Tucson (TOO-sawn) is the second-largest city in the state of Arizona and the county seat of Pima County in the Sonoran Desert. It is at a higher elevation than nearby Phoenix and is correspondingly cooler. Although with half a million residents it is smaller than the capital city, its cultural life is just as vibrant.
Tucson has always been a crossroads. Water was, until the onset of a severe drought in the late 1990s, relatively plentiful in Tucson, in spite of its location in the middle of a desert. This made it an important travel route, an agricultural center, and a communications nexus.
Tucson's history is ancient, with evidence of human occupation stretching back 10,000 years. Between 200 CE and 1450 ACE, the Hohokam culture dominated the area – the Pima and Tohono O'Odham peoples that still occupy the area are descendants of the Hohokam. In 1699, Father Eusebio Kino, S.J., established the Mission San Xavier del Bac, southwest of present-day Tucson. Over the next 100 years, other missions were established in the area, but European presence was minimal.
It wasn't until 1775 that the Presidio of Tucson was created by Don Hugo O'Connor. At that time, it was the northernmost Spanish outpost in the New World. In 1821, Tucson became part of the new country of Mexico, and in 1853 it became part of the United States as a result of the Gadsden Purchase. In 1863, Arizona became a US territory, and by 1880, its population was around 8,000. In 1912, Arizona became the 48th state to enter the union.
Tucson is still a crossroads, with European, Native American, Mexican, and Asian cultures bumping into one another, in sometimes conflicting and sometimes compatible – but always interesting – ways.
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- 1 Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau, 100 S Church Ave (downtown), toll-free: . M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa-Su 9AM-4PM. Offers a free Official Destination Guide, Golf Guide or Dining Guide.
- 1 Tucson International Airport (TUS IATA), 7250 S Tucson Blvd, ☏ . Served by a number of airlines. Concourse A: Allegiant, Frontier Airlines, Southwest, Sun Country, United, VIA Air. Concourse B: American Airlines/American Eagle, Alaska Airlines, Delta/Delta Connection. The airport is on the far southern end of the city. A taxi to central Tucson (University of Arizona area) will run about $25-30 and take 25 minutes. Bus services (Rt #11 and 25) to and from the airport is significantly cheaper but will take at least 60 minutes to/from downtown Tucson. Some people fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor and then take a shuttle or rent a car and drive to Tucson (about 2 hours). Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the airport.
Arriving by train to Tucson is possible as the city is served by Amtrak via its triweekly Sunset Limited train between New Orleans and Los Angeles. This train also conveys Texas Eagle carriages, offering a direct route to and from Chicago. Eastbound trains arrive around 7:30AM while westbound ones arrive early evening. Notice however that delays are quite common.
- 2 Tucson railway station, 400 N Toole Ave. Located next to downtown, this historic station has both a waiting room and a ticket office.
I-10 (Interstate 10) from the north and southeast, and I-19 (Interstate 19) from the south.
There are multiple long distance bus lines and van shuttles serving Tucson from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, El Paso, Phoenix, Douglas, Yuma & Nogales in the U.S. and from Nogales, Hermosillo, Puerto Peñasco, Agua Prieta and Culiacán in Mexico. Each company has a stop or their own bus station in different parts of town that are far from each other.
- 3 Arizona Shuttle Service, 5350 E Speedway Blvd, ☏ . Offers shuttle service between Sky Harbor and Tucson.
- Flixbus, (bus stop) Univ of Arizona 6th St Garage at 1119 E 6th St (Bus will board in the covered bus loading zone on the south side of the Sixth Street garage.). They also have an additional "north freeway" stop at the AM/PM Mini Market at 802 W Speedway off of I-10 at Exit #257
- 4 Greyhound Lines, Autobus Americanos, Cruceros USA, 471 W Congress St, ☏ . Travels primarily on Interstate 10 (Los Angeles, Phoenix, Mesa, Casa Grande, Tucson, Benson, Wilcox, El Paso) an on I-8/10 (San Diego, Calexico, Yuma, Tucson and El Paso). Passengers transfer to other buses in Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and El Paso to get to additional cities in the U.S.
- Premier Shuttle, 4207 6th Ave, ☏ . Connects Phoenix to Nogales via Tucson.
- Sahuaro Shuttle, 4202 6th Ave, ☏ . Connects Tucson to Phoenix in one direction and to Agua Prieta and Hermosillo via Nogales in the other.
- Shuttle Sonora, 4201 6th Ave, ☏ . Phoenix, Tucson, Nogales and Douglas.
- 5 TAP Royal, (Office) 910 W Irvington Rd, Suite #110 (Strip mall NE of the I-19/Irvington Rd junction by Fry's.), ☏ . They offer bus service between California, Arizona and Las Vegas in the U.S. and along the Hwy 15 corridor towards Guadalajara through several cities/towns in Sonora, Sinaloa, Nayarit and Jalisco in Mexico. Travels along I-10/19 and Mex Hwy 15 between Phoenix, Tucson, Nogales and Hermosillo.
- 6 TUFESA Bus Lines, 5550 S 12th Ave #148, ☏ . Bus service along I-10/I-19 between Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, Nogales and Hermosillo in Mexico
By public transportation
- 7 Sun Tran, 3920 N Sun Tran Blvd (main office), ☏ (customer service), ✉ email@example.com. M-F 6AM-7PM, Sa-Su 8AM-5PM. An extensive metropolitan bus system, with routes and times listed here. The buses can accommodate up to two bicycles in the front; only folding bikes are permitted inside the bus. One-way fares (exact change required): $1.50 (adults), $0.50 (concessions), free (children under 5), $2 (express routes); 1-day pass: $3.50; 30-day pass: $42; 30-day economy pass: $15.
- Sun Link Streetcar. A streetcar route which extends from the University of Arizona to the downtown area and the Mercado district. It has now been integrated into the Sun Tran public transportation system; the streetcar route map can be downloaded here. It is especially popular in the evenings for making the rounds between University and the night life on 4th Ave.
I-10 and I-19 are the only freeways in Tucson. East-west travel on surface streets above I-10 can be slow during the work day. Tucson has far fewer miles of freeway than other U.S. cities of its size. All east-west travel and all travel on the east side is done via surface streets.
Tucson is a bike-friendly community, and has an extensive system of bike routes and paths (but is something you don't want to do in the summer unless you are experienced riding in very hot, dry weather).
In late 2017 the city launched Tugo Bike Share, a new public bike-sharing program, with 330 bicycles and 36 rental station scattered around the university district and downtown. Passes are available for one day ($8), one month ($18), or one year ($80), and allow unlimited use of the bikes for 30-minute intervals. Passes can be purchased at docking stations with a credit card, online with a credit or debit card, or with cash at any 7-Eleven, CVS, or Family Dollar stores (requires prior online registration). Bicycle stations with available bikes and docks can be found online or via the smartphone Cyclefinder app (iOS and Android).
It is notoriously difficult to get around in Tucson by taxi, as you must usually reserve a cab hours in advance and contend with drivers who are often late, if they show up at all. As an alternative, ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft now both operate in Tucson, and are a decent alternative if you can't get a regular cab within a reasonable time frame.
- Tucson Resort Transportation, 2495 N Desert Links Dr, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-Th 6AM-8PM, F Sa until bar closing. One of the more reputable taxi operators in the Tucson area, with punctual and reliable drivers. Generally it is best to make reservations 1-2 hours in advance. They also offer shuttle service to/from Tucson and Phoenix airports for a flat rate. Credit cards accepted.
- Barrio Viejo (Barrio Histórico), Bounded by I-10, W Cushing St , S 6th Ave, and W 18th St (by the Tucson Convention Center). One of Tucson's oldest neighborhoods, much of the barrio was destroyed when the Tucson Convention Center was built. There are many colorful adobe buildings housing shops, galleries, and residences. Best explored on foot.
