What's New in Tucson - January 2012

Spring Wildflower Show. It's springtime in the Sonoran Desert. Follow wildflower and cactus bloom activity at Arizona State Parks by checking the 2012 Ranger Cam website updates. Use your telephone to hear timely bloom reports from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's Wildflower Hotline; dial (520) 883-2702 and select #320. Take the Wildflower Tour at Tohono Chul Park, beginning March 1 at 10 a.m., and every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday through April 28.

Tucson Cine Mexico. The Tucson Cine Mexico film festival celebrates contemporary Mexican cinema with a week of award-winning narrative feature, short films, feature documentaries, and more special guests than ever, February 29-March 4. See the Arizona premiere of Mexico's Academy Award entry for best foreign film, Miss Bala(Miss Bullet), at the Fox Tucson Theatre, Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m. for free. See the full program attucsoncinemexico.org/program.

 Every Picture Tells a Story. For an intimate look at the life and loves of Mexico's best-known female artist, explore two new exhibits at the Tucson Museum of Art: "Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Murray"is a collection of 50 or so photographs taken between 1937 and 1941. "Frida Style: Traditional Women's Costumes from Mexico" showcases jewelry and textiles favored by the artist, including colorful textiles borrowed from Tucson's The Castañeda Museum of Ethnic Costumes as well as objects in the museum's permanent collection. Visit tucsonmuseumafart.org, or phone (520) 624-2333 for details. Tour the art exhibits Saturday, March 3, and afterward stay for the free Tucson Cine Mexico screenings, Women Directors Panel, Q&A, and Reception, from 7 to 10 p.m.

 Oscar-Worthy Locale. In honor of the Academy Awards ceremony, the Tucson Film Office reminds film buffs that Tucson & Southern Arizona has served as an attractive film locale since 1925. A few locally produced Oscar winners include: TrafficAlice Doesn't Live Here AnymoreA Star is BornOklahomaLilies of the Field, and How the West Was Won. See an overview of films made in Tucson & Southern Arizona on filmtucson.com/filmography/

 Cycling Celebrations. In Metropolitan Tucson, cycling is a popular sport and transportation mode supported by 475 miles of striped bike lanes. Tucsonans will celebrate cycling and other forms of alternative transportation on March 18 at Cyclovia Tucson, a car-free event that opens selected downtown Tucson streets to people so they can walk, skate, run, bicycle and socialize. Cyclists of all ages and abilities can register by April 27 for the 73-mile, 27-mile, and 4-mile events in the Holualoa Companies Tour of Tucson Mountains ride, April 28. (cycloviatucson.orgpbaa.com)

 Endurance Sports Haven. Northwest of Tucson, the Town of Oro Valley is a favored location for endurance sports events. On March 25, the town will host the 8th Annual Arizona Distance Classic, with ½-marathon, ¼-marathon, and 5K events for amateur runners, walkers, and wheelchair racers. On April 28, TriSports will present the 2012 USAT Duathlon National Championship, with more than 1,200 amateur athletes competing in either a standard 45-kilometer run/bike/run event, or a sprint distance 22.5-kilometer run/bike/run event geared toward beginner duathletes; registration closes April 20. Spectators are welcome at both events. (arizonadistanceclassic.comusatriathlon.org)

 Summer Baseball Begins. The Tucson Padres baseball team opens its 2012 season at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium with a game against the Fresno Grizzlies, April 5. Highlights of the 72-game season include a July 3 fireworks show and 13 Budweiser Thirsty Thursday games. The Tucson Padres team represents Tucson in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and is the Triple-A affiliate for the San Diego Padres. Single game tickets will be available March 1. Parking is free for home games at the 11,500-seat Kino Stadium. ((520) 434-1367;tucsonpadres.com).

 Nature & Heritage Festival. Cultural heritage and natural history in Southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico will be celebrated at the first Nature & Heritage Festival: Birding & History Along the Santa Cruz, May 3-6, at the charming Esplendor Resort, 60 miles south of Tucson. The program will include classes and tours about ecotourism along the Santa Cruz River, Spanish history and missions, historic Nogales, ranching heritage, food traditions, bird watching, and more. A highlight will be a trip to Rancho El Aribabi, located 30 miles south of the U.S./Mexico border and recently designated as a Natural Protected Area by the Mexican government. (santacruzheritage.org/heritagefestival2012)

 American Roots Music. Take the family to Bluegrass in the Park, a festival of lively American roots music, staged in former Southern Pacific Railroad town Benson, 50 miles east of Tucson, April 27-30. The next weekend, listen to more than 20 hours of plugged-in and unplugged traditional tunes at the free 27th Annual Tucson Folk Festival, May 5-6, in El Presidio Park. Festival headliners include internationally acclaimed Cajun dance band BeauSoleil and Tucson rock/blues staple Sabra Faulk and the Angel Band. Hear portions of the festival broadcast live on Tucson's community radio station KXCI-91.3 FM. (bensonvisitorcenter.com/Bluegrass20012.htm;tkma.org).

 Overnight in Titan's Lair. What was it like for Titan II crew members to sleep underground only a few feet away from the largest missile ever made by the United States? Find out firsthand when you and three of your closest friends or family spend the night in the crew quarters at the Titan Missile Museum. Offered only four times a year, this rare experience can be custom tailored to your interests. Join the elite few who have slept in the Titan's lair. Thirty days notice is required for reservations. Contact Bill Smith at (520) 625-7736 orbsmith@titanmissilemuseum.org. (titanmissilemuseum.org/)

 Tucson Sky Tonight. Respected as "an astronomy capital of the world," the Tucson & Southern Arizona region's clear dark sky offers plenty of "good seeing" for stargazers. Learn about celestial wonders visible in this area at the Tucson Sky Tonight show at Flandrau Planetariumlocated on the University of Arizona campus, on Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. (flandrau.org; (520) 621-7827)  

 Spa Cookbooks. Flavorful and healthy spa cuisine can be prepared at home using cookbooks from two destination spas in Tucson. Miraval Resort & Spa in May will release its first cookbook, Mindful Eating, a collection of 200 delicious recipes with inspiration for balancing one's relationship with food. Canyon Ranch Tucson has published several cookbooks over the years, including the most recent Canyon Ranch Nourish - Indulgently Healthy Cuisine, a blend of 200 recipes and step-by-step techniques to empower the novice cook. (miravalresorts.comcanyonranch.com). A variety of other cookbooks produced by Southern Arizona vendors can be found at the Tucson Visitor Center (visittucson.org/visitor/about/visitorcenter/)

 What's New in Tucson is produced monthly for travel writers by the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau Public Relations department.  Contact Isela Cano, icano@visitTucson.org, to be added to the mailing list. Find more events and activities on visitTucson.org.




What's New in Tucson - February 2012


 Arizona Centennial will be celebrated February 10-12 with an extended version of the monthly 2nd Saturdays Downtown in downtown Tucson on the weekend before Arizona's 100th anniversary of statehood (February 14, 2012).  The scheduled entertainment lineup reflects Arizona's rich Southwestern culture and heritage as well as Tucson's vibrant arts scene. Included will be concerts (Jerry Riopelle, Sam Moore, Carlos Nakai, for instance), performances, and historical reenactments - most performed by regional artists - as well as walking tours, movie screenings, puppet shows, carnival rides, a bicycle tour, soccer demonstrations, fireworks, and more for all ages. Most area museums, galleries, and merchants will also participate. Restaurants and street vendors will be available to fuel the revelers. View the Friday, Feb. 10, Saturday, Feb. 11, and Sunday, Feb. 12 entertainment lineups on 2ndSaturdaysDowntown.com.

