What's New in Tucson?
Follow developments related to the travel and tourism industry in Tucson and Southern Arizona.
'World Festival & Event City' Designation
TUCSON AMONG 9 RECOGNIZED CITIES WORLDWIDE - Tucson was named a “World Festival & Event City” by the International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA) in September 2017. The recognition acknowledges the city’s "community leadership and ongoing, concerted efforts to provide and support a positive local environment that is conducive to and encourages the success and growth of festivals and events." Tucson supports more than 40 annual festivals and events and many others throughout every month of the year. Tucson is among nine other cities globally that received the designation in 2017. Read the press release here.
AMERICAN AIRLINES TO OPEN NEW CONNECTIONS WITH NONSTOP TUCSON-CHARLOTTE FLIGHTS - In February, 2018 American Airlines introduced nonstop flights between Tucson International Airport (TUS) and Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT). The new daily service is an overnight flight from Tucson timed to give southern Arizonans quick and convenient connections to destinations along the East Coast and the southeast U.S. as well as destinations in the Caribbean. Coming to Tucson, the flight gives passengers from the East the opportunity to jump start their day with a morning arrival. From Tucson, the early morning arrival in Charlotte is timed to connect with 73 other destinations on American Airlines and arrive at nearly all of them before lunch.
ALASKA AIRLINES LAUNCHES NONSTOP SERVICE BETWEEN SJC AND TUS - Alaska Airlines launched daily nonstop service between Tucson (TUS) and Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) on August 28, 2017, which provides quicker access to Tucson and the tech company campuses of Silicon Valley and south Bay Area. The flight leaves San Jose at 5:35 p.m. each evening, arriving in Tucson at 7:45 p.m. The return flight departs Tucson at 7 a.m., arriving in San Jose at 9:24 a.m. Nonstop service is aboard an Embraer 175 jet featuring 12 seats in first class and 64 coach seats.
SUN COUNTRY LAUNCHES NONSTOP SERVICE BETWEEN MSP AND TUS - Sun Country Airlines returned to Tucson International Airport in December 2017, launching seasonal nonstop service between Tucson (TUS) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP). The flight will operate three days a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays) through April 15, 2018. The flight departs Minneapolis-St. Paul at 7:55 a.m. and arrives in Tucson at 10:20 a.m. The return flight departs Tucson at 11:10 a.m., arriving in Minneapolis at 3:10 p.m. Nonstop service will be aboard a Boeing 737-700 featuring 12 first-class recliner seats and 114 coach seats.
Downtown Tucson Development
MULTI-USE SPACE UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN DOWNTOWN - City Park, a retail-restaurant-office complex, under development by Bourn Companies at 40 E. Congress Street in downtown Tucson, is scheduled to open in mid-2018. The first floor of the proposed five-story City Park building will house a food hall; the first floors of the existing neighboring buildings will house two new anchor restaurants, one on each side. The three buildings will be connected through spacious ground-floor patios. The second floor of the new building will house an entertainment venue that will include a bowling alley, a pinball arcade, a bar and a private event space. The top level will offer more available flexible space for either retail or offices and a 2,600-square-foot deck for outdoor events like conferences or concerts.
SHIPPING CONTAINERS TO PROVIDE RETAIL & RESTAURANT SPACE - The Mercado San Agustin (MSA) will soon double the number of locally owned small businesses located along Avenida del Convento. Under construction just south of the Mercado, the MSA Annex will feature shops and restaurants housed inside modified shipping containers. Some of the new businesses will include a bar with craft beer and wine, a plant-based burger shop, a ramen noodle food truck, an ice cream store, a clothing boutique, and more. The site also will be home to a 500-seat festival grounds for community events. MSA Annex is on the western terminus of the Sun Link streetcar line, just west of Tucson's Downtown Core. A MSA Annex Grand Opening is scheduled for Saturday, May 5, 2018, 7 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Hotels & Resorts
TUBAC GOLF RESORT & SPA JOINS AAA FOUR-DIAMOND HOTEL LIST - Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, located south of downtown Tucson at the base of the Santa Rita Mountains, has been awarded the 2018 AAA Four-Diamond hotel rating for excellence in service and amenities. The Spanish Revival-style property, a member of Historic Hotels of America, recently completed upgrades to its swimming pool, guest rooms, and patio at its iconic Stables Ranch Grille. This is the first time Tubac Golf Resort & Spa has attained this ranking.
