The Tucson Region
The Place to Be Since 1200 B.C.
It's no accident that the Tucson region is home to more than a million residents and hosts more than 7 million visitors a year. There's something magical about this place where the Santa Cruz and Rillito Rivers converge, where five mountain ranges form a protected valley, and where majestic saguaros stand guard on the desert floor while aspen and pine whisper high above them on mountain peaks.
Early History of Tucson
Located in Southern Arizona, Tucson was founded on August 20, 1776—an event celebrated annually at Tucson's birthday party, La Fiesta de San Agustín. But people had long before feeling something special here and made it their home. In fact, the area we call Tucson is one of the oldest continually inhabited areas in North America.
Hohokam Indians lived and farmed here for 4,000 years before Spanish missionaries and soldiers arrived in the late 1600s and established local landmarks such as the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson and the Mission San Xavier del Bac—the two most iconic and historic structures in the region. "The Old Pueblo," as the adobe-walled Presidio became known, remains one of Tucson's nicknames to this day.
Tucson in the 1800s
All of Arizona, south of the Gila River was legally bought from Mexico as part of the Gadsden Purchase on June 8, 1854, and Tucson officially became a part of the United States of America. During what is commonly referred to as the "Old West" era (1860 to 1880) Tucson was the battleground of many clashes between cattle ranchers, settlers, miners, and the Apache Indians.
In 1877, Tucson was incorporated as a city, making it the oldest city in Arizona, and with the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1880, Tucson's multicultural roots expanded and deepened as new residents adopted customs of both the Tohono O'odham Indians, Mexicans and early settlers that were already living here.
Tucson is situated in the eastern portion of Pima County, Arizona in one of the lushest valleys found in the Sonoran Desert. Surrounded by five unique mountain ranges, opportunities for outdoor exploration are endless. A quick drive along the Catalina Highway-Sky Island National Scenic Byway can take you from the lower elevations of the valley floor to the summit of Mt. Lemmon at 9,157 feet. In roughly an hour this scenic drive traverses seven of the world's nine life zones—the span of ecosystems you'd see driving from Mexico to Canada.
The city is bordered on all sides by protected natural areas: Coronado National Forest, Catalina State Park, Ironwood Forest National Monument, and Saguaro National Parks East and West (the best places to see the giant saguaro cactus native only to Southern Arizona and Native Mexico).
Because of the variety of terrain and proximity to protected areas and parks Tucson is widely considered one of the world's best destinations for activities such as hiking, cycling, rock climbing, horseback riding, and just about anything else you would want to do outdoors.
Boasting an average 350 sunny days a year and warm dry air, Tucson's climate is ideal for outdoor recreation, with winter temperatures reaching average highs of 64-75°F. Summer days are often hot with low humidity—great for indoor activities like museums, art galleries, and shopping or relaxing indoor or poolside at one of the area's world-famous spas or resorts. Cool mornings and evenings and long twilight hours throughout summer make for memorable cookouts, patio dining, and activities like hiking and horseback riding. Golf can be enjoyed year-round with a host of pro-level courses. In summer months both early morning and late afternoon tee times are available at reduced prices, making it even easier to hit the links.
Tucson grew out of the dangers, opportunities and cultural crossings of the Old West. Today, that heritage shapes us without limiting who we are: a destination that hosts nearly 7 million visitors a year; a place known for outstanding hiking and outdoor adventures, rich cultural traditions, a vibrant arts scene, world-class golf and great dining; and a thriving desert home to more than 1 million residents. Designated as the first UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in the United States, Tucson is also known worldwide for its culinary traditions and an amazing assortment of restaurants, including those that comprise The Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food - without a doubt the premier destination for Mexican Food in the entire U.S.
The second-largest city in Arizona and the county seat of Pima County, Tucson is centered around the smaller towns of Oro Valley, Marana, Catalina, South Tucson (an independent municipality just south of downtown), Sahuarita, Vail, and Green Valley.
Tucson is home to the University of Arizona—established as Arizona's first university in 1885 and now a campus of more than 50,000 students and staff from around the world. Tucson also hosts a large number of annual events drawing participants and spectators from around the world, including The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, All Souls Procession, La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (Tucson Rodeo), Tucson Festival of Books, Tucson International Mariachi Conference, El Tour de Tucson road bike race, and Cologuard Classic, a Tucson PGA TOUR Champions Tour Event.
This desert oasis is not only a premier vacation destination but also a great place to live, work, and play – Tucson is the Southwest at its best.
Governmental Partnerships with the City of Tucson, Pima County, and the Town of Oro Valley are a vital component of Visit Tucson's mission to positively impact regional economic development efforts via tourism. Click Here for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.
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