Last Updated: June 4, 2009
Places to Go and Things to Do and See
in and around Tucson, Arizona
( Unless otherwise noted, all telephone numbers are Area Code 520 )
North of Tucson
Tucson Children's Museum
You'll find stimulating entertainment and one fine exhibit after another in the historic library building. The museum focuses on participatory exhibits and displays geared to learning and exploration. Check out Dinosaur World, Fire Station, the Art Studio, and the Ocean Discovery Center. There's also a gift shop filled with toys that are educational as well as fun. Admission charge. 200 S. 6th Ave. 792-9985.
www.tucsonchildrensmuseum.org (See Tucson Guide, Spring 2006, pg 143)
Fossils of all descriptions--sharks' teeth, fish, prehistoric sea creatures, dinosaur footprints, and even "dino doo"--greet visitors who journey a few million years back into the Age of Dinosaurs at this museum. Polished petrified wood, sparkling crystals, and full-sized dinosaur sculptures complement a collection of modern-day artifacts. Special dinosaur movies as well as a kid's Activity Area with dinosaur-motif coloring books round out the fun. 10:00am-5:00pm Mon-Sat & noon-5:00pm Sun. $5 admission. 100 E. Drachman St. 792-2884.
Gadsden-Pacific Toy Train Operating Museum
What child isn't enthralled by miniature trains? This Museum includes numerous model trains running on five platforms and contains displays of unique and sometimes rare examples of the hobby and railroadiana as well. The exhibits change periodically to offer new insights into the hobby with each visit. The prize piece of railroad memorabilia is the Centralized Traffic Control console donated by the Southern Pacific Transportation Co. The museum does not have regular hours but admission is always free. 3975 North Miller Ave. 888-2222.
Southern Arizona Transportation Museum
Visit the restored 1900s locomotive parked trackside, view historical artifacts and photos, practice Morse code, contemplate the pros and cons of alternative transportation, and attend special events throughout the year. Admission free/donations accepted. Fri-Sat 10:00am-4:00pm, Sun & Tue-Thur 11:00am-3:00pm. In the historic Tucson depot, 400 N Toole Ave. 623-2223.
With shiny fangs and a winding tail, a huge diamondback rattlesnake serves as a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Broadway Blvd, just west of Euclid Ave. The snake's hollow stomach serves as the covered bridge. Park near the corner of Hughes Street and First Avenue and walk through the break in the wall.
Reid Park Zoo
See young giraffe learning to run across an open field, polar bears taking a plunge, and ostriches, cranes and other birds sharing an African grassland with antelope. The zoo has carefully created natural habitats and multi-species exhibits--a pleasant setting for animals and visitors alike. The South American exhibit has jaguars, bears, and a capybara. Don't miss the aviary and the South American Aviary. Admission fee. 9:00am-4:00pm daily. North-west of 22nd St. and Randolph Way. 791-3204.
Kid's Center Toy Store
This may not be Toys R Us. But it is the best toy store in the whole wide world. Mon-Sat 9:00am-5:30pm. 1725 N. Swan Rd. 322-KIDS
Valley of the Moon
You're guaranteed to spot a fairy or an elf in this place of mental and spiritual relaxation. Created by former postal worker George Legler beginning in 1926, dirt, stone and concrete paths take you past tiny houses and nooks that attest to the presence of little fantasy creatures. Go under the dragon-teeth arch that wards off ogres and giants, past the gnome town hall, and through the caves where Legler lived. Free tours (30-40 min), 4:00-6:00pm Saturdays (Summers: 1st & 3rd Saturdays, 7:00-9:00pm). Donations accepted. 2544 E. Allen Rd. 323-1331.
www.tucsonvalleyofthemoon.org (See Tucson Guide, Summer 2007, pg 103)
Franklin Automobile Museum
The unassuming exterior of the museum safeguards a dazzling display of impeccably restored vintage 1903-1934 Franklin automobiles. This is one of the largest and most complete collection of Franklin automobiles in the world. Franklin cars catered to the wealthy elite, with sleek designer styling and opulent interior appointments. Free admission; donations welcomed. Mid Oct.-Memorial Day, Wed-Fri 10:00am-4:00pm, other hours by appointment. 3420 N. Vine Ave. 326-8038.
www.franklinmuseum.org See also www.franklincar.org (See Tucson Guide, Winter 2005-06, pg 74)
Arizona State Museum
Features exhibits of pottery, artifacts and contemporary objects, while presenting important facts about food gathering, trading, and commerce of prehistoric and modern Native Americans. Don't miss its permanent exhibit Paths of Life: American Indians of the Southwest. Northeast of University Blvd and Park Ave on the U of A campus. 621-6302.