WHITE STALLION RANCH RANKED IN TRIPADVISOR TOP 25 LIST - White Stallion Ranch ranked #19 on TripAdvisor’s 2018 list of Top 25 Hotels for Customer Service in the U.S. TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice rankings are based on millions of traveler reviews. Located on 3,000 acres and bordering two miles of Saguaro National Park’s West District, White Stallion Ranch has been owned and operated by the True family of Tucson for more than 50 years.
RENOVATIONS UNDERWAY AT DOUBLETREE BY HILTON TUCSON-REID PARK - Locally-owned Nor Hotel Properties, LLC, has acquired DoubleTree by Hilton Tucson – Reid Park, 445 S. Alvernon Way, with plans to begin a large-scale renovation of the 287 guest room hotel, including 25,000 square feet of meeting space, the hotel lobby, bar, and two restaurants during the next 18 months. Renovation is underway to the hotel lobby, bar and two restaurants. The hotel ballroom, meeting rooms and courtyards will be remodeled next summer, and the hotel’s guest rooms will be completed by the fall of 2018.
MARRIOTT'S NEWEST ARIZONA HOTEL OPEN IN DOWNTOWN TUCSON - Tucson’s newest downtown hotel opened in mid-September 2017. The eight-story AC Hotel Tucson Downtown, located on the Sun Link Streetcar route, is the first hotel to be built in downtown Tucson in over 40 years. The all-new hotel features 136 rooms, a rooftop pool and poolside bar, a restaurant, a fitness center, a 200-space public parking garage, and nearly 6,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. The top three floors contain the hotel's guest rooms. The next four floors below constitute a parking garage. On the bottom floor is the lobby and lounge. Six of the 136 rooms are suites. The hotel’s amenities for business travelers and small groups include an on-site business center with fax and copy services plus Wi-Fi in all areas, the latest high-tech equipment, and catering services ideal for corporate meetings, training sessions or presentations.
EMBASSY SUITES HILTON TUCSON PALOMA VILLAGE COMPLETES RENOVATION - The Embassy Suites by Hilton Tucson Paloma Village completed a 12 month, $2.8M renovation of its guestrooms and public spaces in August 2017. Located at Skyline Drive and Campbell Avenue in Tucson, the hotel is 7 miles from the University of Arizona and 15 miles from Tucson International Airport. The hotel features 2,700 square feet of indoor meeting space, including three meeting rooms, as well as a heated outdoor pool, business center, a small gift shop and a fitness center. For details, visit the hotel's website here.
REVIVED HISTORIC DUDE RANCH REOPENS SOUTH OF TUCSON - Rancho de la Osa, historic ranch that includes one of the last great Spanish Haciendas standing in America, was purchased, refurbished and reopened in May 2017; it was subsequently accepted as an accredited member of the Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA), the seal of approval for upholding the highest standards in the industry. The fully restored property dates from the 1700s; it was operated as a guest ranch from 1925 to 2014. Its 10 buildings include an adobe structure reputed to be the oldest continually used building in Arizona. Former guest John Wayne and his crew stayed here when filming in southern Arizona. “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell wrote while she wintered at the ranch. William Clayton drafted parts of the Marshall Plan from his desk at the ranch. The ranch is secluded on 240 acres, roughly 70 miles southwest of Tucson, near Sasabe on the U.S.-Mexico border, adjacent to the 117,000-acre Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. The new owners have retained the emphasis on history and cuisine but have brought back horses and cattle and add adventure-style experiences such as rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, stargazing.
PRESIDIO DISTRICT HOSTS NEW CITY OF GASTRONOMY TOUR The Presidio District in downtown Tucson launched a new culinary walking tour in March 2018. The new tour focuses on Tucson's agricultural heritage in celebration of Tucson’s UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation. “The Presidio District Experience: A Progressive Food Heritage and History Tour” features food tastings at restaurants in the district and discussion led by local ethnobotanist Martha Burgess. Both New World foods grown by the Tohono O’Odham Nation and Old World foods brought here initially by Spanish explorers can be found on Tucson menus, and many restaurants in the Presidio District highlight such local ingredients. The cost of the tour is $50/person and pre-registration is required. Tour dates and other information are available at www.TucsonPresidio.com.
