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A Local’s Guide to Tucson

Cactus and cowboys are just the beginning here. World-class spa-resorts dot the foothills of this desert city; the mountain ranges are topped with observatories and evergreen forests. A research university and an air force base add variety to the Anglo/Mexican mix. Mild winters and eternal sunshine draw runners and cyclists to the trails and canyons of the lush Sonoran desert. After a sunset hike to precolumbian petroglyphs, civilization awaits...
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279 S Linda Ave, Tucson, AZ 85745, USA
For about two decades now, this city in the Sonoran Desert has become a February gathering place for artists and vendors from all over Africa. For a couple of weeks, a tent city pops up and about a hundred vendors set up shop. Associated with the...
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Arizona, USA
Few cities in the U.S. can claim to be 'sandwiched' by a National Park; Tucson might well be the only one. Saguaro National Park is divided into Eastern and Western divisions that flank the city--plenty of wilderness hiking within a half-an-hour's...
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311 N Court Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701, USA
El Charro sits in a converted set of historic houses & buildings a block off Tucson's old town district—the same location where it began serving food in 1922. We had lunch here, at a big old wooden table in a warmly decorated dining room. Ask to...
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5501 N Hacienda Del Sol Rd, Tucson, AZ 85718, USA
The Grill is the only restaurant in Arizona to receive the “Award of Ultimate Distinction” from Wine Enthusiast. History, quiet service, and the most romantic dining in Tucson are all here. For the best dinner-with-a-view, ask for a table in the...
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1100 W Ruins Dr, Coolidge, AZ 85128, USA
Don't go looking for Casa Grande, the national monument of pre-Columbian ruins, in Casa Grande, the sprawling exurb of a town about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. You have to drive about 20 miles away to the small town of Coolidge to find the...
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5425 N Kolb Rd #115, Tucson, AZ 85750, USA
A little over a mile from where the deer roam in the saguaro-studded foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, sit down for some izakaya-style dining. Japanese "tapas" might not be a completely accurate description for this genre of shareable...
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446 N Campbell Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
In Tucson, gelato is, understandably, becoming part of the cityscape. A handful of Italian gelato-masters have settled here, educating desert palates with tempting desserts. Here, just a few blocks from the University of Arizona, Allegro rotates...
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Tumacacori, Tumacacori-Carmen, AZ, USA
Want hot chiles? mild peppers? powder? paste? Across from the old Spanish mission in Tumacácori, you'll find it. For decades, family-owned and family-run Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Co. has been providing flavors in Southern Arizona. There's even...
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Hike into Bear Canyon on the northeastern edge of Tucson, and you'll be rewarded (most of the year) with a view of Seven Falls, gushing out of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Even though the hike in and out is around seven miles, it's mostly flat....
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11570 N Oracle Rd, Tucson, AZ 85737, USA
When the southern Arizona desert gets just the right mix of rains at the right time in fall and winter, the following spring can produce a riot of wildflowers. People around Tucson said that the spring of 2010 was one of the best displays in...
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Archaeological evidence shows human presence around this warm-spring-fed oasis NE of Tucson going back thousands of years. The grounds were a ranch from the late 19th through the mid-20th centuries; today it's free and open to the public. Weekends...
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2021 N Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85743, USA
Mountain Lion. Cougar. Puma. Panther. Any way you call it, it's majestic but fear-inspiring... At the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, on the western edge of Tucson, you can get face-to-face with one of these massive felines; their well-designed...
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Hohokam Road, Tucson, AZ 85745, USA
Just beyond the western edge of Tucson, you'll find these Hohokam petroglyphs in Saguaro National Park. No one knows precisely when they were carved into the rocks, but Hohokam settlements in the Sonoran desert date back almost two thousand years....
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15000 N Secret Springs Dr, Marana, AZ 85658, USA
No matter how posh, there's always a place for something deep-fried to go with drinks, eh? Tucked into its own private canyon on the far northwestern edge of Tucson, the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain resort is the epitome of understated desert...
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Que Bonita offers furniture from the Sierra Madre, textiles from Guatemala, Peruvian ceramics, Native American jewelry from the Southwest—all on the way to (or from) Mt. Lemmon on Tucson's northeast side. This family-owned...
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5700 N Sabino Canyon Rd, Tucson, AZ 85750, USA
Many who have not visited Arizona think that its saguaros grow in a Sahara-like setting...but the mountainous desert around Tucson hides many lush spots, like this riparian canyon on the NE edge of the city. Late fall paints the cottonwoods along...
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Gates Pass, Arizona 85745, USA
Residents and visitors alike drive out to the western edge of Tucson on most evenings. The area averages 350 sunny days a year, so viewing the sunset is almost always a possibility. Summer evenings are predictably hot, but you're in for a...
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4280 N Campbell Ave #107, Tucson, AZ 85718, USA
When you hear the phrase, "summer in southern Arizona," naturally your thoughts will tend toward heat and sunshine. Most wouldn't think of mounds of fresh produce at a farmers' market in the desert city of Tucson. But the arrival of the monsoon...
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1950 W San Xavier Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746, USA
Just to the southwest of Tucson, on the San Xavier Reservation, sits the late XVIII-century Mission San Xavier del Bac, one of the finest examples of Spanish colonial architecture in the U.S. The combination of late Baroque and Moorish-inspired...
