We don’t mean to scare you, but April is right around the corner. How the first three months of the year have pretty much passed by already is beyond us, but we know this means something big is coming to Phoenix: the NCAA Final Four. With the semifinals tipping off on Saturday, April 1, and the National Championship going down on Monday, April 3, the Valley is going to filled with basketball fans.
We also know this means it may be hard to book stays at traditional vacationing options.
But don’t worry. We’ve dug up some alternative lodging options that probably will end up saving you a few bucks and definitely will provide you with a better story to snap home about. Go ahead and let the idea of pillow mints and tiny shampoo bottles go, and prepare yourself for something a little more adventurous.
Here are our suggestions for alternative lodging for the NCAA Final Four weekend in Phoenix.
While most of the country will be watching the big game huddled on a couch with the heater blasting, chances are that Phoenix will still have gorgeous, relatively warm weather. Take advantage and turn the weekend into a chance to explore Arizona's natural landscape while cheering on your team of choice and wishing failure upon the opposing side.
Though there are plenty of options since Phoenix is surrounded by mountains, we would especially recommend looking at the White Tank Mountains. Besides plenty of beautiful flora and fauna, the White Tanks have about 25 miles of trails ranging with something for hikers and bikers or all skill levels and will typically be about 10 degrees cooler than Central Phoenix, according to White Tank Mountain Regional Park. Plus if you have your own horse, you're welcome to bring 'em along, too. And being only about a 40-minute drive away from University of Phoenix Stadium, you're no worse off than you'd be staying in Scottsdale.
There are several kinds of sites available with varying amenities from "primitive camping" for $12 per night with no amenities to "shaded RV sites" for $40 per night with water, electricity, and shade cover provided. There is also a base $8 fee for all camping reservations and a maximum of eight people per campsite. Visit the Maricopa County Parks website for more information and to reserve your campsite.
Airbnb has basically revolutionized the way people travel. Here's how the rental website works: A person posts a room, a suite in their house, or an entire house, apartment, or condo on the website with photos, descriptions, and how much they charge for renting out that space. Travelers can search through all the postings by number of available rooms, price, location, and dates available, similar to the way you would search for a hotel room. Once you find a space you like, you contact the owner and set up your stay. There is also a rating aspect to the site where guests can rate their hosts and hosts can rate their guests, which aims to keep both hosts and guests on their best behavior. These ratings appear when you contact another person on the site.
The draw of Airbnb is the affordability and the chance to quickly interact with locals (your hosts) in whatever city you're visiting. If you get a good host, it can be like staying with your very own personal concierge.
We've found everything from a private room for two people for $31 per night to an entire guest house in Coronado Historic District for $1,000 per night. Since the postings change so frequently, it's best to take a look yourself. There's a good chance you'll be able to find something that works for you.
Similar to Airbnb, you can search Craigslist for places available to rent. Craigslist would be a great option if you're searching for an entire home to rent because you're coming to town with a large group of people — or simply want to stay with friends closer to University of Phoenix Stadium. In fact, you can easily find many listings specifically targeting Final Four attendees.
A recent search for "final four house rental" yielded a listing for a four-bedroom, 2800-square-foot home in the Biltmore area available for $15,000. There was also a room at the Legacy Golf Resort available for $800 (pictured above). Again, listings and options are likely being snapped up quickly. Take a little time to search for yourself, and prepare to get the gang back together and have an epic Final Four weekend.
Fair warning: Couch surfing is not for the faint of heart. It's also probably not for you and your five closest friends. However, if you're a single traveler with a lion's heart, it might be perfect for you.
You can register on Couchsurfing.com, complete your profile, and then search available couches based on the city you want to visit and the dates you will be staying. Yep, you may actually be staying on a stranger's couch.
While this may seem unnerving to some, it can also be an amazing adventure. Plus, the whole point of couch surfing is to share your world with others. That means it's technically free to stay with your host, unless of course you want to be a decent human and do something nice to compensate them, like taking your host to dinner or bringing them a gift from your home city. The Couch Surfing website also urges users to sign up as hosts after surfing. You know, pay it forward and all that.
Phoenix also has a couple hostels near the downtown area, and if you just need a bed or two for a few nights, which is exactly what you'd need if you're coming to town for the Final Four, a hostel can be a great option. We know hostels have gotten a bad rap recently because of certain horror movies set in them (thanks, Hollywood), but don't let that deter you. Staying in a hostel is a great way to meet other travelers, be in the heart of the city, and save money.
One of our favorite local hostels is Phoenix Hostel and Cultural Center, located at 1026 North Ninth Street, right near the heart of downtown. Single dorm-style beds are available for $27 per night in the mixed dorm, a bed in the smaller female dorm is also $27 per night, and a four-bed family room is $70 per night. For more information and to book your stay, visit the Phoenix Hostel website or call 602-254-9803. Also, check out hostels.com to search for other local hostels.
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If you care more about having a unique Arizona experience rather than being right next to the stadium while you're in town for the Final Four, seriously consider staying at Arcosanti, the experimental town north of Phoenix. The late architect, author, and artist Paolo Soleri began building this community as an example of an environmentally low-impact, urban development. Although Soleri passed away a few years ago, his community lives on and has quarters where you can stay. Sure, it's about 67 miles from the stadium, which would be a little more than an hour drive, but visiting Arcosanti, let alone staying there, is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Several room options with varying levels of amenities are available, ranging from a small single-occupancy room with a shared bathroom available for $30 per night to a room with twin beds, a private bath, and a kitchen for $65 per night.
If you want a uniquely Arizona experience to appreciate Soleri's famous architecture and our breathtaking desert landscape for your Final Four weekend, visit the Arcosanti website or call 928-632-7135 to book your room and for more information.