What to Do in Tucson Travel back to New Spain at Mission San Xavier del Bac (1950 W. San Xavier Rd.). Started in 1692 by the Rev. Eusebio Kino of the Jesuits, today’s mission was built 1783-97 by the Franciscans, who continue its ministry. The atmosphere hearkens back to the 18th century, complete with arches, original statuary and mural paintings.
Explore the diversity of Tucson’s ecosystem at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (2021 N. Kinney Rd.) where you’ll find trails, gardens, animals and even an aquarium.
Embrace the great outdoors at Tucson Mountain Park (W. Gates Pass Rd. & S. Kinney Rd.). No visit is complete without experiencing the stark beauty of the desert with its wide horizons and far-reaching saguaros. Whether it’s hiking, taking pictures, painting or exploring the area’s history, there’s plenty of fun things to do.
Indulge in flavors indigenous to Tucson and the Southwest. Thought to have been popularized by El Charro Cafe (311 N. Court Ave.) cheese crisps (quesadillas) and chimichangas are good bets at the family-owned restaurant, which has been open since 1922. Also featuring quesadillas, Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe (2456 N. Silver Mosaic Dr.) is best known for huevos rancheros. Other Tucson favorites: Sonoran hot dogs (bacon-wrapped and loaded with tasty toppings) and fry bread as well as jams and candies made out of cacti.
Unleash the kids at Children’s Museum Tucson (200 S. 6th Ave.) where displays are geared toward your youngest family members. STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics—exhibits educate, and kids can get creative in themed activity areas.
Ride the rails—or imagine you’re doing so at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum (414 N. Toole Ave.). Much of the West’s growth came from the arrival of railroads, so you’ll find the museum beside the former Southern Pacific Railroad Depot—still welcoming passengers. Highlights include a locomotive, sculpture of Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp, and exhibits highlighting railroad culture.
View the former site of El Presidio San Agustin del Tucsón (196 N. Court Ave.), an adobe established in 1775 by the Spanish. Though the last fort remnant was torn down in 1918, recent conservation efforts re-created portions. You’ll see walls, a 20-foot adobe tower called a torreón and a mural that explains the rest of the 11-acre site.
Browse the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block (140 N. Main Ave.), which sits on a corner of what was once the presidio. Although Art of the American West is understandably a big deal here, the museum features a range of other genres. Shop for handmade creations made by Arizona residents at the museum store and then tour the nearby historic buildings.
Check out Tucson's many fine music venues. It’s up to you whether you hang out at landmark Hotel Congress (311 E. Congress St.) for the party-filled ambience, or for a really unique experience, there's Sky Bar (536 N. 4th Ave.), a solar-powered bar that just happens to be a planetarium, too.
March around the Arizona Historical Society/Fort Lowell Museum (2900 N. Craycroft Rd.) grounds to learn about frontier military life. Within the refurbished Commanding Officer’s Quarters, you’ll find exhibits detailing everything from the Apache Wars to everyday life for soldiers and their families.
Refresh your memory about the indigenous history of the state and northern Mexico at the Arizona State Museum (1013 E. University Blvd.). One exhibit features pottery dating back hundreds of years. Other exhibits include photographs, relics and priceless textiles—but all highlight the Southwest's distinctive personality.
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.
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.
The visitor information center is open Mon.-Fri. 10-2; closed major holidays.
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.