Tucson Spotlight

Retail Therapy in Tucson & Southern Arizona

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Retail Therapy in Tucson & Southern Arizona
From Rustic Old West to Modern Southwest Chic

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Travelers in search of retail therapy are in for a treat in metropolitan Tucson. The Old Pueblo's array of shops and interesting locations makes it easy to find just the right item. A variety of open-air centers, expansive malls and historical plazas offer everything from local treasures to national brands. And for visitors looking to take home a memento of the American Southwest, it's a cinch to find Native American jewelry, artwork and textiles; Mexican-style folk art, home furnishings and apparel; and all things Old West, from cowboy hats, boots and belts, to bolo ties and more.


Downtown Tucson & the University Area

The downtown Tucson area encompasses several areas offering diverse, distinctive shopping options. Shoppers can take home a piece of authentic Old Mexico at The Lost Barrio, or get a boho-chic makeover on Fourth Avenue. Grab some new college garb at Main Gate Square, or revamp a jewelry collection in the Mineral and Fossil district - all within a few miles of each other. 

The highlight of downtown Tucson's El Presidio District is Old Town Artisans, on Court Avenue north of Alameda Street. This restored 150-year-old adobe complex houses distinctive shops and galleries featuring an ever-changing collection of handmade items, as well as a shady central courtyard and patio with two restaurants, a cantina, and a coffee bar. Next door, the Museum Shop at the Tucson Museum of Art has art, jewelry, collectibles and cards created by area artists.

East of El Presidio, the Congress Street Entertainment District is expanding with an eclectic mix of sidewalk cafes, vintage theaters, unusual shops and contemporary art galleries. Northwest of El Presidio, the Mineral and Fossil District is a wholesale marketplace of gems, minerals, fossils and beads.

Northeast of downtown, the Fourth Avenue Shopping District is on Fourth Avenue, between Ninth Street and University Boulevard. This six-block bohemian streetscape is fun for an informal sidewalk stroll through an uncommon assortment of more than 100 shops, restaurants, coffee houses and nightclubs. This area also is known for its semiannual, multi-block street fair.

From Fourth Avenue to Main Gate Square, just west of the University of Arizona. This pedestrian-friendly corridor of more than 70 retailers includes university bookstores, national and local retailers, casual dining, brewpubs and salons. Merchants host weekend entertainment and events, and the Square is within walking distance of museums, galleries and performance venues on the University of Arizona campus.

Just south of Main Gate Square is The Lost Barrio, on Park Avenue, south of Broadway Boulevard. Rows of former warehouses have been converted to spacious shops offering furniture and home accessories, plus all kinds of non-standard Tucson mementos. The focus is on Southwestern-style merchandise and global imports and antiques. Comfortable shoes may help in maneuvering the different levels connecting most shops.

Uniquely Tucson Plazas

A boutique-hopping trip at any of Tucson's landmark open-air shopping plazas is a perfect way to experience the laid-back charm of the Old Pueblo. Soak up the sun while perusing the unique wares at any of Tucson's outdoor plazas.

Tucson's first shopping center, built in 1939, Broadway Village is a mission-style, outdoor complex, centrally located at Broadway Boulevard and Country Club Road. A courtyard and two dozen exposed-brick storefronts contain a patio restaurant and shops selling Mexican furniture, housewares and apparel; unique toys, clothing, art, crafts and more. 

Casas Adobes Plaza, in northwest Tucson at Ina and Oracle Roads, is a red-brick Spanish Colonial-style shopping-and-dining sanctuary that features stylish boutiques,   restaurants, galleries and personal services, all wrapped in Old World charm.

Joesler Village, at the trendy north-side corner of River Road and Campbell Avenue, houses two historical, adobe buildings and a complex of three offices, retail, and restaurant buildings as well as an assortment of elegant boutiques, fine galleries and upscale restaurants.

Plaza Palomino, located at Swan and Fort Lowell Roads, features women's apparel, jewelry, art galleries, gift shops, specialty foods and patio dining in a relaxed, hacienda-style plaza that hosts a busy Saturday farmers' market and artists' bazaar.

