Tucson is a hidden gem in the desert. Discover the wonder of desert living.
The Magic of Tucson
Tucson is as sophisticated a civilization as man has created in the desert. Among the metropolitan area’s offerings are internationally respected museums, a symphony, a ballet, an opera company, an avant garde art scene and a world-class university. While these diversions cater to the mind, the natural richness that surrounds Tucson caters to the body and the soul. People who flock here aren’t content to make a living; they come here to make a life.
For many Tucsonans, this life centers around exploring and enjoying the outdoors. Much of this activity takes place in the mountain ranges that surround the city – the Santa Catalina, Rincon, Tucson, Tortolita and Santa Rita. Even their melodic names evoke the serenity and sanctuary they provide. Tucson’s winter weather is balmy during the day and sweater-cool at night. At an elevation of more than 2,500 feet, its summertime temperatures are routinely lower than those of Phoenix, its neighbor 115 miles to the northwest. And when Tucsonans want a change of scenery, they head for Mt. Lemmon, the 9,600-foot peak less than an hour’s drive away. In the summer, residents hike and camp among the pines. In the winter they enjoy its snow-covered slopes, which make up Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley, the United States’ southernmost ski area.
Because Tucson favors natural flora and fauna over flashy cosmopolitan, Tucson conveys the warmth and friendliness of a small town. The area has burgeoned into a center of international trade; a lively and vigorous community of scholars, musicians and artisans; a health and retirement mecca; a stunning example of how old and new can coexist harmoniously in an American city. When asked why they came, why they stay or why they don’t move on, Tucsonans often fall back on the cliché: “It’s the quality of life.” As simple as it sounds, this may be the best umbrella phrase to describe the advantages of day-to-day life in the Sonoran Desert. “Quality of life” means being able to count on more than 300 days of sunshine a year and enough time to pursue – or begin - an outdoor hobby. Rock climbing, bicycling, hiking, bird watching, tennis, golf – Tucsonans find places to enjoy their favorite pleasures within minutes of their front doors.
Residents are the fortunate ones. Travelers from across the globe pay handsomely to travel to southern Arizona and spend a few days here. They come to squeeze in a few games of golf on some of the areas thirty-plus courses. To see three of the finest astronomy facilities in the world. To visit museums and historical societies that offer extraordinary glimpses into yesteryear. To eat tantalizing Mexican food. To travel to nearby Tombstone, the still-standing, rough-and-tumble town made famous by Western lore. And to hike nature trails or visit a guest ranch. Visitors are clearly under pressure to make the most of their brief round-trip packages. Tucsonans, by contrast, have all this available to them all the time. This unique package of magic is why people come here. And that is why they stay. Tucson is truly a city with personality, heart and soul – all accompanied with a blended mixture of sounds and rhythms.
According to Traveler magazine published by Conde Nast, Tucson is the “Friendliest City in the Nation.” An impossible claim to document, but certainly makes a statement about Tucson’s people. While its roots go back to the beginning of recorded history, Tucson has a young, dynamic population. And Tucson is just large enough to offer the perks of a big city and small enough that natives express outrage if there is a ten-minute delay in traffic. It is a big city by virtue of its land mass – at 162 square miles it is three times larger than San Francisco. Money magazine recently ranked Tucson as the fifth “most livable” medium-sized city in the West. Because of its casual, welcoming atmosphere, Tucson was included in the book of 50 Fabulous Places to Raise Your Family (Career Press). In addition to rating Tucson schools as “excellent” and describing its employment outlook as “one of the fastest-growing job markets in the U.S.”, the authors offered this ultimate high praise: “If you were to go to a drawing board to create the ideal urban environment of the new century, you’d be wise to use Tucson as a model.”
The abundance and low price of land continues to provide Tucsonans with a wide range of housing styles and communities. Based on cost of living indexes, housing is far more affordable here than in many areas. Tucson and surrounding communities consist of the City of Tucson, Foothills, Oro Valley, Catalina, Marana, South Tucson and Green Valley.
The land of southern Arizona was acquired in 1848 when Mexico relinquished it after the war with the United States. The rest of the state was acquired in 1853 through the Gadsden Purchase. On February 14, 1912, Arizona became the 48th state.
Bird: Cactus Wren (1931)
Colors: Blue and Gold (1915)
Slogan: In God We Trust
Flower: Blossom of the Saguaro Cactus (1931)
Motto: Ditat Deus – God Enriches
Nickname: Grand Canyon State; Copper State
Song: Arizona March Song (1919)
Tree: Palo Verde – means “green stick” (1957)
Rank: sixth largest state
Highest Point: Humphreys Peak at 12, 633 feet
Lowest Point: Colorado River at 70 feet above sea level
Time Zone: Arizona
Flag: Thirteen rays of red and yellow representing the setting sun cover the upper half. The lower half is solid blue. The center of the flag contains a copper color star (symbolizing the state’s copper industry) rising over the face of the setting sun.
Origin of state’s name: Spanish translation of “arizuma” an Aztec Indian work meaning “silver-bearing”. Also based on Pima Indian word “arizonac” for “little spring place”.
Geography: Arizona is 114,006 square miles. Approximately 42% of the land is covered by desert; 25% is grassland; and 33% is forest and of that, 15% is National forest.
Arizona has more national areas and monuments than any other state.
Arizona State Historic Parks
} Fort Verde State Historic Park
} Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park
} Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park
} Jerome State Historic Park
} Riordan State Historic Park
} McFarland Historical State Park
} Tubac Presidio State Historic Park
Arizona State Desert Parks
} Lost Dutchman State Park
} Catalina State Park
} Picacho Peak State Park
Arizona State Educational Parks
} Boyce Thompson Southwester Arboretum
} Homolovi Ruins State Park
} Oracle State Park
} Red Rock State Park
} Kartchner Caverns State Park
Arizona State Water Based Parks
} Dead Horse Ranch State Park
} Slide Rock State Park
} Buckskin Mountain State Park
} Lake Havasu State Park
} Roper Lake State Park
} Painted Rocks State Park
} Lyman Lake State Park
} Patagonia Lake State Park
} Alamo Lake State Park
National Monuments & Parks
} Canyon de Chelly National Monument
} Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
} Chiricahua National Monument
} Grand Canyon National Park – One of the Seven wonders of the world
} Marble Canyon National Monument
} Montezuma Castle National Monument
} Navajo National Monument
} Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
} Petrified Forest National Park
} Pipe Spring National Monument
} Saguaro National Park
} Sunset Crater National Monument
} Tonto National Monument
} Tumacacori National Monument
} Tuzigoot National Monument
} Walnut Canyon National Monument
} Wupatki National Monument
Renée's top 10 list of must see/must do in Tucson
Sonora Desert Museum
Kitt Peak National Observatory
Pima Air and Space Museum
Tucson Botanical Gardens
University of Arizona Museum of Art
San Xavier Mission
Saguaro National Park
Old Tucson Studios
Accenture Match Play Golf
Arizona State Museum
Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium
Hotel Congress downtown
Tucson Museum of Art
Temple of Music and Art
Tucson Children's Museum
El Presidio Park
As you can see I could not stop at just 10.
Let me know what your favorites are and I will add them to the list!