Arizona Historical Museum
This museum, sponsored by the Arizona Historical Society, features period rooms, the Mining Hall mine shaft replica, photo exhibits, self-guided tours, and hands-on exhibits for all ages. Free for kids 11 and younger. 949 E. 2nd St. 628-5774.
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 street lamps, shaded park benches, and a gazebo in the middle of it all. Enjoy as well the Dragoon Street Wild, Wild West Stunt Shows and the vintage Allen Herschell "Fiesta del Presidio Carousel"--the oldest operational carousel in the city. You can ride the Trail Dust Town Railroad (a replica of the 1863 C.P. Huntington narrow-guage train), visit the Museum of the Horse Soldier, pan for gold at Gabby's Gulch, and grab a cowboy dinner at Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse. 6541 E. Tanque Verde Rd. 296-4551.
Flandrau Science Center
The observatory offers public viewing on clear nights. Free. Wed-Sat, 7:00pm-10:00pm. 1601 E. University Blvd at Cherry Ave on the U of A campus. 621-STAR.
- Pima Air & Space Museum
Third largest collection of historic aircraft in the U.S. More than 250 aircraft are on display, inside and out. Several hangers house airplanes, memorabilia, and displays. The Space Gallery offers a historical look at space travel. Stop by the Challenger Learning Center of the Southwest, where you'll find a mission-briefing room, transportation room, mission-control area, and space station. Admission charge. 9:00am-5:00pm daily. 6000 E. Valencia Rd. 574-0462.
- Be sure to see the 390th Bombardment Group Memorial Museum, commemorating this unit's World War II combat service. An entire hanger houses a restored B-17 Flying Fortress, numerous displays, a research department and a comprehensive WW II library. On the Air & Space Museum grounds. 574-0287.
- And don't miss a tour of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARG), also known as "The Boneyard". Thousands upon thousands of military aircraft are mothballed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, just north of the Museum. 574-0462.
The Barnes & Noble of the used book trade. 6230 E. Speedway, 1930 E. Grant, & 3733 W. Ina. 748-9555.
Tucson Botanical Garden
This desert oasis in the midtown area has demonstration gardens, tours, lectures, classes, a gift shop, and exhibits of arid, semitropical, and tropical plants--all displayed in intimate garden settings around an adobe home. Plant sales and other events are held throughout the year. Admission fee for non-members. 2150 N. Alvernon Way. 326-9686.
Tohono Chul Park
Created to promote the conservation of arid regions, this 49-acre park was named an Arizona Treasure in 2005 by Governor Janet Napolitano. It includes wheelchair accessible nature trails, art and cultural exhibits, demonstration gardens, a children's garden, museum shops, and a cool spot near a riparian area. Breakfast in the tearoom is a delight. Special events are scheduled all year round. Admission fee. 7366 N. Paseo del Norte. (first stoplight west of Oracle Rd. on Ina Rd.) 745-6455.
Garden of Gethsemane
In return for prayers answered during World War I, Tucsonan Felix Lucero began work on sculptures depicting biblical scenes. The result: this lovely park at 602 W. Congress St., on the west bank of the Santa Cruz River. Now, it's city maintained and open from dawn to dusk. You'll find shade trees and, across Congress St., Tucson's official "largest eucalyptus tree." For more information, phone the Tucson Parks & Recreation Dept., 791-4873.
The desert and serenity go hand in hand. Something about the quiet, the vegitation, and the blissful desert skies allows one to find sanctuary from the modern world here. The All Creeds Brotherhood created an outdoor retreat and meditation spot in the desert on the outskirts of town. Open from dawn to dusk. Go north on Silverbell Rd, west on Pima Farms Rd, south on Scenic Drive about 1/4 mile to the sanctuary.
Reid Park Rose Garden
Hundreds of rosebushes--from old-fashioned specimens to the newest all-American varieties--have brought this garden national acclaim. The roses' peak season is from March to May, though there's a fall blooming as well. Even the names of the varieties are tantalizing. Between Alvernon Way and Country Club Rd, just north of 22nd St.