Minerals of Arizona Exhibit. Some of the most spectacular gems and minerals ever mined in Arizona will be displayed in the "Arizona's Mineral Treasures: Celebrating Arizona's Centennial" exhibit, coming to the 58th Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, February 9-12, at Tucson Convention Center. Copper and turquoise will be among the varied exhibits depicting Arizona minerals and mining history in recognition of the Arizona Centennial (February 14, 1912-February 14, 2012) at this open-to-the-public show. Other highlights will include artifacts from Arizona's Wild West days, museum treasures, and a rare rock collection originally displayed at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. For tickets and more information, call (520) 322-5773 or visit www.tgms.org

Down-to-Earth Bookstore. The Arizona Geological Survey Bookstore is a hidden gem for nature tourists. Located in downtown Tucson's state government complex, the beautiful wood-beamed building houses a wide selection of books and field guides featuring geology, minerals, hiking, wildlife, archaeology, and state and national parks. Purchase Arizona minerals, rock-hounding tools, topographic and specialty maps, Mata Ortiz pottery, posters, gifts, and more. Take advantage of the free public lands information center to learn more about Arizona's amazing geology. Open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more details, call (520) 770-3500 or visit azgs.az.gov.

Baseball Season Begins. The University of Arizona Wildcats Baseball team on February 17 begins playing for the 2012 season at Hi Corbett Field, home to MLB spring training for decades. More information and tickets are available on ArizonaWildcats.com and through McKale Ticket Office at (520) 621-2287. The Tucson Padres, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, opens their 2012 season at Kino Stadium, April 5. The team's 72 home games will include three afternoon games. For season tickets and weekend packages, call (520) 434-1367 or visit TucsonPadres.com.

Never Don't Pay Attention. A Canon Rodeo Photography Workshop, February 18, will pay homage to Hall-of-Fame Rodeo Photographer Louise Serpa (1925-2012), who passed away just weeks shy of working her 50th Tucson Rodeo (February 18-26). A pioneer in the truest sense, Serpa was an internationally acclaimed photographer and Tucson resident whose rodeo images capture more than half a century of rodeo history and exude the sport's energy, excitement, and emotion. The workshop costs $75 and is open to 100 participants. For reservations, call (800) 964-5662 or visit TucsonRodeo.com. An exhibition of Serpa's photographs currently is on display at Tucson International Airport in the lower link gallery near the baggage claim area.

Follow Golf's Leaders. Golf fans are invited to get closer to the action on the final day of play at the 2012 World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play Championship, February 20-26, at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain, in the Tucson suburb Marana. Thanks to the new "Follow the Leaders" program, Sunday ticket holders will be invited to follow two of the world's best players as they go head-to-head for the Walter Hagen Cup and $8.5 million grand prize. Single tickets for Sunday's semifinals, championship, and consolation matches run $35-$45. Find details about ticket and hospitality packages on TucsonConquistadores.com and WorldGolfChampionships.com.

Tucson Festival of Books. The fourth largest book festival in the United States, the Tucson Festival of Books, takes place March 10-11 on the University of Arizona campus. This free event will feature 450 authors participating in 300 presentations and workshops, plus 240 exhibitors. Author Luis Albert Urrea will keynote the Author's Table Dinner, March 9. Urrea's best-seller "Devil's Highway" won the 2004 Lannan Literary Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Other authors who have committed to attend the festival include: T.C.Boyle, Alice Hoffman, Elmore Leonard, Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana, and Richard Russo. More information is available on TucsonFestivalofBooks.org.

Ages & Stages Tradeshow. Active senior adults are invited to explore options in the Tucson community for new ways to gain more personal meaning from life. The Pima Council on Aging's tradeshow Ages 'n Stages, at Tucson Convention Center, March 2-3, will feature information, product samples, and demonstrations on the travel industry; new technologies for active families and adults; the arts; dining; financial advisors, insurance companies and real estate advisors; health and wellness; assisted living facilities and retirement centers, and more. For more details, call (520) 790-0504.

Olympic Shooting World Cup. The Tucson Trap and Skeet Club, home of the USA Shooting Southwest Regional Certified Training Center, will host the 2012 International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup competition, an Olympic qualification competition, March 23-April 1. As many as 400 athletes from over 30 countries around the world are expected to attend this last major competition before the 2012 Olympics in London. The Tucson Trap and Skeet Club has served Southern Arizona's shooting sportsman since its original incorporation in 1948. For more information, visit TucsonTrapandSkeet.com.

Accolades for Tucson Hotels. The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain has been named for the first time to the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List, achieving the reader-based accolade less than two years after opening as Southern Arizona's newest luxury resort. The Arizona Inn in December was named to Travel + Leisure magazine's list of Top 500 Hotels in the World.



What’s New in Tucson March 2012

 The Arizona Experience. Commemorating 100 years of statehood, the Arizona Experience website offers a guided tour of the people, places, and events that define Arizona's past and are shaping its future. Visitors to this new resource can explore the 48th state’s scenic landscapes, listen to oral histories, and discover how innovations in science are creating a promising tomorrow.  A highlight is the Iconic Landscapes map, which delivers a multimedia experience featuring select Arizona landscapes, including Saguaro National Park. (arizonaexperience.org)

 Amateur Sports Events. The Tucson Trap and Skeet Club, home of USA Shooting Southwest Regional Training Center, has been chosen to host the 2012 ISSF World Cup competition, March 23-April 1. Arizona law enforcement, fire, military, and sworn civilian personnel will compete in 16 athletic and skill events, ranging from basketball and flag football to fishing and poker, all for charity at the Arizona Police & Fire Games, April 11-14. USA Triathlon and Trisports will host more than 1,200 amateur athletes competing in a 5-kilometer run, a 35-kilometer bike ride, and another 5-kilometer run, with an 800-meter Family Fun Run at Ventana Medical Systems, April 28. The Tucson Convention Center will host the USA Wrestling Western Junior Regionals and Veteran's Nationals, May 3-5; while another Olympic-sanctioned event, USA Badminton–2012 Senior Nationals, takes place at the UA Recreation Center, May 16-20.

 Mariachi Music Magic. The 30th annual La Frontera Tucson International Mariachi Conference, one of the largest and longest-running events of its kind in Arizona, will take place for the first time in its new location at the AVA Amphitheater at Casino del Sol Resort, April 25-28. The event will kick off with student instruction and performances that culminate with the Student Showcase concert, April 26. The Espectacular Concert will feature the legendary Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan (from Guadalajara) and the all-female Femenil Nuevo Tecalitlan (from Tlaquepaque) as well as a special performance by award-winning Spanish singer Shaila Dúrcal, April 27. Finally, the Fiesta de Garibaldi, a family-friendly outdoor festival of music and dance and great food, happens April 28. Learn more on tucsonmariachi.org/

 New Elephant Habitat Opens. Reid Park Zoo’s seven-acre expansion, the Expedition Tanzania exhibit, opens March 28. Designed to introduce visitors to the culture of East Africa and the important work being done to protect wildlife there, the new exhibit features an elephant habitat with a pool and a mud wallow to accommodate a family of three African elephants transferred recently from San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park. Reid Park Zoo houses exotic animals in natural habitats, and consistently ranks among the top most-visited attractions in Metropolitan Tucson. For more information, call (520) 881-4753 or visit tucsonzoo.org.

