Tucson: Discovering the Nicest Parts of the City
Tucson is a vibrant city located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Visitors and locals alike can enjoy a unique mix of natural beauty, cultural richness, and modern amenities. Although the bustling downtown, historic landmarks, and world-renowned attractions are well-known, there are still some hidden gems in Tucson that are waiting to be discovered. Here are some of the nicest parts of Tucson that you should not miss:
Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Sabino Canyon is a breathtaking oasis of waterfalls, streams, and towering saguaros. The canyon offers a variety of trails for hikers, cyclists, and nature enthusiasts, ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks. You can also take a tram tour or a guided hike to learn about the history, geology, and wildlife of the area. Despite its popularity, Sabino Canyon has managed to preserve its natural beauty and tranquility, making it a must-visit destination for anyone who loves nature.
Tucson Botanical Gardens
If you are looking for a green escape from the desert heat, Tucson Botanical Gardens is the place to go. Spanning over 5 acres, the gardens feature a diverse collection of flora from around the world, including cacti, succulents, wildflowers, and tropical plants. You can wander through themed gardens, such as the Zen garden, the butterfly garden, and the herb garden, or attend workshops, concerts, and cultural events that take place throughout the year. The gardens are also home to a charming gift shop and a café that serves organic food and drinks.
Mission San Xavier del Bac
Often referred to as the “White Dove of the Desert,” Mission San Xavier del Bac is a stunning example of Spanish colonial architecture and religious art. Located about 10 miles south of Tucson, the mission was founded in 1692 by Jesuit missionary Eusebio Kino and later expanded by Franciscan friars. The exterior of the mission features intricate carvings, colorful tiles, and a bell tower, while the interior boasts painted murals, statues, and altars that tell the story of Christianity and Native American culture through the eyes of the Spanish colonizers. The mission is open to visitors daily, and guided tours are available.
Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway
For a scenic drive that takes you from the desert floor to the alpine forest, Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway is a must-do. The 27-mile road winds through the Santa Catalina Mountains, offering sweeping views of Tucson and the surrounding valleys. Along the way, you can stop at various overlooks, picnic areas, and hiking trails that showcase different landscapes and ecosystems. At the top of the mountain, you will find the village of Summerhaven, a charming retreat that offers shops, restaurants, cabins, and a ski resort in the winter. Whether you are a nature lover or a road tripper, Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway is an unforgettable experience.
Mercado San Agustin
Located in the heart of Tucson’s west side, Mercado San Agustin is a vibrant marketplace that celebrates local food, culture, and community. The market features a variety of shops, restaurants, and events that showcase the best of Tucson’s creativity and diversity. You can sample authentic Mexican tacos, sip artisanal coffee, shop for handmade crafts, or attend concerts, movies, and festivals that take place in the outdoor courtyard. The market is also a hub for sustainable transportation, with bike rentals, bike repair services, and access to the Tucson streetcar that connects downtown to the university area. Mercado San Agustin is not only a great destination for shopping and dining but also a reflection of Tucson’s modern urban spirit.
In conclusion, Tucson is full of hidden gems that offer a glimpse into the city’s natural beauty, cultural heritage, and contemporary lifestyle. Whether you are interested in hiking, gardening, history, scenic drives, or local markets, there is something for everyone to discover and enjoy. By exploring these nicest parts of Tucson, you can enrich your experience and create lasting memories of this remarkable city.