Tucson Arizona Visitor Attractions
Start your exploration of the Tucson Valley by visiting the Arizona Historical Society Museum, the oldest of its kind in the state of Arizona. The society is a great place to find out about the many different cultures which play into modern Tucson.
Located on the University of Arizona's campus is the oldest and largest anthropology museum in the Southwest, the Arizona State Museum.
Tucson is lucky to have thriving Historic and Arts Districts located in the heart of downtown.
On the west side of town, you can enjoy the International Wildlife Museum Tucson's very own natural history museum.
Just a little further west you will find the famed Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, home to more than 200 animal and 300 plant varieties native to this area.
On your way back to the city, journey through Saquaro National Park West via Picure Rocks Road for gorgeous mountain views. Stop to see the petroglyphs at Signal Hill and glimpse some painted traces of the history of the Southwest.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - A must see for your first stop in the desert! Get close-up views of rattlesnakes, bobcats, mountain lions, hawks, scorpions, etc. Live-animal demonstrations and guided tours available daily. Phone # 883-1380.
Biosphere 2 Center - This 3-acre glass-and-steel complex - designed as a prototype for space colonization - contains a million-gallon ocean and living coral reef, a rain forest, savannah, marsh, and desert. Phone # 896-6200.
Air, Space, Defense Museums - Visit one of the largest collections of historic aircraft in the United States at 6000 East Valencia Road.
International Wildlife Museum - See over 400 species of birds, mammals, and insects from around the world. You'll find a display of prehistoric mammals, interactive displays, a restaurant, a theatre and an international gift bazaar. Phone # 617-1439.
Old Tucson Studios - See a live, staged gunfight at one of the most visited attractions in Arizona. Old Tucson Studios is a family theme park that has been built up by the more than 300 movies and television shows filmed there - including Kurt Russell's Tombstone and John Wayne's Rio Lobo. Phone # 883-0100
Two Museums of Fine Art - The permanent collection of The University of Arizona Museum of Art includes European and American art from the Renaissance to the present. Located on the U of A campus. Phone # 621-7567. Also take a look at the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block for Western Art downtown. Phone # 624-2333.
Sabino Canyon - A tram runs daily to the trailhead of an incredible 5.5 mile hike to Seven Falls and offers evening shuttles around full-moon time. Located on North Sabino Canyon Road. Phone # 749-2861.
Catalina State Park - Just 12 miles north of Tucson on Oracle Road, this park offers the best views of the canyons, cliffs, domes, and sprires on the north side of the Catalina Mountains. Walk the Romero Ruin Interpretive Trail to the archaeological site of an ancient Hohokam Indian village and the site of the Spanish hacienda. Phone # 628-5798.
Gates Pass - A winding uphill drive west on Speedway Blvd. brings you, at its Apex, to Gates Pass- and a panoramic view of Tucson to the east and Tucson Mountain Park to the west. Make sure you time out the drive to catch the perfect Sunset. This is Tucson scenery you will not want to miss!
Jeep Tours - Experienced drivers can fill you in on all the details about the flora and fauna. A great family experience! Sunshine Jeep Tours - 742-1943.
North Campbell Road - Just before Sunset take a drive north on Campbell and park at the top of the road to get the best view of the Tucson city lights after the sun sets in the west over the mountains.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Wandering through this living museum is like taking an enchanted walk through the desert - with no fear of snakes or critters. There's lots of information, plenty of shade and water, and close-up views of bobcats, prairie dogs, coyotes, hawks, Mexican gray wolves, scorpions, rattlesnakes, roadrunners, quail, and more. Admission fee. Open daily 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Oct. - Feb. and 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Mar. - Sept. 2021 N. Kinney Rd. Phone 520-883-2702.
If you're a stickler for fresh foods, fresh air, and friendly faces, a farmers market may be just the place for you. Visit The Tucson Farmers Market at St. Philip's Plaza (4380 N. Campbell Ave., 520-918-9811), Plaza Palomino Saturday Morning Market, (in Plaza Palomino, on the southeast corner of Swan and Fort Lowell Rds., 520-320-6344), Rincon Valley Farmers & Artisans Market (12500 E. Old Spanish Trail, 520-591-2276) Oro Valley Farmers Market (11000 N. La Cañada Dr., 520-918-9811), Cat Mountain Station Farmer's Market (2740 S. Kinney Rd., 520-578-8795), Santa Cruz River Farmers' Market (northeast corner of Speedway and Riverview Blvds., 520-622-0525), and Friday's Farmers Market at Broadway Village, (southwest corner of Broadway Blvd. and Country Club Rd., 520-603-8116). Call for days and hours of operation.
