Shopping in TucsonWarren_Price/iStockphoto.com
If you've come to Tucson itchin' to buy turquoise, Kachina dolls and dream catchers, the world is your oyster. But Southwestern art and crafts are only part of the city's shopping picture. You can also overstuff your carry-on bag or car trunk with goods from funky boutiques, cutting-edge art galleries and high-end shopping malls.
Downtown in the El Presidio district, Old Town Artisans , 201 N. Court Ave., is housed in an 1850s adobe building that sits on an entire city block. The half-dozen shops and galleries deal mainly in traditional Native and Latin American crafts (pottery, carvings, blankets), but you'll also find some contemporary jewelry and art here.
The Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block's excellent Museum Store, 140 N. Main Ave., carries a nice selection of works by some of the state's best artists (read: expensive), as well as art books and affordable gift items.
Surrounding downtown you'll find a sprinkling of modern art galleries, particularly in the Congress Street district; there are more galleries a few blocks north in the Warehouse Arts District (centered at 6th Avenue and 6th Street). For more information on galleries, check hotel brochure racks for the Central Tucson Gallery Association's Downtown Art & Lunch guide map, or phone (520) 629-9759.
Without question, downtown's most eclectic shopping and dining area is 4th Avenue (between 9th Street and University Boulevard). With the exception of a prehistoric Dairy Queen, you won't see a single chain store or restaurant (not even a Starbucks) on the entire strip, which is exactly how Tucson hipsters like it.
This is a college town, so books are big. Antigone Books , 411 N. 4th Ave., has a feminist bent. If you need a copy of “Eat Pray Love,” there's no danger Antigone is sold out. In addition to edgy, female-focused fare and other off-beat titles, there's a selection of cute gift items. One musty whiff of The Book Stop , 214 N. 4th Ave., and you know you've ascended to used-book heaven.
Fashionistas will find two of the street's best clothing boutiques at Zoe Boutique , 3065 N. Campbell Ave., where items range from trendy to funky-casual, and Desert Vintage , 403 N. 6th Ave. The latter is the destination for hunting 1920s flapper dresses, bellbottoms and poodle skirts.
Tucson's Map & Flag Center, 3239 N. First Ave., is a bit off the beaten path, but a must for backcountry adventurers. The store carries topographic maps for the entire state, plus travel guidebooks and detailed road maps.
As for malls, Tucson isn't in league with Phoenix, but it's no slouch, either. Tucson Mall , 4500 N. Oracle Rd., is the city's biggest center followed in size and variety by Park Place Mall , 5870 E. Broadway Blvd. Outlet fanatics can bargain hunt at the Foothills Mall , 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd. Shop under blue skies at La Encantada , 2905 E. Skyline Dr., an open-air haven with eight diverse places to eat, most of them with local roots, and high-end shops (think Brooks Brothers and Louis Vuitton).
For a shopping courtyard filled with unique specialty boutiques, try the hacienda-style St. Philip's Plaza, at the southeast corner of Campbell Avenue and River Road. The plaza's Bahti Indian Arts specializes in Native American art and crafts. On Saturday and Sunday, the plaza hosts a farmers market; the Saturday market also includes an artisans market.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
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Arizona's statewide sales tax is 5.6 percent; an additional 2 percent is levied in Tucson. The tax on a hotel room in Pima County is 13.05 percent, plus an additional $2 per room per night in Tucson. There is a combined state and county rental car tax of 10 percent, plus a Pima County rental car fee of $3.50 per rental; a concession fee of 11.1 percent is added if the car is picked up at the airport, and an additional 2 percent tax is added if the car is picked up off airport property but within the Tucson city limits.
(520) 791-6813 (8 a.m.-10 p.m.)
Carondelet St. Joseph's Hospital, (520) 873-3000; Carondelet St. Mary's Hospital, (520) 872-3000; Northwest Medical Center, (520) 742-9000; Tucson Medical Center, (520) 327-5461; University Medical Center, (520) 694-0111.
Ten miles south of downtown,
Hertz, (520) 573-5201 or (800) 654-3131, offers discounts to AAA members.
The Amtrak station is at 400 N. Toole. For advance ticket and schedule information phone (800) 872-7245. Tickets may be purchased at the station.
The terminal for Greyhound Lines Inc. is at 471 W. Congress St.; phone (520) 792-3475 or (800) 231-2222.
There are many independent taxi companies in Tucson. Rates are not regulated by the city. Companies that serve the area include Discount Cab, (520) 388-9000; VIP Taxi, (520) 300-3000; and Yellow Cab, (520) 624-6611.
Sun Tran, (520) 792-9222, operates a fleet of buses running throughout the metro area as well as a streetcar line downtown.
As a AAA member, you'll save even more. Your AAA Travel Agent will check to see if AAA Vacations is combinable with other AAA member benefits, plus cruise and tour past passenger discounts and benefits.