As I mapped out my drive from New Orleans to San Francisco, I was excited to see that Tempe, Arizona not far off the I-10 route. Why would Tempe be an exciting stop on the way to California? Because I've been following closely the construction of Culdesac, a new car-free community.
As luck would have it, they just started offering short-term rentals a couple weeks before my roadtrip. After confirming that the rentals are pet-friendly, I booked us for two nights.
As we pulled into the visitor parking lot and plugged in our Prius, wee were immediately impressed by the pristine white buildings and colorful murals.
While the neighborhood was quite empty on this 100° day, signs of future life were evident. A row of small shops had Coming Soon signs posted on each window, with opening dates ranging in the following months. One business was already open with some foot traffic—a botox clinic of all things.
Having spent the prior days in our packed Prius, my partner was excited to check out the gym. It's a beautiful, open, and airy space that is bright day and night.
When evening came along, we looked for places to eat. The only option within reasonable walking distance was the on-site restaurant. The service and food were great, but it was a bit high-end to be considered an everyday stop. I would have expected a more varied menu with salads and sandwiches and such. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our fancy dinner and drink with a fancy, cactus-etched ice cube.
In the morning, we searched for a café, but found nothing. It happened to be Saturday and the restaurant was open for brunch, so we went right when it opened and were the only patrons. We had some marinated coffee that was delicious, but had it been a weekday we would have been stuck with the coffee machine in our rental.
I'm sure a coffee shop and more food options will be coming soon as the area is still very much under construction. We quickly ran out of places to explore, as we were boxed in with construction barriers and unfinished walkways.
Seeing that we ran out of nooks and alleys to explore on-site, and we had an energetic dog tired of being stuck in our car, we explored the broader neighborhood. Much like Culdesac itself, the area is full of construction. We could not walk far before encountering a closed-off sidewalk.
As the creator of Mel, the missing unsubscribe button for postal mail, I was curious about the mailbox situation at Culdesac. I found this row of mailboxes:
Overall, our visit was underwhelming, simply because we came too early. I would be interested in visiting again in a few years to see the progress, because the vision is certainly a worthwhile pursuit.