Tucson Community Guide

Tucson is a thriving metropolitan area, renowned for its restaurants, history, Spanish influence and more. With ample sightseeing opportunities, it’s a perfect destination for a long weekend. Tucson’s elevation level is about 2,400 feet and you’ll notice the city is nestled between several mountain ranges.

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Tucson is a short 115-mile drive from Phoenix, but don’t mistake the Old Pueblo for the smaller state capital. Tucson is one of the Southwest’s oldest surviving cities, and it is proud of its heritage.

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Tucson Attractions

You can drive across dense stands of saguaro cactus, keep driving to the top of 9,157-foot Mount Lemmon, explore historic neighborhoods, and eat Sonoran-style Mexican cuisine at local-favorite restaurants no matter if you go for a day, a weekend, or longer.

Arizona Travel Guide

Summer road trips lead naturally to Arizona, where cooler weather is only a scenic drive away. In fact, Arizona has mountain ranges that rise above 12,000 feet and lakes and rivers in every area. Even in the hottest parts of the state, resorts have perfected lazing by the pool and taking full advantage of cool mornings and breathtaking night skies.

About Tucson

Tucson is one of the nation’s hot spots. Bring your camera and plenty of films–Tucson tourists are treated to spectacular scenery! Besides the cactus-studded desert scenery, mountains surround the valley where the city lies; to the north are the Santa Catalinas, the Santa Ritas range is in the south, the Rincons form the eastern side of Tucson’s border, and the Tucson Mountains are to the West. Awe-inspiring red and purple streaks across the sky meeting the mountaintops at sunset are a stunning sight. Be sure to drive into the desert outside the city limits to fully enjoy this wonder of nature. Visit smaller communities that are part of greater Tucson but have remained rural like the old west.

The moderate climate makes Tucson a great place to visit any time of year!  Inside and closely surrounding Tucson are several great attractions including the Sonoran Desert Museum, Tombstone, Tubac, Biosphere II, and Old Tucson Studios.   While you are here take advantage of  Tucson’s beautiful golf resorts and outdoor activities, including desert hiking, horseback riding trails, bird-watching tours, Colossal Cave, snow skiing at Mt. Lemmon, biking, and jogging/walking paths throughout the city.  Be sure to check with park rangers before you go biking or hiking in the desert about the local challenges. Be sure also to carry drinking water along; the low humidity and warm temperatures (Arizona’s famous “dry heat”) can cause dehydration.

Are you on a budget?  No matter, Tucson has accommodations for everyone.  The exclusive resort to the budget hotel is all on the menu.  We have hotels in the Tucson area at up to 40% off regular rates.  You can view individual hotel web pages with pictures and information, check real-time rates and availability quickly and securely before making your reservation.  We also have car rentals available from all the major car rental companies like Enterprise & Thrifty.  Car rental rates are displayed according to your dates of travel. Our goal is to make your vacation planning as easy and comfortable as the vacation itself.

You will never go hungry while in Tucson.  There will be many restaurants and cuisines ranging from the southwest’s favorite Mexican dishes to seafood to steaks and atmospheres ranging from casual to formal.  You will be able to choose from many restaurants.   Great food available any time of day or night is what you will find in Tucson.  Shopping is also on the menu.  Everything you could want from everyday items to unique souvenirs can be found right down the street at any of Tucson’s four major malls, strip centers, and neighborhood shops.

Tucson and Arizona Resources

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

February 8–11, 2024. The annual Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase – better known as the Gem Show – is a top winter event in Tucson, with mostly free shows held around town.

The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase is the largest exhibition of its kind in the country. Now in its 57th year, it takes place from January 29 through February 13, 2011. This annual extravaganza of earthly delights attracts everyone from jewelry lovers to rockhounds.

The Gem Show is part trade show, part marketplace. It consists of many individual shows and events, running concurrently in different places around the city. International buyers and sellers do serious business here during these two busy weeks, and access to some venues is restricted to trade-only. However, many other shows and events are open to the public, and most of them are free.

What to See at the Tucson Gem Show?

Whether you’re looking for fascinating fossils or a unique Valentine’s Day gift, the Tucson Gem Show is the perfect hunting ground. There are hundreds of retailers as well as wholesale dealers, selling a mindboggling array of jewelry and mineral art.

You’ll see beautiful pieces that are hard to find outside their place of origin, such as earrings made from prehistoric mammoth tusk from Canada and Alaska. Admire intricate beads, delicate shells or precious pearls, rubies, emeralds and sapphires in stunning settings. And there are exotic gemstones galore from every corner of the globe.

Some of the most amazing things to see are the mineral exhibits, which include ancient fossils and mysterious meteorites. There are slices of petrified wood, magical crystals, and huge mineral slabs, rough cut or polished into natural and artistic creations.

The Tucson Gem Show draws exhibitors from all over the world. Talking with the artists, craftspeople and dealers is a great way to discover the mineral world and learn about the origins and quality of gemstones.

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is a Top Winter Event

The largest event in the entire exhibition is the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Sponsored by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society, it is held each year over the second full weekend in February at the Tucson Convention Center. Here you can mingle with more than 250 retail dealers, whose exhibits include finished jewelry, gemstones, minerals, fossils, and lapidary displays.

Free Shows at the Tucson Gem Show

All of the other shows at the Tucson Gem Show are free. Some popular shows include:

  • The American Indian Exposition: watch artists from 50 tribal communities demonstrate Native American arts and crafts, from silversmithing to intricate beadwork; tribal dancing on weekends.
  • A Bead Circus: amazing vintage collections of glass beads, seed beads, crystal, buttons, decorative objects and more.
  • Globe-X Gem, Mineral, Fossil & Jewelry Show: rock around the world with exhibits from Australian opals and Brazilian rocks to Himalayan crystals and Madagascar minerals.
  • J.O.G.S. International Exhibits: a huge range of contemporary and antique jewelry, gems, beads and gifts from around the world.
  • Pueblo Gem & Mineral Show: a diverse show featuring exhibits of gemstones, fine jewelry and minerals from the US and around the world.

How to Visit the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase

The Gem Show is held at more than 40 venues all across Tucson, from hotels and exhibition centers to enormous white tents to stands set up in parking lots. Days and opening times vary, with some shows lasting the entire two-week period and others only a few days.

Parking is available but sometimes limited at individual venues. The two main parking lots are downtown at 22nd Street and at Congress, near I-10. Most lots are open 8am-8pm, with an average fee of $5 per day.

Many shows run free shuttles to their locations throughout the day. Sun Tran is also offering a 7-day Gem Show Pass, which gives unlimited bus rides on all routes for $18. Some shows can also be reached via Sun Tran’s free Downtown Loop shuttle.

For more information on transportation options, show locations, and opening times for the Tucson Gem Show, visit the websites of the Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau or the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society.