The Perfect Weekend

Known for beautiful sunsets, charming adobe bungalows and eclectic art, Tucson is a modern metropolis with a vibrant, artistic heart. The city’s thriving culinary and cultural scenes paired with the vast landscapes of the Sonoran Desert make for a dream weekend getaway.

Day 1

Fuel Up. Start your day off right with a stop at Savaya Coffee for fair-trade brew and a fresh, organic pastry served at the mesquite wood bar.

Hike the Sonoran Desert. Kick off your weekend in the desert with a hike through the scenic Sabino Canyon, where you’ll be surrounded by majestic cliffs, towering cactuses, and in the right season, a few small waterfalls. There are trails for every level and even a tram through the canyon if you want a more leisurely experience.

Test Your Spice Tolerance. Part of the Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food, the family-owned Crossroads Restaurant in South Tucson offers authentic Mexican food in a friendly, fun atmosphere. Just be careful with the salsa—it gets hotter with each bite!

Walk the Local Strip. Fourth Avenue is a lively, walkable strip of locally owned shops, restaurants, bars and art. Grab coffee or a beer at Café Passé, browse the curated selection of musical gems at Wooden Tooth Records and find your new favorite vintage tee at How Sweet it Was.

Tour the Campus Arboretum. Spend a few hours browsing the University of Arizona’s impressive collection of desert-adapted plants—the Joseph Krutch cactus garden is a must-see for desert lovers. If you arrive to campus early enough, stop by the renowned Center for Creative Photography, which exhibits images from its collection of masters, Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon and Edward Weston.

Dine and Dance with the Locals. La Cocina offers a one-of-a-kind patio experience situated in a downtown adobe compound. The outdoor cantina features a large menu with healthy and indulgent options alike, a full bar with a colorful drink menu and live music almost daily. If you arrive early, you can explore the shops and art exhibits that surround the patio.

Day 2

Grab a Burrito to Go. Stop by Tania’s 33 on your way out of town and choose from their long list of custom burrito options wrapped in a handmade tortilla (a great option for vegetarians, too).

Visit a Historic Mission. Known as the Dove of the Desert, San Xavier Del Bac is a white-stucco, ornate church that dates back to the 1700s and is now a National Historic Landmark. Visit the museum, walk through the church and explore the grounds—but keep in mind that the church is still in active use, so there may be a service in session when you’re there.

An Instagram-Worthy Lunch. The charming 5 Points restaurant and patio is located on a sharp edge of the five points intersection that, as its name suggests, is a convergence of five streets. The farmers market-inspired food and the space itself are both made for photo-ops—you can’t miss the notorious “Ugly but Honest” sign overlooking the patio.

Treat Yourself. Known for beautifully designed clothing, accessories and home goods, Bon is a locally-owned, Francophile-inspired boutique located next to 5 Points. Pick up a few souvenirs to take home.

Explore the Barrio. As the home of the largest collection of 19th-century adobe buildings in the United States, Barrio Viejo, which translates to "Old Neighborhood," certainly lives up to its name. Some of Tucson’s most photogenic streets and houses are located here.

Sip on Craft Beer. On your way to dinner, stop by Tucson’s downtown brewery, Pueblo Vida. Tucked into an unassuming downtown nook, Pueblo Vida has brick walls, wood tables and a thoughtful beer menu that’s guaranteed to have one of your favorite varieties.

Have Dinner in the Heart of it All. Possibly Tucson’s most well-known establishment, Hotel Congress is a historic hotel that includes a restaurant, three bars, live music, 40 hotel rooms and more. Cup Cafe, the hotel’s signature restaurant, offers a delicious menu with something for everyone. Don’t miss the nearly famous pie case, full of house-baked treats.

A Local Nightcap. Top off the night with an Arizona-made wine, beer or spirit at Good Oak Bar. Enjoy your beverage while watching the bustle of downtown’s streets, and be sure to snap a selfie in the photo booth on your way out.

Day 3

Enjoy a Cup of Coffee with a Mexican Twist. Local favorite Exo Coffee is a roaster and shop offering craft coffee and a simple breakfast menu. Enjoy your standard cup of joe, or indulge in their creative takes on classic espresso drinks, like the mole latte or chiltepin cold brew.

Step into Tucson’s History. Travel back in time at the mission of the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson, which was originally built in the late 18th century as a military fort for the Spanish Army. Excavated and reconstructed in 2006, it provides a living example of what life was like for early settlers in the Old Pueblo.

An Artistic Lunch. Just down the street from El Presidio, you’ll find the Tucson Museum of Art and its cafe, which is located in an 1860’s adobe house next to the museum. The Monet-inspired patio and garden is one of the most charming spots in Tucson and a great place to enjoy lunch al fresco.

Explore the Exhibits. The Tucson Museum of Art houses an eclectic mixture of local artists and world-renowned collections. What better way to digest your food than by walking the gallery grounds?

Befriend a Snake. It’s not a great idea to befriend just any snake, so trust this one to the experts at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Here, kids and adults alike will have a blast getting up close and personal with some of the 230 animal species who call these 21 acres home. Whether you’ve always wanted to pet a stingray, say hi to a scorpion, or stand below birds of prey as they show off their impressive soaring talents, you’re sure to get the true desert experience here.

Visit a Saguaro Forest. Grab some snacks, a light jacket and a camera and head to Saguaro National Park West. Taking Gates Pass Road, you’ll drive through miles of thick saguaro stands unlike any forest you’ve ever seen. Park at one of the many pullouts, and watch the sun set over the mountains in all its neon glory.

Downtown Dinner. An offshoot of local institution El Charro, Charro Steak serves locally sourced, ranch-to-table fare in a hip, modern space. Pair your plate with a snifter of tequila or mezcal for a perfect evening in Tucson’s city center.

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