Editor's note: Tucson Guide's "52 Things to Do" are listed in no particular order. All information given here was accurate at press time. You may want to phone for confirmation prior to visiting these attractions.
Casino Del Sol/ Casino of the Sun
Slot machines and table games at Casino Del Sol
energy, and the entertainment options multiply from there. People-watch at the
elevated bar in the middle of all the action. Get dressed up for dinner and a
show. Or make it an overnighter and luxuriate at the spa.
City of Bisbee
Nestled 90 miles southeast of Tucson, Bisbee
mbines a laid-back atmosphere with old-world charm. Visitors to this former mining town savor Bisbee's unique allure--a blend of creativity (check out the art galleries), friendliness (converse with locals in Brewery Gulch), romance (stay at a quaint B&B or historic hotel), and annual events (like the Bisbee 1000 stair climb)--in the intriguing Mule Mountains
Queen Mine Tours
Experience cooler temperatures as you delve below ground and become a miner for a day in Bisbee's 47-degree caves, 90 miles southeast of Tucson. The Queen Mine Tour
--a fun, safe, and authentic mining tour--offers five trips daily (each are 75 minutes long), and reservations are recommended
Mini Time Machine Museum
Experience a wonderful charm-filled world at the Mini Time
, a fantastical museum in midtown Tucson. Discover
intricate details in the more than 275 miniature houses and room boxes--all part
of the museum founder's extraordinary 30-year collection
. For adults and
kids alike, this museum offers a unique experience--the only one of its kind in
O.K. Corral Gunfight SiteO.K. Corral Gunfight Site
, located southeast of Tucson in
Tombstone, is home to what is generally regarded as the most famous gunfight in
the history of the American Old West. The fight took place on October 26, 1881,
between Doc Holliday, the Earp Brothers, McLaurays, and Clantons, and has since
come to represent a time in American history when the
frontier was an open range for outlaws roaming the vast West.
Named “One of the Great Botanical Gardens of the World” by Travel + Leisure, Tohono Chul is nestled in 49 acres of lush desert. You’ll discover nature paths, gardens, art galleries, shops, and a tasty meal at the Garden Bistro. 8 a.m–5 p.m. 7366 N. Paseo del Norte, 520- 742-6455, tohonochul.org
VISUALIZE THE SOUTHWEST THROUGH ART
The Tucson Desert Art Museum presents thought-provoking exhibits for viewers to explore the art, history, and cultures of the Southwest. The museum features a world-class collection of Navajo and Hopi textiles, as well as pottery, basketry, silverwork, and other arts of the region. The grandeur of the Southwestern landscape is portrayed in classic and contemporary paintings, in photography, and in digital media. Transcend time and cultures to learn how the traditions of Mesoamerican sculptors, Four Corners weavers, and early American painters have inspired the multicultural art of the New West. The museum hosts national exhibitions from organizations such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Women Artists of the West to deliver a diverse range of intriguing artwork. The museum’s Four Corners Gallery offers original paintings and sculptures for purchase, as well as authentic Native American jewelry, pottery, books, and gifts. Visit us on the eastside at 7000 E. Tanque Verde Rd., just west of Udall Park, or on the web at www.tucsondart.org. For information on group tours and lectures, call 520-202-3888.
SANTA THERESA TILE WORKS
Wander through Tucson’s Historic Warehouse Arts District and let Santa Theresa Tile Works’ colorful, handmade tile inspire the creativity in you! Whether you craft a mosaic plaque, table, or backsplash in our cozy showroom, take one of our many workshops, or learn to make tile from scratch—you will amaze yourself! Prefer to keep your hands clean? Collaborate with one of our experienced and talented tile artists and design a custom-made piece for your home or business. Any way you tile it, it’s sure to be fun, memorable, and amazing! A truly authentic Tucson arts experience! 440 N. 6th Ave., 520-623-1856, santatheresatileworks.com
TUCSON FOOD TOURS
Come along for a taste of Tucson! Sample some of the best food in Tucson from six local restaurants. Along the way, the guide will point out historical highlights, cultural hotspots, and unique local shops. This walking food tour is a great way to learn about local history, try some amazing food, and experience Tucson’s vibrant downtown. Ranked the #1 activity in Tucson on TripAdvisor. Tours start at 11 a.m. and are four hours long. Visit foodtourstucson.com for tour dates, sign up, or for more information. Guests must register at least 48 hours in advance.
