Weekend Explorations: Things to do in Tucson

Let me just get this out of the way. Tucson is awesome! It only took one weekend in town to fall completely head over heels in love. And we are already planning to return. We knew when we started researching things to do in Tucson that there was way too much to see in a single weekend, but trust me, we made a valiant effort!

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Things to do in Tucson - Murals - Greetings from Tucson Sign

Okay, clearly I need a lot more practice taking photos in front of murals (more tips from Kristin and Esther & Jacob might help!) but you get the gist. From the content of the “Greetings from Tucson” mural, you can see the wide variety of places, food, and culture that this town has to be proud of. (Plus in my defense, it’s really hard to be graceful when you are wearing pants 3 sizes too big!)

In reality, the weekend we spent in Tucson was not our first. During our RV sabbatical, we stayed at the really awesome KOA near the fairgrounds. It was only 1 of 2 parks we stayed at during our near 2-years in the RV that had solar energy (the other one being in Santa Fe). We also visited while staying in Phoenix when we totally geeked out at the Pima Air and Space Museum and wolfed down some of the best tamales I’ve ever had.

But for this weekend we were on a mission, we wanted to get a taste of some of the best things to do in Tucson. It was a reconnaissance operation to explore what we wanted to come back for. Given that it is only a 2-hour drive from Phoenix, we have the opportunity to return often. Trouble is, now that we’ve discovered just how truly awesome Tucson is, we may need to spend every weekend here!

But if you only have one weekend, let me give you some of the best things to do.

Saguaro National Park

While Arizona has a lot of national monuments, trails, and recreation areas, it also has 4 national parks, with the most famous one, of course, being the Grand Canyon. However the big advantage to visiting Saguaro National Park is that it is so close to Tucson, you truly have the best of both worlds. Hikes and visits to the two parts of the national park and a huge variety of infrastructure and logistics to choose from when it comes to hotels, restaurants, and things to do.

Things to do in Tuscon - Saguaro National Park

Summertime is monsoon season in Arizona and the weather can change very quickly going from dark and gray to perfectly blue skies, it is a really cool phenomena we are adapting to as new Arizonians.

We visited both the west side of the park which has a dirt road loop trail, short hikes with sites like petroglyphs and where the saguaro cacti are denser, and the east side of the park which has a larger driving loop (paved), trails and taller more spread out saguaro since this part of the park is at a higher elevation and gets more rain.

Things to do in Tuscon - Saguaro National Park

The saguaro cactus is not endangered but it is protected in Arizona. There are regulations about harvesting, collecting or destroying them. What is so interesting about this species is the arms that they grow take 75-100 years for the very first one to show up. After that, they can have as many as 25!

Things to do in Tucson - Saguaro National Park

The variety of cacti in the park is outstanding and we saw some of our old friends like the ocotillo which we saw a lot of in Borrego Springs and the cholla which there is a whole garden of in Joshua Tree. Word of caution about the cacti everywhere, be careful everywhere you step!

Things to do in Tucson - Sunset at Gates Pass
Sunset at Gates Pass.

We returned to the western part of the park to try a sunset one evening. There is a really great trail and overlook at Gates Pass. We hiked up the trail but the sunset wasn’t spectacular and I was a little afraid of climbing down the rocks in the dark (mainly because my other pair of too-big-for-me pants which were sliding down as we descended!).

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

The Sonora Desert Museum is a largely outdoor site just outside the western part of Saguaro National Park and it’s outstanding. The museum really captures the essence of desert life. We enjoyed our visit so much that we became members. There is a small zoo, a huge botanical garden, and art gallery. We learned so much during our visit and plan on returning for more photography including sunsets on Saturday when the museum is open later.

Things to do in Tucson - Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Mexican gray wolf
A rare Mexican gray wolf.

This spot is less of a museum and more a living experience. You will see flora and fauna everywhere you look.

Things to do in Tucson - Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Lizard

My advice to you is to arrive early (it is the desert after all) bring plenty of water, wear a hat, put on sunscreen and have good shoes for walking in the sand and rocks.

Things to do in Tucson - Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Cactus
There is a small cafe inside the museum shop, also a tiny ice cream shop – those will both get you cooled down after your explorations!