- 1 El Tiradito (The Castaway), Just south of the intersection of S Main Ave at W Cushing St (Barrio Viejo). El Tiradito is the only shrine to a sinner in North America. In the 1880s, a young man had an affair with his mother-in-law. When caught in the act, his father-in-law shot him and he stumbled from bed and ran out of the house. He dropped dead on this spot, and because he had not confessed his sins, he could not be buried in the church yard. His family and friends interred him where he fell, but remembered him with candles and flowers. People still burn candles and leave offerings today. Best visited at dusk or after dark.
- 2 Sosa-Carrillo-Frémont House Museum, 151 S Granada Ave, ☏ , ✉ AHSTucson@azhs.gov. Th-Sa 10AM-4PM. A remnant of Tucson's old barrio which survived and is now surrounded by the Tucson Convention Center, this historic adobe house was built in the 1870s. Free, donations welcome.
- 3 Fort Lowell Museum, 2900 N Craycroft Rd, ☏ . Th-Sa 10AM-4PM. Fort Lowell was a US Army post, active in the late 19th century during the Apache Wars. Most of the adobe structures are now in ruins, but the commanding officers' quarters have been reconstructed and now house a small museum, with exhibits focused on military life on the frontier. The building also has a small gift shop. Free, donations welcome.
- 4 San Pedro Chapel, 5230 E Fort Lowell Rd, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A historic Sonoran-style adobe chapel, built in 1915 and on the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately the church is usually only open for special events, but it can be freely appreciated from the outside.
Museums and galleries
- 5 Pima Air & Space Museum, 6000 E Valencia Rd, ☏ . Daily 9AM-5PM (last admission at 4PM); closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. Features over 300 historic aircraft on an 80-acre site with five hangars, two of them devoted to World War II. Veterans and volunteers are often on hand to answer any questions, and there are daily walking tours of the grounds. There is an onsite restaurant. $15.50 (adults), $12.25 (Pima County residents), $12.75 (seniors/military), $9 (children 5-12), free (children under 5).
- Tram Tour, ☏ . As the grounds are so large, a tour tram is offered for those who do not wish to walk. The guided tour lasts one hour and covers 1½ miles and more than 150 planes. Departure times vary, so it is best to call ahead or inquire at the entrance. Price is in addition to museum admission: $6 (adults), free (children under 6).
- 6 Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC / Boneyard), ☏ . M-F; times vary so best to call ahead, typically 11 AM and 2 PM. A separate, very interesting tour can be booked to see the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center nearby on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, where more than 4,200 aircraft are stored. As the facility is an active military base, an ID is required (all nationalities welcome). Visitors are not permitted to leave the bus, and non-essential backpacks and camera bags are not permitted (storage is available at the museum). Reservations are required at least 10 business days in advance, in order to receive security clearance for the base, and can be made up to 90 calendar days in advance. $10.
- 7 Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N Main Ave, ☏ , ✉ info@TucsonMuseumofArt.org. Tu W 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-8PM, F Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. A museum complex housed in a collection of historic adobe houses, this museum hosts exhibits of regional contemporary art, as well as the Arizona Biennial. Its permanent collection of Latin American and pre-Columbian art is particularly noteworthy. There is a well-stocked shop in the lobby that is open during museum hours. $12 (adults), $10 (seniors), $7 (students/children 13-17), free (children under 13); free on 1st Th of month from 5PM-8PM.
- 8 University of Arizona Museum of Art, 1031 N Olive Rd (on the U of A campus, by E Speedway), ☏ . W 9AM-5PM, Th 9AM-8PM, F Sa 9AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Houses an extensive of American and European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, with excellent rotating exhibits. A highlight of the collection is the 15th-century Spanish altarpiece of Ciudad Rodrigo. $8 (adults), $6.50 (seniors), free (students).
- 9 Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson (MOCA), 265 S Church Ave (across from the Tucson Convention Center), ☏ . W-Su noon-5PM. Hosts exhibits of regional and national contemporary art. $8 (adults), $5 (students/seniors), free (veterans, military, children under 17); free on last Su of every month.
- 10 Center for Creative Photography, 1030 Olive Rd (on the U of A campus, by E Speedway), ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-F 9AM-4PM, Sa 1PM-4PM. The center was founded by Ansel Adams, and routinely features works of famous (and not-so-famous) photographers. When they have their Ansel Adams collection up it is a must see. Free, donations accepted.
- 11 Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio, 711 S 6th Ave (just south of Downtown), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Winter: Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM; summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day): Tu-Sa 11AM-4PM. Tom Philabaum built his first glass studio in 1975, and opened the adjacent gallery in 1982. Together they represent one of the most enduring art endeavors of present-day Tucson. Visitors are able to watch the glass blowing process in the studio, and shop the impressive collection of contemporary glass art from artists around the country.
- 12 De Grazia Gallery in the Sun Historic District, 6300 N Swan Rd, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10AM-4PM; closed 1 Jan, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. A collection of buildings on a 10-acre site, designed and built by well-known Arizona painter Ettore 'Ted' DeGrazia (1909-1982); the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A gallery showcases the artist's work in six permanent collections as well as special rotating exhibits, and a gift shop onsite sells good quality reproductions of some of his work. In early December the grounds also host the annual Fiesta de Guadalupe.
The chapel is closed due to fire damage. $8 (adults), $5 (children 12-18), free (children under 12).
- 13 Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, 414 N Toole Ave (next to the Amtrak station), ☏ , ✉ ContactUs@TucsonHistoricDepot.org. T-Th 11AM-3PM, F Sa 10AM-4PM, Su 11AM-3PM, engine with cab visits Sa 10AM-1PM. A small museum devoted to the history of the railroads in southern Arizona, housed in the historic Southern Pacific Railroad Depot. The star attraction is the Southern Pacific Railroad 1673 steam locomotive. Docents and volunteers available to answer questions about the locomotive on Saturdays. For other times, tours can be arranged upon request. Free.
- 14 Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S 6th Ave, ☏ . M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa Su 10AM-5PM. $6 (children 1-18), $8 (adults), $6 (seniors); $2 2nd Sa of the month.
- 15 Arizona History Museum, 949 E 2nd St (University of Arizona Campus), ☏ . M-Th 9AM-4PM, F 9AM-8PM, Sa Su 11AM-4PM. This museum is devoted to the history of Tucson and the surrounding area, with relevant displays. $8 (adults), $6 (seniors), $5 (students), $4 (children 7-17), free (children under 7).
- 16 Arizona Historical Society (Downtown History Museum), 140 N Stone Ave (in the Wells Fargo Bank bldg), ☏ , ✉ AHSTucson@azhs.gov. Tu-F 10AM-4PM. Exhibits detail businesses and homes in early Tucson, including drugstores, police and fire departments, and a barbershop. $3 (adults), $2 (seniors and youths 12-18).
- 17 Old Pascua Museum and Yaqui Cultural Center, 856 W Calle Santa Ana (south of Grant Rd and Fairview Ave), ☏ , . Tu-Sa 9AM-1PM. Museum that features more than 4000 artifacts on display from the old Pasqua tribe, displayed in a home built in 1926 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Free (donations welcome).
- 18 Museum of the Horse Soldier, 6541 E Tanque Verde Rd (Trail Dust Town), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Su 11AM-5PM, M Tu by appt, W-Sa 11AM-7PM. Has one of the country's largest public collections of items illustrating the history of US calvary from the 18th to 21st centuries. $3 (adults), $2 (children 7-18), free (children under 7).
