The second largest city in Arizona, Tucson occupies a unique location in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Being surrounded by five mountain ranges, lush desert landscapes, and two districts of the Saguaro National Park makes it ideal for outdoor activities. With over 340 sunny days a year, Tucson is the perfect destination for one-of-a-kind adventure. Enjoy hiking, horseback riding, cycling, al fresco dining, and relaxing by the pool.
Admire the picturesque architecture of downtown Tucson, inspired by its desert surroundings. Enjoy leafy gardens, local breweries, colourful murals, and Mexican-inspired cooking. Check out the self-guided Turquoise Trail, a 2.5-mile loop through downtown Tucson. The trail begins at the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson, a recreation of the original Presidio built by soldiers in 1775. Along the trail, you’ll find the John Dillinger courtroom at the historic Pima County courthouse, the colourful adobe homes of Barrio Viejo, and the over-100-year-old Hotel Congress.
Round off exciting days in one of Tucson’s locally owned breweries with a trip to one of the best-kept secrets in the craft beer industry. Much like the chefs who put the Tucson food scene on the map, Tucson brewers take traditional techniques and add their own spin to make something entirely new. From sour ales fermented with cactus fruit to stouts infused with Mexican spices, local ingredients and flavours inspired by the Sonoran Desert come through in just about every glass they pour.
When to visit
In the height of summer, temperatures in Tucson can reach up to 37℃ (99℉). The weather at night in the winter, which is around December, can get down to 3℃ (38℉). If you’re a sun-chaser and want to visit Tucson when the days are longest, you should visit in August.
UNESCO as the first City of Gastronomy in the U.S. due to its thousands of years of agricultural history, a commitment to sustaining heritage crops, and delicious restaurants.
There’s a surprising diversity of birds in Tucson due to varied elevations, generally mild climate, Sky Islands linking the Rocky Mountains to the Sierra Madre, and migratory flyways.
Pima Air & Space Museum
Discover Pima Air & Space Museum, one of the largest aviation and space museums in the world, featuring more than 400 historical aircrafts. Many of the docents on property worked on, or flew, the aircraft they’re discussing.
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Take your idea of a museum and turn it on its head at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Located west of Downtown Tucson, this museum is a zoo, botanical garden, aquarium, and art gallery in one spanning 98 acres in the vibrant Sonoran Desert. It’s home to over 230 animal species thriving in their natural habitat, surrounded by 1,200 types of desert foliage. If you want to understand the vibrant, living Sonoran Desert, visit the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.
Mission San Xavier del Bac
Mission San Xavier del Bac, built in 1783, is considered the best example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States. With its elegant white stucco and ornately decorated entrance, this historic site is breathtaking inside and out and full of rich, fascinating history. Located south of downtown Tucson on the Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation, the Mission is still actively run by Franciscans and is open to the public daily except during church services.
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
Once the home of iconic Italian American artist, Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia, the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun’s adobe homes is now a museum celebrating his art and the surrounding desert beauty. DeGrazia has been called the world’s most reproduced artist for his iconic and colourful images of Native American children and other Western scenes. The DeGrazia Gallery was another manifestation of how he saw the American Southwest with hand-painted murals on every wall.
Wilcox and Sonoita
South of Tucson, Wilcox and Sonoita’s high desert conditions place Arizona on the map as a major player for wine regions. Comparable to California and Argentina climates with their vast valley farmlands, Southern Arizona’s wine country produces nearly three-quarters of the state’s grapes and has produced award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot varietals. Sonoita was the first location in Arizona to be designated as an American Viticultural Area.
El Charro Café
Established in 1922, El Charro Café is the nation’s oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family. Monica Flin, the founder of El Charro, is credited as being the inventor of the Chimichanga when she accidentally dropped a burro into a deep fryer.
Sonoran Hot Dog
A Sonoran Hot Dog is a must-try. It consists of a grilled bacon-wrapped hot dog, served on a bolillo-style bun, and topped with pinto beans, onions, tomatoes, and a variety of additional toppings including mayonnaise, mustard, and jalapeno salsa.
The amazing crusts and chewy interior of Barrio Bread showcases the art and science of Don Guerra’s passion for baking and commitment to community. Dedicated to quality, ARTisan bread, created with centuries-old baking techniques and locally grown heritage grains.
Arizona is a place where it’s easy to combine outdoor exploration and urban culture.
Experienced adventure companies and outfitters can escort groups to some of Arizona’s most beautiful places—from Jeep tours in Sedona to float trips on the Colorado River to horseback treks in Monument Valley. Such photogenic endeavours can be seamlessly augmented by museum visits and memorable meals in the cosmopolitan centres of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tucson.
Arizona also caters to lovers of wine, golf, astronomy, Old West history, professional sports, luxury spas and shopping. Aficionados of the latter can peruse fashion centres, designer outlets, art galleries and vintage boutiques.
So, sure, the Grand Canyon—one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World—is something no visitor to Arizona should miss. But it’s far from the only thing that makes Arizona grand.