Tucson Botanical Garden

We really enjoyed our visit to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix so decided to check out the Tucson Botanical Garden to see what it was like. Plus we read that they have a secret weapon. Inside the gardens is an adorable restaurant called Cafe Botanica run by longtime and raved-about Tucson native and Gallery of Food chef, Kristine Jensen.

Things to do in Tucson - Tucson Botanical Garden - Cafe Botanica
Cafe Botanica inside Tucson Botanical Gardens.

It’s a beautiful oasis inside the gardens and a great place to have breakfast or lunch, or even just a cup of coffee, which is all we had room for after our big breakfast (more on that later). We sat and spoke with the server about the food, the restaurant, and the local Tucson area. In between helping others and speaking with us, she visited with a beautiful bird on the terrace.

Meet Frank. Isn’t he a beauty? He was just one of many birds we saw as we explored more of the gardens.

Things to do in Tucson - Tucson Botanical Garden Bird

Whether you eat inside or on the terrace, the culinary traditions of the Sonoran desert are celebrated in unique dishes that also mimic the current garden exhibition. At the time of our visit, the exhibition was focused on photographs of Frida Kahlo by Nickolas Muray. But at the moment they are getting ready for the return of the butterfly exhibit in October and the new focus is on Origami in the Gardens.

I took a moment on the terrace to gather my notes. I could see myself spending quite a bit of time writing here! Maybe I can be their blogger in residence!

Things to do in Tucson - Tucson Botanical Garden - Cafe Botanica Terrace

We learned a lot in the individual exhibits and I think they are very smartly laid out because it is not a huge space. And now I’ve got some new favorite trees like the Chilean mesquite tree with gorgeous twisting branches offering an amazing amount of shade and these adorable cacti which you just want to pick up and cuddle…but don’t!

Things to do in Tucson - Tucson Botanical Gardens

Mr. Misadventures thoroughly enjoyed taking photos of the beautiful displays and I took a moment to check my Insta in the Zen garden. Bloggers never stop! My Type-A-Mom “Blog hard. Play hard.” captures the spirit of that!

Things to do in Tucson - Tucson Botanical Gardens

The gardens have a couple of cool events like the Dog Days of Summer where you can bring your pet inside and let them explore with you. Pro tip: The gardens are open later (4:30 -8:30) on Thursday and Friday evenings and the restaurant also serves dinner on those nights. If you make a reservation for the restaurant you get into the gardens for free after 4:30.

Mission San Xavier del Bac

For a little more culture we headed to the beautiful Mission San Xavier de Bac just outside of town. Actually located on the Tohono O’odham San Xavier Indian Reservation, it’s a Catholic mission and the oldest intact European structure in Arizona. It is currently undergoing renovations making it hard to photograph, but I did get a good shot from the parking lot. I lagged behind Mr. Misadventures because I was checking out some stands that were set up to cook fry bread and other Indian dishes. I got distracted (what else is new)!

Things to do in Tucson - Mission San Xavier del Bac

It was Sunday morning and an extended mass for the victims of Harvey was taking place so we were unable to visit inside, but we checked out the museum and beautiful courtyards. Next door (not officially on mission grounds) is Grotto Hill which offers great views of the city. The entrance to the hill is guarded by two lions statues. There are also a few other lions on the mission grounds so I am intrigued as to what they symbolize.

We will definitely be back to see inside the church. And maybe to eat some fry bread.

Murals

In an attempt to build and strengthen the city’s vibrant culture and support artists (as well as mitigate graffiti and improve underserved areas of the city) Tucson supports an ongoing murals project. Many of the murals are found in the Warehouse Arts District, but we saw murals all over town. Although murals of have been written about as far back as 2006, a lot of the newer ones were added in 2016.

Things to do in Tucson - Murals

We didn’t have nearly enough time to explore them all and I have a ton of pictures for another post when we capture the rest, but this one on the side of the Tucson Warehouse and Transfer Co. building as you enter the Warehouse Arts district is beautiful. Isn’t it fantastic? At night, the colors seem to get brighter in the twilight.