Parks and wildlife
- 19 Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N Kinney Rd, ☏ . Oct-Feb 8:30AM-5PM, Mar-Sep 7:30AM-5PM. More like Biosphere II than a walled institution, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is part zoo, part natural history museum and part botanical garden all in one Tucson attraction. From tarantulas to black bears, coyotes to scorpions, the museum-zoo is an entrancing and full-contact tribute to the Sonoran desert's wildlife (the wire fences are nearly invisible and the hummingbirds in the buzzing, walk-in aviary seem to think you are the attraction). Give yourself time to soak in the Southwest splendor and if time is all you have, the Museum is also on the fringes of Saguaro National Park, home to the world's largest forests of Saguaro cacti. $14.50/adult, $5/child (Sep-May); $12/adult, $4/child Jun-Aug.
- 20 Colossal Cave Mountain Park, 16721 E Old Spanish Trail (Vail), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 8AM-5PM, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas; tours hourly, last tour at 4PM. A "dry" cave with 3½ miles of mapped passageways. The cave was used by pre-Columbian Native Americans, and rediscovered in 1879. Also on park grounds are a cowboy ranch museum, a butterfly garden, horseback trails, and picnic and camping facilities. Park: $5 (auto), $1 (bicycle); cave: $16 (adults), $9 (children 5-12).
- 21 Tohono Chul Park, 7366 N Paseo del Norte, ☏ . "Tohono chul" means "desert corner" in the Tohono O'Odham's (desert people's) language, and this haven in the midst of Tucson's burgeoning north side offers a tea room, gift shop, bookstore, and art gallery in the middle of trails and gardens. There are extensive botanical exhibits explaining the native plants, and a wonderful plant-sale area in which to buy them for your own garden. Many kinds of desert birds are frequent visitors.
- 22 Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N Alvernon Way, ☏ . Daily 8:30am - 4:30pm, Thurs & Fri 8:30am - 8:00pm. This beautiful oasis in the heart of Tucson was the home of Bernice and Rutger Porter. Dating to the 1920s, the earliest buildings on the property were constructed of adobe bricks made right on site. True to the vision of Mrs. Porter, Tucson Botanical Gardens is a place of beauty, inspiration and education about the natural world. $15 (Adults), $13 (Students, Seniors 62+, Military), $8 (Children 4-17), $0 (Children under 4 years, members).
- 23 Reid Park Zoo, 1030 S Randolph Way, ☏ . Jun-Aug daily 8AM-3PM, Sep-May 9AM-4PM. Cares for more than 500 animals. The zoo has a state-of-the-art facility for treating cancers with radiation and heat therapy, and treats animal patients from zoos all over the country. $9 (adults), $7 (seniors), $5 (children 2-14).
Outside of town
- 24 Mission San Xavier del Bac, 1950 W San Xavier Rd (Tohono O'odham San Xavier Indian Reservation, 10 miles S of Tucson), ☏ . The "White Dove of the Desert" is a Tucson mission. Pure white and pristine against a hot desert backdrop, and still heady inside its elaborately colored and muraled interior from centuries of supplication, the Mission San Xavier del Bac was finished in 1797 when Arizona was still New Spain. It has been cleaned and restored by professional art conservators who worked with and trained members of the community.
- 25 Old Tucson Studios, 201 S Kinney Rd, ☏ . Ever notice that Hollywood's Old West, the backdrop for the gun-slinging and cryptic comments of Hollywood's Western icons – Wayne, Eastwood, Douglas and Newman – has much in common with the Wild West of today's Tombstone and Geronimo? They've all been filmed at the Old Tucson Studios, which were built in 1939 for the making of the William Holden film Arizona. Still an active film, TV and commercial set, it's also a nostalgia-themed park, with main drag shootouts, corseted can-can dancers, educational shows, pre-Prohibition saloons, restaurants, and gift shops.
Tucson is a very diverse city. English is the most widely spoken language. Many people in the south side are bilingual in English and Spanish.
- 1 Arizona Theatre Company (Temple of Music and Art), 330 S Scott Ave (downtown), ☏ (box office), ✉ email@example.com. Box office: M-F 10AM-5PM/curtain, Sa Su noon-curtain. Also operating in Phoenix, the company performs six productions a year. Tickets can be purchased online.
- 2 Centennial Hall, 1020 E University Blvd (University of Arizona), ☏ (ticket office). Ticket office: Sep-Apr M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa noon-5PM; May-Aug hours vary; open 2 hr before performance. A venue for classical music, dance, jazz, and musicals. Tickets can be purchased online.
- 3 Leo Rich Theater, 260 S Church Ave (Tucson Convention Center), ☏ (ticket office), toll-free: . Ticket office: M-F 10AM-5:30PM, 2 hr before event. The venue for concerts sponsored by the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, and Tucson's primary space for ballet, theater, and musicals. Tickets can be purchased online.
- 4 Tucson Music Hall, 260 S Church Ave (Tucson Convention Center), ☏ (ticket office), toll-free: . Ticket office: M-F 10AM-5:30PM, 2 hr before event. The home of Tucson Symphony Orchestra and the Arizona Opera. Tickets can be purchased online.
- 5 DesertView Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Dr, ☏ (ticket office). Ticket office:Mon-Fri, but online at https://dvpac.net/. State of the Performing Art Theater located in the heart of SaddleBrooke live performances from Rock and Roll to Musicals and Symphonies. varies.
Festivals and events
- Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. late January - mid February. For two weeks every winter, the world meets in Tucson as it becomes a bustling, international marketplace of buyers and sellers at the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. The "Gem Show" is much more than a single event at one location. Rather, there are thousands of participants and attendees at nearly 50 sites around town. Dozens of shows take place at the same time – in giant white tents, at hotels and resorts and at exhibit halls. There's something for everyone at the many open-to-the-public shows – from gold and diamonds to granite bookends and glass beads – and from fine specimens of dinosaur fossils to opals dug from the Australian Outback.
- 6 Fiesta de los Vaqueros, Pima County Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S 6th Ave, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. February. An annual week-long rodeo held in mid-February, the highlight of which is the Rodeo Parade. This event marks the start of rodeo season in the US. $22-60.
- 7 Wa:k Pow Wow, 1950 W San Xavier Rd (behind Mission San Xavier del Bac, on the San Xavier Indian Reservation), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 2nd weekend in March; activities begin at 10AM on Sa and extend until 6PM on Su. This annual two-day event showcases traditional dancing from a number of different regional tribes. Booths offer crafts and jewelry for sale, as well as food and beverages. $7 (adults), $5 (children), free (children under 6); $3 for parking.
- 8 La Frontera Tucson International Mariachi Conference, 5655 W Valencia Rd (Casino del Sol Resort), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Late April. An annual four-day event celebrating mariachi music and folklorico dance. International stars and local students alike give performances.
- 9 Tucson Modernism Week, 260 S Church Ave (Tucson Convention Center). October. Annual festival celebrating Tucson's legacy of mid-century modern architecture and design, centered around the mid-century modern convention center and its Garrett Eckbo-designed plaza. Events include a vintage market where numerous vendors sell everything mod, from suits and ties to designer furniture to cool retro gadgets; a car show displaying mostly mid-century cars and trailers; various lectures on architecture; and tours of various mid-century modern homes around Tucson. Prices vary by event; the market and car show are free, but most lectures require tickets.
- 10 All Souls Procession (All Soul's Weekend), Downtown (route begins on N 6th Ave and E 6th St, and ends on W Congress Ave after I-10). November. One of the largest festivals in Tucson and based on the Mexican holiday 'Día de los Muertos' (Day of the Dead), the highlight is a 3-mile parade beginning at dusk. Very colorful, with participants dressing in traditional or creative costumes. Takes place annually on the first Sunday in November.