 Tucson Padres on the Air. Tucson Padres fans will be able to hear every game on the radio this summer, as the team has partnered with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to broadcast games on Radio Tejano 1600 AM. All games will be broadcast in English, with ten-minute pre-game and post-game shows during each broadcast. All games will be streamed worldwide via tejano1600.com and tucsonpadres.com. The Tucson Padres, the affiliate team of the San Diego Padres and Tucson’s Triple-A baseball team, will play home games at Kino Stadium, from April 5 to September 3. For more details, visit tucsonpadres.com.

 Film Festival Turns 21. The 2012 Arizona International Film Festival takes place April 13-29, at Reel Arts 6, The Screening Room, Crossroads Festival, Desert View Theater, and other venues throughout Tucson and Southern Arizona. More than 100 films representing 18 countries will be featured in one of Arizona’s longest running and largest film festivals. Follow the festival on Facebook and Twitter to find the latest updates, tips, insider information, reviews, specials, and discounts. Explore the festival website on filmfestivalarizona.com.

 Southern AZ Wine Country. Get away to Southern Arizona’s wine country in the spring, and enjoy a festival with wine tastings, food, live music, tours, and more. In Sonoita-Elgin, less than an hour’s drive from Tucson: the first-ever Southeast Arizona Wine Growers Festival, April 14-15, at Kief-Joshua Vineyards, will feature winemakers from Arizona’s four wine regions. The Village of Elgin Winery hosts the 30th Blessing of the Vine Festival, April 21, he Village of Elgin Winery, will include a vineyard blessing and a traditional grape stomping. At the 24th Blessing of Sonoita Vineyards, April 28, at Sonoita Vineyards, visitors can tour the vineyard in a horse-drawn wagon. In Willcox, one hour east of Tucson: the Willcox Wine Country Spring Festival, May 19-20 at Railroad Park, will showcase 13 wineries and various artisan vendors. Learn more on arizonawine.org.

 Borderland Jazz Festival. The 90th anniversary of the birth of legendary jazz musician Charles Mingus will be celebrated with a festival in his hometown of Nogales, Arizona and also across the border in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, on April 20-22.The 4th Annual Charles Mingus Hometown Jazz Festival will feature performances by the Claudio Roditi Quintet and others as well as a Big Band Gala Concert, a Sunday brunch at Esplendor Resort in Rio Rico, and more. This festival is a benefit presented with the goal of improving quality of life and life-long learning opportunities in the arts within the Nogales community. For tickets, visit mingusproject.com.

 Celebrate Natural Beauty & History. America’s best idea—the national parks—gets even better with nine free visitation days during the 2012 National Park Week, April 21-29. While most national parks are free throughout the year, none will charge admission during this celebration. In Southern Arizona, visit these national parks: Chiricahua National Monument, Coronado National Memorial, Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Saguaro National Park, and Tumacacori National Historical Park. For more information, visit nps.gov/npweek/

 Tacos & Other Desert Flavors. More than 30 amateur and professional cooks will battle for a cash prize and the “Grand Champion Taco” title at the Tucson Taco Festival at Rillito Race Track Park, April 28. Tacos featuring Sonoran-style recipes and border-town flavors will be created by taco teams and sold for $2 each. A Tequila Expo, a Margarita Challenge Mix-Off, Lucha Libre wrestling, cooking demonstrations, live bands, funny food contests, and a kid’s zone round out the day of culinary fun. (TucsonTacoFestival.com). Also on April 28, the 13th annual fundraising dinner for Tucson’s Native Seeds/SEARCH, Flavors of the Desert, will occur under the stars at Tohono Chul Park, and will feature a gourmet menu using foods native to the Sonoran Desert region and music by The Redhouse Family Jazz Band. (NativeSeeds.org or (520) 622-0830)

 Mountain Biking Mecca. Oracle State Park, a 4,000 acre wildlife refuge in the northern foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, has been reopened after a closure due to Arizona state budget cuts. The park is a superb place for mountain biking, and offers day-use picnic sites and over 15 miles of trails for use by hikers, bird watchers, bicyclists, and equestrians. A four-mile section of the Arizona Trail, connecting Mexico to Utah, passes through the park. Hours of operation are: Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., February, March, April, September, October, and November. Visit FriendsOSP.org to see ongoing activities and events.

 Evening Rides in the Canyon. See Sabino Canyon from a different perspective—explore it at night. Sabino Canyon Tours offers evening rides three nights per month April, May, June, September, October, and November, For more information, or to make a reservation, call (520) 749-2327 or visit sabinocanyon.com.


What's New in Tucson April 2012


Food Truck Roundups. Foodies are flocking to empty parking lots and other urban spaces throughout metropolitan Tucson to sample gourmet grub from a truck. The food truck revolution has hit Tucson and has quickly created quite a following. Local chefs share their creations with the eager masses; offerings include everything from Sonoran hot dogs from popular street vendors to such delicacies as duck tacos and sweet-and-savory crepes from top local chefs. Venues vary from movie theaters to city parks and often feature art exhibits, performances, and live music. Follow the food at tucsonfoodtrucks.com.

Arizona Highways Best Restaurants. Tucson and Southern Arizona is included in the April 2012 Arizona Highways roundup of the state's 15 best restaurants of 2012. On the magazine's cover is Maynards Market & Kitchen, located in downtown Tucson, which is noted for its seasonal French-inspired menu, excellent wine shop, and weekly farmers' market (520-545-0577, maynardsmarket.com); Downtown Kitchen, also in downtown Tucson, and run by James Beard Award-winning chef Janos Wilder, is pictured thrice and praised for craft cocktails and a creative menu that celebrates America's culinary melting pot (520-623-7700; downtownkitchen.com). In Bisbee, Santiago's, is a Mexican-food favorite admired for its enchiladas, tableside guacamole, Rocky Point tacos, and 55-bottle tequila selection (520-432-1910; santiagosbisbee.com). In Tumacacori, Wisdom's Café is regarded as a funky Mexican-food roadhouse brimming with character and famed for fantastic tortilla soup, fruit burro desserts, and potent margaritas (520-398-2397; wisdomscafe.com). (arizonahighways.com)

Movies under the Stars. After the summer sun goes down, cool evenings in Tucson draw folks outdoors for fun and recreation. A favorite activity is watching classic movies under the stars on Thursdays with Cinema La Placita. This open-air cinema's 13th season begins May 3 with the 1983 teen movie Valley Girl, the Hitchcock thriller Shadow of a Doubt, and the kid's classic Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. Movie-goers can dine before the show at one of the many new and noteworthy downtown Tucson restaurants, or arrive early and fill up on bacon-wrapped Sonoran hot dogs and other grilled items at Deb's Coney Café in La Placita Plaza. (520-326-5282; cinemalaplacita.com)

National Public Gardens Day. Celebrate National Public Gardens Day, May 11, in Tucson. Find home landscaping ideas and learn about plants and gardening at Tohono Chul Park and Tucson Botanical Gardens, both which will waive admission fees on that day. Tour the unique collection of plants from arid and semi-arid climates around the world on a free plant walk, offered daily by the University of Arizona Campus Arboretum. And visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to see the 1,400 kinds of plants on its grounds. Find more resources for Sonoran Desert plants and animals on visitTucson.org.