ROOSTER COGBURN OSTRICH RANCH
Voted one of the best roadside attractions in America. Feed the ostrich, deer, miniature donkeys, goats, and lorikeets and see all our new exhibits. On weekends, Monster Truck Tours show you ostrich, the desert, 4-wheelin’ adventures, and ostrich fishin’. Affordable fun for all ages! Located on I-10 and exit 219 at Picacho Peak. Visit us online for hours at roostercogburn.com or call 520-466-3658.
THE MINI TIME MACHINE MUSEUM OF MINIATURES
Adventures await you this summer at The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures—with more than 10,000 square feet of air-conditioned exhibit space, showcasing antique and contemporary miniatures sure to delight all ages. Drop the kids off for a few hours at clubHOUSE, our weekday, summer afternoon program beginning in June. Kids will play games and create something to take home. Check the website or call for details. Open Tues.–Sat. 9 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sun. noon–4 p.m. 4455 E. Camp Lowell Dr., 520-881-0606 11
PIMA COUNTY FAIR
The Pima County Fair, April 14–24 2016, is one of Tucson’s oldest and largest annual events with over 300,000 visitors! Cost for admission is only $8, and fairgoers can enjoy concerts, motorized events, interactive exhibits, bull riding, animal attractions, and car shows, plus equestrian events….all included in the low price of admission! Visitors to the Pima County Fair also have the opportunity to sample and enjoy the famous fair food that only comes once a year, such as giant corn dogs, funnel cakes, fried ice cream, and curly fries! Join the Pima County Fair social network for discounts, contests, and meet-and-greet opportunities! 520-762-FAIR, pimacountyfair.com 4
They dot the landscape of Southern Arizona, remnants of 19th-century mining days. A short drive from Tucson, near Patagonia, you’ll find what’s left of Harshaw, Washington Camp, Mowry, Duquesne, and Lochiel. In the Tombstone/ Bisbee area, you can visit more than 14 different ghost towns, including Pearce, Gleeson, and Charleston. For more information visit ghosttowns.com.
Do it just like the original gold diggers—dry washing, kneeling in running streambeds, or digging with a pick and shovel. See desert-gold-diggers.org for organized outings.
TAKE IT OUTSIDE
Warm nights, sunsets, starry skies—these are some things that keep residents here yearround. Enjoy dusky moments at Gates Pass, “A” Mountain, Mt. Lemmon, and more.
Tucson probably offers more leather goods than any place you’ve visited. Belts, billfolds, purses, cowboy hats, and—most of all—boots. Tucson is the place to find it all!
CHOCOLATE IGUANA ON 4TH
Come visit Tucson’s most unique family owned café, Chocolate Iguana on 4th (500 N. 4th Ave., 520-798-1211). You’ll love our gourmet salads and sandwiches, made-from-scratch scones and pastries, sinfully delicious desserts, and jars of candy from around the world.
Though few and far between, Arizona’s lakes are warm-weather retreats. Sail at Roosevelt, Canyon, or Apache Lakes near Phoenix, or try speedboating at Patagonia Lake State Park.
The U of A campus boasts a collection of plants from all over the world. The Visitors Center, at Euclid Ave. and University Blvd., has maps directing you to the highlights.