Things to do in Tucson - Murals

The mural is located at the corner of East 6th Street and North 6th Avenue. The building was built in 1918 although the company’s history dates back to 1892. There is also has a really cool vintage sign on top (not pictured).

Things to do in Tucson - Greetings from Tucson Mural

If you want to find the Greetings from Tucson sign, it’s located at E 7th Street and North Arizona Avenue (one street over from North 6th Avenue and a few streets over from North 4th Avenue where there are lots of funky shops, bars, and restaurants) and is part of a really cool project called Greetings Tour. You can read more about how this mural was created on their site.

NOTE: we went by at night and the mural is lit, but they are fluorescent light which is terrible for photos. The first two times we passed by someone was parked in front of the sign (bummer). And some lamebrain decided to put a Port-a-Potty next to the mural so you really have to be careful with your shots!

Barrio Viejo

There are several historic districts in Tucson, in fact as we drove around exploring we kept running into new ones, but hands down our favorite was Barrio Viejo, which is also one of the most colorful. As the name indicates, Barrio Viejo is an old neighborhood made up of 19th-century homes, many of them adobe style with a rich history of inclusion and cultural diversity.

Things to do in Tucson - Barrio Viejo

The area has had its ups and downs with razing, gentrification and now revitalization, and many people considered it the cultural heart of the city. The neighborhood was also known as Barrio Libre (Free) because it was free of rules and regulations and you can definitely still see whispers of counter-culture here. (One of my favorite signs in front of one of the houses was: “If you aren’t mad, you aren’t paying attention!”)

Things to do in Tucson - Barrio Viejo

The small one-way street of South Meyer Avenue running between 17th and 20th has a lot of colorful homes that just beg to be photographed! There are other neighborhoods that boast colorful adobes and we will be seeking them out on future trips.

Pima Air and Space Museum

Things to do in Tucson - Pima Air Space Museum

As I mentioned, we didn’t visit Pima Air & Space Museum on this trip, but it is worth mentioning if you are planning a weekend in Tucson. This was the funnest museum I’ve ever been to! We’re space and history geeks in the Misadventures household so that along with the ability to climb on planes – cool!

The Food

This post is about things to do in Tucson, not about the food, but if you have been reading Misadventures with Andi for any length of time you’ve probably figured out that food makes my world go around, so of course we tried out a few restaurants. But I’ll be honest with you, we are still in the thick of our low-carb high-protein diet so we decided the best strategy for us was to eat a big breakfast which sustained us through lunch and then eat a simple salad for dinner.

Our strategy worked for us in that we had two amazing breakfasts, but it doesn’t work for you in terms of giving you recommendations for meals.

Fear not. When we found out that Tucson is the ONE and ONLY place in the United States that has been designated a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO, Mr. Misadventures nearly fell out of his chair and I nearly stopped our escrow process to look for a home there! Yes, I love me some national parks and beautiful gardens and fabulous murals, but this girl loves all the food and we are going to be spending a lot of time in Tucson learning more about its devotion to its food heritage, and I’m pretty sure I will be praying at that altar.

One breakfast we did enjoy was at 5 Points Market and Restaurant, an American bistro with fresh local ingredients near the Barrio Viejo. We were so impressed with this spot that we have already reached out to the owners to learn more.

Things to do in Tucson - Breakfast at 5 Points

I had their Bandito Blanco from with grilled shaved ham and poached eggs served over a potato pancake with house mornay sauce (a French Béchamel sauce with grated Gruyère cheese). The potato pancake was a real treat given our diet but was worth every cheat day bite.

The other breakfast that Blue Willow, a Tucson mainstay set in a 1940’s adobe home serving home-style goodness. We arrived about 15 minutes before they opened and found a whole bunch of people waiting including a family that spends every birthday and anniversary at this little spot.

Things to do in Tucson - Breakfast at Blue Willow

I went with the Blue Willow Special which is scrambled eggs with shredded chicken, Hatch green chiles, tomatoes, chopped corn tortillas, cheddar cheese, warm salsa, and sour cream. For the sake of the diet I had to pass on pinto beans and warm corn tortillas which come on the side. That made me sad, but only until I ate the first bite.