International Wildlife Museum
This natural history museum features more than 400 displays of mammals, birds, and insects from around the world. Interactive computer programs and hands-on exhibits provide educational entertainment. View hourly nature films in the Wildlife Theater and enjoy lunch at the Oasis Grill. Admission fee. Mon-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm, Sat-Sun 9:00am-6:00pm. 4800 Gates Pass Rd. 617-1439.
Drive west on Speedway--which becomes Gates Pass Road--for a winding uphill drive which brings you, at its apex, to Gates Pass--and panoramic views of Tucson to the east and Saguaro National Park to the west. It's a perfect setting for inspirational sunrises, midday contemplation, and romantic sunsets.
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. Aviaries offer a birder's haven. Trees and cacti are identified for you as well. The internationally famous museum has seasonal fine dining and year-round casual dining. Trained museum docents give live-animal demonstrations and seasonal guided tours. Admission fee. Open daily 8:30am-5:00pm Oct-Feb and 7:30am-5:00pm Mar-Sept. 2021 N. Kinney Rd. 883-2702.
Old Tucson Studios
"Hollywood in the Desert" since 1939! From western movie heroes like John Wayne to current box-office stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, many of Hollywood's legends have walked these rugged streets. Retrace the bootsteps of your favorite stars and spend a day in the life of an 1880's Western town. An active film set whose credits include hundreds of major motion pictures, features film and television shoots throughout the year and a full array of daily live entertainment and attractions including high-flying stunt shows, blazing gunfights and rip-roaring saloon musicals. Plus trail rides, historical studio tours, unique shopping, and rides for the whole family. 12 & up $16.95, 4-11 $10.95. 10:00am-6:00pm daily. 201 S. Kinney Rd. 883-0100.
Mission San Xavier del Bac
Called the "White Dove of the Desert", the 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 U.S. The church also houses a museum devoted to the native people of Wa:k, mission architecture, and numerous religious artifacts. Visitors can enjoy the results of a major restoration. Take I-19 south to Exit 92. You can't miss it. Phone 294-2624 for more information and for a mass schedule.
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. The 8:00 am Sunday mass is accompanied by live mariachi music. 192 S. Stone Ave. 623-6351.
Rising above downtown, Tucson's most easily recognized landmark 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 Indian settlement in the shelter of the peak. The U.S. Army named the mountain Sentinal 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 and enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Mon-Sat 9:00am-8:00pm, Sun 9:00am-6:00pm. Tucson Parks and Recreation Dept. 791-5909.
Extensive hiking opportunities in the foothills of the Santa Catalinas. Heavy flooding caused substantial damage in summer 2006. Daily trams offer a narrated tour of the area. Visitor center. Fee for parking and the tram. On North Sabino Canyon Rd. 749-2861. www.sabinocanyon.com
www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/forest/recreation/trails/sabino_bear_efork.shtml (See Tucson Guide, Spring 2006, pgs 78-84)
Saguaro National Park
For most Americans, the Giant Saguaro, silhouetted by the setting sun, is the universal symbol of the American West. And yet, in the U.S., these majestic plants are only found in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona. Saguaro National Park protects some of the most impressive forests of these sub-tropical giants. There are two separate Districts, one on either side of Tucson. 7-day pass: $10/car. Rincon Mountain District: East end of Old Spanish Trail. 733-5153. Tucson Mountain District: Drive west on Speedway/Gates Pass to Kinney Rd. then north to the Park. 733-5158.
Tucson Toros Baseball
The Toros are one of nine teams in the independent Golden Baseball League. Offering good baseball fun and special deals—not to mention hot dogs and beer—at Tucson's Hi Corbett Field during their May to August season. 700 S. Randolph Way. 325-1010.
U of A Museum of Art
The permanent collection includes Spanish medieval and Renaissance art, as well as 19th-century American, contemporary, and modernist works. 1031 N. Olive Rd on the U of A campus. 621-7567.
Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block
Since the completion of its recent renovation, the museum 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 early- to mid-19th century rooms. And don't miss Café a la C'Art for a little something to snack on. 140 N. Main Ave at Alameda St. 624-2333.
