The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase can be overwhelming, but you can do it like a pro
It was certainly easier to navigate the first Tucson Gem & Mineral Society show in 1955, held at a local elementary school. After all, there were only 1,500 attendees and 15 vendors. In 2019, it would have been almost impossible to count the vendors across the 48 shows where nearly 65,000 shoppers hunted for treasure. We asked veteran merchants, show hosts, and regular Gem Show attendees for their tips to a fun and successful experience.
Plan Ahead, Way Ahead
Hotel rooms book up exceptionally fast; Tucson is essentially full during the busiest part of the Showcase, so once you decide you want to attend the next show, start planning as soon as possible. With your hotel booked, make reservations for resort or downtown restaurants as well since those, unsurprisingly, fill up quickly, too.
Figure out how you’ll get around
You can definitely see more in Tucson with a car—Saguaro National Park, Mission San Xavier del Bac and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum are on the edges of town beyond the reaches of public transportation, for example. Getting around the various shows (and parking, although some shows offer valets) can sometimes be a challenge, though it can be easier to haul away your finds in your own vehicle.
Think outside the box
Even with gems, minerals, and fossils in the event name, there’s plenty to see beyond those. The African Art Village is a favorite of visitors, with more than 100 exhibitors offering art, clothing, beads, and more. The annual Sonoran Glass School’s Flame Off is an exciting evening event where glass artists use torches to make molten masterpieces while you can enjoy a cold beer and innovative local food truck cuisine.
Use Instagram to your advantage
Want a preview of what to expect at a show? Search for the location on Instagram where excited shoppers share what they’re seeing online, so you can get a sneak peek before heading over.
Let us help
At Visit Tucson, we are your Gem Show resource: We publish a guide each year with listings for all the shows, both trade-only and open to the public, with location, hours, and more. Plus, we have a smartphone app that keeps attendees updated with the latest in Showcase news. If you’re at the airport or the convention center during the Showcase, visit our information tables for personal assistance.