2 Places I Don’t Recommend

One breakfast we absolutely did not enjoy was at the Congress Hotel. The service was indifferent, the food sub par (although they do have a good menu writer) and the interior is dirty. It is a very popular spot due to the hotel’s history, but I say walk around and look at the property, maybe have a beer on their terrace if you must, but pass on eating there.

I love cowboy history. So the idea of visiting Old Tucson Studios, a movie studio originally built in 1939 by Columbia Pictures and now converted into a theme-park seemed interesting. But when we drove up to take a look (it’s just outside of the western part of Saguaro National Park) it was (a) really expensive for what it is and (b) really kitschy. You are much better off driving to Tombstone which is not too far from Tucson.

That my friends was our whirlwind 3-day holiday weekend in Tucson! Whew. And as you can see, it’s not a problem to find things to do in Tucson, the problem is that you will want to go back over and over again, which is pretty much the situation we are in now!

How about you? Have you been to Tucson? Did you do any of these things? Did you do something else? Got any restaurant recommendations? If you haven’t been to Tucson, have I convinced you that you should visit? Do tell!

Carnet d’adresses

> Saguaro National Park EAST (also know as the Rincon Mountain District) is located at 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail, Tucson, Arizona 85730.
> Saguaro National Park WEST (also know as the Tucson Mountain District) is located at 2700 N. Kinney Road, Tucson, Arizona 85743.
> The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is located at 2021 N Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85743.
> The Tucson Botanical Garden is located at 2150 N Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85712. Cafe Botanica is inside the gardens.
> Mission San Xavier del Bac is located at 1950 W San Xavier Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746.
> The leopard mural is located at 7th Ave and Toole Ave, Tucson, AZ, 85705.
> The mural on the side of the Tucson Warehouse and Transfer Co. building is located at 100 E 6th St, Tucson, AZ 85705.
> The Greeting from Tucson mural is located at the corner of 7th St & N Arizona Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705.
> Barrio Viejo colorful homes are found on South Meyer Avenue running between 17th and 20th.
> Pima Air and Space Museum is located at 6000 E Valencia Rd, Tucson, AZ 85706.
> 5 Points Market and Restaurant is located at 756 S Stone Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701.
> Blue Willow Restaurant is located at 2616 N Campbell Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719.

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106 Comments

  1. Marissa Zurfluh
    September 14, 2017

    This is awesome! I live in San Tan Valley so not too terribly far from there. Now I have a starting point for a mini vaca.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 14, 2017

      @Marissa, so glad you found our early explorations helpful, you will have a GREAT time in Tucson!

      Reply
  2. Heather Johnson
    September 14, 2017

    I have yet to get to Tuscan. My family would love to visit the Pima Air and Space Museum though!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 14, 2017

      @Heather, it is TOTALLY kid friendly and a blast!

      Reply
  3. Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate
    September 14, 2017

    How cute are you?!? I’ve actually never been to Tucson despite the few summers I spent in AZ in college, so I think we need to add all this to our agenda whenever I make it out to see you. It looks like my kind of town!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 14, 2017

      @Kristin, there is definitely a lot to choose from, I’ll be thrilled to see you!

      Reply
  4. ejnosillA/RedefiningHERstory
    September 14, 2017

    WOW! What breathtaking pictures! I love nature and it seems like you had a beautiful and fun adventure!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 14, 2017

      @ejnosillA, with the city being surrounded by beautiful parks and nature, it is a wonderful combo!

      Reply
  5. Tamara Gruber
    September 14, 2017

    Okay, I clearly missed a lot when I visited! I loved Saguaro national park though and want to go back and do more hiking there. I can’t believe that shot of the grey wolf…amazing! I did a day trip to Tombstone when I was there and found it so bizarre and hokey but I guess it is something you just have to do 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 14, 2017

      @Tamara, all the more reason to come back. I did prefer Tombstone over the studios, but yeah, it is a check this off my list sort of thing! Did you get to both sides of the park?

      Reply
  6. Laura
    September 14, 2017

    Two things That im still thinking about 5 minutes after reading your awesome post. 1) that Tucson has been designated a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO! 2) that t-shirt! Blog Hard, Play Hard ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Laura, ha! I love a good blogging shirt! And the food….ay, carumba!