Meet Me Downtown 5K. The streets of downtown Tucson's historical Barrio Viejo neighborhood make up the new course for summer's biggest foot race. The Meet Me Downtown 5k Night Run and Walk, June 2, is open to runners and walkers and wheelchair riders of all abilities. The post-race fun will include a children's pavilion, a free cycling-theme movie, live music, snacks, and discounts at area eateries and bars. Special rates are available for Meet Me Downtown at Hotel Congress (1-800-722-8848). (520-326-9383; azroadrunners.org/races/detail/mmd)

Wellness Adventure for Kids. Bodyology, the newest health-and-wellness exhibit at Children's Museum Tucson, helps kids ages 2-12 learn about their body as well as healthy eating habits and where food comes from. Kids can explore a farmer's market, a garden, an orchard, a juice bar, and oversized body parts, including a giant mouth, an ear with wax, a nose with hair, a beating heart, a breathing lung, and a blinking eye. The Children's Museum Tucson is the place for fun, play-based, interactive, hands-on learning experiences for children and their families. Admission is only $2 on the second Saturday of every month. (childrensmuseumtucson.org)

The Art of Glory Tacheenie-Campoy. An exhibit of colorful abstract images of the American Southwest as well as paintings of horses and landscapes in prints and watercolors by noted Diné (Navajo) artist Glory Tacheenie-Campoy is on display at The Amerind Foundation through October 31. The renowned museum of Native American archaeology, art, history, and culture is located in the town of Dragoon, in Cochise County, located about an hour's scenic drive east of Tucson. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays. For more details, call (520) 586-3666 or visit amerind.org.org)

 Pedal-Powered Cab Service. University Pedi-Cabs, Tucson's newest form of eco-friendly transportation offers free cycle taxi-service within the University of Arizona, Fourth Avenue, and downtown Tucson areas. Passengers may hail a moving pedi-cab, or call for pick up at the Tucson Visitor Center and at most university-area hotels. One- to two-hour pedi-cab tours of shopping and historical districts and a nature trail are available for $35 per person. For more information, phone (520) 860-1609 or visit universitypedicabs.com/

 Old Tucson Breaks for Summer. Popular visitor attraction Old Tucson will be closed to the general public between June and September when visitation is least active. Old Tucson will remain open by reservation-only for groups interested in guided tours and private events such as weddings, corporate functions, and company picnics; it also will be open for film productions. Old Tucson will reopen to the general public on Fridays through Sundays in October. Old Tucson has been immortalized in over 300 feature film and TV Westerns and is Hollywood's most famous western movie location. (520-883-0100; OldTucson.com)


What’s New in Tucson - May 2012

 Summer Birding Festivals. Late summer monsoon rains bring the greatest number and diversity of bird species to Tucson and Southern Arizona, one of the premier bird-watching regions in the U.S. Visitors can enjoy this seasonal abundance at two festivals: Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival, August 1-4, in Sierra Vista, offers 35 field trips throughout southeastern Arizona, including overnight trips to the Chiricahua Mountains and Madera Canyon as well as a children’s program and a writer’s workshop. (swwings.org) The Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival, August 15-19, in Tucson, includes The Sky Islands Birding Cup (Big Day competition) in addition to a Nature Expo, workshops, a youth birder outing, and field trips to nearby birding hotspots. Headquarter hotel Riverpark Inn is offering a festival special rate of $59-plus tax, per night. (tucsonaudubon.org/what-we-do/283.html)

 Bike-Friendly Community. The League of American Bicyclists has re-designated the Tucson-Eastern Pima County region as a gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community, making it one of 16 communities in the United States to earn this distinction. Just in time for May’s National Bike Month, Tucson also has been included in the top 10 Most Bikeable U.S. Cities list, released by the Seattle-based Walk Score program. For details about the Tucson-Eastern Pima County Region applications or the Bicycle Friendly Community program, contact Ann Chanecka, Pima Association of Governments, at (520-792-1093 or pagregion.com).

 Mt. Lemmon Getaway. A new restaurant has opened on Mt. Lemmon in the Village of Summerhaven, an hour’s scenic drive northeast of Tucson at 8,200 feet in elevation. The Sawmill Run (520-576-9147) serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, next door to the Cookie Cabin, The General Store, and Living Rainbow Gifts. A few miles west, Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley (520-576-1321) offers one-hour round-trip Sky Rides on its snow ski-lift. At Mt. Lemmon’s 9,144-foot summit, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter (520-626-8122) at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory hosts day, evening, and overnight observing programs. (skycenter.arizona.edu, skithelemmon.com, sawmillrun.com)

 Summer Science Fun. This summer, kids can have fun while learning about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at the new Investigation Station at the Children’s Museum Tucson. Between May 20 and September 2, this interactive exhibit will be central to the museum’s new summer program, Science Sundays, which will offer weekly experiences with animals, physics, math, lasers, and more, along with presentations by local organizations such as Make it Magic, Mini-Time Machine of Miniatures Museum, Physics Factory, Reid Park Zoo, Tucson Botanical Gardens, and UA Optics. (520-792-9985, childrensmuseumtucson.org).

 New Aquatics Exhibit. A new permanent exhibition, “From Rivers to the Sonoran Sea,” will open at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in late 2012. With 14 tanks, including two “touch tanks,” displaying fresh- and salt-water sea life, this exhibit will reveal the mysteries of the rivers and aquatic life of the Sonoran Desert as well as the sea life representative of the Sea of Cortez. As one of the most biologically diverse seas on the planet, the Sea of Cortez also provides much of the moisture for summer rains in the Sonoran Desert region that includes Tucson and Southern Arizona. (520-883-2702, desertmuseum.org).   

 Neon Art Walk. A row of rescued and restored neon signs from 1940s-1960s Tucson has been added to the Pima Community Colleges, Downtown Campus. Tucson’s new Neon Art Walk opened with four colorful signs, including two from former motels that in their heyday attracted and welcomed pre-Interstate 10 “auto tourists” passing through Tucson via U.S. Route 80. Visitors can see these and other vintage neon signs, including the former Ghost Ranch Lodge sign featuring a cow-skull designed by artist Georgia O’Keefe, in Tucson by following The Neon Pueblo: A Guide to Tucson’s Mid-Century Advertising, produced by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation. tucsonhistoricpreservationfoundation.org/

  Flight of the Bats. Thousands of summer migratory bats roost beneath Tucson’s bridges and in rafters under the University of Arizona football stadium. Local residents delight in watching these important nocturnal pollinators emerge en masse at dusk from their urban caves in search of food, a natural spectacle that is celebrated in the spring at the Rillito River Project’s Bat Night. Special events and activities recognizing 2012 as the global Year of the Bat will take place at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum throughout summer, and information about bats living at Colossal Cave in Tucson and Kartchner Caverns in Benson is always available at both places. (tucsonaudubon.org/what-we-do/283.html, yearofthebat.org, desertmuseum.org/visit/year_of_the_bat.php, zstateparks.com/parks/kaca/science.html)  

 New Destination Spa. Miraval Life in Balance Spa in northwest Tucson has hosted more than a quarter million guests since its opening in 1996. Recognized as one of the world’s premier all-inclusive destination spas, Miraval recently renovated its spa as part of a new partnership with Paris-based cosmetics company Clarins. Miraval Life in Balance Spa with Clarins opened May 1, with more than 30 new offerings, including Clarin’s-inspired treatments and a new spa menu as well as a VIP Suite that offers guests total privacy and a list of exclusive treatments. (800-232-3969, miravalresorts.com)

 AAA 4-Diamond Properties. Less than one year after its grand opening, Casino del Sol Resort, Spa and Conference Center, located southwest of downtown Tucson, has earned the AAA Four Diamond hotel rating, bringing the number Tucson’s four diamond-properties to seven. A new recipient of the AAA Four Diamond restaurant rating is The Grill at Hacienda Del Sol, located in the Catalina foothills, north of downtown Tucson; this restaurant also has captured Wine Spectator’s “Best of” Award of Excellence for 14 years. A full list of Arizona Four- and Five-Diamond properties is available at az.aaa.com/diamonds.