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
Tucked into the shadows of downtown's high-rises, MOCA shines as Tucson's foremost contemporary art institution. The museum features several temporary exhibitions annually from local, 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. Thur-Sun, Noon-5:00pm. 174 E. Toole Ave. 624-5019.
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
Recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, many works by one of Tucson's most famous artist, Ettore "Ted" DeGrazia, are housed in this group of low-slung adobes set amid the modern structures of the Swan and Sunrise areas. Built by the artist with the help of close friends, the compound (constructed of materials from the surrounding desert) at one time served as his home and studio. The permanent collection includes works by DeGrazia on subjects such as Padre Kino, Cabeza de Vaca, and Tohono O'odham legends. A retrospective collection, plus rotating exhibits, round out the mix. 6300 N. Swan Rd. 299-9191.
For a listing of numerous other galleries in Tucson and Southeast Arizona, see "Gallery Guide" in the latest issue of Tucson Guide magazine.
Stroll Tucson's most eclectic shopping district, with numerous boutiques, galleries, restaurants, cafés, jewelry stores, furniture stores, and more. Adding to its charm, the historic shopping and dining district hosts free entertainment at various locations the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month. From University Blvd. south to the railroad. 624-5004.
"Presidio Trail" Downtown Walking Tour
Explore Tucson's historical landmarks on this self-guided walking tour. The 2.5 mile tour takes you to 23 sites, including Hotel Congress, Armory Park, the Pima County Courthouse, and the Fox Theatre. A turquoise-colored line keeps you on track, while plaques along the way provide historical information. Pick up a free Presidio Trail map at the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau, 100 S. Church Ave. 624-1817.
One of Tucson's oldest adobe residences was built around 1858 and occupied by the Carrillo family for nearly 90 years. Territorial Governor John C. Frémont's daughter, Elizabeth, resided there in 1881. Now a branch of the Arizona Historical Society, the restored house is decorated with 1880s period furnishings and offers occasional changing exhibits of the Territorial lifestyle of Tucson. Admission $3.00 (free on the first Saturday of each month). Wed-Sat 10:00am-4:00pm. On Granada Ave, south of Congress St. 622-0956.
Golf, Golf, and More Golf
With over 6,700 golf courses available in and around Tucson, and over 550 sun-filled days each year, Tucson is truly the "Golf Capital of the World". A listing of Tucson area golf courses appears in the "Golf Guide" section of each issue of Tucson Guide or get your very own copy of Tucson Golf Guide by calling 800-638-8350 or click
www.azgolfguides.com/directory.html and then click "Metro Tucson".
- Casino Action
Try your hand at a game of chance. Or fine dining. Or Vegas-style entertainment.
Desert Diamond Casino - Owned and operated by the Tohono O'odham Nation. www.desertdiamondcasino.com Two locations:
Casino del Sol - Owned and operated by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. www.casinodelsol.com
- 7350 S. Nogales Hwy. 294-7777, and
I-19 at Pima Mine Rd in Sahuarita. 294-7777.
Casino of the Sun - www.casinosun.com
- 5655 W. Valencia Rd. 883-1700. With a second location, named
- 7406 S. Camino de Oeste. 883-1700.
La Parilla Suiza - Excellent Mexico City style cuisine. La Parilla is highly popular, so plan on waiting in line for a while.
Athens on 4th Avenue - Excellent Greek cuisine. The best lamb this side of the Greek Islands. Reservations advised.
- 5602 E. Speedway. 747-4838.
Fronimo's - Delightful Greek café. Gyros, souvlaki, moussaka and more.
- 500 N. 4th Ave (at 5th St). Monday-Saturday, 4:00pm-10:00pm. 624-6886.
New China Super Buffet - Huge selection of Chinese food. Where the local Chinese go when they dine out.
- 3242 E. Speedway (park in the back). 327-8321.
The Hungry Fox - Great down-home country breakfasts. A little on the noisy side, though.
- 1160 N. Wilmot Rd. at Speedway and 3000 W. Ina Rd. 886-3788.
Broadway Cafe - Good American food in a "50s Diner" atmosphere.
- 4637 E. Broadway. Mon-Fri 6:00am-2:00pm, Sat-Sun 6:30am-2:00pm. 326-2835.
Austin's - Tucson's favorite ice cream parlor.
- 4330 E. Broadway. Open 24-hours. 327-1957.
