Soul search in downtown Tempe

photo by Thomas J. Story
Find your creative spirit by the lake in the Mill Avenue District

Downtown Tempe has evolved from a place where you went for raucous fun (football, beer, live music) to one where you can feed your mind, body, and soul (art, pedal boats, tai chi).

Once you've enjoyed your mini retreat, take in the historic, energetic streetscape of Mill Avenue, where you can still check in with the district's spirited roots.

GETTING THERE

The Mill Avenue District is located around Mill Ave. between Rio Salado Pkwy. and University Dr., south of State 202. For more information, contact the Tempe Convention & Visitors Bureau (800/283-6734).

DO

I Am the Center Escape the desert heat and pop into the holistic health center for a tai chi class in the silk-curtained studio, where aromatherapy diffusers scent the air. Afterward, hit the shop for yoga mats, or unwind with a massage. INFO: Classes $15, 90-minute massage $120; 21 E. Sixth St., Ste. 114; 480/491-5591.

Tempe Center for the Arts Ponder Masters of Illusion: Unveiling the Mysteries of Trompe L'Oeil (May 3-Aug 2; free) in the gallery, or see Alan Ball's 5 Women Wearing the Same Dress (May 9-11 and 15-18; call for prices) in the theater. INFO: Closed Mon, call for Sun hours; free tour at noon Tue; 700 W. Rio Salado Pkwy.; 480/350-2822.

Rio Lago Cruise

EAT

The Center Bistro Try an artichoke Caesar salad and an organic Chardonnay at I Am the Center's healthy cafe. INFO: $; 21 E. Sixth, Ste. 114; 480/557-9719.

Dragonfly Aubergine and olive hues set the mood for this modern Vietnamese eatery. Go for bun bo hue (lemon grass-infused noodle soup) or tamarind chicken wings. INFO: $$; 414 S. Mill Ave.; 480/921-0131.

SIP

RĂșla BĂșla Find some of downtown Tempe's raucous, friendly spirits by lifting a pint or two at this popular Irish pub. INFO: $$; 401 S. Mill; 480/929-9500.

MAKE IT AN OVERNIGHT

Relax in the citrus- and palm-filled courtyard of the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel (303 rooms and suites from $129; 800/547-8705), a short walk from Tempe Town Lake and Mill Avenue. Swim laps in the rooftop pool; soak up the soothing, contemporary Southwest ambience; or sip nightcaps at Harry's Place ($$) the convivial indoor-outdoor lounge just off the lobby.

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