Forget having to choose between gorgeous desert vistas and a funky, cosmopolitan downtown scene. Arizona’s second-largest city combines the best of both worlds. With a multicultural vibe, eclectic food scene and to-die-for desert landscape, Tucson is an outdoor mecca with a modern edge.
The iconic arms of the saguaro cactus are as true a symbol of the American West as you’re likely to find. Split between two sections that lie on either side of the city, Saguaro National Park is the first stop on almost every visitor’s itinerary and one of the few places left in the country to get up close and personal with its namesake flora. Learn more at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum or the Tucson Botanical Gardens. For a different kind of exploration, head about an hour southwest and try Kitt Peak National Observatory, where stellar discoveries await. Or head north where Biosphere 2 preserves diverse ecosystems in controlled indoor landscapes.
Fun on Water
A not-so-hidden gem lies tucked away in the rolling hills south of the city. Patagonia Lake State Park is the perfect place to cool off after a day in the desert. Join local fishermen casting for bass, bluegill and catfish, or enjoy a day on the water in canoes, paddleboats and pontoons available for rent at the marina.
Fun on Land
With so many hiking and biking opportunities in the surrounding park system, you’ll be hard-pressed to squeeze it all in. Start easy with a stroll along the Rillito River Park Trail that cuts 12 miles through downtown Tucson before heading to one of the five mountain ranges that surround the city. Colossal Cave Mountain Park southeast of town plays host to archaeological sites and incredible underground geological formations. More intrepid hikers should try the 8.2-mile round-trip route to Seven Falls in Sabino Canyon. Rated the No. 1 trail in the area, it’s home to waterfalls, wildlife and lush mountain landscapes.
For More Information
Arizona Office of Tourism