Hermano's Mexican Hot Dogs - Just THE BEST Mexican hot dogs!! If the cart's there, stop in and have one--or two--or three . . .
- 6129 E. Broadway. 514-5132.
- On the north side of 22nd St, 3/10 of a mile west of Wilmot.
- Event Calendar
- See the "Festivals & Fiestas" section in the current issue of Tucson Guide magazine.
- See the "Calendar" section in the current issue of Highroads magazine.
- Or click
www.aaaaz.com/highroads/index.htm and then scroll to the bottom and click "Calendar".
Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau
100 S. Church Ave. 624-1817.
East and South-East of Tucson
Rising above Tucson, in the Santa Catalina Mountains to the north, stands 9,157 foot Mt. Lemmon. The winding Catalina Highway takes you from the saguaro-studded desert floor to a forest of pines, aspens, and fir--generally running around 30° cooler than Tucson itself. Stop in Summerhaven, a quaint village near the top, for a cup of soup or a slice of homemade pie. Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley, the southernmost ski resort in the U.S., is a little farther up the mountain. Occasional snowstorms may temporarily limit access.
This 3.1 acre glass and steel complex was designed as a prototype for self-sustained space colonization--but ultimately failed. It contains a rain forest, marsh, savannah, million gallon ocean and living coral reef, and desert, plus living quarters for the human guinea pigs. Admission & tour: $20, 6-12: $13, under 6, free ($2 discount AAA/military/senior). 9:00am-4:00pm daily. Take Oracle Rd/Highway 77 north to milemarker 96.5. 838-6200.
South of Tucson
Colossal Cave Mountain Park
One of the largest "dry" caves in the country. Used by outlaws in the 1880s. Two museums. Two gift shops. A research library. Snack bars. A butterfly garden. Picnic areas and campgrounds. And a scavenger hunt for the kids. Truly a hidden gem. Admission fee. 17 miles east of Tucson on Old Spanish Trail. 647-7275.
Kartchner Caverns State Park
Cave explorers of all ages can have a field day in what has been described as an underground nature preserve. Providing spectacular sights in a football-field sized room, this living cave also features a 52 foot-tall stone column dubbed "Kubla Khan." Also on the grounds are a hummingird garden, hiking trails, and more than 60 campsites. Reservations are recommended. South of Benson on Highway 90. 586-CAVE.
www.azstarnet.com/kartchner (be sure to click "Virtual Tour")
Singing Wind Bookshop
Hidden away like an obscure literary reference, at the end of a bumpy dirt road north of Benson, folks from all over trek to this old ranch house to discover the paper-and-ink treasures awaiting them. Customers say the payoff for a pilgrimage to the shop is a unique, eclectic selection of books displayed in rustic, down-home digs. Since opening the Singing Wind in 1974 — in a small alcove in the headquarters of her family's still-working cattle ranch — Winn Bundy has expanded her inventory to tens of thousands of books and won a large and loyal clientele. At Benson, take Exit 304 and go north on Ocotillo Road about 2.5 miles to the right turnoff at Singing Wind Road. Follow the narrow dirt road about a half-mile east to the bookshop on the left. 9:00am-5:00pm daily, including weekends. 586-2425.
Fort Huachuca's Museums
One can easily spend several hours wandering through Fort Huachuca's Main and Annex Museums learning about the role of Fort Huachuca in our nation's military from 1877 to the present. The U.S. Army Intelligence Museum records Fort Huachuca's place in the history of U.S. Army Intelligence. Free admission. Weekdays 9:00am-4:00pm, Weekends 1:00pm-4:00pm. Sierra Vista (west end of Fry Blvd). 533-5736.
Our Lady of the Sierras Shrine
High on the slopes of the Huachuca Mountains, one can see from miles away a 75-foot Celtic Cross and, to the right of the cross, a 31-foot statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The grounds include a quaint stone chapel (one of the largest stone structures in Southeast Arizona) and a number of walking paths containing the stations of the cross. Climbing up to the cross, Madonna and chapel provides one with a magnificent view of the San Pedro Valley below. South of Sierra Vista on Highway 92, just as Hwy 92 turns east to Bisbee. Take the surface streets back to the shrine. 378-2950.