El GUERO CANELO WINS JAMES BEARD AWARD WITH SONORAN HOT DOGS - El Guero Canelo, a popular vendor of Tucson’s famous Sonoran-style hot dogs, has won one of five 2018 America's Classic James Beard Awards, to be given out in Chicago on Monday, May 7, 2018. Sonoran hot dogs are a true-cross border creation, especially in the case of El Guero Canelo, which opened in 1993 as a food cart (the original cart can be seen at their Oracle location, one of three in Tucson). The buns, thick, fluffy bolillo rolls, are baked for El Guero in Magdalena, Mexico and brought north, ready to hold the long parade of ingredients - bacon-wrapped dog, pinto beans, raw and grilled onions, tomatoes, jalapeño sauce, mayonnaise, and mustard. See it for yourself here.
ANELLO PIZZERIA OPENS IN WAREHOUSE ARTS DISTRICT - Anello Pizzeria opened in a red-brick space at 222 E. 6th St., in the Warehouse Arts District, downtown Tucson, in October 2017. The restaurant serves wood-fired, hand-tossed pizza made with fermented natural sourdough and fresh ingredients. The menu is designed to “not break your wallet,” with pizzas priced around $11 and most other items capped at around $6. The owner and pizza maker, Scott Girod, previously worked under legendary pizza maker Chris Bianco.
CULINARY DROPOUT AT GRANT ROAD LUMBER YARD - Restaurateur Sam Fox opened Culinary Dropout at the site of former Tucson landmark Grant Road Lumber in September 2017. The 20,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor space, with 12,000 square feet enclosed and seating for about 400, has a full dining room and bar, an outdoor gaming area, and a 150-person private dining and event space. The menu features comfort food/gastro-pub fare and cocktails. Tucson native Sam Fox launched his restaurant empire in his hometown in 1998. This is his sixth Culinary Dropout location and the newest Fox Restaurant Concepts space in Tucson.
TEA HOUSE ADDS DOWNTOWN TUCSON LOCATION - The Scented Leaf Tea House & Lounge opened its second location, at 308 E. Congress Street in downtown Tucson in August 2017, following the success of its popular original site on University Boulevard, adjacent to the University of Arizona. The Scented Leaf is known for selling premium, loose leaf, organic teas on tap (iced or hot) as well as smoothies and some snack items. The downtown location features four more teas on tap than the University Boulevard location’s original 12 and has 32 loose leaf teas available instead of 65.
NEW GUIDED TOURS OF SELECT CRAFT BREWERIES - Old Pueblo Brew Tours opened in spring 2017 in Tucson and offers a mobile artisan craft beer journey through some of the Old Pueblo's best breweries. Guests meet at a designated brewery and are shuttled by van during the tour. Brewery participants include the established Borderlands Brewing Co. and newbie Dillinger Brewing Co. Tours can be booked online.
ELECTRIC BIKE STORE OPENS NEAR THE LOOP - A Pedego® Electric Bikes store opened in Tucson on January 30, 2018. The new store offers electric bicycle (or “e-bike”) sales, rentals, and service; guided tours are in the works. Renters can choose from four models with two-hour, half-day, and full-day options, ranging from $30 to $125. Rental includes a lock, bag, helmet, and bottled water. A traditional non-electric pedal bike is available also. The new store is in St Philip’s Plaza adjacent to The Loop, the 131-mile network of multiuse trails and bike paths circling metro Tucson and connecting nature parks, restaurants, and shopping.
TUCSON COMPLETES THE LOOP CONTINUOUS BIKE PATH, MARCH 17 - On March 17, 2018 Pima County will celebrate completion of The Loop, a 131-mile system of paved, shared-use paths and short segments of buffered multi-use bike lanes that spans the metro area, allowing cyclists, pedestrians, joggers and equestrians an opportunity to enjoy our beautiful Sonoran Desert on paved, vehicle-free pathways. The Loop connects parks, trailheads, bus and bike routes, workplaces, restaurants, schools, hotels and motels, shopping areas, and entertainment venues.
TOPGOLF OPENS NEW LOCATION IN TUCSON - Global sports entertainment company Topgolf® opened its third Arizona location in Tucson, in December 2017. The 53,000-square-foot venue features 1,500 square feet of private event space, 72 climate-controlled hitting bays that can host up to six players at one time, and a restaurant and bar. Year-round programming will include events for kids and families, social leagues, golf tournaments, and golf instruction.
