Tucson, Arizona is nestled in a valley surrounded by four mountain ranges and is in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. The Tucson that was once the scene of horses plodding down dusty streets, gunfights among rival cowboys, a target for Apache raids has grown into a thriving metropolis that still has the feeling of a much smaller town.
The stark beauty of the surrounding desert can be found nowhere else on earth with desert flats rolling into foothills, foothills growing into mountains and adorned with the unique vegetation that thrives in this waterless region. Majestic saguaro cactus rise out of the desert floor towering over the landscape, prickly pear and barrel cactus abound in assorted colors and near the water courses mesquite groves, cottonwoods and Palo Verde trees thrive. A unique collection of wildlife ekes out a living in this arid land. Huge mule deer inhabit the flats and foothills, coyotes and bobcats prowl for their prey and bighorn sheep and cougars make the mountains their home.
Miles of hiking trails crisscross the desert and mountains and four wheel drive tours take visitors to observe wildlife, photograph beautiful landscapes and to relax in the peaceful surroundings. Mt Lemmon, in the Catalina Mountains to the north, rises from the cactus forested foothills and the hour drive up the curving mountain road sets the traveler in tall pines. Winter visitors can snow ski in the morning on the mountain and sunbathe in the afternoon in eighty degree weather.
Tucson hosts luxurious resorts with well appointed golf courses, their emerald fairways winding through the desert landscape and offer the utmost in relaxation, good living and fine dining. Tucson’s restaurants are many and varied with a compliment of international cuisines and steak houses serve the Southwest’s signature meal of mesquite broiled steaks and chicken. Tucson’s strong Hispanic influence is evident by the many Mexican restaurants throughout town; their south of the border dishes are overwhelmingly delicious and thoroughly addicting.
There is no end to things to see and do in Tucson. Ten miles and one hundred years west of town is ‘Old Tucson’. This old western town has been the site for the filming of scores of famous movies including Rio Bravo, Outlaw Josey Wales and recently Tombstone. Old Tucson is open to the public and has restaurants, train and stage coach rides, gunfight reenactments, rides for the kids and nighttime concerts.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a delightful must see. The living museum has a fine representation of the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert from the shores of the Sea of Cortez to the Mogollon Rim. Indigenous insects, reptiles, fish, birds and mammals are living in displays of their natural habitat and a trip down the paths is an education like no other.
Tucson has something for everyone. There are great accommodations, fine dining, museums, art galleries and concerts. There is hiking, horseback riding, golf and tennis. There is lively nightlife with bars, comedy clubs, honkytonks and sporting events and shopping from high end department stores to fine native crafts kiosks. So if you’re on a road trip or have had enough of that winter ice and snow, try Tucson first.