Coronado National Memorial
Commemorating the Francisco Vásquez de Coronado Expedition of 1540-1542, which marched northward along the San Pedro Valley below. The Memorial was created not to protect any tangible artifacts related to the expedition, but rather to provide visitors with an opportunity to reflect upon the impact the Coronado Entrada had in shaping the history, culture, and environment of the southwestern United States and its lasting ties to Mexico and Spain. Visitor center and museum. South of Sierra Vista off Highway 92 at the Mexican border. 366-5515.
An old mining town turned artists' enclave. The perfect destination for a runaway weekend. Dozens of charming B&B's will make your stay unforgettable. Wander among the steeply tiered hillside homes. Peruse the fine art galleries and many antique stores. Savor elegant dining at the Café Roka, 432-5153. Pick up walking tour maps at the Bisbee Visitor Center, #2 Copper Queen Plaza. I-10 east to Benson, then south on Highway 80. 866-2BISBEE.
www.discoverbisbee.com and www.bisbeearizona.com
Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum
Here you'll see Digging In,a permanent interactive exhibit on underground and open-pit copper mining, which began in the early 1880s. Adults $7.50, under 16 $3.00. #5 Copper Queen Plaza, Bisbee. 432-7071.
The "town too tough to die", where Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday fought the Clantons at the famous OK Corral. Visit Boothill Graveyard, the Crystal Palace Saloon, numerous shops and galleries and more. Hours and hours of hokey entertainment. Take Highway 80 south from Benson. Tombstone Office of Tourism/Bird Cage Theater: 457-3421. Tombstone Chamber of Commerce: 888-457-3929.
Amerind Foundation Museum
"Amerind" is short for "American Indian". A fine collection of archeological and ethnographic materials. The Art Gallery features works by Native American and Anglo-American artists. Museum store and scenic picnic area. Admission fee. Under 13, free. East of Benson in the spectacular rock formations of Texas Canyon. Take I-10 east to Exit 318/Dragoon Rd. 586-3666.
Rex Allen Museum
Situated in Willcox, the birthplace of the late Western and singing legend Rex Allen, this museum traces the life of the "Arizona Cowboy" through movie posters, costumes designed by Nudie, and photographs of Allen during his Hollywood heyday. 150 N. Railroad Ave, Willcox. 384-4583.
Chiricahua Regional Museum and Research Center
Exhibits focusing on the Apache Indians, area agriculture and ranching. 127 E. Maley St, Willcox. 384-3971.
Chiricahua National Monument
18 miles of day-use hiking trails wind through vast ranges of unusual and awe-inspiring rock formations. This was the hideout of the Chiricahua Apaches who, under the leadership of Cochise and Geronimo, did their best to stem the never-ending tide of illegal immigrants invading their homeland. 7-day pass is $5.00/person, under 17 free. Take Highway 186 southeast out of Willcox. Fill up with gas before leaving Willcox. 824-3560.
Fort Bowie National Historic Site
Situated along the old Butterfield stage route, just east of Apache Pass, Fort Bowie commemorates the bitter conflict between Chiricahua Apaches and the U.S. military. For more than 30 years Fort Bowie and Apache Pass were the focal point of military operations eventually culminating in the surrender of Geronimo in 1886. The extensive fort ruins and a small visitor center are reached at the end of a 1.5-mile (one way) foot trail. Apache Pass Road, south of Bowie. 847-2500.
Pearce, Gleeson, Charleston and dozens of others. Click
www.ghosttowns.com Then click "Arizona" and then "Cochise County".
West of Tucson
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. 45 miles south of Tucson off I-19. Tubac Chamber of Commerce: 398-2704.
Tumacacori National Historical Park
A Franciscan mission, built in the early 1800s, museum and garden. South of Tubac, off I-19. 398-2341.
Titan Missile Museum
Take the partly underground tour to see the massive 760-ton rollback silo door,visit the launch-control center, and experience a simulated launch. 1580 W. Duval Mine Rd, Sahuarita (about 1/2 mile west of I-19 Exit 69). 625-7736.
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. In cooler months, take a coat or jacket. Take I-19 south to the clearly marked turnoff near Continental, just south of Green Valley, then southeast from there.
Yes, Southern Arizona does produce wine. Spend a leisurely afternoon sampling some of Arizona's finest.
www.patagoniaaz.com/wine_country.html (See the article on Southern Arizona wineries in Arizona Highways, May 2007, pgs 8-17)
A tiny town in the midst of gorgeous countryside. Try one of its excellent restaurants after a day of wine tasting.
