History comes to life in a vibrant neighborhood holding some of the city's best kept secrets.
The historic Tucson Presidio District encompasses the site where the City of Tucson was established as a Spanish military fort in 1775. With three-inch-thick adobe brick walls, 10-to-12 feet tall, along a huge square about 700 feet on a side, the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson was built on land previously occupied by an ancient Native American community. A 2,000-year-old prehistoric pit house and an original 150-year-old Sonoran row house are among the highlights at the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum, a reconstruction of the original Tucson Presidio. Docent tours provide a glimpse of what life in the Presidio was like for soldiers and other residents. The museum is a starting point for the Turquoise Trail, a 2.5-mile loop trail through downtown Tucson highlighting historic structures and sites.
Located across the street is Old Town Artisans, established in 1922, spanning a city block and housing art galleries and shops in the longest-inhabited set of buildings in all of Tucson – built in the 1850s, right over the remains of the original Presidio wall. La Cocina Restaurant & Bar and the Dusty Monk Pub are here, bounding a leafy central garden courtyard that regularly hosts live music.
Next door, the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block, founded in 1924, features permanent and traveling exhibitions of Modern and Contemporary, Native American, American West, Latin American, and Asian art. The museum's Historic Block of 19th and 20th C. adobe and Mission Revival-style buildings covers a four-acre city block that includes the national award-winning museum restaurant Café a la C'Art.
Just down the street, El Charro Café, formed in 1922, serves traditional Sonoran-style Mexican food with innovative Tucson-style twists. El Charro is said to be the birthplace of the chimichanga (deep-fried burrito) and also the nation’s oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family.
Celebrating Tucson's UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation, The Presidio District Experience: A Progressive Food Heritage and History Tour is a walking and tasting tour of the Presidio District. Experience Tucson's complex food heritage and fusion of Old and New World ingredients while hearing stories of Tucson's history in some of its more historic locations. The tour fills quickly, and pre-registration and tickets are required. Details are at TucsonPresidio.com.
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