- 11 La Fiesta de Guadalupe, 6300 N Swan Rd (DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun), ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. First Sunday in December, 10AM-4PM. This annual event celebrates Mexico's patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and features performances by mariachi bands, folklorico dancers, Yaqui dancers, and Spanish flamenco guitar. Booths sell crafts and souvenirs, as well as southwestern-style food and beverages. Free.
- 12 Winterhaven Festival of Lights. December. An annual event in the Winterhaven subdivision north of Fort Lowell Road displaying a huge Christmas light festival involving several dozen homes in the subdivision. The festival starts in the middle of December, ending a few days before New Year's Day. The event is very popular, and traffic to the event is always very congested.
- Summer Car Shows. Year round. Typically after sunset during summer. Tucson's dry climate makes it an ideal location for classic car restoration. There are community organized car shows at various locations and times. Usually free..
Sports and outdoor activities
- 13 Arizona Wildcats, McKale Center, 1721 E. Enke Dr, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 9AM–5PM. The city's highest-profile sports teams are those of the University of Arizona, members of the Pac-12 Conference alongside 11 other schools in the western third of the country. While the school fields teams in 21 sports (nine men's and 12 women's), the biggest draws are (as at most major schools) football and men's basketball. The latter is a very tough ticket, considering the Wildcats' consistent regional and national success in that sport for the last 30 or so years.
- 14 Pusch Ridge Stables, 13700 N Oracle Rd, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 8AM-3PM. This horse stable offers riding lessons. $65/hr (lessons).
- 15 [dead link] Roller Derby Scene (Junior, Men and Women Roller Derby), 1145 E Valencia Rd. The roller derby scene in Tucson is a vibrant one. Tucson Roller Derby, formerly national contenders in the sport, are now a low-scoring team that does not play high level teams but does put on bouts almost every week. Tucson Derby Brats, the first junior roller derby league in the nation, is one of the top junior derby teams in the nation. The Tucson Gunslingers are a men's team that usually plays with the Phoenix men's team. Any one of these teams are a great introduction to the world of roller derby.
- 16 Catalina State Park, 11570 N Oracle Rd (10 miles N of downtown), ☏ . Daily 8AM-5PM (visitor center). On the northwestern edge of the Santa Catalina Mountains, this park covers 5,500 acres and has eight multi-use trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, of varying difficulty. Other popular activities include picnicking, wildlife viewing and birdwatching, with over 170 avian species identified in the park. A small shop at the visitor center carries such items as snack, water, sunscreen, maps, and books. $7 (vehicle w/1-4 adults), $3 (individual/bicycle).
- 17 Tucson Mountain Park, 8451 W McCain Loop, ☏ . This minor mountain range to the southwest of the city has an excellent trail network for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians. The park has many healthy stands of saguaros. The higher-elevation trails provide beautiful views, and are a popular place to photograph sunsets. Free.
- 18 Funtasticks Family Fun Park.
- 19 Golf N'Stuff.
- 20 Tucson Arena, 260 S Church Ave. The venue is part of the Tucson Convention Center, though it isn't Tucson's largest indoor arena (that would be the Arizona Wildcats' McKale Center). It hosts a number of events throughout the year including local events, concerts, Monster Truck shows, and circus performances. It has been the home for the Tucson Roadrunner American Hockey League (AHL) team.
- 2 University of Arizona. Founded in 1885, the University of Arizona is the state's original land-grant university. Today, it hosts nearly 40,000 students, with nationally pre-eminent programs in astronomy, planetary science, optical sciences, pharmacy, business, fine arts, and basketball. One unusual thing is the Tree Walk, a self-guided tour to almost a hundred rare trees on campus.
- 1 Bahti Indian Arts, 4330 N Campbell Ave #73, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 8:30AM-4PM. Sells regional Native American arts and crafts.
- 2 Grey Dog Trading Company, 4320 N Campbell Ave, ☏ . Specializes in Native American arts and crafts.
- 3 Medicine Man Gallery, 6872 E Sunrise Dr #150 (Colonia Verde Shopping Center), ☏ . Specializes in western painter Maynard Dixon, but also represents a number of other western and Native American artists.
- 4 Old Town Artisans, 201 N Court Ave, ☏ . Sep-May M-Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM, Su 11AM-5PM; Jun-Aug M-Sa 10AM-4PM, Su 11AM-4PM. Sells Mexican and Arizona crafts, including jewelry and home decor.
- 5 San Xavier Plaza (in front of Mission San Xavier del Bac). A few stalls here sell friendship bowls (beautifully painted ceramic bowls) made by the Tohono O’odham.
- 6 Silver Sea Jewelry, 330 N 4th Ave, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su M noon-5PM. In business since 1993, the store offers sterling silver jewelry at competitive prices, with interesting little figurines (fantasy, Gothic, Egyptian, skulls) and a variety of gifts. The helpful owner Lizzie can help you find the perfect goodie, including limited supply Stardust and Cake label jewelry.
- 7 Antigone Books, 411 N 4th Ave, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 10AM-7PM, F Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-5PM. The independent bookstore also sells cards and gifts.
- 8 Bookmans Entertainment Exchange East, 6230 E Speedway Blvd (original location), ☏ . Daily 9AM-10PM. Practically a Tucson institution, the original branch opened on Speedway over 30 years ago. Besides used books, they also have used CDs, DVDs, video games, etc. All branches have free Wi-Fi and electric vehicle charging stations, and permit pets in the store.
- 11 REI, 160 W Wetmore Rd (Tucson Mall), ☏ . M-F 10AM-9PM, Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 10AM-6PM. This branch of the Seattle-based chain carries a good selection of outdoor gear and clothing. They also offer classes and lectures, most of them free, on a range of topics relating to the region and travel in general.
- 12 Summit Hut (Speedway Store), 5251 E Speedway Blvd, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 9AM-8PM, Sa 9AM-6:30PM, Su 9AM-5PM. Offers great gear and resources for getting outdoors around Tucson. A very local shop with more than 30 years of experience. Go in and ask questions, these guys will take the time to help you out.
- 14 The RumRunner (The Rum Runner), 3131 E 1st St (just off SE corner of Speedway & Country Club), ☏ . 11AM-10PM. Wine and spirits shop, with large international selection. Full-service cheese and deli counter, with wine tastings and in-house bistro.
- 15 Tanque Verde Swap Meet, 4100 S Palo Verde Rd, ☏ . Fr 3PM-11PM, Sa 7AM-11PM, Su 7AM-3PM. A great place to find all sorts of oddities.
- 16 La Encantada Shopping Center, 2905 E Skyline Dr, ☏ . M-W 10AM-7PM, Th-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Tucson's only luxury shopping center.
- 17 Park Place, 5870 E Broadway Blvd, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-6PM. The mall is anchored by Dillard's, Macy's, Old Navy, and Sears, and has a Cinemark movie theater.
- 18 Trail Dust Town, 6541 E Tanque Verde Rd, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 8AM-11PM (courtyard); shop hrs vary. This unusual shopping center is on an unfinished western movie set, and in addition to shops has a number of tourist attractions. These include a 1954 Allan Herschell carousel, a narrow-gauge railroad, and a military museum.
- 19 Tucson Mall, 4500 N Oracle Rd, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM. Tucson's largest mall has 200 shops and is anchored by Macy's, Dillard's, and Sears.
As you can guess, Tucson is a veritable hub of Southwestern and Mexican cuisine. But Tucson is an adventurous town (easily the most liberal metropolitan area in Arizona) and as a result of its diversity, has a vibrant culinary culture.
One noteworthy concoction unique to Tucson, Phoenix, and southern Arizona is the Sonoran hot dog. First developed in Hermosillo, Sonora, it consists of a traditional hot dog wrapped with bacon and then grilled. It is served in a bolillo (a Mexican roll) with pinto beans, onions, and tomatoes, and topped with mayonnaise, mustard, and jalapeños. The hot dog is traditionally sold from street carts, but several of the longer-established vendors now have sit-down restaurants, with branches scattered around Tucson.
