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Field Trip: Tucson, Arizona

September 1, 2011 1:59 PM

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TohonoChul

tucson mtns Field Trip: Tucson, Arizona

(credit: Yvonne Condes)


Hiking, biking, and endless sunshine make Tucson a great place to visit. It’s a laid back college town, with amazing food, wonderful people, and a beautiful desert landscape. Tucson is home to one of the biggest bike races in the country, the famous bacon-wrapped hot dog, and the Saguaro Cactus.
cactus Field Trip: Tucson, Arizona

(credit: Yvonne Condes)

How to Get There

It’s an 8-hour drive from Los Angeles or a quick plane ride, and holds some of the most beautiful desert landscape in the world. Southwest Airlines usually has the best airfares that often fly out of Tucson. If you’re bargain shopping, the best time to go has typically been the beginning of June when the hotel rates have dropped, but temperatures aren’t unbearable, and early Fall. If you can stand the heat, the real bargains are in the summer.

Where To Stay

hacienda Field Trip: Tucson, Arizona

(credit: Hacienda del Sol)

Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort

5501 N. Hacienda del Sol Road
Tucson, Arizona 85718
(520) 299-1501
More Info

This guest ranch is really an upscale southwestern resort nestled near the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains. It was once a girls’ school and then the secret rendezvous spot for Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. Today, it holds an award winning restaurant and acres of beautiful desert grounds.

az inn 5 Field Trip: Tucson, Arizona

(credit: arizonainn.com)

The Arizona Inn

2200 East Elm St.
Tucson, Arizona 85710
(520) 325-1541
More Info

The Inn is near the University of Arizona campus and is a favorite for visiting parents, weddings, and tourists who want a classic Tucson experience. The hotel has been owned by the same family for more than 80 years and maintains the old Tucson feel. It’s a luxury hotel, but still feels like a friendly Inn.

What to Do

desert museum Field Trip: Tucson, Arizona

(credit: Yvonne Condes)

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 628-2772
More Info

Get up close and personal with rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions, and javelina at this wonderful museum in the heart of the desert. Walk along trails in the zoo area and see animals in their natural habitat. Then enter the museum and safely see the many varieties of snakes and other desert reptiles safely behind glass.

saguaro cactus Field Trip: Tucson, Arizona

(credit: Yvonne Condes)

Saguaro National Park

More Info

Visit the website for driving directions, trail maps, and points of interest.
The Saguaro Cactus is the symbol of the Southwest, but interestingly can only be found in the confines of the Sonoran dessert in Southern Arizona and Western Sonora, Mexico. Visitors can see the cactus with its distinctive arms that can take up to 75 years to grow. Saguaro National Park is broken into two sections on opposite sides of Tucson. Both east and west offers beautiful desert walks, mountain hikes, bike trails, and of course spectacular views of the Saguaro.

tohonochul Field Trip: Tucson, Arizona

(credit: Yvonne Condes)

Tohono Chul Park

7366 North Paseo del Norte
Tucson, Arizona 85704
(520) 742-6455
More Info

It’s much smaller than the desert museum or the national park, but the botanical garden on the Northwest side of town is just as pretty. Walk on nature trails, have breakfast or lunch in the Tea Room or hang out with the kids in the Children’s Garden. The park also features galleries with work from local and national artists.

old tucson Field Trip: Tucson, Arizona

(credit: oldtucson.com)

Old Tucson Studios

201 S. Kinney Road
Tucson, Arizona 85735
(520) 883- 0100
More Info

The Old West is alive and well at Old Tucson Studios. Visitors can see gunfights, mosey up to the saloon, and have their picture taken in cowboy costumes. Some of Hollywood’s most beloved Westerns were filmed at Old Tucson including John Wayne’s Rio Bravo, Clint Eastwood’s Outlaw Josie Wales, and Kurt Russell’s Tombstone.

fries from zinburger Field Trip: Tucson, Arizona

(credit: Yvonne Condes)

Where to Eat

Zin Burger

1865 East River Road #101
Tucson, AZ 85718
(520) 299-7799
6390 E Grant Road
Tucson, AZ 85715
(520) 298-2020
More Info

There are some good burgers in Tucson, but the ones here are extra delightful. The Zin Burger has Manchego cheese, Zinfandel braised onions and mayo. Pair that with truffle fries or the BLT Salad and a Black Lager Float and you’ll be in heaven.

El Güero Canelo

5201 S. 12th Ave.
Tucson, Arizona 85706
2480 N. Oracle Road
Tucson, Arizona 85705
More Info

Tucson is the American home to the bacon-wrapped hot dog. The Sonoran Dog is wrapped in bacon and smothered in mayo or salsa or cheese or all three. It’s a culinary masterpiece that can be found not only in this restaurant with 2 locations, but at hot dog carts around the city. El Güero Canelo has been featured in news articles and on the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food.

Mi Nidito

1813 South 4th Avenue
Tucson, Arizona 85713
(520) 622-5081
More Info

Tucson has amazing Sonoran Mexican restaurants and Mi Nidito is one of the most famous. The enchiladas are melt-in-your mouth delicious and the Birria (shredded beef) tacos are delicious. Try the Carne con Chile Verde Enchiladas or the Albondigas (meatball soup) and you’ll know why people have been coming back for decades.

Café Poca Cosa

110 E. Pennington St.
Tucson, AZ 85701
(520) 622-6400
More Info

Café Poca Cosa is known for authentic Mexican food with a modern flair. Its elegant location in is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Menu selections are written daily on a chalk board taken to the table. There’s always something new and interesting.

bike rider Field Trip: Tucson, Arizona

Special Events

UMC El Tour de Tucson
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The Saturday before Thanksgiving every year, bike riders from all over the country descend upon Tucson. About 9,000 riders can choose rides from 40 to 109 miles through scenic dessert and mountain roads. The weather in November is usually mild and dry. In 2010, Outside Magazine named Tucson the best road biking city in the country thanks to the clean air and the city’s laid back attitude.

Tucson International Mariachi Conference

135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 628-2772
More Info

Every spring, musicians gather their violins, trumpets, and guitars and head to Tucson for the weeklong conference. The conference features workshops, festivals, and concerts from some of the most famous Mariachi players in the world. It’s great fun and the city’s largest cultural festival.

Tucson Festival of Books

135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 628-2772
More Info

The festival started just a few years ago and is now the 4th largest book festival in the United States. It’s held on the University of Arizona Campus and last year attracted 80,000 people.

Yvonne Condes grew up in Tucson but raises her family in Los Angeles. As such, she publishes the blog Yvonne in LA.

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