St. Philip's Plaza, at the southeast corner of River Road and Campbell Avenue, is a tree-lined, brick-paved, Mexican-style plaza. The plaza hosts a popular Sunday morning farmers' market and features an all-suites hotel, contemporary restaurants, a trend-setting salon and day spa, and boutiques selling fashions, furnishings and local art.

Trail Dust Town, on east Tanque Verde near Grant Road, is a replica of a 19th century Old West streetscape, with wooden sidewalks, a centerpiece gazebo, a vintage 1920s carousel, a narrow-gauge train for youngsters to ride, and Wild West stunt shows. Shopping and dining options include a small storefront and a rustic steakhouse.  

Trendy Shopping Malls

Tucson's four indoor malls offer summer shoppers air-conditioned comfort and one-stop convenience. Upscale buyers and bargain-hunters alike will find an array of current options for fashion, personal care and entertainment. When the shopping day is done, the entire family can rest their feet at a first-run movie, or enjoy a meal without leaving the mall. .

Tucson Mall, on Oracle Road south of River Road, features more than 1.3 million square feet and two levels of indoor shopping, including 200 specialty stores, five department stores (Dillard's, JC Penney, Macy's and Sears), a food court and a kiddie play area; also featured is "Arizona Avenue," a collection of boutiques devoted to art, gifts, jewelry and food found only in Southern Arizona.

Park Place, on Broadway Boulevard near Wilmot Road, has 120 stores, including three department stores (Dillard's, Macy's, and Sears), 22 restaurants, 20 movie screens, a food court, and a Southwest-themed children's play area. The mall's wide walkways and airy, light-filled interior make it popular with mall-walkers, people-watchers and hard-core shoppers. Special events include a Concert Series and a farmers' market. 

Foothills Mall, at the Northwest corner of La Cholla Boulevard and Ina Road, features more than 90 stores, outlets and value retailers offering fashions and brand-name merchandise at discounted prices. There are nine restaurants, a 15-screen multiplex cinema, an international food court, a game arcade and bilingual customer service.

El Con Mall, located west of Broadway Boulevard and Alvernon Way, features a 20-screen cinema, JC Penney, Home Depot, Target, Ross, Burlington Coat Factory, Radio Shack, Office Depot and others stores as well as various fast-food restaurants. More specialty stores and eateries are being added as part of a full-scale renovation.

Oro Valley Marketplace, at Oracle and Tangerine Roads, opened in September 2009 and boasts 800,000 square feet of prime retail space in picturesque Oro Valley. The Marketplace is home to dozens of stores - from sporting goods and fashion, to tech and cosmetics - and features several works of public art and a movie theater. The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) presents concerts, festivals and fairs here.

Santa Catalina Foothills Corridor

The chic shopping area in the Santa Catalina foothills, located near Skyline Drive and Campbell Avenue, is just minutes from most major resorts and features a cluster of high-end shops, galleries and restaurants.

Anchoring the area is La Encantada, an open-air, two-story plaza that invites pedestrian interaction. A central courtyard, furnished with loveseats and garden art, doubles as a stage for periodic fashion shows, art exhibits and performances. Walkways and patios are lined with more than 50 stylish shops, from Williams-Sonoma to Tiffany & Co. 

East of La Encantada is Gallery Row at El Cortijo (The Farm). With architecture inspired by the provincial farmhouses of southern Spain, this shopping complex is home to art galleries that collectively represent regional and national artists working in all media, including the best in contemporary Southwest art.

At the southwest corner of Skyline Drive and Campbell Avenue, under the prominent copper dome, Plaza Colonial is a collection of storefronts that includes clothing boutiques, home furnishings, a gallery and restaurants.

At the southeast corner of Skyline Drive and Campbell Avenue, Paloma Village Center is anchored by an Embassy Suites hotel that caters to business travelers and family vacationers. The center features high-end shops, restaurants, and personal services, including a steakhouse, a coffee shop, a spa and galleries.