RENOVATION & EXPANSION AT TUCSON MUSEUM OF ART - Arizona's oldest visual arts institution, founded in 1924, the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block, in downtown Tucson's historic Presidio District, reopened in October 2017 after a three-month, roughly $750,000 renovation across the museum's existing four-acre campus. The updated space will be used to show more of the museum's 9,000-piece permanent collection, much of which was previously in storage, and to exhibit blockbuster traveling exhibitions. The renovation has resulted in more room for the museum's Art of the American West collection, which includes works by artists that currently live or have lived in the American Southwest. The Historic Block row of adobe homes is open free of charge; the gift shop, featuring items made by primarily local artisans, has been enlarged; and a new Creative Space for children to make art has been added.
PACKRAT 'MIDDENS' FOCUS OF NEW EXHIBIT AT DESERT MUSEUM - Packrat "middens" are among the best records of environmental change over the last 50,000 years in the Southwestern United States. Learn about these treasure troves -- actually, trash piles near the houses of packrats -- at the newest exhibit at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, “Packrat Playhouse: Hidden in the Midden,” scheduled to open in spring 2018. Kids can scramble around this exhibit, which features a large, indoor play and learning space that simulates a packrat house, with prickly pear cactus and cholla stems on spider webs. Adults will learn about the habitat and habits of packrats in the Sonoran Desert. This exhibit, like all others at the museum, exists to augment and interpret the natural surroundings of the Sonoran Desert region.
TUCSON DESERT SONG FESTIVAL - The Tucson Desert Song Festival (TDSF) takes over concert halls in midtown Tucson every February. The festival blends singing in orchestral, chamber, choral, and solo formats and features internationally celebrated soloists along with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra (formed in 1929-the oldest continuing professional performing arts organization in Arizona), Tucson Chamber Artists, UA Presents, Arizona Opera and others, in conjunction with master classes and lectures at the University of Arizona School of Music.
TUCSON HOSTS NORTH AMERICA’S LARGEST GEM SHOW - In late January, early February every year, Tucson hosts the world of international gem and mineral trading, collecting, and bargain-hunting during the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. Tucson's “gem show” actually includes over 40 different shows at dozens of locations, ranging from resort hotels and exhibit halls to roadside tents and vacant lots. The mix of vendors varies from year to year, and most shows are open to the public with free admission. While this event attracts serious collectors from around the world, it's the “treasure hunt” that makes it one of the biggest and best events of its kind. Thousands of people from all walks of life come to gawk at gold, oooh over opals, and dig fossils.
'TUCSON RODEO' & 'TUCSON RODEO PARADE' SALUTE COWBOY CULTURE - The largest non-motorized parade in the United States dates back to 1925 when Tucsonans saddled their horses and hitched up their buggies for the “celebration of the cowboys.” Today, an estimated 200,000 spectators view the two-hour spectacle, which still includes western-themed floats and buggies, horse-drawn coaches, Mexican folk dancers, marching bands, and outfitted riders. The Tucson Rodeo, the first major outdoor event on the PRCA schedule, gives visitors an opportunity to see authentic cowboys and cowgirls display their abilities in the only sport in the world developed from work skills. The Tucson Rodeo and Tucson Rodeo Parade salutes Tucson’s Old West spirit every February.
'TUCSON FESTIVAL OF BOOKS CELEBRATES LITERACY - In mid-March, the Tucson Festival of Books celebrates from the University of Arizona Mall with a program that 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 during the university’s Spring Break, so visitors have the beautiful campus, and its parking spaces, virtually to themselves.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS RETURN TO TUCSON EVERY YEAR - 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, in 2018, competed for a $1.7 million purse with $255,000 and 255 Charles Schwab Cup points for the winner. The event’s no-cut format includes three days of competition (Friday-Sunday) with players participating in pro-am events on Wednesday and Thursday. Veteran golfer Steve Stricker won the 2018 tournament.
'AGAVE HERITAGE WEEK' EXTOLS INDIGENOUS PLANT - To mark Cinco de Mayo, Agave Heritage Week is a weeklong fiesta on or near May 5 for ages 21-and-over that celebrates the art, science, and cultural traditions behind the production of agave-based spirits.The fiesta extols the indigenous agave plant with a tradeshow, seminars, and tastings of tequilas, mezcals, sotols, and bacanoras at Hotel Congress and several other downtown Tucson venues. The full week allows for strong influences, such as guest speakers and cocktail-making demonstrations, from both sides of the United States-Mexico border.