Pima Air & Space Museum
One of the largest collections of historic aircraft in the US is at the Pima Air & Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Rd. Its Space Gallery offers a historical look at space travel, while several hangars house memorabilia, airplanes, and exhibits. More than 275 aircraft are on display, inside and out, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission fee. Phone 520-574-0462. Another sure bet is the partly underground tour at the Titan Missile Museum. You can see the massive 760-ton rollback silo door, visit the launch-control center, and experience a simulated launch. In Sahuarita (take Duval Mine Rd. west, exit 69, off I-19). Phone 520-625-7736.
Get off the highway and take a look at what you've been speeding past. Off-road Hummer and Jeep tours offer fascinating glimpses into the natural history of this exotic desert region. A visit to historic and prehistoric sites may include a close-up look at Native American petroglyphs or a trip to a ghost town. Phone Black Diamond Hummer Tours (520-907-1061) or Trail Dust Adventures Inc. (520-747-0323).
Called Tucson's "most eclectic shopping district," the avenue has numerous boutiques, galleries, restaurants, cafés, and jewelry and furniture stores. Adding to its charm, the historic shopping and dining district hosts free entertainment at various stops along the avenue the 1st and 3rd Sats. of the month. Phone 520-624-5004.
When you visit this old mining-town-turned-artists'-enclave and wander among the steeply tiered hillside houses or delve 1,500 feet underground on the Queen Mine Tour (520-432-2071) to experience what mining was really like, you'll understand why people speak so fondly of this little town. Take a Lavender Jeep Tour (520-432-5369) to find more of what Bisbee and Southern Arizona have to offer. At night, see who - and what - haunts this hamlet with Arizona Ghost Tours (520-432-3308). Located about 90 miles southeast of Tucson on AZ Hwy. 80. Phone theBisbee Visitor Center, 520-432-3554 or 866-2BISBEE. Check out our Bisbee special section for a broad selection of restaurants, shops, hotels, and attractions.
Two historic theaters reign as the grandes dames of Tucson's city center. The refurbished Fox Tucson Theatre (17 W. Congress St., 520-624-1515 or 520-547-3040, earned its ranking as a National Historic Landmark for its unique decor and acoustics, featuring elements reminiscent of its prime in the 1930s and 40s. It hosts concerts, film festivals, theater performances, and silent movies. Built in 1920, The Rialto Theatre (318 E. Congress St., 520-740-1000) once welcomed such stars as Clara Bow, Ginger Rogers, and Dolores del Rio, as well as touring vaudeville acts. Today it hosts various live musical acts year-round.
Tucson Botanical Gardens and Tohono Chul Park
Find an urban oasis near you! Tucson Botanical Gardens (2150 N. Alvernon Way, 520-326-9686) has demonstration gardens; a seasonal café; tours; lectures; classes; a gift shop; and exhibits of arid, semitropical, and tropical plants. Tohono Chul Park (7366 N. Paseo del Norte, 520-742-6455,) was created to promote the conservation of arid regions. It includes nature trails, art and cultural exhibits, a greenhouse, a children's garden, a tearoom, and gift shops.
Tubac & Tumacacori
Situated 45 miles south of Tucson off I-19, Tubac was once the site of a Spanish presidio. Today, it's the town "where art and history meet," offering prints, pottery, jewelry, batiks, paintings, restaurants, lodging, golf, and more. Drive south to the town of Tumacacori or hike the 4.5-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail to Tumacacori National Historical Park (520-398-2341) to see a Franciscan mission built in the early 1800s and a garden like the one grown by the padres 200 years ago. Contact the Tubac - Santa Cruz Visitor Center (520-398-0007) or the Tubac Chamber of Commerce (520-398-2704).