Tucson Modern Streetcar. The City of Tucson is constructing its first electric railway streetcar. When completed in late 2013, the Sun Link Tucson Modern Streetcar will connect major activity centers in central Tucson – the University of Arizona, Fourth Avenue, Main Gate Square, Downtown Tucson, and Mercado District – along a 3.9-mile route featuring 18 stops adorned with public art and LED poetry panels. Tucson’s eight streetcar vehicles will be part of the first order of vehicles made in the United States in nearly 60 years, meeting ‘Buy America’ requirements. This project is part of Tucson’s regional plan for a multi-modal transportation system that offers bike lanes and paths, new sidewalks and greenways, and added transit service. (520) 624-5656, tucsonstreetcar.com.

Sunscreen for Visitors. More than 1 million visitors who visit to five Tucson-area attractions annually can benefit from a program that is providing sunscreen and sun safety information. The Skin Cancer Institute at the University of Arizona is working with Biosphere 2, Pima Air and Space Museum, Reid Park Zoo, Tohono Chul Park, and Tucson Botanical Gardens to install sunscreen dispensers in pubic restrooms at each venue. Arizona-Sonora Desert, for the past six years has provided sunscreen and sun-blocking umbrellas to its guests as part of its partnership with the Skin Cancer Institute. 520- 626-103, azcc.arizona.edu/sci)


What's New in Tucson - June 2012

Culinary Showdown at Old Tucson. Old Tucson recently provided the backdrop for Grill Masters, a first-of-its-kind grilling tournament slated to air on the Food Network's reality-based television series Chopped; the series will run for five Sundays, July 22-August 19. Old Tucson hosted 16 grilling professionals as they faced off with mystery ingredients, such as yak steaks and chile taffy, in a culinary showdown for a $50,000 grand prize. Old Tucson, the setting for more than 300 movies and television productions since 1939, is open to visitors as theme park and cultural heritage museum, October-May. For more information, visit oldtucson.com or call 520-883-0100.

Summer Sundays at Gallery Row. Gallery Row, at the northeast corner of Skyline Drive and Campbell Avenue in Tucson's Santa Catalina Foothills, is hosting opera and harp music and fine art gallery showings at Madaras Gallery, Wilde Meyer Gallery, and Steinway Piano Gallery, with brunch at Acacia Real Food and Cocktails, on Sundays this summer, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Throughout the year, Gallery Row's ArtWalk features live music and wine tastings on Thursdays, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 520-615-3001 or visit tucsongalleryrow.com.

Cactus Fruit Harvest. The Tohono O'odham people of the Sonoran Desert region of Southern Arizona harvest the red fruit of the saguaro cactus for cooking every summer. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum will host its own saguaro fruit harvest, with cooking demonstrations and discussion about desert plants as food, June 30 (desertmuseum.org). Colossal Cave Mountain Park's annual Ha:san Bak Saguaro Harvest Celebration includes fruit-picking and syrup-making workshops, with registration, July 7 (colossalcave.com). Cheri's Desert Harvest, in Tucson, makes preserves, jellies, candies, and syrups from Sonoran Desert cacti and sells them online (cherisdesertharvest.com).

USA BMX Bike Race. The USA BMX Southwest Nationals returns to the Tucson Convention Center (TCC) Arena in downtown Tucson for the fifth year, August 10-12. Staging this indoor tournament takes between 300 and 350 dump-truck loads of dirt to build a massive regulation racetrack for the roughly 1,000 amateur motocross bike competitors of all ages who will perform death-defying sprints, tricks, and jumps. Throughout the weekend, spectators can explore a Vendor Village and a Kid's Fun Zone in the Arena. All tournament events are free. Parking in TCC lot costs $8. Learn more on usabmx.com.

Tohono Chul Garden Bistro. New management at the Tea Room at Tohono Chul Park, in northwest Tucson, has renamed the restaurant "to better reflect its culinary offerings and distinctive garden setting." The new Tohono Chul Garden Bistro opens in early August after a menu update and facility refurbishment. The new owners, all seasoned restaurateurs with local experience, plan to offer best-selling dishes and fresh regional foods as well as the Tea Room's longstanding daily tea time. To learn more, call 520-742-6455 or visit tohonochulpark.org.

Made-in-Arizona Photographs. A selection of photographs created in Arizona during the 20th century will be exhibited in recognition of the Arizona Centennial at the Center for Creative Photography, on the University of Arizona campus. The new exhibition, Made in Arizona: Photographs from the Collection, runs August 18 - November 25 and features images of iconic scenes and highlights the diversity of photographs produced in Arizona by artists who spent time here. For more details, call 520-621-7968 or visit creativephotography.org.

National Aviation Day. Celebrate Orville Wright's birthday on National Aviation Day, August 19, at Pima Air and Space Museum, in Tucson. Bring the kids for special activities with indoor kites, paper airplanes, and other aviation toys. Walk among giants of aviation history on a tour of the five hangars and more than 300 aircraft and spacecraft on 150 acres. Don't miss Hangar #1, home to an exact replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer, the aircraft with which the Wright Brothers made history. Stay for lunch: the museum's restaurant, Flight Grill, is open daily. For more information, call 520-574-0462 or visit pimaair.org.

Salsa & Tequila Tastings. Fresh salsas and tequilas will be featured at two culinary events at La Encantada shopping center in Tucson's Catalina Foothills, August 25. The Southern Arizona Tequila Challenge will present tequila-based drinks (excluding margaritas), for tasting and voting on, paired with gourmet foods from 15 local restaurants. At the same time, the Salsa Culinary Challenge will include 30 fresh salsas made by both amateur cooks and professional chefs for sampling with Mexican beers. Flamenco dancers, a mariachi band, and salsa dance lessons will provide entertainment. For tickets and information, call 520-797-3959 or visit saaca.org/Salsa_Tequila_Challenge.html

Monterrey Court Revisited. Experience historical Tucson at this repurposed 1930s motor-court motel, located beneath a saguaro neon sign on the Miracle Mile near downtown Tucson. Shop the charming artisan galleries and specialty shops located in the original casitas clustered around a shaded courtyard. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Monterey Court Café and Bar. Weekly events include a farmers' market set up in former automobile parking stalls and live concerts staged in the outdoor courtyard. To learn more, call 520-207-2429 or visit montereycourtaz.com.

Mythological Wildlife. See a skeleton of the Centaur of Tymfi at the International Wildlife Museum's newest exhibit. This half-human half-horse creature, reconstructed by an artist-and-zoologist, is intended by the museum to draw attention to connections between science, history, and literature and also to remind visitors not to believe everything they see or read. The exhibit includes a unicorn and a griffin and skulls from a narwhal, an elephant, and a protoceratops. For more details, contact Kristine Massey, 520-629-0100, x 336 or visit thewildlifemuseum.org.