- 1 Beyond Bread Central, 3026 N Campbell Ave (original location, btw Glenn and Ft Lowell), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 6:30AM-8PM, Sa 7AM-8PM, Su 7AM-6PM. Amazing sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, made from ingredients that are as fresh as possible. (In addition to baking bread daily, the restaurant also roasts its turkey and beef on site.) They also have an espresso bar and pastries. A nice place for lunch, but watch out – it's very popular, and you may have to wait in line. Alternately, you can pre-order your meal for pickup online. Average sandwich (hot & cold) costs around $6-6.50, chips included.
- 2 Beyond Bread Northwest, 421 W Ina Rd (SE corner of Ina and Oracle), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 6:30AM-8PM, Sa 7AM-8PM, Su 7AM-6PM. Online orders for this location can be placed here.
- 3 Beyond Bread East, 6260 E Speedway Blvd (Monterey Village Shopping Center), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 6:30AM-8PM, Sa 7AM-8PM, Su 7AM-6PM. Online orders for this location can be placed here.
- 4 Birrieria Guadalajara, 304 E 22nd St (SE corner of 22nd St and 4th Ave), ☏ . Daily 7AM-8PM. A hole-in-the-wall Mexican diner frequented by the Hispanic workers and Gringos in the know. All the standard Mexican fare, but an unusual emphasis on caldos or soup. Birria is shredded beef in its own broth – this place makes the best!
- 5 Bison Witches, 326 N 4th Ave, ☏ . Daily 11AM-midnight. Features tons of different sammies that are huge and will fill you up. Bread bowl soups are another popular choice at this deli/bar and is a college student's dream of a chill place to hang out and get in on some great drink specials. Thursdays is a great night for hanging out here. Sandwiches $8-12.
- 6 BK Tacos (BK Carne Asada and Hot Dogs), 5118 S 12th Ave (original location), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-Th 9AM-midnight, F Sa 9AM-2:30AM. Very popular, specializes in Sonoran hot dogs, tacos, and other classic Mexican dishes.
- 8 Char's Thai Restaurant, 5039 E 5th St (by Rosemont Blvd), ☏ . M-F 11AM-3PM 5PM-9PM, Sa Su 5PM-9PM. It's not always easy to find good Asian restaurants in the desert, but this hole in the wall has to be near the top of anyone's list of favorites. Owned and operated by former residents of Bangkok, the restaurant has a huge selection of tasty curries and noodle dishes. The lunch specials are a great value; takeout available.
- 9 East Coast Super Subs, 187 N Park Ave, ☏ . Daily 11AM-8PM. For the best subs on the west coast, go to East Coast. An absolute must-eat for the cheesesteak connoisseur. Just as famous as the dozens of legendary subs is the memorabilia collection. Takeout and delivery are available, and can be ordered online.
- 10 Eegee's, 2510 E Speedway Blvd, ☏ . Daily 9:30AM-10PM, drive-thru closes at 11PM. A Tucson chain of sub shops, you shouldn't leave Tucson without trying this place. Popular for their frozen slushie-snowcone combo (locally referred to simply as Eegees), they have piña colada, strawberry and lemonade flavors year-round and a unique flavor of the month. Eegee's are also known for their fries, which you can order with ranch dressing (ranch fries), marinara sauce (pizza fries) and fries with chili (chili cheese fries). They also offer pretzels, cookies, chips and sub sandwiches. There are a total of 26 branches in the Tucson area.
- 11 Epic Cafe, 745 N 4th Ave (SW corner of 4th Ave and University), ☏ . Daily 6AM-11PM. An eclectic coffee house with outdoor tables, free Wi-Fi, good organic food, intricately tattooed wait staff, and an independent vibe. Bulletin boards to see what is going on in town. Coffee $1-3; soups, pastries, and sandwiches $3-8.
- 12 El Güero Canelo, 5201 S 12th Ave (the original, S of Irvington), ☏ . Su 8:30AM-10PM, M 10AM-10PM, Tu-Th 10AM-11PM, F 8:30AM-midnight, Sa 8AM-midnight. One of Tucson's most famous restaurants, primarily known for their Sonoran hot dogs. Offers a large selection of Mexican dishes. They have some of the best carne asada in the Southwest! Takeout available at all locations.
- 15 Guillermo's Double L Restaurant, 1830 S 4th Ave (South Tucson), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM. Solid Mexican food, with good atmosphere and prices.
- 16 La Indita Restaurant Mexicano, 622 N 4th Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-8:30PM, Su 9AM-8:30PM. Wonderful food and ambiance, a real gem. Also offers Native American dishes and many vegetarian options. Delivery and takeout can be ordered online.
- 17 Mi Nidito, 1813 S 4th Ave, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. W-Su 11AM-close. Authentic Mexican food with excellent margaritas. Dinner for two with margaritas is about $30.
- 18 [dead link] El Molinito, 5380 W 22nd St (by Craycroft), ☏ . Su 9AM-9PM, M-Th 10AM-9PM, F Sa 10AM-10PM. A local favorite with great Mexican food, has been in Tucson for at least 20 years and has great service. Known for their frozen margaritas. Try their beans and carne asada tacos on a soft flour tortilla. Three other branches are on Ina Road, Pantano Road, and Oracle Road.
- 19 Pat's Chili Dogs, 1202 W Niagara St (between St Mary's Rd and Speedway), ☏ . Su noon-9PM, M-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM. An old time drive-in (carhop service however does not exist – you must walk up to the order window). Lunchtime is packed with Tucsonans ordering chili and cheese dogs in the state. French fries made from fresh potatoes on site, with lots of hot sauce.
- 20 Rigo's Tucson Mexican Restaurant, 5851 N Oracle Rd, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M 7AM-7PM, Tu-F 7AM-9PM, Sa Su 7AM-10PM. Mexican food with breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets, as well as menus. Known for their carne asada and margaritas. Mariachi bands on Friday nights.
- 21 Viva Burrito Co, 1372 W St Marys Rd, ☏ . Daily 24 hrs. A local fast food chain known for its large, tasty breakfast burritos, as well as tacos and enchiladas. Has a drive-thru. There are a total of six branches in Tucson.
- 22 Yoshimatsu Healthy Japanese Eatery, 2741 N Campbell Ave, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM. Local, homemade Japanese food and a sushi bar in the same building. Great romantic location and a separate vegetarian menu. Takeout available.
- 23 The B-Line, 621 N 4th Ave, ☏ . Su-Th 8AM-9PM, F Sa 8AM-10PM. A small but very popular cafe near the University of Arizona. You can't go wrong with nearly anything served here. Excellent pies and cakes that average $6 a slice – which are an absolute must if you come by. Several import and domestic microbrewery beers and wines are offered, and they also sell Mexican Coca-Cola too. Mains $10 (breakfast and lunch).
- 24 Cafe Poca Cosa, 110 E Pennington St (downtown), ☏ . Tu-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM. Creative southwestern and Mexican cuisine in a fun atmosphere. Order the Plato Poca Cosa ($20), and chef-owner Suzana Davila will choose three entrees for you to sample. Trust her judgment. $46 (dinner for two).
- 25 El Charro Café, 311 N Court Ave, ☏ . Daily 10AM-9PM. Opened in 1922, El Charro is the oldest continuously-operated, family-owned Mexican restaurant in the United States. The food is classic Southwestern, with more Sonoran influences than many Tucson restaurants.
- 26 Cup Cafe, 311 E Congress St (in the Hotel Congress), ☏ . Daily 7AM-10PM. Unusual, eclectic mix of Indian, Thai, Japanese, American and Mediterranean food, easily the most interesting restaurant in Tucson. You'll find plenty of vegetarian and some vegan options. On a nice day you can sit outside.