      Reply
  7. gingermommy
    September 14, 2017

    Those murals are so colourful and unique! I love going on walking tours of murals when visiting different spots

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @GingerMommy, they are everywhere!

      Reply
  8. Cynthia | What A Girl Eats
    September 14, 2017

    These photos are truly beautiful! I have not been to Tucson (We are usually in Phoenix), but it looks like we need to make a special trip. The architecture looks so traditionally Southwestern!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Cynthia, you do! Skip Phoenix and head straight to Tucson!

      Reply
  9. Kelly
    September 14, 2017

    Wow, what an amazing post on Tucson. I didn’t realize Tucson had so much going on. I used to visit a friend there and somehow we missed most of this! She’s since moved to Phoenix, but I see a road trip in our future during my next visit!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Kelly, well now you have a reason, many of them in fact, to return!

      Reply
  10. Susan Ripley
    September 14, 2017

    I am a sucker for cacti and colorful walls so Tuscon sounds great to me! I would definitely want to visit Saguaro National Park to see all the cacti varieties. The Barrio Viejo looks really interesting and picturesque. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Susan, Tucson has everything, I really encourage everyone to visit!

      Reply
  11. Crystal
    September 14, 2017

    I love the colors of the desert. All of the murals look beautiful against the browns and greens of the natural landscape. Looks like Tucson has plenty to offer travelers.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Crystal, I never appreciated the colors until our year-long last year when we spent a good amount of time in the southwest.

      Reply
  12. Landra
    September 14, 2017

    Oh! How awesome to see my hometown come up on Pinterest just when I was feeling homesick! (I live in OK now.) Glad you enjoyed it. Next time, go up to Mt. Lemmon, too. 😉

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Landra, someone else told us about Mt. Lemmon too, it is on our list for our next trip which is soon. You have a GREAT hometown!

      Reply
  13. Carrie | The Lavender Hytta
    September 15, 2017

    Looks like a beautiful place to visit! I’ve never been in that area of the country before and I would love to one time! I think it would be so much fun!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Carrie, you should definitely come visit, after visiting the southwest, we moved here!

      Reply
  14. amanda goodenough
    September 15, 2017

    I love Arizona. The architecture is so beautiful there! And the scenery!

    Reply
  15. Lauryn R
    September 15, 2017

    Wow, what a beautiful place to visit! I really love reading about your adventures and appreciate your honest opinion. 🙂 We live in Texas so I am definitely going to plan a trip to Tucson soon!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Lauryn, that’s a long drive but worth it!

      Reply
  16. Ann
    September 16, 2017

    I was in Tucson probably 15 years ago now, and the only thing we got to was Saguaro National Park, which I loved. Your article really has me wanting to go back and spend some time. The food looks amazing, and I’d really love to visit both the Botanical Gardens and the Pima Air and Space Museum — that’s a Boeing Constellation in your picture, and I’ve never seen one. I also appreciate your advice on things to miss . . . when you’re in a place for a short time, it’s so helpful to know.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Ann, no one was more surprised about Tucson than I, if we had visited 3-4 months earlier, we might have chosen to live there instead of Phoenix! The air museum is one of the most enjoyable museums I’ve been to and its the type of place you want to visit over and over.

      Reply
  17. Jenn and Ed Coleman
    September 16, 2017

    I remember Tucson like I was just there. Do you know those rocks you took a picture of at Gates Pass are rigged for climbing? There are two fixed anchors on the top and that is where I would go for ropes practice. Love the Visit Tucson mural as a muse for return trips. You should consider returning for Day of the Dead (“C” in the mural). You might even be able to talk us into joining you.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Jenn, I will let you know when we head there again!

      Reply
  18. Lois Alter Mark
    September 16, 2017

    You are adorable in front of that mural! I just got back from Tucson but never stepped foot outside of Miraval. It is such an amazing place that, although this was my 5th time there, I still have never gotten to see any part of the city! You make me want to go back to Tucson now and really explore.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Lois, oh goodness you need to check out some of the town, your a foodie, you will love it!

