Baked eggs, sunsets, murals, concerts and coffee are all on the list of 

#whyilovewhereilive

By Ivy Morris

Sometimes we fall in love head over heels, ecstatically, all passion, bright colors, and lightheadedness. Other times, it’s subtler in nature, more romance than a fury of intense feelings. We’ve all been there, it’s the stuff romantic comedies are made of, after all.

What happens when you end up in a city that doesn’t meet your (immediate) expectations? What do you do when it’s not love at first sight?

Love is tricky. Sometimes it takes time.

Mural by Rocky Martinez

Let me find the ways

It took time for a love of Tucson to catch up to Kristin Tovar, but now, she’s among the city’s most passionate advocates. And like the most clichéd of romantic comedies, it took time for her to realize the city and lifestyle she was looking for had been there all along.

Tovar came to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona and quickly traveled and moved to big cities after graduation—Seattle, Buenos Aires, Rome, and New York City, to name a few. In those cities, Kristin found culture, artisanal communities, the ease of walking to the grocery store—things she loved but had yet to find in Tucson. But her serious boyfriend (and now husband), a native Tucsonan, got a job in Tucson, and somewhat reluctantly, Kristin came back.

Exasperated by being stuck in a city lacking something for her to connect to, a conversation led to an unexpected inspiration that changed her perspective.

"I was complaining to a barista about Tucson, and he stopped me,” Kristin said. The barista listed off reasons why he thought Tucson was great, and mentioned that he’d lived all over the world and he chose to come back to Tucson—he loved it that much. “It made me think, ‘Maybe there’s stuff to appreciate here that I haven’t noticed yet."

On a sunny Saturday a couple years ago, Kristin and her now-husband (the former boyfriend who brought her back) were biking around the city, participating simultaneously in two separate events: a coffee crawl and the Open Studios Tour.

XO Roast Co

XO Roast Co

"My husband and I biked to great coffee spots where we learned about coffee and tasted it, and in-between the coffee, we visited all these artists and open studios and got to talk with artists,” she said. “I thought back to being in other cities and seeing stuff like that. To experience what I wanted from a bigger city on a Tucson level was—well, that was it. That was my favorite day in Tucson."

Tovar’s Instagram feed, @whyilovewhereilive, shows off her gained perspective of Tucson, while also offering her the opportunity to discover things, literally, from a different viewpoint. Through snaps of craftsman bungalows, blooming pink bougainvillea, mottled monsoon skies, and guacamole, it all came together.

Not only did she find what she loved about Tucson, but she also decided to share that love with the world.

Warehouse Art District Sign

Why I Love Where I Live has morphed from a personal journey into a movement that thousands are following, both via Instagram and other endeavors. Through her platform, Kristin has organized community art projects, began a pop-up market showcasing local artisans (Cultivate Tucson), and worked with children in schools to encourage a sense of ownership for their hometown.

Ready to discover your Tucson moment? Start with @whyilovewhereilive. Look for “I love that” and “Where is that?” comments, which come from both locals, who have yet to uncover all of Tucson’s secrets, and visitors who understand the adoration or are looking forward to understanding it. Check out the hashtag #whyilovewhereilive on Instagram to see why hundreds love this city, from a great craft beer to a giant mural on the side of a downtown building.

Whether it happens in an instant or takes a little time, Tucson has a lot to love.

Hopelessly devoted to you

Kristin has discovered many reasons to love where she lives. Here are eight that have stolen her heart:

Baked Eggs at The Cup Cafe

Baked Eggs at The Cup Cafe

1. Favorite breakfast:

Cup Café. I get the baked eggs. I can’t stop! They’re worth getting again and again. 

2. Favorite boutique:

Fed by Threads. I love Alok [the owner] and everything he stands for. The clothes are high quality and organic. Alok is really thoughtful about where he gets the clothes from and how they’re made and telling people their story. Most of our Why I Love Where I Live shirts are printed there.

Cafe Poca Cosa

Cafe Poca Cosa

3. Best place to take someone you want to impress:

Gates Pass to watch the sunset and Café Poca Cosa for dinner, which is one of my favorites. 

4. Best place to take family and friends:

Sabino Canyon to walk. I love that there are so many different options there—we can take our stroller on the paved path or choose from several other trails.

5. Last place you saw a concert: 

The Rialto Theatre. I love the Rialto—the space, the signage, the history, and all the murals.

6. Last place you grabbed some coffee:

Exo Roast Co. I also love Presta Coffee Roasters, Cartel Coffee Lab and Savaya Coffee Market. There isn’t a shortage of great coffee in Tucson.

Sabino Canyon

Sabino Canyon

7. Last great meal:

Yogi’s Indian Cafe & Market, on Stone. A group of us went just to try it, and we loved it!

8. Last date night:

Casa Film Bar, at Casa Video. There are always movies playing and they have a great selection of beer.

Find your reasons to love Tucson by starting with our list of 100 things to do.