Family Fun Centers
Pack up the kids and head out the door, because Arizona is perfect for enjoying the great American pastimes of miniature golf, bumper boats, batting cages, go-carts, and video arcades. VisitFuntasticks Family Fun Park at 221 E. Wetmore Rd. (520-888-4653) or Golf N' Stuff at 6503 E. Tanque Verde Rd. (520-885-3569).
Many works by one of Tucson's most famous artists, Ted DeGrazia, are housed in DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun. Built by the artist with the help of close friends, the compound of low-slung adobes (constructed of materials from the surrounding desert) at one time served as his home and studio. The permanent collection includes works by DeGrazia; rotating exhibits and a gift shop round out the mix. In 2009, a yearlong centennial celebration commemorates the life and legend of the renowned artist. The 10-acre site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located at 6300 N. Swan Rd. Phone 520-299-9191.
Apple Annie’s Orchard
The changing season means piles of fallen leaves, a nip in the air, and fresh-from-the-farm produce. On weekends Sept. 26 - Oct. 25, Apple Annie's Produce & Pumpkins in Willcox, 80 miles east of Tucson, offers hayrides, a pumpkin patch, and adventures through Arizona's largest corn maze. A quick 5-mile jaunt down the road leads to Apple Annie's Orchard, with apple trees ripe and heavy for the pickin'. Also enjoy country-style pancake breakfasts, apple-wood smoked burgers, and homemade baked goods. Call 520-384-2084 for directions and hours.
Perhaps Tucson's most notable, or should we say most easily noted, landmark is "A" Mountain. Rising above downtown, the peak has witnessed the history and growth of the city. Stjukson, meaning "spring at the foot of the black mountain," was the name of the original Native American settlement in the shelter of the peak. The US Army named the mountain Sentinel Peak for its strategic importance. Since 1916, U of A freshmen have made a yearly tradition of painting the now-namesake letter "A." You can drive to the top of the peak to enjoy a panoramic view of the city during daylight hours. Phone 520-791-5909.
Drive about 6 hours through some of the nation's most memorable countryside, and you'll be at one of the 7 natural wonders of the world - where you can hike, ride, fly, camp, float, and photograph a truly awe-inspiring sight. Located 80 miles south of the Grand Canyon, the city of Flagstaff offers good accommodations for the night. Phone the Flagstaff Visitors Center at 800-842-7293.
Southern Arizona is an astronomer's delight and home to the most prestigious observatories in the world. Kitt Peak National Observatory has yielded numerous major astronomical discoveries and has the world's largest on-site collection of optical telescopes. Phone 520-318-8726. For another starlight adventure, visit Starizona, an astronomy-focused store that hosts free star parties 4 nights a week. Call 520-292-5010 Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter's Sky Nights provides public viewings through a 24-inch reflecting telescope on the summit of Mt. Lemmon. Call 520-626-8122 or log on tohttp://skycenter.arizona.edu.
Fort Lowell Museum
Take a step back into the military heyday of the Old Pueblo at the Fort Lowell Museum (in Fort Lowell Park, 2900 N. Craycroft Rd., 520-885-3832). Located in an adobe reproduction of an officer's quarters, this museum features exhibits about life on the Arizona frontier. The outpost, established in 1873, housed several Army regiments, provided protection to settlers, and served as a supply base. Open Fri. and Sat., 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Admission fee.
Guitars & More
Some of Tucson's music stores are like funky museums where you can buy that vintage Fender guitar you've always wanted. Find new and used guitars, keyboards, drums, and more at Chicago Music Store (130 E. Congress St., 520-622-3341, and 7030 E. Broadway Blvd., Ste. 100, 520-886-1516), family owned for more than 85 years. Rainbow Guitars, with hundreds of guitars on display, is another local favorite (2550 N. Campbell Ave., 520-325-3376). There's also the Folk Shop (2525 N. Campbell Ave., 520-881-7147), which features unusual instruments from around the world.
Old Town Artisans & More
In the historic Presidio district, Old Town Artisans (201 N. Court Ave., 520-622-0351) is a haven for those seeking beautiful arts & crafts or a relaxing lunch in a wonderful courtyard at La Cocina Restaurant & Catering (520-622-0351). The historic adobe structure is filled with items ranging from prickly-pear-pad spoon rests and handmade gargoyles to dried-flower arrangements, Western wear, and handcrafted jewelry and pottery. Nearby, you'll find historic homes, El Charro Café (520-622-1922), and more.