      Reply
  19. amit
    September 16, 2017

    So after reading this post I will now have to add Tuscan to my list of places to visit when I do my USA trip 😀 Thanks for such an informative post. I can definitely see why you fell head over heels in love with it 😀 (I have bookmarked this post for future reference)

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Amit, you most definitely need to add it to your list, you will love it!

      Reply
  20. Maxine
    September 16, 2017

    So many murals, that’s awesome! I really liked your picture of all the Cacti at Gates Pass. This looks like a great place for an adventure!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Maxine, it is, come visit!

      Reply
  21. Sreekar
    September 17, 2017

    Had never planned on travelling to Tuscon until I came across this post. It kinda seems like the Wadi Rum desert except for more vegetation. Love the sweeping views too!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Sreekar, I hope you get the opportunity to visit!

      Reply
  22. LIV
    September 17, 2017

    I’ve been to Arizona this summer but sadly we didn’t visit Tucson but it must be really nice there! 🙂 I would’ve loved to go there!
    Your post is really interesting and you photos look so beautiful! I have to fly to Arizona again and visit Tucson.
    Have a nice day!
    Liv

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Liv, you definitely need to return and hit Tucson!

      Reply
  23. Ashley Miller
    September 17, 2017

    I’m going to need to visit there! Once the hub and i can start traveling, we will be headed that way! Beautiful! Tysm for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Ashley, I hope you do!

      Reply
  24. Juliann
    September 17, 2017

    I love saguaro cactus. I took a million pictures of them while I was in Arizona and yet — I never made it to Tucson! I was close, though, and definitely plan to go back to Arizona. I started to understand why people move there when they retire. I think I could easily live there. I’ve heard rave reviews of Tucson and love all your colorful pictures. Especially the mural shots! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Juliann, I am on month three and lovingg the area. I figure if I made it through June with temperatures at 120’s I can make it for the 9 months the weather is so awesome!

      Reply
  25. Lucy
    September 17, 2017

    The Tucson Botanical Garden looks lovely and your photo of Frank the bird is gorgeous, love that you gave him a name! The wall art is great so colourful. I’m a foodie and I want to eat the breakfast at the 5 Points Market, the Bandito Blanco looks and sounds delicious!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Lucy, actually the wait staff named Frank, they just introduced us to him. He has a wife and kids too!

      Reply
  26. Michael Hodgson
    September 17, 2017

    Tucson is absolutely amazing. Like you, we got hooked on Tucson Tamales and now get them delivered to our home. 😉 They are just as delicious! Also the Sonoran Desert Museum is amazing…the mountain lion exhibit was outstanding. Next time be sure to check out the Mini Time Museum of Minatures. Fun!!!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Michael, what!!! Mail order?? I need to get on that immediately! Oh that museum sounds like fun too, thanks for the suggestion!

      Reply
  27. Jessica
    September 17, 2017

    I’ve only been to Phoenix but this makes me want to return to Arizona. I am a sucker for dessert landscapes and would love to go to Saguaro National Park.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Tucson the area is so interesting to discover, but the culinary scene will definitely keep me coming back!

      Reply
  28. Jordan Sinclair
    September 17, 2017

    I need to add this to my list of weekend getaways! It looks like you had a great time!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Jordan, you most definitely do!

      Reply
  29. Meagan
    September 17, 2017

    What a full list! We’re going to be exploring out west for the first time this fall, and I’m anticipating more adventures in the near future 🙂 Saguaro looks amazing – and I had no idea it took cacti that long to grow their arms! Or that so many species of cactus can be found there. Definitely on the list 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Meagan, if you head to the southwest, definitely do not pass up the opportunity to visit Tucson.

      Reply
  30. Courtney
    September 17, 2017

    Oooo Tucson looks like one awesome place to visit!!! And so pretty. I would love to visit one day!

    Reply
  31. Nick Wheatley
    September 18, 2017

    After seeing the food at 5 Point and Blue Willow I am salivating! We recently took an extended road trip through the US and had hopes of visiting Tucson but unfortunately ran out of time. We did get to spend a couple nights in the Sonora Desert National Monument near Phoenix and loved it. Saguaro NP is still on our bucket list. Love reading through your posts about RV’ing around the US – brings back fond memories from our road trip. Cheers! Nick

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Nick, next trip you MUST include Tucson, it is fabulous and 5 Points is very drool worthy!

