Recently had the pleasure of exploring the town of Tucson. Tucson is a city embedded in authentic southwestern culture and splits Saguaro National Park in half. Surrounded by mountain ranges and saguaro cacti forests, Tucson is the perfect destination for a Sonoran Desert adventure. Below is a hit list of things to do while in Tucson.
The Hotel Congress
The center of Tucson is the Hotel Congress. This vintage hotel, built in 1919 comes with a ton of local folklore. After catching fire, John Dillinger’s gang were caught here, so you can believe there are a ton of ghost tales that follow. Today, it is the center of markets, night clubs, and snazzy food spots that you can find locals and tourists alike. You could easily spend an entire day checking out the bars and restaurants inside the Hotel Congress. I recommend doing some research for any upcoming festivals being held here.
There is no shortage of nature no matter which way driving from Tucson. North is the Catalina Mountains, while east and west have Saguaro National Park surrounding Tucson.
Worth a day exploring up to Mt. Lemmon. A ski resort(ish) in winter. A beautiful drive up to the town that is hidden away on top of Mt Lemmon. The drive takes a solid 1.5 hours from Tucson. It’s 35mph up and there are a ton of bicyclists sharing the road with you. Along the drive to Mt. Lemmon town are a ton of pull-offs for beautiful views or you can spend some time hiking some trails.
To the north of Tucson is the Catalina Mountains. Where the fancier people reside and access to trails going up overlooking Tucson. The trails I recommend are:
- Sabino Canyon
- Finger Rock Trail
- Ventana Canyron
Saguaro National Park
Could easily spend several days here. If you had to pick just one day, check out the western side (Tucson Mountain Range. Some cool things to do in the park:
- Wasson Peak – western side – the highest peak in the Tucson Mountain Range.
- Cactus Forest Drive – eastern side – A stay in car loop that drives through the Sonoran desert scenery.
- Douglas Spring Trailhead – eastern side – watch out for horseback riders!
An three acre science museum and research facility dedicated to understand the different climates around planet Earth. Super nerdy, super cool.
Food and Drink
There are two major main strips to kick it in Tucson, the downtown strip, aka Congress Street, and 4th street. 4th street will be your generally younger college crowd but there is something to be said about the food and drinks spots on 4th. Both areas are 100% worth checking out.
Places to Grub
- Tanias 33 – counter-serve hole in the wall mexican food.
- Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink – a downtown woodifre pizza place that has a “speakeasy” in the basement. You’ll see the bouncer in their outisde patio if you wish to hit the coktail bar.
- Boca Tacos – A Tucson staple but fought overated in my opionion. Tacos were okay, but the salasa were amazing.Very busy and I’ve had way better “hip” tacos elsehwere.
- BK’s Lounge – have to try the famous sonoran hotdog while in Tucson.
- Commoner & Co. – my favorite place I ate at in Tucson. No where enar downtown, but worth the drive.
- Cafe Passe – an artsy cafe perfect for brunch or late night snacks.
- Café à La C’Art – next to the art museum providing awesone new american dishes.
- Bison Watches – dope sandwhiches and drinks. Check out the happy hour.
- Owls Club – chapel turned cocktail bar.
- Surly Wench Pub an awesome goth/grunge bar. 5/5 dive bar stars.
- The Independent Distillery – a local distillery and coktail bar with a vintage vibe.
- Cobra Arcade – everyone loves an arcade bar!
The two spots for live music are the Congroess Hotel and Rialto Theatre. There is so much awesome southwestern culture in this town. Below is a list of unique culture findings in Tucson.
- Tiny Town – Pop Culture – Art gallery and local artist clothing inspired store.
- Dry River Witches Collective – a spirtual store dedicated to pagan supplies.
- Zia Records
- Wooden Tooth Records
- Tucson Thrift Store – thrift store with a funky and retro vibe.
- Generation Cool – the 80s and 90s retro video game store… as seen on Netlfix.
- Mission San Xavier del Bac – historic Spanish Catholic Church.