Desert life, incredible food and a vibrant art scene are just three reasons why you need to add Tucson to your travel list. There are so many unique things to do in this culturally diverse southwestern Arizona town that there’s really something for everyone.
Here are six things you must do when you visit Tucson!
Visit Mission San Xavier del Bac.
Arizona’s oldest European built structure was constructed between 1783 and 1797. Located about 10 miles south of downtown Tucson, it’s a short drive from the airport and often the first stop for people arriving via plane.
It’s located on the Tohono O’odham Nation San Xavier Indian Reservation and when I visited, restoration was in progress but you still could go inside to look around or light a candle.
Explore Saguaro National Park.
Saguaro National Park was established in 1994 and is divided into two sections – east and west. The saguaro cactus that you see there is native to the Sonoran Desert, do not grow anywhere else in the world and can get up to 75 feet tall!
This National Park is easily doable in one day and a must-see for anyone who enjoys desert ecology and outdoor exploration. Check out my one day itinerary here.
Watch the Sunset at “A” Mountain.
Nothing beats golden hour and watching the sun set over the Tucson Mountains and the Santa Catalina Mountains from Sentinel Peak is a popular activity in Tucson.
In 1910 a group of University of Arizona students created the large “A” rock formation that gave this peak its nick-name. Get there early – people will line up along the road to watch the sun go down.
Walk Around Barrio Viejo.
Tucson’s oldest neighborhood is a colorful experience, taking you past adobe style homes that were built in the 19th century. Many were bulldozed down in the mid 20th century to make way for the convention center. The homes that remain are one of the largest areas of adobe homes you will find in the United States.
Eat at El Charro Cafe.
The oldest Mexican restaurant in the United States continuously owned by the same family, El Charro Cafe claims to have created the chimichanga. Their tamales are to die for and the menu is extensive. You must eat here if you only eat at one place in Tucson!
For more food suggestions, check out my entire post on what I ate during my trip to Tucson.