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Destination: Tucson

When you feel like you’ve taken all the domestic trips you know how to take, head toward the sunset (or sunrise, depending on your starting point) and stop when you see tall cacti shooting up from the ground.  You’ve hit Arizona.  Now turn south and continue until you can see the gentle hills of Mexico in the distance.  Welcome to Tucson: quiet, pretty, and surprisingly interesting.  Relax.  Stay awhile.  Repeat as needed.

What To Do In Tucson

Sonoran Desert Museum

Think you can’t fall in love with cacti?  Think again.  And, actually, iguanas aren’t too bad, either.  Part zoo, part museum, and part botanical garden, the most popular attraction in the Tucson area shows how unexpectedly beautiful, colorful, and super peaceful the desert is.  Keep an open mind and absolutely slather on the sunscreen, because the Sonoran Desert Museum does not boast a lot of shade, and the southern Arizona sun is hot, hot, hot.

Old Tucson Studios

For those who enjoy a little cheese on vacation (and who doesn’t?), Old Tucson Studios is a must!  Formerly a filming location for Hollywood westerns, the site is now a tourist attraction and hearty helping of Americana.  Especially if you can appreciate a little kitsch, you’ll love what is basically like a giant version of Disneyland’s Frontierland, complete with shops, bbq restaurants, saloons, wonderfully bad gunfight shows, and props from old movies.  Yeehaw!  It’s even the final resting place for the train used in Back To the Future Part III.  Michael J. Fox rules!

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Known as the white dove of the desert, San Xavier is a small but vibrant mission on the Tohono O’odham Indian reservation, founded in the late 1700s and still in operation as a community church today.  The mission is visited frequently because of its religious significance and because of the beauty of its unique interior: holy carvings!  Literally!  While you’re there, check out the museum, little gift shop, and sweet/lo-tech video on the restoration of the mission.  And, just a note on visiting the interior of this (and most) historical places of worship: it is considered respectful to cover bare shoulders (if visiting in warm weather) and to either participate in services if they are in progress or to wait until they are finished before having a look around.  That said, San Xavier is a casual place filled with cool people.  Enjoy!

Southwest Refresh

Totally hit Kon Tiki after sundown in Tucson.  Don’t let the out-of-the-way, strip mall location fool you, the full tiki decor at this retro, Hawaiian paradise is worth the jaunt.  And the food is decent, too.  The place even has a terrarium.  Who has those anymore?  Kon Tiki does!

Tucson Lodgings

When you’ve had enough sun, hole up at the secluded Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Resort, just a few miles out of town and nestled cozily up against the Santa Catalina Mountains.  An honest-to-goodness resort, El Conquistador offers two golf courses, tennis courts (with lessons), several theme restaurants, pools, expansive grounds, and a lot more – without feeling the least bit like a huge, vacation factory.  Rooms are spacious and speckled with hints of southwestern touches, affordable at around $150.  The hotel even has horses on property; take a sunrise ride or head down to the stables at twilight and enjoy the quiet snuffling and snorting of friendly ponies.

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One Response to “Destination: Tucson”

  1. Awesome! I’ve never been to Tucson, but consider it on the list!

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