What's New in Tucson?
Follow developments related to the travel and tourism industry in Tucson and Southern Arizona.
Downtown Tucson Development
TUCSON'S SUNSHINE MILE LISTED ON THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES - An outstanding collection of mid-century modern commercial buildings designed by Tucson’s cohort of 20th-century architects has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nominated by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation in partnership with the City of Tucson, the Sunshine Mile designation will support the restoration of these significant properties and promote the preservation of one of the largest concentrations of surviving mid-century storefronts in the Southwest. This grassroots community effort took eight years, thousands of volunteer hours, and was supported by private contributions and Preservation Foundation dollars. A few of the major buildings in the two mile long district include Hirsh’s Shoes, 1954; Valley National Bank Broadway-Country Club Branch (Chase Bank), 1971, Kelly Building, 1964; and Temple Emanu-El Synagogue,1949-1960; Solot Plaza, 1954-1958; and the Friedman Block, 1955-1961.
EL CONQUISTADOR TUCSON, A HILTON RESORT UNVEILS COMPLETION OF MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR SPA FACILITY - SpaWell, life well lived, is the newly constructed spa facility and is the first among its kind featuring a salt therapy room, pool deck with mountain views and wet steam room in Oro Valley, Arizona. Completed in October 2020, the spa is an adults-only sanctuary offering a total of eight treatment rooms, including two facial rooms and one couples treatment area which provides a tranquil experience for all guests of the spa.
GRADUATE TUCSON OPENS IN WILDCAT COUNTRY - The Graduate Tucson, opened in October 2020 in the heart of the University of Arizona’s campus, blends modern accommodations with a trailblazing Southwestern spirit. Feel at home in this desert retreat, just steps from Arizona Stadium and downtown Tucson. This boutique hotel has 165 rooms, a ground-floor bar and cafe and a rooftop bar and swimming pool. Graduate Hotels is owned by Chicago-based Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners.
THE TUXON - The Tuxon, a 112-room modern boutique hotel, opened July 3, 2020 in the heart of Tucson near Sentinel Peak, an area known as the “birthplace of Tucson.” By day, The Tuxon is a gathering place for adventure seekers and culture-loving visitors. By night, the hotel’s pool scene serves as a relaxed, sociable setting for cocktails and conversation. Embracing an elevated and immersive experience, and the renaissance reshaping the city, The Tuxon brings the best of the outside in, with an inspired design that reflects its stunning surroundings. The hotel joined Marriott International’s coveted Design Hotels™ portfolio as the first Design Hotels™ property in Arizona.
HOTEL MCCOY REWARDS GUESTS FOR BEING KIND - Tucson's Hotel McCoy is doing what they can to make the world a better place. To kick off the new year they are offering a 10% discount just for doing something nice and spreading kindess. Complete one act of kindness before check-in on your day of stay, let the hotel front desk staff know and receive 10% off your stay.
HACIENDA DEL SOL GUEST RANCH RESORT ANNOUNCES EXPANSION - Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, a Forbes Four-Star Resort, is undergoing an expansion project set to be completed in early 2021. The expansion will add forty new guestrooms, modeled after the Catalina Rooms added in 2015. The guestrooms will span seven new buildings facing both the Santa Catalina Mountains and Rincon Mountains offering guests expansive mountain views. A brand-new pool area with a forty-foot lap pool, an infinity edge wading pool, spa and a large sun deck will also be added along with a new fitness facility.
DOUBLETREE TUCSON CONVENTION CENTER BREAKS GROUND - The long-awaited 170-room DoubleTree by Hilton broke ground in May 2019 on the Tucson Convention Center's south parking lot. The six-story structure will have a second-story pool, 4,000 square feet of meeting/event space, a mesquite-themed restaurant and two bars. One bar will be inside the hotel property, the second at the entrance to the TCC. The hotel is expected to open by the end of 2020.
HOME2 SUITES / HAMPTON INN SCHEDULED TO OPEN IN DECEMBER 2020 - Tucson's first dual-branded Hilton broke ground downtown in August 2019. Designed for extended stay guests, the 123-room Home2 Suites will share a common porte-cochere and lobby with the 76-room Hampton Inn. Other shared amenities will be exercise and pool facilities. The six-story hotel is expected to open in December 2020.