ARIZONA’S MOBILE OBSERVATORY
Experience the night sky like never before with a private tour of the universe. Our friendly, knowledgeable astronomers set up a big telescope at your home, resort, and park areas for a fun, educational evening of stargazing. See the moon, planets, star clusters, nebulae, galaxies and more. You’ll never see the sky the same. 520-668-1871, ArizonaStarTours.com , 2015
COOL OFF IN THE TUCSON MUSEUM OF ART
Presenting eight concurrent exhibitions of contemporary, modern, Latin American, Native American, Western, and Asian art from its collection and travelling shows. The museum also has five 19th- and 20th-century adobe and Mission Revival-style buildings. The museum restaurant, Café a la C’Art, was named one of the best museum restaurants in the US by Food & Wine magazine in 2014. The Museum Store offers fine art and crafts by more than 100 Southwest artisans. Spring/summer exhibitions include Into the Night: Modern and Contemporary Art and the Nocturne Tradition, Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold, and String Theory: Contemporary Art and the Fiber Legacy. tucsonmuseumofart.org
Come experience The University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 and see why it was named by Time Life Books as one of the 50 must-see wonders of the world! Visitors from all over the world journey here to explore Earth’s largest research center dedicated to researching future life on our planet. Bio 2 makes big ideas happen, like the just-completed massive mountain hill slopes of the new “Landscape Evolution Observatory” experiment, which explores water movement. Bio 2 is a transforming— not conforming—21st-century innovation center with behind-the-scenes tours that will inspire all visitors. Highlights of the tour include an intro movie, multi-media exhibits, and access to see all of Biosphere 2, which is a reflection of Biosphere 1 at a size of more than 3 football fields—in essence, a mini-world! Beneath 6,500 panes of glass live a rainforest, coastal fog desert, marsh, savannah, million-gallon ocean, and much more. It’s a remarkable place for discovery and imagination. Located at a cool elevation of almost 4,000 feet at the base of Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains, just north of Tucson on Oracle Rd./AZ Hwy. 77 at mile marker 96.5. Guided tours daily. Information: 520-838-6200, biosphere2.org.
101 PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES
When shutterbugs imagine heaven, it has the same light and the same photo opportunities as Arizona. From Ramsey Canyon hummingbirds and the Pima Air & Space Museum to old homes in the barrios and the Tucson Arts District, Southern Arizona invites camera buffs. Capture nature at the Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum and Tohono Chul.
Built in 1896, the cathedral is reminiscent of European church architecture. Every Sun. the clergy conduct mass accompanied by live mariachi music. 192 S. Stone Ave.
The Paths of Life: American Indians of the Southwest exhibit at the Arizona State Museum takes an innovative look at contemporary native cultures. 520-621-6302, statemuseum.arizona.edu.
With shiny fangs and a winding tail, a huge diamondback rattlesnake serves as a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Broadway Blvd. at the Barraza-Aviation Pkwy., just east of downtown Tucson. A hollow stomach serves as the covered bridge— another Tucson success in combining public art with city-improvement projects.
Late-summer rainstorms are glorious. Cloud-gaze throughout the day, then relish their power as they dump buckets of rain—cooling the air and creating spectacular sunsets.
PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES
How much of the environment would we save if we all traveled by rail? Find the answer at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum. Here, visitors can contemplate the pros and cons of alternative transportation, practice Morse code, view historic artifacts and photos, and visit the 1900s locomotive parked trackside. Free admission, but donations are accepted. 520-623-2223, tucsonhistoricdepot.org
EXPERIENCE PURE JOY!
Experience the joy of play-based learning at Children’s Museum Tucson and Children’s Museum Oro Valley! At the downtown Tucson location, families can find 13 rooms with fun, interactive exhibits. Become an engineer in Build It! Experience scientific discovery in Investigation Station. Create your masterpiece in the Imaginarium. In Oro Valley, specially sized for kids 0–5, young visitors experience tactile and sensory exhibits that encourage exploration. Every visit offers something different and new! Downtown Tucson at 200 S. 6th Ave., 520-792-9985, childrensmuseumtucson.org. In Oro Valley at 11015 N. Oracle Rd., 520-297-8004, cmorovalley.org.
IT’S COOL UNDERGROUND
Explore the depths of Bisbee’s famous Queen Mine. Don mining hats, slickers, and lanterns worn by miners…ride the mine train deep into the mine…marvel at remaining copper minerals…experience the life of miners as they toiled in the subterranean tunnels. Open daily. Tour times: 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. Tours leave from the Queen Mine Tour building located within walking distance of historic Bisbee. The mine is a cool 47°. Dress accordingly. Tours last approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Reservations suggested. Call 866- 432-2071 or visit queenminetour.com. Stop by the Queen Mine Store for gem and mineral specimens, jewelry, and other unique items. Visit discoverbisbee.com for official visitor information. Ninety miles south of Tucson, Bisbee offers Old World charm and new-world charisma.