- 27 Guadalajara Original Grill, 1220 E Prince Rd, ☏ . Su-Th 10AM-10PM, F Sa 10AM-11PM. A popular, fun and entertaining Mexican restaurant featuring live mariachis 7 nights per week, fresh salsa made table-side, and homemade tortillas. A great place to go with friends to enjoy the lively and homey atmosphere. The restaurant runs culinary tour of Mexico, and features dishes from different states of Mexico each month that are fun to try. Dinner time includes roaming mariachi singers. Mains $12-22.
- 28 Guadalajara Fiesta Grill, 750 E Kolb Rd, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Su-Th 10AM-10PM, F Sa 10AM-11PM.
- 29 El Minuto Cafe, 354 S Main Ave, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM. Authentic Sonoran cuisine in an adobe house in the barrio, open since 1936. You really can't go wrong with anything on the menu, but do order the mole if they have it on the day you are there. The carne seca is superb and the chiles rellenos are magnificent. Make sure to sample the fresh, made-on-the-premises tortillas. Combine this with a visit to El Tiradito, which is nearby.
- 30 North Italia, 2995 E Skyline Dr (La Encantada Mall), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-11PM, Sa 10AM-11PM, Su 10AM-4PM. Italian in heritage, but extremely experimental. Dishes range from pizzas to pasta to steak, and are normally in the range of $19-$25 (others depend on market prices).
- 31 Rosa's Mexican Food Restaurant, 1750 E Ft Lowell Rd, Ste 164 (by N Campbell Ave), ☏ . Daily 11AM-10PM. Excellent Sonoran-style Mexican food in this family-owned and operated storefront restaurant. Rosa's salsa is consistently voted one of the top three in Tucson by the readers of the Tucson Weekly. The food is heavy on the meat and cheese, with buttery tortillas and delicious refried beans. Entrées $7-$10.
- 32 Sushi Ten, 4500 E Speedway Blvd, Ste 1, ☏ . M-Th 11AM-9:30, F Sa 11AM-10PM, Su noon-9PM. A popular Japanese sushi house.
- 33 Takamatsu, 5532 E Speedway Blvd #1, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-9:30PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM. Takamatsu concentrates on Japanese and Korean dishes where it's common to order sushi. Also, you'll notice that there is habachi-style cooking. Entrées $12-$20.
- 34 Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe, 2456 N Silver Mosaic Dr, ☏ . M-Sa 7:30AM-9PM, Su 7:30AM-2PM. This long-established family-owned restaurant serves authentic Sonoran Mexican cuisine, and they make their own tortillas onsite. The albóndigas (Mexican meatballs) are especially recommended. Mains $9-16.
- 35 Vero Amore, 3305 N Swan Rd, Ste 105, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM. This is a certified pizzeria that hand-makes their mozzarella, and has the finest ingredients from Italy. Their pizza crust is crispy and chewy, and the prosciutto caprese salad, margarita pizza, and capricciosa pizza are all recommended.
- 36 Vivace Restaurant, 6440 N Campbell Ave, ☏ . M-Th 11:30AM-9PM, F Sa 11:30AM-10PM. Vivace is an upscale restaurant that focuses on and serves Italian dishes. Casual dress. The establishment is spacious, and the atmosphere is enhanced by flowers at the tables. Table talk requires you to speak up a bit here. Also, you'll notice that there is an open kitchen. Entrées $12-20.
- 37 Yamato Japanese Restaurant, 857 E Grant Rd, ☏ . M-F 11AM-2PM, 5PM-9:30PM, Sa 5PM-9:30PM. Highly regarded sushi and Japanese.
- 38 Arizona Inn, 2200 E Elm St, ☏ . Serving an American fare, this is a fine dining facility. Expect the average entrée to cost in the range of $20 to $30. Architecturally, the restaurant is in an historic structure. The restaurant has a southwestern U.S. style decor. The interior is enhanced by prints and flowers at the tables, and the lighting is set quite dim. This is a white tablecloth restaurant, and the fireplace adds to the atmosphere and mood here. The establishment has several dining rooms. It has a romantic atmosphere.
- 39 Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 6360 N Campbell Ave, ☏ . Fleming's is known for its prime steak and elegant, cherry wood atmosphere. Its wine list features over 100 wines available by the glass. This steakhouse also offers bar menu specials until 7PM.
- 40 The Grill at Hacienda del Sol, 5601 N Hacienda del Sol Rd, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily; Su brunch 9:30AM-2PM. Mobil four-star American-style grill featuring (Fall 2004) swordfish, Angus beef, buffalo sirloin, lamb, Scottish salmon, and other entrées. Reservations are recommended, and can be made online.
- 41 Mr. An's Teppan Steak, Sushi, & Seafood, 6091 N Oracle Rd, ☏ . M-Th 4PM-10PM, F 4PM-11PM, Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-10PM.
Tucson has an active wine community, with many retailers, restaurants and wine bars regularly offering scheduled wine tasting events. Cochise County, southeast of Tucson has many wineries, some of which welcome visitors.
The majority of Tucson's nightlife for young and old is in three small areas of the town near the University of Arizona, all within walking distance to each other. The three are: 4th Avenue, University, and Downtown. Tucson nightlife tends to start later than nightlife in other areas of Arizona, such as Phoenix or Scottsdale. Expect bars and clubs to be sparsely populated until approx 10-10:30PM on an average weekend night.
4th Avenue stretches from University ave in the north to downtown Tucson in the south (only about ½ mile long). This stretch of 4th Avenue is the main nightlife strip of Tucson and filled with bars and restaurants of all varieties on each side of the street.
The downtown Tucson area just south of 4th Avenue tends caters to a nicer and wealthier crowd and is home to many of Tucson's higher class restaurants and cocktail bars, as well as the famous Club Congress.
The University Ave area of Tucson starts on University/Euclid on the west and runs several blocks until it ends into the school. It is approximately a 10-minute walk along University Avenue from the 4th Avenue area. Like 4th Avenue, University contains a strip of bars, stores, and restaurants that cater to a variety of tastes and ages (not just college kids).
- 1 Barrio Brewing Company, 800 E 16th St (corner of Toole Ave), ☏ . M-W 11AM-10PM, Th-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su 11AM-9PM. Popular microbrewery near the train tracks that meander through downtown Tucson. Built into a former industrial warehouse, the interior features high ceilings and concrete floors while the long patio outside faces the train tracks and provides a view of the Downtown skyline. $3 pints during happy hour and a good happy hour food menu.
- 2 Bison Witches, 326 N 4th Ave, ☏ . Kitchen: daily 11AM-midnight; bar: daily 11AM-2AM. At the heart of Tucson's 4th Avenue historic district, Bison Witches is a funky little bar and restaurant that serves amazing sandwiches, has a large selection of beer and has great margaritas. Bison Witches is always full but the wait for a table is never more than 15 minutes. At night, it can get crowded now that the back patio has been remodeled into an outdoor bar.
- 3 Club Congress, 311 E Congress St, ☏ . If you feel like dancing, this is the place to go. It's in the historic Congress Hotel, where you'll find three bars and one dance floor, featuring techno dance beats and live bands. Call ahead to see who's playing. Cover charge.
- 4 The HangArt, 512 N Echols Ave (between 5th and 6th St), ☏ . varies. Tucson's edgiest live music venue, the HangArt hosts a wide range of performers and musicians almost every night of the week. Anything from punk, folk, indie rock, alternative, hip hop, or electronica and combinations thereof may be available. The HangArt is also a gallery with frequent shows by local visual artists. The main venue is unique, a giant hanger-like storage facility holds the performers and a standing room combined with an outdoor open air seating area further away from the stage. The interior has a large white screen for video art projections which accompany the live music. Truly the most unique and amazing music venue in Tucson. Price varies, but cheap.