Museum Gift Shops

Many museums and botanical gardens in and around Tucson house gift shops filled with interesting and unusual keepsakes and souvenirs. Here's an overview of a few: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Arizona State Museum Store, Audubon Nature Shop, Center for Creative Photography, Flandrau Planetarium, International Wildlife Museum, Pima Air & Space Museum, Reid Park Zoo, Tohono Chul Park, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson Museum of Art, UNICEF Shop and University of Arizona Museum of Art.

Southwest Specialty Shops

Visitors looking for that special something that will remind them of their trip to Tucson and Southern Arizona have a broad selection of shops specializing in Western wear, native plants and Southwest-style antiques.

Western Wear - When real and aspiring cowpokes want to get decked-out from head to toe, merchants in Tucson can help. A wide array of Western wear, such as boots, bolo ties, hats, jeans, belts and jewelry, is readily available at these Tucson stores: Western Warehouse, Boot Barn, Arizona Hatters, Boot Bunkhouse, and Cowtown Boots. In Tombstone, Spur Western Wear is among several purveyors of cowboy duds.

Native Plants - Arizona law protects saguaros and most other native plants and cacti, and fines are imposed for unauthorized removal. Visitors can purchase desert plants from local nurseries, many of which offer packaging and shipping. Check out B & B Cactus Farm, Bach's Cactus Nursery, Desert Survivors Nursery, Tanque Verde Greenhouses, Tohono Chul and Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Antiques - At Tucson's antique stores, shoppers will find reasonable prices and a variety of collectibles, ranging from quilts and furniture to American Indian weavings and jewelry. Several antique shops and second-hand stores are clustered along Grant Road between Campbell Avenue and Craycroft Road, while others dot shopping centers around town. Here is a broad sampling of local favorites: American Antique Mall, Colonial Frontiers, Eric Firestone Gallery, Gallery West, Geraniums Antiques, Medicine Man Gallery, Morning Star Traders, and The Treasure Shop.

Gems, Minerals & Jewels

Tucson's history as a mining center makes it a natural place to find the world's largest marketplace of jewelry, gems, minerals, fossils, meteorites, and beads. Every February hundreds of exhibitors at an average 40 locations citywide converge to exhibit and sell their merchandise at the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. The merchandise ranges from bargain-priced fossils to museum-quality gemstones. This successful event has spawned a smaller gem, mineral and bead show in September.

Southern Arizona Treasures

On a quick day trip south of Tucson, shoppers will find galleries, festivals, vineyards, antiques and much more. Southern Arizona towns - including Bisbee, Elgin, Patagonia, Sonoita, Tombstone and Tubac - offer a bounty of unique regional treasures, ranging from one-of-a-kind artworks, handmade jewelry, and artisanal foods to Western apparel, antiques and wines from regional vineyards. In the Willcox area, family-owned farms sell locally grown produce. At the Arizona-Mexico border, the town of Nogales is popular with bargain-hunters shopping for deals on pottery, jewelry, liquor, furniture and more.

More shopping is waiting at the Village of Tubac, a quaint artists' colony 45 miles south of Tucson. The meandering streets are lined with more than 100 unusual shops and galleries as well as the Santa Cruz Chile Factory, which sells spices, cactus candy and jalapeño ice cream.

Patagonia is home to several high-end retailers specializing in Native American textiles, jewelry and apparel. Southern Arizona wine country is centered in the scenic Santa Cruz Valley, especially in the twin towns of Sonoita and Elgin. Respected wineries in this area include Callaghan Vineyards, Colibri Vineyards, Dos Cabezas Wineworks, Kief-Joshua Vineyard, Sonoita Vineyards and The Village of Elgin Winery. Charron Vineyards, southeast of downtown Tucson in Vail, is our closest winery experience.

Legendary Tombstone, "the town too tough to die," features a dusty boulevard lined with authentic Old Western storefronts offering antiques, memorabilia, 1880s period clothing, jewelry, art, leather crafts, Western history books and souvenirs. Farther south, in the Mule Mountains, Bisbee is a former 19th-century copper-mining boomtown now home to historical buildings housing boutiques, galleries and shops with antiques, books, apparel, jewelry and collectibles.

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Jessica Stephens, Director of Public Relations, Visit Tucson, or 520-770-2143