SkyNights on Mt. Lemmon. A new 32-inch refracting telescope dedicated exclusively for public outreach was installed this year at the University of Arizona's Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, located at the 9,157-feet summit of Mt. Lemmon, 30 winding miles north of Tucson. This telescope delivers digital images from space of exceptional quality and is the centerpiece of the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter interactive campus that allows visitors to explore the universe by night and the natural world by day. The SkyCenter hosts a nightly SkyNights program, five hours of astronomer-led public viewing that includes dinner; UA astronomer Adam Block's astrophotography gallery contains photographs taken here. Learn more about the SkyNights program on skycenter.arizona.edu/.

World-Class Golf Tournament. The PGA TOUR has confirmed the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship will return to The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, in the Tucson suburb Marana, February 18-23, 2013. This event, the first in a series of four World Golf Championships, has been played in the Tucson area since 2007 and at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain since 2009. The event features the top 64 players in the world from the Official World Golf Ranking. Find tickets by emailing Jay at Jay@TucsonGolf.com .


    What's New in Tucson - JULY 2012

College World Series Champions. Tucson welcomed home the 
University of Arizona Wildcats Baseball team after winning its fourth College World Series, in June. Last season was the first that the "Bat Cats" played at their new home at Hi Corbett Field, in Reid Park. At this historical stadium, famed as the location of the 1989 comedy Major League, starring Charlie Sheen, the team drew record crowds. Tickets for the 2012 new season will be available in December. More information is available on arizonawildcats.com

Monsoon-Season Bird Festivals. Some of the best bird-watching areas in the United States are in Southern Arizona, and the late-summer monsoon rainy season is is a great time to visit. Discover the region's birds and butterflies at the Southwest Wings Birding & Nature Festival, based in Sierra Vista, just south of Tucson, August 1-4 (swings.org). Then explore Tucson and the surrounding area at the Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival, August 15-19, based at the Arizona Riverpark Inn (tucsonaudubon.org)

Beads, Gems & Minerals. Beads of every shape, size, color and composition will be featured at the Tucson Fall Gem Shows, during the second week of September. Both A Bead Carnival (September 6-9) and Best Bead Show (September 7-9) sell new and vintage beads and finished jewelry from around the world, and also host classes. The Madagascar Minerals Gem Show and J.O.G.S. International Exhibits (both September 6-9) sell mineral products, finished jewelry, cut stones, gems, beads, and more. More information is available on visitTucson.org/gemshow

Rural Celebrations in Sonoita. A scenic 40-mile drive south of Tucson, surrounded by mountains and grasslands, the community of Sonoita celebrates is rural traditions every September with two family-friendly events. The Sonoita Labor Day Rodeo (September 1-3) and the Santa Cruz County Fair (September 14-16) have drawn folks to Sonoita Fairgrounds for old-fashioned entertainment since 1915. Nearby lodging includes the Sonoita Inn/Steak OutLa Hacienda de Sonoita, and Spirit Tree Bed and Breakfast Inn. Call (520) 455-5553 or visit sonoitafairgrounds.com for more details.

Tucson Culinary Festival. Tickets for the 10th annual Tucson Culinary Festival are on sale, now. Discounts are available for tickets and hotel room reservations purchased by August 1. This year, the festival event locations have changed: both the Reserve Tasting and the Grand Tasting events will take place at Casino Del Sol Resorton Saturday, Oct. 6, and the World Margarita Championship will be staged downtown at the Tucson Museum of Art on Friday, Oct. 26. For more information, visit tucsonculinaryfestival.com.

Saturday Evening Folk Music. The Live Acoustic Music Association's (LAVA) fall Saturday evening concert series, September 8 through November 17, includes local and touring bluegrass, country, folk and blues music performers. Included will be the Ronstadt Generations, led by Michael J. Ronstadt, younger brother of pop singer Linda Ronstadt, as well as Tucson's official troubadour Ted Ramirez, treasured for his Tucson-influenced Southwestern folk music and storytelling. The concerts take place at the acoustically sound Abounding Grace Sanctuary on Tucson's southwest side. Learn more at lavamusic.org.

Tucson Meet Yourself. Ethnic food, folk art exhibits, and music and dance performances presented by the more the than 64 different cultural groups living in the Southern Arizona-Sonora, Mexico borderland region will be on the program at the 38th annual Tucson Meet Yourself, October 12-14. This grassroots celebration of the Southwestern cultural landscape attracts more than 100,000 people to downtown Tucson, annually. Earlier this year, the festival was recognized for shining a light on folk and traditional arts with two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). To learn more or to volunteer, visit tucsonmeetyourself.org.

New Tucson Food Tour. Indulge in delicious food and get a bit of an education and some exercise along the way with the new Tucson Food Tours. This three-hour guided tour includes tastings at six restaurants in the historical downtown Tucson area. The first season's participants included The Hub, Empire Pizza and Pub, Monkey Burger, Maynard's Market, El Charro Café, Sparkroot, and La Cocina. The second season begins September 1. Reservations are required. Tours begin at 11 a.m. Cost is $45 per person. To learn more or to book a tour, go to foodtourstucson.com.

New Tucson Brewery Tour. Reisen Arizona Day Tours has started the Tucson Brewery Tour, featuring brewmaster-led behind-the-scenes walks through the brewing facilities at three Tucson microbreweries: Barrio Brewery and Nimbus Brewery, both located south of downtown Tucson and the University of Arizona, and Dragoon Brewing Company, recently opened on Tucson's west side. Tastings are offered at each stop, and lunch is served at Barrio Brewing. Cost for the four-hour tour and lunch, offered Mondays and Tuesdays, is $120 per person. Learn more on reisenarizona.com.

Legendary Brewery Gulch. After a 121-year absence, beer once again is being made in Brewery Gulch, legendary site of brothels, bars and the first breweries in the 19th-century mining town Bisbee, Arizona. The tap room is open seven days a week at the new new state-of-the-art Old Bisbee Brewing Company.  Visit on Labor Day weekend to also experience Brewery Gulch Daze on Sunday, Sept. 2. The "Miz Old Biz" contest, belt sander races, kiddie carnival games, wacky pet parade, art shows and more comprise this unique event celebrating Bisbee's past. Learn more on discoverbisbee.com.

Back-Road Day ExcursionsOdyssey Trails Excursions provides three distinct back-road day trips in scenic Southern Arizona aboard comfortable expedition vehicles. Beginning in October, the "The Sonoran Desert: Past & Present" trip includes stops at Saguaro National Park for a primer on plants and animals seen nowhere else on Earth and how this ecology has influenced local native people, followed by visits to an abandoned mining town and the largest anthropology museum in the Southwest. Two additional trips feature Biosphere 2 and Southern Arizona wine and ranch country, respectively. Learn more on odysseytrails.com.

Tucson Padres Returning for 2013. The Tucson Padres and the Pacific Coast League recently announced that the Tucson Padres, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, will to return Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way, Tucson, to play minor league baseball for the 2013 season. Next season marks the third consecutive year the Tucson Padres will provide professional baseball in Pima County. For more information, visit tucsonpadres.com or kinosportscomplex.com.