The University of Arizona Biosphere 2 currently serves as a laboratory for controlled scientific studies that monitor global environmental change. This 3.1-acre glass-and-steel complex - originally designed as a research center for sustainable space colonization - contains a million-gallon ocean, rain forest, savannah, marsh, and desert. Visitors can explore various parts of the attraction and go on an "under the glass" guided tour. Visit from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; tours offered daily. On AZ Hwy. 77 at mile marker 96.5, about 25 miles north of Tucson. Admission fee. Phone 520-838-6200
For authentic Mexican food, beautiful scenery, and some of the hottest salsa in the Southwest, follow the fiery flavors of Arizona's Salsa Trail. Beginning in Safford, about 11/2 hours east ofTucson, the trail has stops at restaurants, a market, a chile company, and a tortilla factory in small towns along US Hwy. 70 (also known as the Old West Highway). In Sept., SalsaFest hosts salsa-making competitions, food demos, and a daring jalapeño-eating contest. Call 888-837-1841 before heading out.
El Tour de Tucson
This annual event, which began in 1983, takes place on the Sat. before Thanksgiving (Nov. 21 this year) and brings more than 5,000 cyclists to Tucson to compete for prizes and medallions. Four courses range from 31 miles to more than 100 miles. Rides start all over town, but finish downtown. Call 520-745-2033.
U of A Champions
Walk up Legacy Lane to the glass facade of the $13.5-million Eddie Lynch Athletics Pavilion. The facility hosts the Jim Click Hall of Champions, a museum dedicated to the heritage and pride of U of A athletics. In the museum are tributes to all teams, including the 1997 men's basketball team and the 2007 women's softball team, as well as all trophies won throughout the years. The hall is open to the public Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sat. noon - 5 p.m. (times change during football and basketball seasons). Phone 520-621-2331.
Enjoy narrated tours through the place where mammoths roamed, ancient Hohokam people made irrigation dams, pony soldiers discovered swimming holes, and the Civilian Conservation Corps built bridges and cut hiking trails. Trams run daily, with multiple stops, including one at the trailhead of a 2.6-mile one-way hike to Seven Falls. Evening shuttles run (by reservation) just before each full moon Sept. - Nov. Be sure to stop by the visitors center. Located on N. Sabino Canyon Rd. (520-749-2861). Fees for parking and the tram. Phone ahead for tram schedules and stops.
This little village's claim to fame is revealed by its name. Just below the summit of 9,157-ft. Mt. Lemmon, Summerhaven offers cool mountain air, mountain streams, views, and the sound of gently rustling leaves. Picnic, browse for antiques, hike, bike, shop, ride the ski lift, eat homemade fudge, or savor delicious desserts at the Cookie Cabin. Follow Catalina Hwy. north throughCoronado National Forest.
You can bet Tucson has its share of casinos. Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel, owned and operated by the Tohono O'odham Nation (7350 S. Nogales Hwy., 520-294-7777) deals up live blackjack, slots, bingo, and poker, among other games. Or check out its 2nd area location in Sahuarita at I-19 and Pima Mine Rd. (520-294-7777). Also, Casino of the Sun, owned and operated by the Pascua Yaqui Nation (7406 S. Camino de Oeste, with a 2nd location, Casino del Sol, at 5655 W. Valencia Rd., 800-344-9435), brings a little piece of Vegas to the Old Pueblo, offering live blackjack, video poker, slot machines, bingo, and more. If you're not having any luck with the one-armed bandit, grab something to eat or catch a show; most casinos offer big-name entertainment. You must be 21 or older to enter any of the casinos.
Unwind after a long day with an exhilarating night of dancing, drinks, and music at some of Tucson's hippest nightclubs. Check out Level Bar Lounge (520-615-3835) for a variety of exciting theme nights and live DJs. Mix and mingle on the dance floor or rent your own lounge at Pearl (520-888-8084). Enjoy gambling and food, plus live music, guest DJs, and dancing at Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel's nightclub, Monsoon (520-294-7777). Some places enforce a dress code, so call ahead for details.