THE RETURN OF THE BALL-PAYLORE HOUSE - The Ball-Paylore House, an exceptionally important mid-century modern house designed by one of Tucson’s legendary 20th century architects, has been saved by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation. The house, purchased in fall 2019, has been fully restored and is now available on a limited basis for overnight stays through popular booking website, Airbnb. Demion Clinco, Executive Director of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation shared, “The historic and architectural significance of the property cannot be overstated. The building, by one of Tucson’s most important modernist architects, is an early masterful and experimental design response to the Sonoran Desert.”
JW MARRIOTT STARR PASS RESORT & SPA COMPLETES PROPERTY ENHANCEMENTS AND RENOVATIONS - Tucson’s JW Marriot Starr Pass Resort & Spa finished a $3.5 million property enhancement and renovation to include a redesign of the Hashani Spa, lobby, and gift shop and added a new Starbucks and JW Market. The 20,000-square-foot spa underwent a complete indoor transformation featuring new design, furniture and equipment and upgraded the spa’s adult only pool area. The resorts lobby was completely redesigned with an open floor plan and added seating. The new JW Market, located on the lower lobby level, offers locally sourced grab-n-go snacks, a variety of to-go flatbreads, sandwiches, and soups, local ice cream from Isabella’s, and a rotating list of wine and beer. Relocated to the upper lobby level, Starbucks has almost doubled in size from the previous location and offers guests more seating options. The resort’s gift shop was redesigned and added new furniture. The exterior of the entire resort was enhanced with new paint and roofing.
RENOVATIONS SPRUCING UP DOUBLETREE BY HILTON TUCSON-REID PARK - Tucson-owned Nor Hotel Properties is undertaking a large-scale renovation of its DoubleTree by Hilton Tucson – Reid Park in midtown Tucson. The hotel’s 287 guest rooms, lobby bar, and two restaurants were completed last fall; the hotel ballroom, meeting rooms and courtyards (25,000 square feet of meeting space) are due to be remodeled by summer 2020.
TWO TUCSON JAMES BEARD AWARD NOMINEES COLLABORATE TO OPEN RESTAURANT - Chef Carlotta Flores of the Charro restaurant family has teamed up with Don Guerra of Barrio Bread to open Barrio Charro! Barrio Charro is designed to satisfy the growing demand for more takeout and delivery-friendly food as well as a Sonoran-Tucson flavored response to the segment of bakery café and grab and go markets that are taking hold in many communities around the country. This new concept will not only combine recipes from several of the Si Charro brands with Guerra’s acclaimed breads, but the partners have already begun working on special signature items that cannot be found in or around Tucson. Barrio Charro is expected to open before the end of the year for dine-in, takeout and delivery.
POSTINO OPENS FIRST EVER SOUTHERN ARIZONA LOCATION IN TUCSON - Arizona's original WineCafe opened its garage style walls in the heart of midtown's historic yet vibrant Blenman-Elm neighborhood in March 2020 . Open daily for lunch and dinner with brunch every weekend, Postino delivers a decked-out menu of bruschettas, and crave-worthy shareables that instigate last-bite fights. Their menu also features more than 30 wines by the glass as well as a selection of local craft beers.
THE CORONET MOVES TO BARRIO VIEJO NEIGHBORHOOD - After five years on North Fourth Avenue, The Coronet has moved to the space previously housed by Cushing Street Bar & Restaurant after closing its doors earlier this year. With the new space comes a larger kitchen and expanded menu. The new location also offers a new patio cafe, Fonda de la Hermanita, with counter service as opposed to table.
TUCSON MUSEUM OF ART AND HISTORIC BLOCK TO REOPEN - After two years of planning and construction, Tucson Museum of Art will open the new Kasser Family Wing of Latin American Art and a renovated outdoor plaza and sculpture garden on July 30, 2020. The new 6,000 square-foot wing features an open floor plan, five galleries with natural light, and links Margaret E. Mooney Hall to the John K. Goodman Pavilion. Three galleries will highlight pre-Columbian works from the museum’s permanent collection alongside long-term loans from the I. Michael Kasser and Paul L. and Alice C. Baker collections. One of the remaining galleries is dedicated to Modern and Contemporary Latin American art including the debut of new acquisitions by Enrique Martínez Celaya, Monica Aissa Martinez, Patrick Martinez and Pedro Tagliafico. The final gallery is dedicated to Spanish Colonial art with works from Latin America and the Southwestern United States created in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries.
