Tucson and Arizona
Nearly 360 days of sunshine, incredible sunsets, mild winters—what more could you ask for in a city (especially when you’re post-call!)?
Tucson offers the best of both worlds—a vibrant city of 1 million people surrounded by the unsurpassable natural beauty of the Sonoran desert. Tucson has everything you’d want in a metropolitan city—a wide variety of restaurants (some of the best Mexican food north of the border!), a strong performing arts community, a thriving music scene, and many sporting events, yet the laid-back, relaxed lifestyle of a small town. Due to its unique blend of Native American, Spanish, Mexican-American, and Anglo-American influences, Tucson has a rich cultural heritage, apparent throughout the city’s architecture, public art, music, and festivals.
Here’s a list of just a few fun things to do in Tucson:
Tucson is a hiker’s heaven with year-round hiking available and many trails only 30 minutes away (so you can even hike post-call!). Four mountain ranges surround Tucson—the Santa Catalinas, the Tucson Mountains, the Rincon Mountains, and the Santa Rita Mountains, all with a myriad of trails, from easy to strenuous.
Sabino Canyon: Located in the foothills of the Santa Catalinas, this is a great place to go for a jog, leisurely walk, or a good introduction to hiking in the Catalinas.
Mount Lemmon: At over 9,000 feet, Mt. Lemmon is a refreshing destination during the hot summer months and a place to possibly play in the snow or ski during the winter. There are many camping and hiking opportunities along the 25 mile Catalina Highway to the top.
Tucson is one of only eight cities in the U.S. to receive a gold rating or higher for friendliness to cycling from the League of American Bicyclists. With flat roads and many bike lanes, it is easy to bike around the city and some residents even bike to work. For serious cyclists, there are the annual El Tour de Tucson and Tour of the Tucson Mountains races, and trails abound for those who love mountain biking.
Mount Lemmon has more than 1,200 climbing routes, making it one of the most popular climbing locations in AZ. “Squeezing the Lemmon” by local author Eric Fazio-Richard is a favorite guide for climbers.
Tucson has over 120 parks and 5 public golf courses.
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum – a world-renowned zoo and botanical garden with plants and animals unique to the Sonoran Desert.
Saguaro National Park – home to the finest saguaro cactus forest in the world. The saguaro cactus is unique to the southwest and northern Arizona.
Tucson is theSpring training site for the White Sox, Colorado Rockies,
and Arizona Diamondbacks. The rest of the Cactus League teams practice in Phoenix, a 2 hour drive north. The University of Arizona Wildcats sports teams, especially men's basketball and women's softball, are local and often national favorites to watch.
Tucson has a thriving arts community with theater, opera, ballet, and symphony. The Tucson Arts District Partnership lies in the heart of downtown Tucson and includes the Tucson Music Hall, the Tucson Community Center, and the Temple of Music and Art. Tucson's Arizona Theatre Company, the leading professional theater company in the state, has received national recognition. Its productions range from the classics to recent Broadway hits.
The award-winning Tucson Symphony Ochestra offers a nine-month season of classical music. The Arizona Opera makes Tucson its home, performing a standard repertoire along with less-frequently performed works. Dance lovers can see performances of Ballet Arizona, which is based in Tucson. The "UA Presents" series at The University of Arizona Centennial Hall brings a variety of performances and groups throughout the year.
Many contemporary art galleries and the Tucson Museum of Art are concentrated in central downtown Tucson.
The Center for Creative Photography: Houses one of the most comprehensive photographic collections in the world, offers temporary exhibitions from its collections and elsewhere. And it’s free!
De Grazia Gallery in the Sun: A unique gallery of local artist Ted De Grazia’s Native-American and Southwest-influenced art.
Local bands can be heard throughout the city most every night of the week . In September and October, the Tucson Pops Orchestra offers “Pops in the Park”, free weekly performances under the stars at Reid Park. During the summer, “Cinema La Placita,” an outdoor film series, takes place downtown. Year round, The Loft Cinema is a great venue for art films - independent, foreign, alternative and classic narrative films and documentaries.
- Biosphere 2 Built to research and develop self-sustaining space-colonization technology, Biosphere 2 is now open to the public for tours. Currently, the facility serves as a tool to support research aimed at quantifying some of the consequences of global climate change.
- All Souls Procession Tucson’s All Souls Procession organizes over 10,000 participants on the streets of downtown Tucson for a two-mile long, human-powered procession that ends in the finalizing action of burning a large urn filled with the hopes, offerings and wishes for those who have passed. Inside the event are myriads of installation art, altars, performers, and creatives of all kinds.
- Tucson Gem & Mineral Show The acclaimed Tucson Gem and Mineral Show™ is held every year on the second full week of February. It has set the standard for gem and mineral shows around the world, and is now the largest gem show in the United States.
- Tucson Rodeo & La Fiesta de los Vaqueros The Tucson Rodeo Parade is billed as the world’s longest non-motorized parade. This two-hour spectacle features western-themed floats and buggies, historic horse-drawn coaches, festive Mexican folk dancers, marching bands and outfitted riders. The Tucson Rodeo gives visitors an opportunity to see real-life cowboys and cowgirls display their skills.
Links to more downtown events:
There are plenty of great weekend getaways all within driving distance. Phoenix is only a two-hour drive from Tucson. If you can’t find it in Tucson, they probably have it in Phoenix! Mexico is only 1 hour away—drive to Nogales for margaritas and authentic Mexican food, and great shopping for hand-made Mexican ceramics, tiles, and art. Head to Rocky Point, Mexico to enjoy the beach.
Other charming historic towns include:
There are always great airline deals to San Diego and Los Angeles—the perfect getaway for your golden weekend!