Friday, November 03, 2006

Things To See And Do Around Tucson

Tucson is surrounded by four mountain ranges, some of the southern Arizona Sky Islands. The Rincon Mountains are to the east, the Tucson Mountains to the West, the Santa Catalinas to the north and the Santa Ritas to the south. Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita mountains is considered one of the premier bird watching areas of the United States. Mt. Lemmon, in the Catalinas north of Tucson, rises to over 9,000 feet. The drive takes you through 4 different climate zones, starting in the saguaro cactus "forest" outside Tucson and ending in the pine and aspen forest at the top.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau will help you get started on your visit to Tucson.

If you will be visiting a lot of attractions, you can purchase this Tucson Attractions Passport, which gives you 2 for 1 admission to a lot of things.

Here are some of my suggested day trips from Tucson.
Kartchner Caverns  is one of the must-see attractions of southern Arizona. You can order tickets on line, and advance reservations are strongly recommended.  I have done both of the tours more than once - the Rotunda/Throne Room tour and the Big Room tour - and I prefer the Rotunda / Throne Room tour.

If you get an early enough tour time, take in Tombstone and Bisbee . Browse the art galleries, maybe have lunch or tea at the Copper Queen Hotel or take the Copper Queen Mine tour or a jeep ride. Or just visit Bisbee's mining museum . Or, after Kartchner, go right to Bisbee and do Tombstone on the way back.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum , Old Tucson , Saguaro National Park West and the
International Wildlife Museum are all in the same vicinity.

Sabino Canyon including a hike up to 7 falls and Saguaro National Park East . There is a 9-mile loop road that you can drive, bike or hike. The loop road was completely redone during 2006 and now has many more pullouts and scenic overlooks.

Chiricahua National Monument. But that is a little further from Tucson so would be a full day all by itself. While there, Visit Fort Bowie, for 30 years right in the middle of the war with the Chiricahua Apaches.

Nogales, Sonora, Mexico for some shopping. Maybe lunch at La Roca restaurant. On the way back to Tucson, stop in at Tubac and browse some of the many fine art galleries. While there, visit nearby Tumacacori National Historical Park . Very close by is the Santa Cruz Chile & Spice Factory and retail store.

A trip to Texas Canyon, with its unusual rock formations, about 40 miles east of Tucson. Include a visit to the Triangle-T Guest Ranch , maybe stay overnight in one of the cabins, and the nearby Amerind Foundation . Also close by is Cochise Stronghold, once home to the legendary Apache Chief.

On or near the University of Arizona campus you will find the Flandrau Planetarium/Science Center, the Arizona State Museum, the Arizona Historical Society museum and the Center for Creative Photography

Although much maligned, Biosphere 2 is very worthy of a visit.

For astronomy buffs, a visit to Kitt Peak National Observatory would be interesting. The University of Arizona also has a "Sky Nights" viewing program on Mt. Lemmon.  Advance reservations required.

Tucson also has what I believe is the largest privately-run air and space museum, the Pima Air and Space Museum.

Of course, a visit to Tucson would not be complete without a visit to our "White Dove of the Desert", San Xavier del Bac mission .

See the downtown area for arts at the Tucson Museum of Art and shopping for local crafts at Old Town Artisans , right next door.

We like to drive down through Sonoita and Patagonia and down to Nogales. You would take I-10 east from Tucson and get on route 83. It is about 25 miles to Sonoita, a very scenic drive. Then at Sonoita you would take a right to go through Patagonia and on to Nogales.  It is also very worthwhile spending a day visiting the wineries around Sonoita/Elgin.  Take your own Southern ArizonaWine Tour -- with a designated driver, of course.

Close to the University of Arizona campus is North 4th Avenue, several blocks of shops, night clubs and restaurants. Tucson also is a wonderful place for hiking .

Tucson, being a winter destination for "snowbirds" has a wide selection of fine restaurants. Tucson Restaurant Guide. For Mexican, I would suggest El Charro, Mi Nidito and Cafe Poca Cosa. Karichimaka, close to San Xavier del Bac, also has excellent Mexican food. A very good Italian restaurant is Piazza Gavi.  For fine Italian food and great pizza, try  Vero Amore or BZ's Pizza.  Old West steak houses include Pinnacle Peak  and El Corral.    For just pizza, my favorites are NoAnchovies, near the university, and New York Pizza.

For night life and other things to do, check out Do Tucson

Enjoy your stay.


scott davidson said...

What an unusual lot of animal paintings. You obviously enjoy painting them. Lots of animal paintings can be browsed at who supplies canvas prints from the images. How about this one?: by Archibald Thorburn, a Scottish bird artist,, of a Great Auk.

Angela McLean said...

Lots of info here MikeP. Will have another read of it before we get to Arizona. Just one thing - your like to the Kartchner Caves doesn't seem to be working. Not a problem as I can get it through Google but just wanted to let you know. Will have a look through some of the links and hopefully we will get to see alot of what you have listed. Thanks for the excellent help provided.

Angela (Fodors: SnowAngel1977)

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Nice where do you recommend staying safely if traveling alone?

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