Located in Southern Arizona, Tucson lies closer to Nogales, Mexico than to Phoenix, at least in distance. As for temperament, Tucson shares plenty with its Sonoran desert sisters, Phoenix and Scottsdale, including a fine arts community, trendy restaurants, breathtaking desert landscapes and ample sunshine.
Arizona Travel Packages
Featured Tucson Hotel
See All Tucson Hotels >
This beautiful resort features spacious rooms, three golf courses, four restaurants, three swimming pools, a fitness center, and a full-service spa.
In 1775, Don Hugo O'Connor created the Presidio of Tucson, which became part of the United States in in 1853. Today, this cultural melting pot holds nearly one million European, Native American, Mexican, and Asian residents within its metropolitan area.
One of the most scenic drives in southeast Arizona, the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway takes travelers to the upper reaches of Mount Lemmon and the Santa Catalina Range. The nearly 60-mile round-trip byway boasts stunning desert and forest landscapes. Besides the region’s grand scenery, there are other great sites to see.
The Tucson Rodeo Parade, for instance, is the largest non-motorized parade in the world. There are also more species of birds here than anywhere else on earth, outside of the Amazon. Plus, Tucson sits right in the middle of the planet’s largest concentration of Saguaro cacti.
What To Do
Explore some of the 91,327-acre Saguaro National Park. Hike in the cooler morning air, or drive The Cactus Forest Scenic Loop Drive, with its myriad scenic turnouts and trailheads. Visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (a living desert), 15 miles west of downtown Tucson, with 230 intriguing native animals, such as coyotes, mountain lions and prairie dogs, plus 1,200 local plant species.
Drive the spectacular Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway near Tucson. Travel from Tanque Verde Road to the Catalina Highway, which becomes Hitchcock Highway at the Forest Service boundary, to the top of Mount Lemmon. Take your kids to central Tucson’s popular Reid Park Zoo, home to elephants, lions, flamingos and other colorful species.
View the impressive 18th-century Roman Catholic Mission San Xavier del Bac, known as the White Dove of the Desert, with its eclectic Moorish, Byzantine, Renaissance and Mexican styles of architecture. Keep your eyes on the skies at the Pima Air and Space Museum, one of the world’s largest air and space museums, housing more than 300 aircraft and spacecraft. It is located near the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in southeastern Tucson.
When to Go
Tucson’s hot summers and mild winters, when daytime temperatures range from 64 F to 75 F, plus higher elevation at 2,400 feet, make it slightly cooler and wetter than Phoenix. The best time to visit is probably the spring, unless you like it hot. Average rainfall is around 11.8 inches per year. The rain tends to evaporate, which is why it is considered a desert climate even though there is substantial rain.
Whichever season you choose, vacationers will find plenty of festivals and fairs to keep them entertained, such as the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, held each winter for more than 50 years, the Tucson Festival of Books (March) and the Tucson Rodeo (February).