Mariachi is a music born of many influences, including modern radio. The instruments, clothes, and voices are all part of a studied tradition. Tucson hosts an international mariachi conference every Apr., but mariachis play year-round at various Mexican restaurants, including La Fuente (Thurs. - Sun., 1749 N. Oracle Rd., 520-623-8659), Las Cazuelitas de Tucson (Fri. and Sat. nights, 234 E. 22nd St., 520-792-0405; 1365 W. Grant Rd., 520-206-0405; 3535 E. Fort Lowell Rd., 520-784-0405), and El Mezon del Cobre (Fri. and Sat. nights, 2960 N. 1st Ave., 520-791-0977).
Saddle up and ride through the land that inspires cowboys to write poetry. Guests of White Stallion Ranch (520-297-0252) and Tanque Verde Ranch (520-296-6275) enjoy Western-style horseback rides with experienced wranglers; or travel to Triangle T Guest Ranch (520-586-7533), in the foothills of the Dragoon Mountains, to experience sunrise and sunset rides. Book a room in one of the ranch's Western-themed casitas. If you already have a place to stay and just want to go on a trail ride, check out Arizona Horseback Experience (520-455-5696), Pusch Ridge Stables (520-825-1664), or Walking Winds Stables at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort (520-742-4422).
Consider a daytrip to the eclectic town of Patagonia, where you'll find interesting galleries, shops, and restaurants lining the sides of Town Park. Enjoy everything from paintings to jewelry at Global Arts Gallery (520-394-0077) on McKeown Ave. The Velvet Elvis Pizza Company (520-394-2102), on Naugle Ave., is a sure palate-pleaser. Imagine blue skies, a breeze coming off the water, and a bobber lulling you to sleep - you'll find this paradise at Patagonia Lake State Park (520-287-6965). Or you can birdwatch - there are approximately 80 species of nesting birds in summer, and more than 300 species of birds have been recorded in The Nature Conservancy's Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve (520-394-2400).
Ready to boogie to the blues, honky-tonk, two-step, twist and shout, ride the soul train, or jazz things up? Here's a small sampling of where you'll find live music around town: Lookout Bar and Grille in the Westward Look Resort (520-297-1151), Plush (520-798-1298), Frog & Firkin (520-623-7507), Bluefin Seafood Bistro (520-531-8500), and Club Congress (520-622-8848).
Museum of Contemporary Art
Tucson's foremost contemporary-art institution features several temporary exhibitions annually from local as well as national and international artists. The museum offers community events, including lectures, readings, and workshops on topics ranging from architecture and collecting art to the relationship between art and science. Museum hours change seasonally. Find MOCA at197 E. Stone Ave., 520-624-5019
St. Augustine Cathedral
Built in 1896 and refurbished in 1968, the cathedral's high interior, tall narrow windows, and sweeping dome of wooden slats are reminiscent of European church architecture. The exterior is a wonderful sight at dawn, dusk, or night. Every Sun. at 8 a.m. the clergy conduct mass accompanied by live mariachi music. Visitors of all faiths are welcome. Located at 192 S. Stone Ave., 520-623-6351.
About 40 miles south of Tucson, the Santa Rita Mountains are home to Madera Canyon, one of the prettiest spots around. There are trails for hikers, tables for picnickers, a clear stream, and a variety of trees for all. Take I-19 south of Tucson to the clearly marked turnoff near Continental Rd. (exit 63), just south of Green Valley..
Amado Territory Ranch
This enclave of shops, eateries, and galleries within the small town of Amado offers a scenic slice of desert life. Stroll in the meditation labyrinths, enjoy a theatrical performance, purchase local art, or take a cooking class. Pack in a day's worth of activities, or spend the night at Amado Territory Inn B&B. To get to Amado, take I-19 south about 25 miles to exit 48. Call 520-398-8684.
Sing the body electric, trek the wasteland, hear Ginsberg's howl, or discover a new favorite at the U of A Poetry Center. Established in 1960, this nationally acclaimed literary resource has more than 60,000 books, periodicals, audio/ video recordings, and artist-designed and limited-edition books in its home at 1508 E. Helen St. Open Mon. - Sat. Phone 520-626-3765.
