Guide to Tucson: how to get there and where to stay, what to see and where to go in the evening. The best things to do in Tucson: fresh reviews and photos, places to see, branded entertainment and shopping.
According to toppharmacyschools, Arizona’s second-largest city, Tucson, is located on a hill, and therefore it is slightly cooler here than in its neighbor in the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix. With a total population of about 850 thousand people, Tucson has always been at the crossroads of several paths, and its population was the most diverse. The main tourist attractions of Tucson are located not so much in the city itself, but around it: this is the perfect place to explore Arizona in its wild, natural form.
Saguaro National Park is the most pristine and extensive cactus forest in the American West. Huge saguaro cacti live here for 200 years, gaining up to 15 m in height and more than 10 tons of weight during this time.
How to get to Tucson
Tucson International Airport receives flights from several national airlines, although some prefer to fly to Phoenix, and from there to get to Tucson by ground transportation (in particular, the Arizona shuttle buses). Amtrak trains run here on the Los Angeles-New Orleans line.
Entertainment and attractions in Tucson
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on Kinney Road is not so much a traditional museum as it is a Biosphere II project. It is partly a zoo, partly a natural history museum, partly a botanical garden. Here you can see a wide variety of inhabitants of the region, from tarantulas to brown bears, from scorpions to coyotes. In addition, the museum is located on the edge of the Saguaro National Park, where you can see the most extensive thickets of saguaro cacti in the world.
3 things to do in Tucson:
- Feel like a western hero.
- Enjoy your fill of cacti.
- Visit the aircraft cemetery and the desert observatory.
Saguaro National Park is the most pristine and extensive cactus forest in the American West. The park consists of two unconnected parts to the east and west of the city. This place became a national monument in 1933. Huge saguaro cacti live here for 200 years, gaining up to 15 m in height and more than 10 tons of weight during this time. These are the same iconic cacti that we imagine when we think of the Wild West. Although other species of thorny plants grow in the national park, as well as desert flowers that cover the ground with a motley carpet after heavy rains. Most of the park’s animals prefer to hide during the day, but still travelers have a chance to see coyotes, owls, hawks, turtles, wild pigs, and foxes here.
Sabino Canyon is a scenic desert gorge cut through the southern part of the Santa Catalina Mountains, on the northern border of the city. You can get here by tram (about 9 stops), and from here by another tram – to the Bear Canyon, from where the popular hiking trail to the Seven Waterfalls begins. In order to enter the park, the National Park Pass is required, which is also valid for Mount Lemmon.
These places were inhabited 10 thousand years ago. The first Christian mission was founded in 1699, but it was not until 1775 that a permanent settlement appeared, and Tucson became part of the United States in 1853.
The mission of San Xavier del Bac – “the white dove of the desert” – is where the city began. Inside a beautiful snow-white building in the middle of a hot desert, you can still see beautiful paintings and murals. The mission was finally completed in 1797, when Arizona still belonged to Spain.
The old Tucson film studio testifies to the times when the city served as a permanent setting for Hollywood films about the Wild West. It was originally built in 1939 for William Holden’s Arizona. Since then, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, John Wayne have been “noted” here. The studio is still open today and has a nostalgic theme park with pre-prohibition saloons, corseted can-can dancers, restaurants and gift shops.
One of the really unusual sights of the city is El Tiradito. This is probably the only sanctuary in honor of a sinner in the whole country. In the 1880s the stepfather caught his stepson with his stepmother and shot him, so that the guy who ran out of the house fell dead on the road. He died without repentance, they refused to bury him on church land, so the family buried the body right where the sinner fell. Flowers and candles are still brought to this place.
The Pima Aerospace Museum on Valencia Road boasts over 250 historic aircraft. In addition, the museum can book a special tour of the aerospace storage center (aka the “cemetery of bones”), where more than 4,200 aircraft have been collected. And in the Titan missile museum, south of the city, in Sahuarita, an underground complex from the times of the Cold War Titan-II has been preserved.
Tohono-Chul Park is a well-maintained and very pleasant place with a tea room, a gift shop, a bookstore and an art gallery nestled among gardens and paths. In the park, you can admire an extensive botanical exhibition of local plants and even buy some seedlings.
The Tucson Museum of Art includes a complex of historic homes and permanent displays of art from Hispanic and pre-Columbian cultures. It also hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and the Arizona Biennale. The University of Arizona Art Museum is located on campus on Olive Road and houses a fairly extensive collection of works by American and European artists ranging from the Renaissance to the 20th century. The masterpiece of the collection is a Spanish altarpiece from the 15th century. In addition, Tucson has a Museum of Contemporary Art (Church Avenue) and the De Gracia Gallery in the Sun Historic District. The latter is a complex of buildings designed and built by the famous 20th century artist Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia and houses a gallery of his paintings.
Every winter, for two weeks, Tucson turns into a bustling international market selling and buying gems, minerals, and fossils. The Stone Show is not a one-time fair in one place: more than 1,000 participants are dispersed in 50 different venues, and at the same time, a wide variety of shows and exhibitions for the general public are held in the city, where you can see anything, including gold bars and dinosaur bones.
One of the biggest celebrations in Tucson is the All Saints Day Procession, a nearly 5km long parade that begins at dusk. The bright and colorful holiday is based on the Mexican Day of the Dead and takes place on the first Sunday of November.
The annual festival of lights takes place in Winterhaven. Illumination turns on on several dozen buildings. Usually the holiday begins in mid-December and ends a few days before the New Year. The festival is very popular, so traffic is difficult these days.
The Kartchner Caverns are located 15 km south of the city. The state park was opened here in 1999, and within its territory you can see a stunning system of caves in limestone cliffs, which, according to some estimates, is one of the ten most beautiful in the world. The caves were discovered in 1974 and kept secret until 1988, which allowed them to be preserved in almost pristine condition.
The Kitt Peak National Observatory is an hour southwest of Tucson. Fans of astronomy should not miss this place, and photography lovers too. There are several astronomical telescopes and one large solar telescope, and you can arrange an excursion.
A popular tourist destination is Summerhaven, a small community on Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. It is located at an altitude of almost 2500 m and was originally used by the military from Fort Lowell as a camp to fight the Apaches in the 1870s and 1880s. There are several shops, a gallery of handmade items and even a gingerbread house where you can treat yourself to homemade cookies and pizza. In 2003, the horrific Aspen fire caused a lot of damage to Summerhaven, but the place is still popular: people go skiing in Summerhaven in winter, and escape the heat in summer.