- 5 [dead link] Kon Tiki, 4625 E Broadway Blvd, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Th 11AM-1AM, F-Sa 10AM-2AM, Su 10AM-midnight. A Polynesian-themed bar with fruity, Cruzan-laden concoctions that's been in Tucson since 1963. Don't mind the snake behind the bar, the servers are nice and there is no cover. A reasonable place to drink, as $10 can get you feeling quite good. The Scorpion here is a must--but it is illegal to drink one by yourself, so be sure to arrange for a designated driver. Weekends can be very busy. $4.50-7.50.
- 6 Maloney's Tavern, 213 N 4th Ave (south end of bldg), ☏ . Daily 4PM-2AM. Popular large bar with large flat screen TVs playing sports are everywhere. Good atmosphere, relaxed early, and a party atmosphere later at night. 2-for-1-drinks on Thursday nights, but beware, it can get packed on Thursday and Saturday nights with locals and college kids. No cover charge.
- 7 Nimbus Brewing Co., 3850 E 44th St, Ste 138, ☏ . Su 11AM-9PM, M-Th 11AM-11PM, F 11AM-1AM, Sa 11AM-midnight. Popular microbrewery that serves quality food, with a monkey as its mascot. This is the actual brewery which also serves their beer and food in an industrial complex in Tucson.
- 8 O'Malley's Bar and Grill, 247 N 4th Ave, ☏ . Daily 11AM-2AM. The largest and liveliest bar on 4th Avenue. Pool tables, indoor and outdoor areas, and opens a large dance floor in the back later at night. Live music or DJs on the weekends. Expect a line and a large crowd here after 10PM on Friday and Saturday. Drink specials throughout the week during the day. Attracts both the college and local crowd. $5 cover on F/Sa nights after 10PM, military free with ID.
- 9 The Surly Wench Pub, 424 N 4th Ave, ☏ . Daily 2PM-2AM; serves food until closing. While a popular hangout for the local punk and LGBT crowd everyone is welcome. When bands are playing a $5 dollar cover is often charged. The Wench has two pool tables, an air hockey table and a lot of fun decor to peruse. They also often play B movies on a big screen over the entrance.
- 10 The Wreck, 213 N 4th Ave (shares a building with Maloney's), ☏ . Daily 4PM-2AM. Tucson's most popular country-western bar, and the only country bar on 4th Avenue. Large dance floor, cheap drinks, and plays a mixture of country and dance songs. Lively crowd and the bartenders dance on the bar coyote ugly style. If you're looking to dance to country music in Tucson, this is your place. Gets very crowded Thursday-Saturday, but never difficult to get a drink or dance. No cover.
Some motels on West Miracle Mile Road and south of 3000th block of North Oracle Road tend to be cheaper, run-down motels. Good deals can be found, but one probably wouldn't want to take one's family to these. This area is a legacy of the pre-freeway auto courts, 1937 to 1965, called Miracle Mile. A number of the old motor lodges remain. If you need a room for $25 this is the place to start looking.
- 1 Hotel Congress, 311 E Congress St, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This historic hotel was the site of John Dillinger's arrest [dead link]. The rooms are small, but have a funky, historic feel.
- 2 Econo Lodge, 1136 N Stone Ave, ☏ . Pet-friendly hotel near the University of Arizona.
- 3 Roadrunner Hostel & Inn, 346 E 12th St, ☏ . $20/night (beds), $38/night (private rooms).
- 4 Rodeway Inn, 1248 N Stone Ave, ☏ . 39 comfortable rooms to help you get off of the road and get some rest.
- 5 Comfort Suites Sabino Canyon, 7007 E Tanque Verde Rd, ☏ . Renovated and central.
- 6 Courtyard Tucson Airport, 2505 E Executive Dr, ☏ . $109-$189.
- 7 Courtyard Tucson Williams Centre, 201 S Williams Blvd, ☏ . $109-149.
- 8 Desert Dove Bed & Breakfast, 11707 E Old Spanish Trail, ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. A romantic, secluded and scenic bed and breakfast inn, close to Saguaro National Park. Rooms:$125-145.
- 9 Desert Trails Bed & Breakfast, 12851 E Speedway Blvd, ☏ . Check-in: 3-6PM, check-out: 11AM. A unique adobe hacienda situated on acreage bordering Saguaro National Park East, ideal for hiking, birding, and wildlife viewing. Horseback riding available; dining and shopping close by. $ 140.
- 10 Hyatt Place Tucson Airport, 6885 S Tucson Blvd, ☏ , fax: . ½ mile south of the Tucson International Airport and minutes from the Desert Diamond Casino.
- 11 Lodge on the Desert, 306 N Alvernon Way, ☏ , toll-free: . Founded in 1936 as a dude ranch on the edge of town, Lodge on the Desert is now in the heart of the city. However, it still exudes desert style and beauty. The 35 rooms are beautifully appointed with unique Southwestern flair.
- 12 The Riverpark Inn, 350 S Freeway, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Near downtown, the Convention Center and close to the University of Arizona. Terrace Cafe on-site.
- 13 Starr Pass Golf Suites, 3645 W Starr Pass Blvd, ☏ . 80 spacious casitas and suites with spectacular desert views, many with fireplaces and balconies.
- 14 Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa, 245 E Ina Rd, ☏ , toll-free: . A full service resort and spa on an 80-acre oasis. There is on-site horseback riding, hiking, birding, swimming, and gourmet dining.
- 15 The Arizona Inn, 2200 E Elm St, ☏ . This charming and classic 1930 resort was built by Isabella Greenway, Arizona's first woman to serve in the U.S. Congress (1933-1937). Colorful stucco casitas and suites ramble through meticulously, groomed grounds. The Arizona Inn has won top awards from Zagat and Condé Nast, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- 16 Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, 5501 N Hacienda Del Sol Rd, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: after 3PM, check-out: before 11AM. Has a highly-regarded restaurant onsite, outdoor pool, gym, spa, and bicycle rental available. Pets permitted. $199+.
- 17 The Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, 7000 N Resort Dr, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This hotel is at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains. There are a total of 398 rooms on three floors. There are two pools, five restaurants, a spa, running path, hiking trails, and there are many species of birds right outside your room on the side that looks out to the mountains. There are also two 18-hole golf courses nearby the hotel. There is free access to Sabino Canyon via a van; however, complimentary WiFi to their guests is not offered. Expect average daily rates for their standard rooms to cost $250 per night during the summer and convention seasons. Typically most guests are retirees without grandchildren - younger guests with children tend to stick out like a handful of sore thumbs.
- 18 Tanque Verde Ranch, 14301 E Speedway Blvd, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Guests at this dude ranch, founded in 1868, have a choice of getting daily massages or hitting the trail by horse or foot. Located on 640 acres in the foothills of the Rincon mountains east of Tucson, the ranch offers horseback riding, tennis, guided hiking, mountain biking and nature walks, all included in your nightly rate.
- 19 White Stallion Ranch, 9251 W Twin Peaks Rd, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A working cattle ranch with 41 guest rooms and suites and a hacienda. Modern amenities are also available, including a fitness center, sauna, tennis court, and rec center.
- 20 Tucson Mountain Park, Gilbert Ray Campground, 8451 W Mccain Loop. Secluded, quiet, county-run RV Park. 30 amp electric only, water and dump station available on the grounds. No reservations taken, honor system payments. Used mostly by out of state snowbirds during the winter, worth looking at to put up adventuresome guests on a budget or those travelers with a desire to see the night sky only a few miles out of Tucson. No showers. Note: rattlesnakes are not uncommon in the park. $20/night (RVs), $10/night (tents).