Slaughter Ranch Museum
One of the most notable figures in frontier history, John Slaughter was many things in his life: Confederate soldier, Texas Ranger, sheriff, and cattleman. Slaughter's prosperous San Bernardino Ranch has been restored to its turn-of-the-last-century condition, complete with a period-furnished, 8-room ranch house, granary, washhouse, icehouse, cook's room, and a car shed with a fully restored 1915 Model-T Ford. Located 16 miles east of Douglas on Geronimo Trail Rd. (take 15th St. out of town to reach it - the last 13 miles are unpaved). Admission fee for adults; under 14 free. Phone 520-558-2474
Main Gate Square
Searching for some U of A gear - a hat, T-shirt, or maybe a pair of Wildcat flip-flops? Find collegiate gear and much more at this bustling hub of university students, faculty, visitors, early risers, and night owls, who gather at the many coffee shops, restaurants, and pubs after a day of shopping (or studying). Located within walking distance of the museums, sports facilities, and attractions on campus, Main Gate Square (on University Blvd. between Park and Euclid Aves.) features everything from banking and electric bikes to salons, chic clothing, and even a hotel.
Reid Park Zoo
If you see a young giraffe learning to run across an open field; a polar bear taking a plunge; or ostriches, cranes, and other birds sharing an African grassland with antelope, you must be at Reid Park Zoo. The zoo has carefully created natural habitats and multispecies exhibits - a pleasant setting for animals and visitors alike. The South American exhibit has jaguars, bears, and capybaras. Don't miss the rhinos, elephants, tigers, and lions, too. Located in Reid Park off 22nd St., between Alvernon Way and Country Club Rd. Open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Phone 520-791-3204.
Trail Dust Town
This collection of shops and eateries is a little slice of the 19th-century West, with boardwalks, an old-fashioned town square lit by the glow of authentic gas streetlamps, shaded park benches, and a gazebo in the middle of it all. Enjoy all this as well as the Dragoon Street Wild, Wild West Stunt Shows. You'll also find the vintage Allen Herschell Fiesta del Presidio Carousel - the oldest operational carousel in the city. You'll be able to ride the Trail Dust Town Railroad (a replica of the 1863 C. P. Huntington narrow-gauge train), visit the Museum of the Horse Soldier, pan for gold at Gabby's Gulch, and grab a cowboy dinner at Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse. At 6541 E. Tanque Verde Rd., 520-296-5442.
Museums of Fine Art
The permanent collection of The University of Arizona Museum of Art includes Spanish and Renaissance art, as well as 19th-century American, contemporary, and modernist works. It's on the U of A campus just south of Speedway Blvd. and east of Park Ave. near the pedestrian underpass. Phone 520-621-7567. Since the completion of a $2.7-million renovation, the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block (downtown at the corner of N. Main Ave. and Alameda St.) has been able to display more of its fine collection and attract larger traveling exhibits. The museum renovated the historic Hiram Stevens House into the Palice Pavilion for its permanent collection of pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial, and Latin American folk art. You can also visit the John K. Goodman Pavilion of Western Art, Corbett House (a local model for the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century), and La Casa Cordova, with its 19th-century period rooms. Phone 520-624-2333. And don't miss Café à la C'Art (520-628-8533) for a little something to snack on.
For some of Tucson's premier upscale boutiques, national retailers, and unparalleled mountain and city views, head to this 2-story open-air complex for a complete day of shopping. Six restaurants - offering everything from sushi to wine flights - and a gourmet grocer complement the impressive selection of stores. At the northwest corner of Campbell Ave. and Skyline Dr., 520-615-2561.
Sonoita & Elgin
Wineries, fine dining, and charming B&Bs are hallmarks of the Sonoita/Elgin experience. The picturesque countryside has provided the backdrop for several Hollywood movies, includingOklahoma! and Red River. Numerous restaurants, such as Canela Bistro (520-455-5873) and The Steak Out Restaurant & Saloon (520-455-5205), draw folks from around the world. Don't miss the colorful shops of Many Horses Trading Company (520-455-5545), Buffalo Gals of Sonoita (520-455-5523), and Steve Getzwiller's Nizhoni Ranch Gallery (520-455-5020). From Tucson, take I-10 east to AZ Hwy. 83. Sonoita is at the junction of Hwys. 83 and 82. Elgin is just a few miles down the road off Hwy. 83. Phone the Sonoita-Elgin Chamber of Commerce at 520-455-5498.