      Reply
  32. Carol Perehudoff
    September 18, 2017

    You make Tucson look so good! The Saguaro National Park would be my first choice but the botanical gardens look equally fascinating. It reminds me of my visit to Scottsdale. I love to see a cactus in bloom and you obviously saw so many. What a great getaway from Phoenix.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Carol, this whole area has been one fantastic surprise after another. Tucson will draw me back again and again because of the focus on food.

      Reply
  33. Cat
    September 18, 2017

    Wow you’ve highlighted so many fun and beautiful places to visit in Tucson! The landscape of Gates Pass is phenomenal!! I’m tempted to make it my next destination in U.S.!!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Cat, you won’t regret it if you do!

      Reply
  34. Allison Wong
    September 19, 2017

    So many things to do in Tucson! I love all the colourful wall murals and the cactus! The food looks tempting too.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Allison, it has so much to discover!

      Reply
  35. Calvin F
    September 19, 2017

    Looks like a dry place.. lots of stuff to do though! 😀

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Calvin, in this part of Arizona, it is definitely dry except when the monsoons are going on.

      Reply
  36. Reshma
    September 19, 2017

    Wow! I never knew that Tuscon had so much in store – from desert parks to the beautiful murals to those rustic doors of the historic districts, it looks fascinating! I had never seen so many cacti at once in a desert. Loved that shot of yours! On a side note, your pant doesn’t look that big after all! In fact, you look just good! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Reshma, ha-ha, that is until they start slipping down… Tucson was a wonderful discovery, I can’t wait to explore more.

      Reply
  37. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie
    September 19, 2017

    Tucson has so much to do! This is such a helpful guide for someone who hasn’t had the chance to spend much time there. I had never heard of Saguaro National Park. The cacti are so perfectly shaped the way you’d imagine. I can’t believe it takes 75-100 years for the first arm to form. Looks like such an interesting place to hike and explore. I’d head right to that botanical garden cafe afterward. That looks like such a peaceful spot.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Jackie, there are a lot of great hikes in the area, and the botantical gardens would be perfect for an after-hike meal!

      Reply
  38. Archana Singh
    September 19, 2017

    I was recently road tripping through Arizona and can’t tell you how much i loved Tucson. It is such a beautiful place. Saguaro National Park is so unique and I spend so much time there just exploring it at a slow speed. I can’t wait to go back.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Archana, oh do tell! What were some of your favorite things you ate?

      Reply
  39. Mindi Eden
    September 20, 2017

    I have never been to Tuscan & this has given me some guidance when I finally make it!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Mindi, thanks I hope you get there one day!

      Reply
  40. Julianne
    September 20, 2017

    Oooh I love the photo of you in front of the Tucson sign! You look fashionable – don’t worry about the pants, haha. I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve been to Arizona and seen some real, honest-to-goodness saguaro cacti! Also, if you do start writing in the botanical garden, I want to join you. Maybe we can do a blogging workshop there!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 21, 2017

      @Julianne, the botantical garden would be amazing for a small workshop. The saguaro are so interesting, everyone keeps saying to be around one when they explode, I think that would be fascinating….from a safe distance!

      Reply
  41. Katie
    September 22, 2017

    Tucson looks gorgeous — and you look fantastic!!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 22, 2017

      @Katie, it is pretty awesome, definitely going to spend more time there. I feel great!

      Reply
  42. Pia
    September 22, 2017

    I need to go there! This looks like it is my kind of place I love to visit. I love good food and a good mixture of history, art, and nature. Tuscon seems to have all this. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 23, 2017

      @Pia, I highly recommend Tucson for all those things!

      Reply
  43. Sue E
    September 24, 2017

    We have been to Arizona before, but why we never went to Tucson, I just don’t know!
    It is breathtaking and it does seem to offer a lot to do!! The different colored houses remind me of Florida. Thanks for the recommendations about the food too. In my opinion, I have found that eating at the smaller out of the way places, serve the best authentic dishes. We hardly ever eat in the hotels we stay at. That’s part of the beauty of traveling, to not eat what we normally eat! I am pinning one of your pins also. TY for sharing this bit of geological history!!