Parker Canyon Lake
Water and outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy some great fishing, boating, hiking, camping, and birdwatching. 25 miles southeast of Sonoita on Highway 83. 378-0311.
Offering shopping, dining, galleries and more.
www.patagoniaaz.com (See Tucson Guide, Fall 2006, pgs 66-71)
Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve
In a verdant floodplain valley between the Patagonia and Santa Rita Mountains of southeastern Arizona, within the watershed of Sonoita Creek, lies some of the richest of the remaining riparian (streamside) habitat in the region. As the first project for The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, this site contains the first two miles of permanent flow of Sonoita Creek and the floodplains adjacent to the stream and provides for a wide array of diverse species from endangered fish to butterflies and birds. The Preserve is best known for the 300 bird species observed here. Other animals inhabiting the preserve include mountain lion, bobcat, white-tailed deer, javelina, coatimundi, coyote, desert tortoise, toads, frogs and occasional rattlesnakes. Guided nature walks are conducted every Saturday morning at 9:00am. Admission $5.00, under 17 free. Wed-Sun 6:30/7:30am-4:00pm. In Patagonia, turn west on 4th Avenue then south on Pennsylvania, cross the creek, and go about one mile to the entrance. 394-2400.
Patagonia Lake State Park
Rent a canoe or paddleboat, swim, sunbathe, water-ski, sail, camp, fish, or hike through the riparian delights of the world's largest and oldest Fremont cottonwoods. 7 miles southwest of Patagonia. 287-6965.
Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
A 118,000 acre refuge just north of the Mexican border, this grassy valley near Baboquivari Peak is home to deer, bobcats, javelina, mountain lions, hundreds of species of birds, including the endangered masked bobwhite quail. Workshops on nature-related topics are sometimes offered, and the 12 miles of nature trails are great for mountain biking, too. Guided tours of Brown Canyon are available for a small fee on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month (phone ahead for reservations). Highway 86 west, then highway 286 south. Arivaca offers some services, but a picnic lunch might be in order. 823-4251.
- Ghost Towns
- Southeast of Sahuarita: Helvetia
Northeast of Arivaca: Cerro Colorado
Between Arivaca and Nogales: Ruby, Oro Blanco
North of Sonoita: Kentucky Camp
West of Patagonia: Alto
Southeast of Patagonia: Harshaw, Mowry, Washington Camp, Duquesne, Lochiel
www.ghosttowns.com (See Tucson Guide, Winter 2005-06, pg 98-102)
Kitt Peak National Observatory
Southern Arizona is an astromomer's delight and home to one of the most prestigious observatories in the world. Kitt Peak has yielded numerous major astronomical discoveries and has the world's largest on-site collection of telescopes. The observatory is open to the public, as are a gift shop and picnic areas. 56 miles southwest of Tucson via Highway 86, then south on Highway 386. 9:00am-3:45pm. Or make a reservation for the 4-hour night sky observation program. 318-8726.
www.noao.edu/outreach/kpoutreach.html (See Tucson Guide, Spring 2007, pg. 62 and Highroads, March 2007, pgs 30-35)
A lovely desert town blessed with Spanish colonial revival archictecture and a gorgeous backdrop of cacti, canyons and rich mining history. Historical Society Museum, 160 W. Mission St, 387-7105. Annual "Sonoran Shindig" celebration each March. Take Ajo Way west for 135 miles (Yes, you're still in Pima County). 387-7742.
www.ajochamber.com (See Sunset, March 2006, pg 58)
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
This 516.7-square mile preserve of rare cacti celebrates the life and landscape of the Sonoran Desert. In this desert wilderness, you may drive a lonely road, hike a backcountry trail, camp beneath a clear desert sky, marvel at magnificent cacti, or soak in the warmth and beauty of the Southwest. Take Highway 86 west to Why, then south on Highway 85. 387-6849.
Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
High-clearance vehicles can travel the 17-mile Charlie Bell Rd, slicing among ridges and ironwood-laced washes in this primative, wildlife-rich preserve, west of Ajo. Obtain required permit at Refuge Headquarters: 1611 N. 2nd Ave, Ajo, 387-6483.
The foregoing list of Tucson Attractions is a work in progress.
To report updates, errors, or suggested additional attractions, please
send me an email and tell me what needs to be changed or added.