Catalina State Park
Just 12 miles north of Tucson on Oracle Rd. (AZ Hwy. 77), this park offers the best views of the canyons, cliffs, domes, and spires on the north side of the Santa Catalina Mountains. White-tailed deer abound. Walk the Romero Ruin Interpretive Trail to the archaeological site of an ancient Hohokam village that was later a Spanish hacienda. Picnicking, camping, biking, and hiking are available. A day pass is $6 per vehicle. Phone 520-628-5798.
If you find yourself in Tucson without a bike, consider renting one from Broadway Bicycles (520-296-7819), Tucson Bicycles (520-577-7374), or Fair Wheel Bikes (520-884-9018). Some lovely routes include the Rillito Parkway Multi-use Path, Old Spanish Trail, Saguaro National Park, and Sabino Canyon. Pick up a free bicycle map at the main library downtown (520-594-5500).
U of A Plant & Architecture Walks
The U of A campus boasts a diverse and splendid collection of plants from all over the world, as well as indigenous species. The U of A Visitors Center, at Euclid Ave. and University Blvd., has maps directing you to the highlights, or check online at http://arboretum.arizona.edu. You can also enjoy a very good self-guided campus-architecture tour - pick up your guidebook from the U of A College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (just south of Speedway Blvd. on Olive Rd.).
Mission San Xavier del Bac
Called "the White Dove of the Desert," the San Xavier del Bac mission was founded by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino in the late 1600s. The church, built by the Franciscans in the 1700s, is one of the finest examples of Spanish mission architecture in the US. Visitors can enjoy the results of a major restoration, portions of it by experts who restored the Sistine Chapel. Take I-19 to exit 92, then watch for signs once you get onto the Tohono O'odham reservation. Phone 520-294-2624
The University of Arizona's performing arts series brings leading artists from around the world to Tucson's Centennial Hall. The 2009-2010 season features more than 30 performances, including Tap Dogs Sept. 26, Tito Puente Jr. and Orchestra Oct. 10, and B. B. King Nov. 20. Phone 520-621-3341.
About 70 miles southeast of Tucson is the "town too tough to die," where Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp fought the Clantons at the famous OK Corral. Fuel up at Big Nose Kate's Saloon, Longhorn Restaurant, or Six Gun City, and pop in to some of the town's quaint shops and galleries, including The Shady Lady's Closet and Arlene's. Relive the exciting times of the Old West with historical tours, shoot-outs, reenactments, and a walk through Boothill Graveyard. To get to Tombstone, take I-10 to Benson and head south on AZ Hwy. 80. Phone the Tombstone Office of Tourism/Bird Cage Theatre at 520-457-3421, or the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce at 888-457-3929
Whether you're after English teapots, quilts, glass, or period furniture, antiquing in Tucson has its surprises and its rewards. With reasonable prices and a wide variety, Tucson's antique market has everything from collectibles to true antiques. Stop by Morning Star Traders & Antiques (2020 E. Speedway Blvd., 520-881-2112), Copper Country Antique Mall (5055 E. Speedway Blvd., 520-326-0167), or Darlene Morris Antiques (2940 N. Swan Rd. #128, 520-322-9050).
Nearby Willcox, birthplace of the late Western film and singing legend Rex Allen, now honors him with the Rex Allen Museum (150 N. Railroad Ave., 520-384-4583), which traces the life of the "Arizona Cowboy" through movie posters, costumes, and photographs. Exhibits at the Chiricahua Regional Museum and Research Center (127 E. Maley St., 520-384-3971) focus on the Apache Indians and area agriculture and ranching. Take I-10 east for 90 miles to exit 336.
Walk in the footsteps of a miner by touring a simulated mine, or meander through the many exhibits at Arizona's mining and mineral museums. The Arizona History Museum (520-628-5774) features a mine-shaft replica, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's Earth Sciences Center (520-883-3031) has an extensive trove of minerals and exhibits. Travel south to Sahuarita and tour the Asarco Mineral Discovery Center (520-625-7513). A little farther southeast is The Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum (520-432-7071), with mineral collections from prominent pioneer families dating back to the turn of the 20th century. Also in Bisbee, you can check out the Lavender Pit Mine with Lavender Jeep Tours (520-432-5369), or delve beneath the surface with Queen Mine Tours (520-432-2071).