Modern Streetcar under Construction. The City of Tucson is constructing its first electric railway streetcar. When completed in late 2013, the Sun Link Tucson Modern Streetcar will connect major activity centers in central Tucson - the University of Arizona, Fourth Avenue, Main Gate Square, Downtown Tucson, and Mercado District - along a 3.9-mile route featuring 17 stops adorned with LED poetry panels and original public art. Follow the Sunk Link's progress with construction updates on tucsonstreetcar.com.


What's New in Tucson- August 2012

Desert Museum Anniversary. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum begins its 60th anniversary year celebration on Labor Day, September 3, with the opening of the new Great Blue Heron-Cienega exhibit, featuring one of the largest native Sonoran Desert birds, and the beginning of the new Animal Keeper Interaction program, which lets visitors observe keepers working with animals during feedings and training exercises. This award-winning, zoo-museum offers two miles of walking paths featuring 230 animals and 1,200 varieties of plants presented in naturalistic exhibits and natural history displays. (520-883-2702, desertmuseum.org) 

Sky Island Exploration. The new exhibit at Flandrau Science Center, Exploring Sky Islands, will transport visitors of all ages on a journey from Tucson’s desert basins to the pine forests atop Arizona's mountains. Kids can clamber up a climbing wall to learn how area mountains formed, build a giant hoodoo to learn about the shapes erosion can create, race raindrops through the soil, and play the Life Zone matching game as they explore the amazing biodiversity of the cooler wetter habitats at higher elevations. Flandrau Science Center, located on the campus of the University of Arizona, also presents Planetarium Shows and Laser Light Shows. (521-621-7827, flandrau.org/exhibits/skyislands

Saguaro National Park Free Day. Saguaro National Park and the National Park Service will celebrate National Public Lands Day by offering a fee-free day at the park, Saturday, Sept. 29. Visitors should come prepared with a water bottle or be prepared to purchase one because vending machines selling plastic bottles of water and soda are no longer available. Instead, water bottle-filling stations have been installed at both visitor centers, both of which sell a variety of refillable water bottles. According to the EPA, less than 15 percent of these plastic bottles are recycled; the rest go into landfills. (520-733-5158, 520-733-8602, nps.gov/sagu

Mini Set Designs. The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, presents “No Small Parts: The Role of Scale Models in Theater Set Design,” September-November 11. This temporary exhibit features more than a dozen models created by scene designers for local theaters, showcasing the application of miniatures in theatrical productions.  In addition to full-color scale models, this exhibit will also include the designer's scale drawings, white models, and theatrical production photographs, illustrating the progressive phases of set design and the final outcome of the process in full scale on the stage. (520-881-0606, theminitimemachine.org

Old Bisbee Ghost Hunt. Ghost Hunt is the newest tour offered at Old Bisbee Ghost Tours. This monthly four-hour tour includes a training session, use of ghost-hunting equipment, investigations of haunted locations, and a potential evidence DVD. Guests will investigate who is haunting these buildings and why. After the investigation, data will be downloaded and sent on a DVD to each participant. Cost is $40 per person. Upcoming tour dates include September 22, October 19, and November 3. More dates and information can be found on OldBisbeeGhostTour.com

Freaky Halloween Fun. Populated with haunted houses featuring special effects, pyrotechnics, and ghoulish creatures performing terrifying stunts, Old Tucson’s Nightfall-20 Years of Terror! offers a Hollywood-style celebration of Halloween that may be too scary for the little ones, Thursdays-Sundays in October at Old Tucson western film location and theme park (520-908-4833, nightfallaz.com). The Halloween Howl at Colossal Cave Mountain Park hosts family-friendly hayrides and candlelight cave tours, October 19 (520-647-7121, colossalcave.com). Guests can help save the world from monsters at the 89th Halloween Haunted Ruins, featuring a trip through Tucson’s Valley of the Moon, weekends in October (520-323-1331, tucsonvalleyofthemoon.com). 

Cross-border Baseball. For the second year in a row, professional baseball teams from the Pacific Coast League of Mexico will play in the Vamos a Tucson Mexican Baseball Fiesta, October 5-7, at Kino Stadium. This winter tournament, featuring four teams from both Sonora and Sinaloa, is organized by the Tucson Padres (Tucson’s Pacific Coast League team), the Tucson CVB, and the Sonoran Sports Commission. Organizers say last year’s event drew 11,000-12,000 fans from both sides of the border. A three-day reserved-seat pass costs $30. (520-434-1367, kinosportscomplex.com

Powwow Etiquette. Learn about and then practice the proper dos and don’ts of attending a Native American powwow at Powwow 101, one of several interactive workshops scheduled for the  Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival, October 12-14, in downtown Tucson. This annual festival—a celebration of the living traditional arts, cultures, and foods of the Sonoran Desert region—will include staged music and dance performances, folk art demonstrations and sales, a corrido contest, a lowrider car show, and vendors of varied ethnic foods as well as Tucson’s 25th anniversary AIDS walk, and a ceremonial unfolding of AIDS Memorial Quilt NAMES Project panels. (tucsonmeetyourself.org

Downtown Dining. With more than 50 choices, featuring everything from innovative culinary adventures to the classic Sonoran hot dog, Downtown Tucson restaurants are serving up the excitement. And the number of award-winning restaurants, street vendors, and food trucks found in the heart of the city is growing: 47 Scott, Agustín Brasserie, Casa Vicente, Cup Café at Hotel Congress, Cafe a la C’art, Café Poca Cosa, Caffé Milano, Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails, El  Charro Café, HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery, La Cocina Restaurant,  Maynards Kitchen  and Sparkroot are but a few. (downtowntucson.org/visit/dining

Top Resort Spa. For the first time, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain has made the Travel and Leisure list of  “World’s Best” hotels and resorts, ranking 90th on the magazine’s list of Top 100 Hotels in the world, and ranking tenth on the list of top resorts in the continental United States. In June, the property also was ranked as the number three resort spa in North America by readers of Conde Nast Traveler, also making its debut on that magazine’s 2012 Gold List. Located in the Tortolita Mountain foothills in the northwest Tucson suburb Marana, the 850-acre Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain opened in 2009.  

Golf Course Redo. All 27 holes of La Paloma Country Club's Jack Nicklaus Signature design golf course will reopen by Labor Day, after undergoing a $600,000 renovation of its bunkers and greens. The bunkers on all three award-winning courses at the country club will feature white sand imported from San Juan Capistrano, California, while the green surfaces will be covered in lush mini verde Bermuda grass. These course enhancements are intended to beautify the course and allow consistency of play from bunker to bunker and green to green. The country club is open to guests staying at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa and to the private membership.