- 21 Catalina State Park, 11570 N Oracle Rd (10 miles N of downtown), ☏ (information), (reservations). Check-in: daily 8AM-5PM (ranger station). This campground has 120 campsites, all with water, grills, and picnic tables. Flush toilets and hot showers are available. Reservations are required and must be made at last 24 hours in advance; they can be made online. $15-20 (non-electric), $25-30 (electric); $5 reservation fee (nonrefundable).
- 22 Colossal Cave Mountain Park (listed above), 16721 E Old Spanish Trail (Vail), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 8AM-5PM. Built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the campground has 30 individual sites for tents as well as a few for RVs (no hookups). Most sites have picnic tables and grills, and water and toilets are available. $5 (car/RV), $12 (horse trailer).
- If you go walking in the desert parks, or on your own, learn desert-safety tips. Take water, always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to get back, and if you have a cell phone, take it with you and have it on. It's disturbingly easy to get lost in the desert. Also, watch for snakes and bugs, as a few are dangerous to your health. When hiking, for example, rattlesnakes are easy to come across. When putting your slippers on in the morning, scorpions can be an unpleasant surprise.
- Midtown (specifically the section along Alvernon Road between Grant and Ft. Lowell) and the south section of the city (in the general area between I-10, I-19, and Valencia) are not the safest places to be – but there are no real attractions in these areas anyway. Downtown is heavily occupied until 2AM when the bars close. If you are downtown after 2AM, be cautious. While murder rates are fairly low, they are violent and sometimes random. There is gang activity but for the most part it is directed against rival gangs. There are many homeless people downtown. The center city is heavily populated by the "young and restless", so it may seem a spooky to more conservative travelers due to the dirt and noise the youngsters create.
- Tucson has one of the highest rates of vehicle theft in the USA, and there are a few locations in the city you're more likely to have your car/truck stolen at than at any other place in the town, such as the 20 Walmart on 1650 W Valencia Rd and the 21 Park Place mall.
- During the monsoon season (usually in the months of July - September), Tucson does experience flash flooding. Under no circumstances should you attempt to drive across a flooded road that is barricaded. If your vehicle becomes stranded in your attempt to cross the barricaded road: you will be issued a traffic citation by the police under the 1995 "stupid motorist law" (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 28-910), fined in the amount of $2000, and ordered to pay for all rescue costs (usually $1500 or more – and that doesn't include the towing expense either). Also, if you knowingly drive a vehicle into a flooded road that is barricaded with a child under the age of 16, you may also be charged with a class-1 misdemeanor charge of child endangerment (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3619 - per each child in the car) in addition to the previously mentioned penalties if your car becomes stranded.
- Newcomers to the southwest often hear about a lung infection called Valley Fever (a fungal disease – the proper medical name is coccidioidomycosis). Although it's rare to contract this disease, it should be taken seriously as it is difficult for most doctors to accurately identify it (a blood test called a coccidioidal must be done to accurately diagnose this illness), and it takes weeks for the symptoms to fully develop for an experienced doctor to recognize them. Exposure to very dusty conditions (ATV riding in the desert, construction, getting caught in a sudden dust storm) increases the opportunity to become infected. It is recommended to wear a face mask if you intend to be exposed to dusty conditions, and strongly recommended if you have a lung disease or temporarily suffering from pneumonia. There is no cure for this disease, only long term treatment. For acute symptoms patients may be prescribed an antifungal drug such as fluconazole.
- Take precautions for sunburn and heat stroke. This cannot be emphasized enough if you plan to make a trek in the desert mountains. It's easy to sunburn and windburn out in the desert, and the UV rays are very strong. It is recommended to use sunscreen with at least a UV protection rating of 30 or higher. Be mindful of the extreme heat when hiking in the mountains during the summer months to avoid suffering from heat exhaustion or possibly dying from heat stroke.
- Mosquitoes can be bad after a monsoon (usually in the months of July - September), so consider wearing mosquito repellent with a high concentration of DEET to reduce the risk of acquiring diseases typically transmitted by these annoying insects.
- Care should be taken when you decide to ride a motorcycle or ATV in the desert, so you don't get injured by running into or bushing against the "jumping cholla" cacti. Wearing thick protective clothing, helmets, and gloves while riding are an absolute must. These are very prickly cacti with stems that detach with little or no effort, also the cacti spines are very painful to remove from your skin once contact is made.
For visitor information about events and activities taking place in Tucson, check out the city of Tucson's on-line directory.
There are surprisingly many locations within the city of Tucson that are free Wi-Fi hotspots, so free Internet access shouldn't be viewed as a problem. Most of the hotspots are in coffee shops (such as the Bruegger's Bagel locations), the local book store (Bookman's), and the local libraries (no library membership required) throughout the city.
For all emergencies you may dial 9-1-1 from any cell (active or inactive cell phone) or land line phone free-of-charge. If using a cell phone be sure to inform the operator of your exact location, as it takes extra time for the operator to attempt to triangulate your location – time is of the essence in emergency situations. When calling 911 for assistance be as calm as possible, and do not panic or use profanity over the phone, as the operator on the phone might consider the call as a prank.
For non-emergencies dial the police department at +1 520-791-4444 between 8AM and 10PM (after 10PM, you may dial 9-1-1 for all issues).
- 3 Canadian Consulate, 1840 E River Rd, Ste 200, ☏ .
- 4 El Salvadoran Consulate General, 3127 E 2nd St, ☏ , , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 5 Mexican Consulate, 553 S Stone Ave, ☏ , (Emergencies), fax: , ✉ email@example.com. M-Th 8AM-5PM.
- 6 Paraguayan Consulate, 3909 E Justin Ln.
- 7 Costa Rican Honorary Consul, 3567 E Sunrise Dr, Ste 235, ☏ , , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. appointment only. Honorary consulates typically represent the business interests of a nation, and do not provide legal or citizen support (such as passport support) to its citizens.
- Arizona Daily Star is Tucson's largest daily newspaper.
- Tucson Weekly lists weekly cultural events and has good restaurant reviews.
- Saguaro National Park is the most dense forest of the iconic cactus of the American West. The park has two unconnected units to the east and west of Tucson.
- The Santa Catalina Mountains are just northeast of Tucson on the Catalina Highway, and offer a number of hiking trails for all skill levels, as well as opportunities for horse riding, mountain biking, camping, and even downhill skiing.
- Bisbee makes for a pleasant day trip. The Copper Queen has great food and historic accommodation.
- Tombstone. Visit the famous old west boom town to see "haunted" theaters, graves of famous outlaws, and reenactments of the famous O.K. Corral shootout. For more serious Old West history, be sure to visit the Cochise County Courthouse museum. A must for any trip to southern Arizona.
- Oracle. 35 miles north of downtown Tucson via Oracle Road (Highway 77). Higher, Cooler, wetter, greener. Has Oracle State Park. Bedroom - artist community. Interesting people. Beautiful drive. Several overnight options (from motels to dude ranches) and restaurants. Two lively bars. Biosphere 2 is on the way. Wonderful vistas of the north side of the Santa Catalina Mountains and Mt. Lemmon ski slopes. Borders Catalina National Forest (hiking, etc). Access to Arizona Trail. 'Back road to Mt Lemmon' starts in Oracle. Interesting history (Buffalo Bill, Gold Mining, Dude Ranches, et al). Main drag not much to look at but lots of hidden gems. See life in an unusually rich small Arizona town.
|Routes through Tucson|
|Los Angeles ← Yuma ←||W E||→ Benson → San Antonio|
|Phoenix ← Picacho ←||W E||→ Benson → Las Cruces|
|END ←||N S||→ Green Valley → Nogales|
|Holbrook ← Oracle ←||N S||→ END|