Field Guide to Getting Around Downtown Phoenix During Final Four Weekend
Between the Final Four, the Diamondbacks' home opener, the Suns game, Beethoven's 9th at the Phoenix Symphony, and the Phoenix Pride parade, there's going to be a lot of people in Phoenix this weekend.
Traffic is guaranteed to be a nightmare, and we're already seeing people charging $20 for parking, which will almost certainly go up once the weekend gets here.
Whether you're planning on attending any of the events or skipping it entirely, here's how to get around town this weekend.
Take light rail.
If you've never taken the light rail before, now is the time. It's only $4 for a day pass, which you buy on the platform before entering the train — and yes, credit cards are accepted.
Trains arrive every 12 to 20 minutes, depending on the time of day. On Friday and Saturday nights, the light rail will run until 2 a.m. On Sunday and Monday, it stops operating at midnight.
You can find a map with a full list of all the park-and-ride stations here.
A few notes of caution:
- There's going to be a lot more people riding the light rail than usual. You may want to get to the station early in case there's not room on the first train that you try to get on.
- Valley Metro is planning on having additional fare inspectors out over the weekend, so it's probably wise to avoid the temptation of getting on the train without purchasing a ticket.
Take Uber or Lyft.
Fair warning, though: There's a not-insignificant chance that you'll get hit by surge pricing.
Also, you won't be able to go door-to-door: To avoid congestion, the city has set up five designated pick-up and drop-off zones downtown. You can catch a ride at the following locations:
- Jefferson Street - Second to First avenues
- Fifth Street - Monroe to Van Buren streets
- Third Street - Jackson to Buchanan streets
- Monroe Street - Second to Third streets
- First Street - Monroe to Van Buren streets
If you absolutely have to drive:
The City of Phoenix is advising drivers to avoid Seventh Street altogether, since it's expected to have the heaviest traffic. They suggest entering from the west or south instead.
Avoid these streets, which will be closed at various points during the weekend:
- First Street from from Moreland Street to Portland Street.
- Second Street from Portland Street to Willetta Street.
- Third Street from Van Buren Street to Washington Street.
- Central Avenue from McDowell Street to Van Buren Street.
- Moreland Street from First Street to Third Street.
- Culver Street from First Street to Second Street.
- Portland Street from Central Avenue to Second Street.
- Willetta Street from Central Avenue to Third Street.
You can also click on this live map to see which streets are closed at any given time.
Parkopedia has a handy guide to parking locations in downtown Phoenix. Keep in mind that prices may go up over the weekend.
Once you get downtown:
While downtown Phoenix is fairly walkable, it's also somewhat spread out and there's not a whole lot of shade to be found at the hottest part of the day. If you'd prefer not to get around on foot, you have a couple of options:
- A free trolley will be shuttling riders from Second and Adams streets, where the Fan Fest is taking place, to First Street south of Roosevelt Street, the site of the music festival.
- You can also catch free pedicab rides outside Fan Fest or the music festival up until 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
- On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, look for the "Grab A Buick" tents outside Fan Fest, the music festival, and the University of Phoenix Stadium. They'll give you a ride to your next destination as long as it's not a private home. They also prefer that it be within a five- to seven-mile radius.
- You can borrow a GRID bike for as long as you need it (but you'll need to sign up for an account with your credit card.) Details and locations here.
- Or, bring your own bike and leave it with the bike valet at Portland and First Streets.
If you're not planning on going to any of the events this weekend:
Don't go anywhere near downtown, avoid Central Avenue and Seventh Street, and expect public transit to be slower and more crowded than usual.
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