Home on the Ranch. The Empire Ranch, a 22-room wood-and-adobe 1880s historical structure situated on the grasslands around Sonoita, Arizona has been the location for many Western movies, including Red River, starring John Wayne. Efforts to preserve the ranch are aided by the Empire Ranch Roundup and Open House, which on November 3 will offer an authentic presentation of Western life. Living historians will re-create the cowboy's life on the ranch with demonstrations, exhibits, wagon rides, livestock displays, music and more. (888-364-2829, empireranchfoundation.org

Virtual Arizona Experiences. The interactive Arizona’s Recreation & Cultural Sites Map, containing information for more than 425 recreational, historical and cultural sites throughout Arizona, is now live on the Arizona Experience website. With this map, visitors can identify where to boat, fish, take in mountain vistas or wildlife, ride equestrian trails, hike, bicycle, and camp throughout Arizona. This website celebrates Arizona via fly-throughs of iconic landscapes, interactive maps, historic timelines, oral histories, informative articles, videos, and slide shows. (azgs.az.gov/azexperience.shtml)


What's New In Tucson  - September 2012


Beautiful Autumn Color. Visitors can see displays of autumn leaves in Southern Arizona between mid-September and late-October, if they know where to look. One of the best places to look is Madera Canyon, in the Santa Rita Mountains, 40 miles south of Tucson; this world-famous sky island also is rated the third-best birding destination in the United States. The Sky Island Parkway National Scenic Byway, from the Tucson basin to the 9,157-foot top of Mount Lemmon, passes through several terrains offering spectacular autumn color. At the top, the Mount Lemmon Ski Valley chair lift offers a birds-eye view year-round; while, just down the road, the Village of Summerhaven is a haven for bright autumn color and hiking. In Patagonia, just south of Tucson, the cottonwoods along the San Pedro River turn orange and yellow once autumn arrives.

Tucson's Living History. The new "Symbols of our Mexican Past" exhibit at the Tucson Presidio shows artifacts from Southern Arizona's Mexican-American history. This little-know but important past comes to life every second Saturday, October- April (excluding December), as Living History Day volunteers demonstrate baking and cooking in an adobe oven, spinning and weaving, woodworking and leather making, storytelling, and military drills with cannon fire as practiced by 18th century Spanish colonial soldiers. The Tucson Presidio--the re-created adobe-walled fort that stood in what is now downtown Tucson--is also a starting point for the free Presidio Trail self-guided walking tour. (520-837-8119, tucsonpresidiotrust.org)

Earth Harmony Festival. The father of the local and sustainable food movement will be the keynote speaker at the Earth Harmony Festival, October 6-7, at Avalon Organic Garden and EcoVillage, in Tumacacori, 50 miles south of Tucson. Gary Paul Nabhan-writer, lecturer, and renowned conservation scientist-co-founded Tucson-based Native Seeds/SEARCH, and was among the first to call attention to the decline of bees and other pollinators. In addition to Nabhan's presentation, there will be tours of EcoVillage solar panels, rainwater harvesters, organic gardens, and green buildings as well as live music by Global Change Music, displays by Master Gardeners, booths and vendors, and a children's area. View a video for this event on http://kck.st/OacQ7A. (520-398-2542, earthharmonyfestival.org)

All Souls Weekend. A Tucson event inspired by Mexico's Dia de los Muertos, the All Souls Procession, will take place in downtown Tucson for the 23rd year on November 4. On this evening, as many as 35,000 people will walk together through downtown Tucson until they reach a huge urn, filled with notes and prayers written by participants, which are burned as part of a grand finale. Participants dress in garments belonging to deceased loved ones and carry photos of them; many wear white skeleton makeup or giant masks, some carry lanterns and marigolds; other beat drums and sing or chant. The grand finale includes music and a pyrotechnics show by Tucson's circus and fire theater, Flam Chen. This year's Dance of the Dead after-party at the Rialto Theatre will feature music by Ozomatli. Photos from past processions can be seen on allsoulsprocession.org.

Global Movie Madness. Forty world-class films celebrating storytelling from around the world will be screened at the Loft Film Fest, November 8-15, at The Loft Cinema. Fest-goers will get a chance to see the Tucson premiers of A Royal Affair, winner of the best actor and best script prize at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival, SXSW Audience Award-winner Fat Kid Rules the World, Leos Carax's Cannes' sensational Holy Motors, Jane Fonda speaking French in the comedy All Together, and Oscar-nominated documentarian Scott Hamilton Kennedy's appearance with his new doc, Fame High. The Loft Cinema is Tucson's non-profit community supported art film house and a member of the Sundance Institute's Art House Project. Passes are on sale, now. (520-795-7777, loftfilmfest.com)

A Nutty Run and Country Fair. A 5K run through the pecan orchard as the leaves are changing color and an old-fashioned country fair are planned for the fourth annual Sahuarita Pecan Festival, November 10, on the grounds of the Green Valley Pecan Company orchard-one of the world's largest growers of pecans and the biggest exporter of pecans to Europe-located 20 miles south of Tucson. The fair will showcase local foods, products, and crafts from the Santa Cruz River Valley. Entertainment will include live music, dancing, children's games, and demonstrations of pecan harvesting as well as shopping at the world-famous Pecan Store. Videos about the festival are posted online. (520-820-3299, sahuaritapecanfestival.com)

Open Art Studios. More than 200 Tucson and Pima County artists will open their doors to the public during the Fall Open Studio Tour, November 10-11. On this free, self-guided tour, aficionados can explore the studios of such artists as Brenda Semanick, Daniel Martin Diaz, and Glory Tacheenie-Campoy; see work in every kind of media and genre; and talk to the artists about their ideas and techniques. An illustrated map/guide is available on the Tucson Pima Arts Council website; a print version will be available at select tour locations. A Preview Exhibit of the art to be displayed during the tour takes place at the Tucson Jewish Community Center Fine Art Gallery, October 24-November 8. (520-624-0595 x14, tucsonpimaartscouncil.org)

El Tour de Tucson. Tucson, called "the best road-biking city in the country" by Outside magazine, will host more than 9,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities for the 30th annual El Tour de Tucson, Saturday, Nov. 17. This homegrown perimeter cycling event has become the largest of its kind in the United States, bringing in more than 18,000 visitors. The main routes show off Tucson's scenic mountain ranges and stands of saguaro cacti - icon of the Southwest's Sonoran Desert. The 111-mile start line (and finish line for all events) will be located at Armory Park, downtown, at the site of the El Tour Fiesta, a gathering with live music, food vendors, information and merchandise booths, and El Tour memorabilia. Online registration closes November 12. All registration closes November 15. (520-745-2033, perimeterbicycling.com)

Arizona Theatre Company 2012-2013 Season. The Arizona Theatre Company's 46th season includes six plays, staged in Tucson at Temple of Music and Art, September 15 through April 27. Productions include some of the hottest recent plays in their Southwest regional premieres, beginning with the Arizona premier of the 2010 Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Next to Normal and the new musical Jane Austen's Emma. The season also includes the story of a legendary NFL coach in Lombardi, and the off-Broadway hit Freud's Last Session, the Neil Simon comedy classic The Sunshine Boys, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Clybourne Park. For more information, call the Tucson box office at 520-622-2823. (arizonatheatre.org)

Here Comes the Sun. Take a daytime tour of the Earth's nearest star, the sun, with Arizona Star Tours new portable solar observatory. Using two state-of-the-art solar telescopes, this guided tour can be set up almost anywhere the sun is visible. Advanced technology allows for safe viewing of solar prominences, sunspots, granulation, and other fascinating features of the dynamic sun. Tour guests can capture images through the solar telescope using astrophotography adapters for iPhone. A video of the solar tour can be viewed online. For information or to book a tour, call 520-668-1871 or visit arizonastartours.com.

A Southwestern Adventure. Explore Tucson on a guided hike through the Sabino Canyon riparian wilderness area; tour the former bandit hideout and National Register of Historic Places site Colossal Cave Mountain Park; and take an Old West trail ride over a former stagecoach road; before dining at a cowboy-style cookout as part of the southwestern adventure package offered by Hike in Tucson. This package includes an Enterprise Rent-a-car and lodging through Comfort Suites at Sabino Canyon. For details, call 520-477-6867 or visit hikeintucson.com.