"CRAWL" YOUR WAY THROUGH SABINO CANYON - Sabino Canyon Crawler, an emission-free electric shuttle, enhances the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area experience and is designed to protect the area’s natural and cultural resources. Seating up to 60 passengers, these electric shuttles offer an enhanced interpretive program that shares details about how Sabino Canyon was formed, what kind of plant and wildlife live in the canyon, seasonal changes that occur in the canyon, plus important historical and cultural information.
HISTORIC GEM - The Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center has opened on the first floor of the Historic Pima County Courthouse in downtown Tucson. The center features interactive travel information focusing on history, culture, food, ecology and recreation in Southern Arizona, and it includes a gift shop of locally sourced merchandise. Also in the Historic Pima County Courthouse, the University of Arizona Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum, one of the world's finest collections of gems, minerals and meteorites, will be housed in an 11,7000-square-foot, state-of-the-art exhibition gallery slated to open in late fall 2020.
Featured Annual Events
TUCSON JAZZ FESTIVAL – The only major jazz festival in January in the USA, the annual Tucson Jazz Festival presents 10 days of live music featuring legends and emerging talents of all jazz genres, from straight-ahead to contemporary, at outdoor and indoor downtown venues like the Fox Tucson Theatre and Rialto Theatre as well as at the free Downtown Jazz Fiesta presented on Martin Luther King Jr Day. January 2021
TUCSON DESERT SONG FESTIVAL - The Tucson Desert Song Festival (TDSF) fills concert halls in February with singing in orchestral, chamber, choral, and solo formats. Performers include internationally celebrated soloists and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra (Arizona's oldest continuing professional performing arts organization, formed in 1929), Tucson Chamber Artists, UA Presents, Arizona Opera and others, in conjunction with master classes and lectures at University of Arizona School of Music. January-February 2021
TUCSON GEM, MINERAL & FOSSIL SHOWCASE - In early February, the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase attracts serious collectors and everyday treasure hunters seeking gems, minerals, beads, fossils, jewelry, apparal and much more. This big event consists of more than 40 different shows spread out at at dozens of locations, ranging from resort hotels and exhibit halls to roadside tents and vacant lots. Most shows are open to the public with free admission. February 2021
24 HOURS IN THE OLD PUEBLO - Tucson's own Epic Rides presents 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, one of the largest 24-hour endurance events of its kind in the world; this single-track mountain bike ride in Sonoran Desert terrain with outrageous costume-clad pedalers and DJ-spun tunes is so popular that registration sells out early every year. February 2021
TUCSON RODEO & PARADE - The Tucson Rodeo & Tucson Rodeo Parade salutes Tucson’s Old West spirit every February. The Tucson Rodeo is the first major outdoor event on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association schedule and the parade is the largest non-motorized parade in the United States. This event dates to 1925 when local ranch hands saddled their horses and hitched up their buggies for the annual “celebration of the cowboys.” February 20 - 28, 2021
COLOGUARD CLASSIC - PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS TOUR - The Cologuard Classic, a PGA TOUR Champions Tour event, is played in late February at Omni Tucson National Resort on its famed Catalina Course, a popular PGA venue since the 1960s. The 78-player field features legends of pro golf who compete for a $1.7 million purse. The event’s no-cut format includes three days of competition with players participating in pro-am events. Steve Stricker won the 2018 tournament. February 21 - 28, 2021
TUCSON FESTIVAL OF BOOKS - In mid-March, the Tucson Festival of Books features panel presentations by best-selling and emerging authors; writer workshops; chef demonstrations; storytelling and a literary circus; programming for teens; a poetry venue; exhibitor booths; live entertainment; food vendors. The festival takes place on the University of Arizona Mall during the university’s Spring Break, so visitors have the beautiful campus and its parking spaces, virtually to themselves. March 2021
TUCSON INTERNATIONAL MARIACHI CONFERENCE - The Tucson International Mariachi Conference brings together masters of Mexican folk music and dance and talented students from around the country for workshops and performances. The three public concerts include: Espectacular Concert, featuring the world’s best and brightest mariachi musicians and folklorico dancers, a traditional Catholic Mariachi Mass, and the family-friendly Fiesta de Garibaldi. April 2021
AGAVE HERITAGE FESTIVAL - Agave Heritage Festival is a two-week-long fiesta on or near May 5 that celebrates the art, science, and cultural traditions behind the practice of producing agave-based spirits and other products.The fiesta extols the indigenous agave plant with a tradeshow, seminars, workshops, demonstrations, and tastings of tequilas, mezcals, sotols, and bacanoras at Hotel Congress and several other Tucson venues, indoors and outdoors. Programs and guest speakers hail from both sides of the United States-Mexico border. April 2021
TUCSON 23: MEXICAN FOOD FESTIVAL - Samplings of some of the most authentic and delicious food available north of the international border is offered by local restaurants and breweries at the Tucson 23: Mexican Food Festival, a toast to Tucson’s “Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food” distinction. June 2021
ALL SOULS PROCESSION - The All Souls Procession is a people-powered Tucson tradition blending rituals of All Souls Day and Dia de los Muertos. Myriad altars, performers, installation art, and creatives of all kinds collaborate for almost half the year to prepare their costumes and offerings for this amazing event that draws roughly 150,000 participants in early November. This year it will be held virtually on November 6-8, 2020.