Carne asada, tortillas, chiles rellenos— the tastes are as good as the names, some with spicy, tears-to-your- eyes flavor. There are literally dozens of places to find these authentic eats.
ICES & CREAMS
Tucson summers demand some occasional relief. Sample sherbets, gelato, frozen yogurts, and milkshakes at our many local shops. And don’t forget the shaved-ice cones, called raspados, in dozens of flavors from roadside vendors in Tucson’s barrios.
Sip some vinos in Tucson at Bear Track Winery (520-975-0050) or CataVinos (520-323-3063). Make a day trip out of wine tasting in the tasting rooms scattered throughout Sonoita and Elgin. Popular stops include Kief-Joshua Vineyards (520- 455-5582), Charron Vineyards (520-762-8585), Sonoita Vineyards (520-455-5893), and Wilhelm Family Vineyards (520-455-9291).
2ND SATURDAYS DOWNTOWN
It’s a shopping trip, an art walk, and a night of entertainment that celebrates the vibrancy and quirkiness of Tucson. 520-225-9019, 2ndsaturdaysdowntown.com
SEE THE LIGHTS OF TUCSON
Drive north on Campbell Ave. and, when you reach Skyline/Sunrise Dr., look south. The lights dusted across the valley reveal the glow of this once-sleepy desert pueblo.
JIM CLICK HALL OF CHAMPIONS
Find tributes to all U of A athletic teams, including the national champion 2012 men’s baseball team and the 2007 women’s softball team. Open Mon.–Sat.
Situated 45 miles south of Tucson, Tubac was once the site of a Spanish presidio. Today it offers golf, restaurants, lodging, art galleries, and more. 520-398-2704, tubacaz.com 34
RIDE TUCSON’S NEWEST GEM—SUN LINK!
While in town, hop aboard the Sun Link streetcar and visit the many restaurants, bars, shops, and museums in five of Tucson’s unique entertainment districts. Sun Link’s 23 stops offer a variety of artwork to enjoy along the way, all demonstrating the flow of time, history, words, and people traveling throughout the community. To ride, download a 1-Day Pass or pay-by-the-ride on your smart phone at GoTucsonApp.com, or purchase a 1-Day Pass at a ticket vending machine located at each streetcar stop. Cash is not accepted once on board Sun Link. For Sun Link schedule and route information, visit sunlinkstreetcar.com or call 520-792-9222.
The desert and serenity go hand in hand. Something about the quiet, the vegetation, 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. To get there, go north on Silverbell Rd. to Coachline Rd. Turn left, then make a right on Pima Farms Rd. until it comes to a dead end at Scenic Dr.; turn left and go about ¼ mile to the sanctuary. Look for a gate on the right. Open from dawn until dusk. See sanctuarycove.org or call 520-744-2375.
WET ’N’ WILD
The free Splash Park at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park (3482 E. River Rd.) features a large concrete pad with water buckets, hoses, fountains, and other water features to beat the heat.
Dedicated to promoting positive bicycle use, Bicycle Inter-Community Art & Salvage (BICAS) creates and sells items made out of old bike parts, assists with repairs, and offers classes. Don’t miss the reconditioned used bikes for sale. 44 W. 6th St., 520-628-7950, bicas.org
When Sunday rolls around, pamper yourself with brunch at a world-class resort or fine restaurant, with ice carvings, fresh-squeezed juice, smoked salmon, make-your-own omelettes, Belgian waffles, and much more. Check our “Desert Dining Guide” for an excellent selection.
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED
Ever see a hand-cranked stamp dispenser? How about a letter bag from the days when letters traveled by rail? The Postal History Foundation features a 19th-century post office and showcases all kinds of post-office antiques. The museum, at 920 N. 1st Ave., is open for tours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mon.–Fri. and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat.; tours last about half an hour. The library, featuring postal history and Civil War books, is open 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Tues.–Sat. Phone 520-623-6652 or see postalhistoryfoundation.org.
