phoenix is rough on plants and only the most hardy survive. But there were still a fair number of things growing – veggies and vinca and this gorgeous trumpet vine with orange flowers and long green pods.

Community garden, Mesa

The garden is surrounded by walls with colorful murals, and there’s a Little Free Library made from an old phone booth.

I’ll definitely have to return later this fall!

Mesa garden

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Graz Kitchen Fresh

Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 in Travel | 0 comments

Graz sandwich

I love a good grilled cheese sandwich.

The first time I went to Graz Kitchen Fresh for a breakfast meetup and saw they had a whole menu of them, I was like “oh, I’m coming back!”


And I’ve definitely been back. So I felt like a post devoted to the goodness of Graz was long overdue.


Open for breakfast and lunch, Graz is a juice bar and sandwich shop focused on fresh ingredients.

It’s located just south of Downtown Chandler and Gangplank, where I sometimes work. I can easily pick up lunch on the way in or pastries for our Monthly Momentum meetup.


I’m kinda hooked on their green goddess sandwich. It is goat cheese, mozzarella, pesto, arugula, and avocado on this whole grain bread toasted on a sandwich press. I mean, seriously.


They serve Peixoto coffee and occasionally do a breakfast sandwich pop-up there. They also provided the food and coffee for Craft Camp. If you order ahead, they make crazy good cinnamon rolls.


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The Living Room in Chandler

Posted by on Jan 8, 2016 in Travel | 0 comments


I finally made it in to The Living Room, a cozy wine bar in Chandler, one summer day when my friend Katie was in town. A monsoon storm had just blown through, cooling the temperature down from unbearable to pleasant, and they opened up the patio for us.


The bruschetta was awesome. One kind had ripe cherry tomatoes. The other had prosciutto that reminded me of Spain.


My sangria was ok. Turns out I’m very picky about sangria. After that, I ordered the same red as Katie, and that was really good. That’s probably what I should’ve done in the first place. Katie has great taste and is kind of a Living Room expert from her Chandler days.


The servers came around just often enough, not so much they kept us from catching up, but enough to get our orders and bring us more bread, so we could finish off our delicous artichoke dip.

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