EL TOUR DE TUCSON - Every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Tucson hosts an epic installment of El Tour de Tucson. The largest perimeter bicycling event in the United States is a fun adventure ride attracting an average 9,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities from throughout the United States and worldwide, consisting of novice, intermediate, advanced, and professional riders. November 2020 event is postponed until April 10, 2021.
TAMAL & HERITAGE FEST - Celebrate the rich tastes, smells and variations of tamales from the Southwest and Mexico, and discover the culinary tradition of making tamales for Christmas at the annual Tamal & Heritage Fest at AVA Amphitheater at Casino Del Sol Resort. Concerts by mariachi bands and performances by Mexican folk-dancers amp up this borderland celebration. December 2020.
NOVA® HOME LOANS ARIZONA BOWL - Tucson's official football festival, the annual NOVA® Home Loans Arizona Bowl plays at Arizona Stadium on the University of Arizona campus in December. This annual post-season college football game matches teams from the Mountain West and the Sun Belt conferences (teams are announced in the fall) and is televised by CBS Sports Network. December 2020
TUCSON #41 IN RESONANCE'S "AMERICA'S BEST CITIES" - Tucson was ranked #41 out of the top 100 city profiles. The 2020 report showcases the best cities across the country with metropolitan populations of 500,000 or greater—where a high quality of life extends beyond incomes and infrastructure to include a dynamic culture fueled by a diverse, creative community.
TUCSON NAMED A TOP U.S. CITY FOR CYCLING - PeopleForBikes has released its third annual ratings of the best cities for bicycling in the U.S. Tucson ranks 13th overall. The PeopleForBikes City Ratings program is a data-driven analysis that evaluates more than 550 cities and towns and shows city leaders how they can invest to make bicycling better for all residents and visitors. Tucson performed well in acceleration, ridership, and safety.
MONSOON CHOCOLATE WINS 2 MORE INTERNATIONAL CHOCOLATE AWARDS IN WORLD FINALS - Monsoon Chocolate was recognized with 2 additional awards in the World Finals while competing with other award-winning companies from all of over the world. This brings the total to 16 International Chocolate Awards received in 2019.
TUCSON RANKED 37 OUT OF 50 BEST LARGE U.S. CITIES – Tucson was ranked #37 out of the 50 best large cities in the United States, per Resonance Consultancy’s 2019 America’s Best Cities report, issued in June 2019: “Arizona’s second city is ascending fast, with bold city leadership, placemaking, and food scene dating back millennia.”
VISIT TUCSON NAMED 'TOURISM LEADER OF THE YEAR' - The Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association (AzLTA) named Visit Tucson the Tourism Leader of the Year for 2019.
TUCSON INCLUDED ON SEVERAL LISTS FOR TOP TRAVEL DESTINATION S IN 2019 - On Oct. 7, 2018, Tucson was featured in TripAdvisor’s list of “7 Rising U.S. Cities That Should Be On Your 2019 Travel Bucket List". On November 26, 2018, Tucson was included on “Fodor’s Go List 2019” and on December 13, 2019, Tucson was featured on Orbitz’s list of “19 best places to travel in 2019.”
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