Tucson’s most notable, or most easily noted, landmark is “A” Mountain. Annually since 1916, U of A freshmen have painted the letter “A.” Drive to the top of the peak and enjoy the view.
CATALINA STAT E PARK
Just north of Tucson on Oracle Rd., this park offers the best views of the canyons, cliffs, domes, and spires on the north side of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Walk the Romero Ruin Interpretive Trail to the archaeological site of an ancient Hohokam village. Camping, biking, and hiking are available. Phone 520-628-5798.
The nationally acclaimed University of Arizona’s Poetry Center has more than 60,000 books, periodicals, and audio/ video recordings in its exhilarating home at 1508 E. Helen St.
THE ARIZONA TRAIL
Hike, bike, or horseback ride on 800 miles of interconnecting trails from Mexico to Utah. For maps, call the Arizona Trail Association at 602- 252-4794, or visit aztrail.org.
At Cinema La Placita, in downtown Tucson, view American classics such as Some Like It Hot beneath starry skies. Bring a blanket for the lawn and a $3 suggested donation to 110 S. Church Ave. every Thurs. May–Aug. at 7:30 p.m. Visit cinemalaplacita.com.
EL TIRADITO WISHING SHRINE
A love triangle, broken hearts, and a crime of passion are all part of the legend behind this shrine. At 400 S. Main Ave., El Tiradito is a national historic site.
Balinese fire chains, flaming swords, fire eating, and a flying trapeze—just another performance for Flam Chen, the pyrotechnic theater troupe based in Tucson. This amazing group combines fine arts, circus skills, modern dance, martial arts, and traditional and environmental theater. Call 520- 272-9041 or visit flamchen.com for upcoming dates and performance locations.
FROM APPLES TO ZUCCHINI
If you enjoy fresh food, fresh air, and friendly faces, a farmers market is the place for you. Find seasonal fruit and vegetables, herbs, gourmet soups and sauces, baked goods, and more around the city. visittucson.org/things-to-do/restaurants/farmers-markets
WALK THE TURQUOISE TRAIL
Head downtown to explore Tucson’s landmarks on this self-guided walking tour. The 2.5-mile trail takes you to 23 sites. Find the map at tucsonpresidio.com.
Toy-train aficionados will want to make a stop at the Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum (520-888-2222, gpdtoytrainmuseum.com), with more than 6,000 square feet of displays and detailed scenic tracks. Located at 3975 N. Miller Ave., near N. Romero and W. Roger Rds., it’s a little hard to find but well worth the effort. Attractions include old telegraph equipment and other historic memorabilia, including hundreds of toy trains that date back to the 1940s. Outside, take a trip around the grounds on the slightly larger ride-on train and explore the full-size caboose. Call ahead for days and hours of operation. Next stop—fun!
REID PARK ROSE GARDEN
Hundreds of rosebushes have brought this garden national acclaim. The roses’ peak season is from Mar. to May, The park is between Alvernon Way and Country Club Rd., just north of 22nd St.
This museum contains a fine collection of archaeological materials and an art gallery featuring works by American Indian artists. 520-586-3666, amerind.org
MISSION SAN XAVIER DEL BAC
Called “The White Dove of the Desert,” the San Xavier del Bac 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 US. Visitors can enjoy the results of a major restoration, portions of it by experts who restored the Sistine Chapel. Take I-19 to exit 92, then watch for signs once you get onto the Tohono O’odham reservation. Phone 520-294-2624 or see sanxaviermission.org for information and a mass schedule.
COOL STATE PARKS
It’s no secret that Tucson’s summers are hot, but what isn’t as well known is that there are ways to escape the heat while exploring fascinating state parks. View incredible stalagmites and stalactites deep underground at Kartchner Caverns State Park, where it’s a comfortable 72 degrees year-round. Splash around in the refreshing water at Patagonia Lake State Park, where you can boat, fish, or swim, or head up to higher elevations at Catalina State Park where the temperatures plummet as you ascend. Call 520-586-2283 or visit azstateparks.com for more information.