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5201 S 12th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85706, USA
Come to "El Güero Canelo" if you're in southern Arizona. It's a Tucson institution where you can get the best "Sonoran/Mexican hot dogs" north of the border... But what's a Sonoran hot dog? It's a wiener wrapped in bacon(!), served atop beans in a...
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375 S Stone Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701, USA
Casa Vicente is an institution in this desert city—Tucson's outpost for tapas a la española. Just south of the downtown core, a couple of blocks from the neo-Baroque façade of the Cathedral of San Agustín, this restaurant also features live music...
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380 S Meyer Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701, USA
Just south of downtown Tucson is a reminder of the city's Hispanic-and-adobe past: the Barrio Viejo. One of the most eye-catching buildings is the Teatro Carmen, which opened in 1914. For the rest of the teens and on into the mid-1920s, this venue...
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Barrio Viejo, Tucson, AZ 85701, USA
Adobe streetfront: door...window...sky. Color. Much of Tucson, like most western U.S. cities, is devoted to strip malls and parking lots, but the historic core still has blocks of 19th-century Sonoran-style row houses. In the 1960s, acres and...
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2221 I-19 Frontage Rd, Tubac, AZ 85646, USA
Tucson is predictably well-endowed with Mexican restaurants...But it's still worth driving about an hour south to the little town of Tubac for a meal at Elvira's. Upon entering the cool space, you won't be surprised to learn that the chef/owner...
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110 E Pennington St, Tucson, AZ 85701, USA
No, you don't have the wrong address—this is indeed a downtown office building and parking garage. But don't be alarmed. Walk through the door, and Café Poca Cosa's stylish interior tells you immediately that this is no boring strip mall Tex-Mex...
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Arizona, USA
If, like most visitors, you head for Tucson between Thanksgiving and Easter, you're probably seeking sun and warmth while the rest of the country deals with the winter blahs. And you'll most likely find what you're looking for. There's a reason...
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N 4th Ave, Tucson, AZ, USA
Come here and you'll find a solar-powered bookstore, a Guatemalan restaurant, pubs, galleries, cafés, and this brick wall tribute to Gregory Colbert's "Boy Reading to Elephant." (The words that come to mind when I pass this street art are "tell me...
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50 E Broadway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85701, USA
Chile en nogada is a poblano chile pepper, stuffed with peccadillo (shredded meat, aromatic diced dried fruit and spices), topped with a walnut-cream sauce and pomegranate seeds. This dish from Puebla is not often found on menus of Mexican...
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1859 W Grant Rd #103, Tucson, AZ 85745, USA
A husband-and-wife team have brought Canada's national junk-food, born in Québec in the 1950s, to Tucson—finally, you can eat "poutine" in southern Arizona! And it's even "local"...the "Zany Beaver" food-truck gets its cheese curds from local...
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9121 E Tanque Verde Rd, Tucson, AZ 85749, USA
Le Buzz is the place to hang out and caffeinate on Tucson's northeast edge. They roast their own coffee, bake their own pastries, and they're on the way if you want to pick up something for a picnic on your drive up to Mount Lemmon above the...
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2081 West Hardy Rd, Willcox, AZ 85643, USA
"Orchards" is not the word that comes to mind when most think of southern Arizona...but less than 2 hours east of Tucson, up in the high desert, Apple Annie's is a family farm destination for fresh summer fruit. At an elevation of 4400 ft (1300m),...
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6260 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85712, USA
For a decade and a half now, Tucsonans have been coming here for fresh-baked bread...and much much more. Get some challah French toast in the morning...or a chicken-green-chile omelette...and no shortage of croissants and scones... Mid-day, if you...
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Mt Lemmon, Arizona 85619, USA
On the northern edge of Tucson, you can drive through a condensed version of western North America's ecosystem in about half an hour. On the way up the Mount Lemmon Highway (also known as "Catalina Highway" or "Sky Island Scenic Byway"), you...
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5350 E Broadway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85711, USA
You won't find any mediocre pastries or kitschy mugs at Savaya. Here, it's all about the coffee. Owner Burc Maruflu hails from Turkey, and his passion for coffee permeates this intimate space — which is just big enough for a long mesquite bar, a...
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Romero Canyon, Arizona 85619, USA
One of the best day-hikes from Tucson is just north of town, on the 'back side' of the Santa Catalina Mountains: Romero Canyon. Drive up to Catalina State Park for the trailhead, and you'll begin trekking through mesquite woods and towering...
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Mt Wrightson, Arizona 85624, USA
Tucson is surrounded by mountains. As you look south, however, the highest and most distinctive peak is Mt. Wrightson (9,453ft/2,881m) in the Santa Rita range. Hike to the top and you'll be rewarded with a 360-degree view from the highest point...
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Ventana Canyon, Catalina Foothills, AZ 85750, USA
The foothills around Tucson are home to some of the best spa-golf-resorts in the U.S. and you don't have to go far for a taste of the wilderness before you turn in. Just behind the Loews Ventana Canyon resort on the edge of the city, an unspoiled...
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1580 Duval Mine Road, Green Valley, AZ 85614, USA
Visitors flock to southern Arizona for sun and saguaros... ...but for a hole in the ground? Other than the ones on golf courses? From the 1960's to the 1980's, Tucson was ringed by eighteen steel-and-concrete-reinforced holes in the ground--highly...