LARGEST PERIMETER CYCLING EVENT IN U.S. CIRCLES TUCSON - Every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Tucson hosts another epic installment of the city’s one-and-only El Tour de Tucson presented by Casino Del Sol Resort. The largest perimeter bicycling event in the United States features 106- 76-, 54-, 37, and 28-mile rides, and the Fun Ride of 11, 5, or 1/4 miles. “El Tour” 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.
'ALL SOULS PROCESSION' MOVES IN MEMORY OF LOVED ONES - The All Souls Procession is a people-powered and volunteer-driven grassroots Tucson event described as one of the most inclusive and authentic public ceremonies in North America today. In early November, over 150,000 participants fill the streets of downtown Tucson for the two-mile-long Procession, which ends with a performance that includes a ceremonial burning of the contents of a large urn -- filled with notes onto which participants have written prayers, hopes, offerings, and wishes for those who have passed -- that is hoisted above the crowd. 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.
'TAMAL & HERITAGE FEST' HIGHLIGHTS HAND-CRAFTED TREATS - 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. Sample tamale-making contest entries made with meat, cheeses, veggies, chiles, sweets, and other traditional Southwestern spices wrapped into one package. Concerts by mariachi bands and performances by Mexican folk-dancers amp up this borderland celebration.
TUCSON NAMED 14 OF 20 'HIPPEST CITIES' FOR UNDER-30 CROWD - #14 of 20 - Tucson was named to the list of "Hippest Cities in the US Everyone Under 30 Wants to Move To" by MoveHub, reported in BusinessInsider, December 2017. "There's plenty to do in Tucson, Arizona, whether you're looking to enjoy the natural beauty of the desert, explore the work of local artists, or check out trendy spots like a solar-powered cafe and bar."
TUCSON NAMED A BEST AMERICAN SMALL CITY - Tucson was named #2 of 10 "Best Small American Cities" (population under 1 million) for 2017 in a report by Resonance Consultancy, ResonanceCo.com, on June 15, 2017. Tucson came in second among small regions, behind Honolulu and ahead of tourism hubs such as Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Asheville. Tucson ranked highly in three of the six categories - first for product (which includes local institutions and attractions), second in programming (food, culture, nightlife and more), and third for promotion (the amount of news coverage and quality of online reviews). See the report summary here.
TUCSON ON THE BUSINESS INSIDER'S 'TOP 10 CITIES' LIST - Tucson ranked #9 on the Business Insider list of “10 US cities where everyone wants to live right now,” released June 6, 2017. Phoenix is the only other Arizona city on the list, ranked #6. The ranking was based on three data sources from realtor.com. See the article and top 10 list here.
TUCSON NAMED A CVENT TOP 50 MEETING U.S. DESTINATION - Tucson ranked #48 on Cvent's 2017 List of Top 50 Meeting Destinations in the United States. Tucson previously ranked in this list in 2016 (#49), in 2015 (#48), and in 2013 (#38). Cvent is a software-as-a-service company specializing in global meetings, event and travel management technology.
TUCSON NAMED A 'BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY' BY U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT - Tucson ranked #7 of the 12 "Best Weekend Getaways," based on analysis of expert and user opinions, by U.S. News & World Report's travel rankings, March 31, 2017.
TUCSON ON TRIPADVISOR'S TOP 10 DESTINATIONS ON THE RISE FOR 2017 - Tucson was selected by travelers as one of the top (#7) U.S. destinations on the rise, per TripAdvisor. Tucson’s history, culture, attractions, outdoor adventure, and the University of Arizona were prominently featured in the listing.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC INCLUDES TUCSON AMONG 2017 BEST WINTER TRIPS - Thanks to our great food scene, Tucson was recently included on National Geographic’s list of Best Winter Trips 2017, the only American city on the list.
TUCSON INCLUDED IN LIST OF TOP 5 UNDER-THE-RADAR FOOD TOWNS - Tucson topped this July 2016 list of top under-the-radar food towns as ranked by Wine Enthusiast.
MT. LEMMON HIGHLIGHTED AS ONE OF THE TOP 7 BIKE RIDES IN THE WORLD - Read about the top seven bike rides in the world in this June 2016 article in 1843, the ideas, culture and lifestyle magazine by The Economist.
Awards, Accolades & Annive…
Awards & Accolades Tucson Destination & Visit Tucson Partners (updated December 2017) #14 of 20 " Hippest Cities in the US Everyone Under 30 Wants... Read More
Events & Festivals
Come Together Over Events Events in Tucson and Southern Arizona are a snapshot of the city itself: all cultures, all politics, all walks of life,... Read More