A variety of half-day tours to connect you with Tucson's history.
El Presidio Historic District: Walking Tours Of Downtown
Your guide, dressed in authentic period costume, reveals Tucson's history by telling the stories of the people and places that frequented the areas of downtown that you visit on this tour, making history come alive. Bette Richards is a curator assistant at the Sosa Carrillo Fremont House Museum and has trained numerous tour guides and docents.
Tour the area where the Spanish first built their presidio (fort) in 1776. See the reconstruction of the presidio tower and hear the stories of these first Anglo settlers of Tucson. This tour includes the mansions of Main Street, built around 1900; the homes of pioneers Sam Hughes, Hiram Stevens, Edwin Fish, the Steinfeld house, and Casa Cordova; and Tucson's oldest shopping area, Old Town Artisans. The tour usually takes about 2 hours and varies depending on attendees' interests.
Tour the area of old 1800s' adobe homes and row houses common to early Tucson and Sonora, Mexico, including El Tiradito Shrine, Teatro Carmen, some of Tucson's favorite murals, Chinese groceries, and the site of one of Tucson's most horrendous crimes. This neighborhood had the town's first public park at Carrillo's Gardens. Tour includes Sosa Carrillo Fremont House when it is open. Many of the old adobe homes have been renovated and are occupied.
Your own shady lady tour guide will show you where the early red light district of Tucson was, including Maiden Lane and Gay Alley. You will hear the stories of the ladies of the night and their customers, as well as the police who looked over them. Learn the interesting stories of Anna Charaleau, George Hand, and Jesus Camacho.
Attendees: 4 min./25 max.
Length: 2 hours
Contact: Bette Richards
Arizona Historical Society
949 E. 2nd St., Tucson, AZ 85719
Historic Block Walking Tour: From Gadsden To Gatsby
On this half-day walking tour of the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block, discover the varied architectural styles found in the area. Along Main Avenue in Tucson's first neighborhood, the El Presidio Historic District, view Sonoran row houses, bungalows, and homes combining Spanish colonial and prairie elements. Also, tour the interior of the 1907 mission revival style J. Knox Corbett House and visit the Palice Pavilion for a glimpse of Art of the Americas. Afterward, spend time shopping at the Museum Shop, or stay longer at Café à la C'Art or another downtown eatery.
Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block
140 N. Main Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701
Historic Train Depot: Southern Arizona Transportation Museum Tour
The first passenger train arrived in Tucson on March 20, 1880, and the Southern Pacific Railroad quickly took hold, becoming a leading employer in the area. The railroad also brought numerous cultural changes. Suddenly the 10-day stage ride to San Francisco was only two days by train. Tucson was no longer a town cut off from the rest of the country by virtue of inaccessibility.
Visit the historic train depot in Tucson and experience this exciting history. Enter Locomotive #1673 for a close and personal look at this treasure that was almost lost. Learn about the 1882 depot incident involving Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp and take your picture next to their life-size bronze statues. Listen to audio of railroad stories, see a 1907-era depot diorama, and learn how the railroad changed Tucson forever.
Attendees: 1 min./150 max.
Length: 1.5 hours
Hours: Tues.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Contact: Laura Caywood Barker, Museum Director
Southern Arizona Transportation Museum
414 N. Toole Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701
More Tucson History Ideas
Arizona Historical Society
The Society runs Arizona's oldest historical museum. Displayed artifacts follow our history from Spanish conquistadors to statehood. (520) 628-5774; 949 E. 2nd St., central Tucson. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Arizona State Museum
Housing the results of more than 100 years of research, and displays amazing ancient and contemporary Native American cultural exhibits. (520) 621-6302, Park Ave. and University Blvd., University of Arizona campus. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 12-5 p.m.
ASARCO Mineral Discovery Center
Located off I-19 in Sahuarita, AZ. A modern open-pit copper mine featuring mill facility, exhibit center, historic equipment, picnic area, and extensive gift shop. Group discounts. (520) 625-7513.
Titan Missile Museum This museum showcases the dramatic vestiges of the Cold War in an underground missile complex.
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