    Reply
  44. Judy Thomas
    September 25, 2017

    It looks like such a gorgeous place to visit.

    Reply
  45. Richard Brandt
    September 25, 2017

    Now that is my idea of a museum. I love Tucson; compared to it Phoenix is just another city. (Congratulations on some gorgeous photos, btw.)

    Reply
  46. Christine
    September 26, 2017

    That’s my city! There’s so much awesome stuff to do and eat here! Glad you loved it.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 26, 2017

      @Christine, awesome! What are some of you favorite eats?

      Reply
  47. Kamella
    September 29, 2017

    These are some wonderful suggestions to do in Tucson. I’ve never been there before. This seems like a good place to vacate.

    Reply
  48. Melissa Allen
    October 2, 2017

    I use to live in mesa. Arizona is my favorite state! So much to do!

    Reply
  49. Tammy Gabel
    October 28, 2017

    I’ve been to Tucson a few times but have so much left to explore! Definitely go back to the Mission if you get another chance. I am for sure looking up those restaurants when I’m there next!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 29, 2017

      @Tammy, we will be going back to the Mission for sure. Let me know what you think about the restos.

      Reply
  50. Bonnie
    October 28, 2017

    I would definitely love to see the air & space museum!’ Gotta write that on my to do list soon!’ Thanks for such of wonderful information, loved it!’ BM

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 29, 2017

      @Bonnie, it really is a lot of fun!

      Reply
  51. Kristie
    October 31, 2017

    Such a great list! I’ve only been there once, to check out the temple that was recently built. And I have heard the Air and Space Museum is amazing. I’ve already pinned this for the next time I go back. Thanks so much!!!

    Reply
  52. […] our initial explorations of Tucson we had a fabulous breakfast at 5 Points Restaurant & Market. We loved the space, the building […]

    Reply
  53. […] first and be happy.  I was so touched to see these Be Kind murals all over the city on our recent weekend in Tucson, it tells me a lot about a place that promotes […]

    Reply
  54. […] that express something about me (like the one I wore touring Rogue Ales or the one I wore to Tucson Botanical Gardens), and now that I have lost 30+ pounds and live in the Southwest, I find that I now really love […]

    Reply
  55. Jen
    December 16, 2017

    Great murals, and Barro Viejo looks so colorful! I’m so impressed with Arizona overall and how geologically diverse it is. You’ve inspired me to take a trip to Tucson and see more!

    Reply
  56. […] be in Tucson again next weekend diving deeper into the restaurant scene. We are staying at a super cool hotel […]

    Reply
  57. Leigh
    February 10, 2018

    I haven’t been to the Botanical Garden yet, but I would also add Tohono Chul, which is like a mini-Sonoran Desert Museum on the north side – with a fabulous cafe!
    Also, Marana now runs a City of Gastronomy Food tour that is pretty interesting, next time you make it down here!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 11, 2018

      @Leigh, I had just seen that in one of your wonderful post and had noted it down! Thanks sof the tip, Marana is also on the top of my list!

      Reply
  58. Kelly Ferstle
    February 15, 2018

    Great post! I’m heading down to Tucson (from Michigan) tomorrow with my family. I appreciate the addresses for the murals. I’ve been trying to do some research to figure out where some of those are located so that helped a lot!

    Reply
  59. […] National Park just outside of Tucson Arizona has thousands of saguaro cacti.  This tree-like monarch of the desert is only found in the Sonoran […]

    Reply
  60. […] you can only find in the Sonoran desert (see thousands of them in Saguaro National Park when you visit Tucson) and others like the cholla that I’ve seen in places like Joshua Tree National Park. Quite […]

    Reply
  61. […] when our original plans for Memorial Day weekend fell through we shift our focus to Tucson. During our first weekend explorations and for every trip following we were completely enamored with Arizona’s second largest city. […]

    Reply
  62. […] got a few suggestions for your trip to Phoenix.  And if you make it further out to Tucson, I’ve got you covered there as […]

    Reply

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