Arizona is home to one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon. But there’s much more to explore, from the recreational waters of Lake Mead and Lake Powell to the towering cacti of Saguaro National Park.

There are fascinating ancient Native American ruins, historic Spanish missions and settlements, Wild West towns, and an amazing “living” cave system at Kartchner Caverns. Phoenix and Tucson offer a wealth of city attractions, from fine dining to great museums. And there’s no better place for an Arizona sunset than looking over the red rocks of Sedona.

Read about all this and more in the Arizona Travel pages.

About Tucson

With all the amenities of any major metropolitan area, Tucson is perfect for exploring via car. If you’re a history buff, you may want to consider staying at the wonderfully funky Hotel Congress, located in the heart of downtown. Hotel Congress is just steps away from Tucson’s 4th Avenue shopping district, a veritable mix and match of everything from thrift stores to tiny boutiques. At the Congress, you find reasonable rates and comfortable amenities. Be sure to enjoy a meal (particularly breakfast) at the hotel’s Cup Cafe, one of many Tucson restaurants featured on The Food Network.

While the good folks at Tucson’s Convention and Visitors Bureau can fill you in on all the details, you’ll find Tucson blends a relaxed and casual outdoor style with world-class culture and cuisine. It’s a metro area suited to dining, shopping, and sampling.

If you’re an animal lover or a naturalist, be sure to visit the famous Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It’s an atypical “museum” — this world-class attraction is a combination garden and zoo. You’ll see hundreds of species of plants and animals in their natural desert setting.

For unique Tucson treasures, the downtown area boasts Old Town Artisans, an old adobe complex that occupies an entire city block. Old Town Artisans offers unique independent shops where you can peruse art, jewelry, home furnishings, and fashion.

Nearby, enjoy the well-known Fourth Avenue Shopping District, containing about five blocks of galleries, eclectic boutiques, and restaurants. Allow yourself a good half-day to cover these two shopping and strolling destinations.

Tucson is also known for its many diverse, independent restaurants — from casual pub grub to local Mexican cuisine to fine dining. Cafe Poca Cosa, recommended by The Food Network, features cuisine from all across Mexico and a menu that changes daily. Frog and Firkin — with a great outdoor patio overlooking the bustling university scene — serves hand-prepared pizzas, fresh salads, burgers, appetizers, and all sorts of interesting Arizona beer on tap. Elle Wine Country Restaurant has approachable gourmet fare, a great wine list, and excellent Happy Hour specials. Try the steamed mussels! Kingfisher Bar and Grill, winner of a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, is Tucson’s destination for seafood with a Cajun twist.

Tucson History

Tucson, nicknamed the Old Pueblo, is Arizona’s oldest city with a unique blend of Indian, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo heritage. As Arizona’s second-largest city, Tucson is a modern city with high-tech industries and world-class cultural events, yet it retains the charm of its desert, frontier roots.

Tucson is an Indian word and means “water at Black Mountain”. Located on the Santa Cruz River, it has been home to Indian villages and farms for at least 2,000 years. In 1700, Father Kino established the first Spanish mission, San Xavier, at the Indian Village of Bac 10 miles south of Tucson.

Tucson was founded in 1775 as a Spanish presidio or military garrison to protect settlers from Apache raids. It was governed by Mexico from 1821 until 1854 when the Gadsden Purchase made it part of the United States.

The city was incorporated in 1877 and is the Pima County seat. At 2,389 feet, it is known for wonderfully warm winters.

The natural beauty of the area along with the near-perfect weather conditions makes Tucson a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Golfing, hiking, biking, running, backpacking, rock climbing, horseback riding, swimming, tennis, and much more are available all year round here in Tucson!

The University of Arizona remains the largest single employer with more than 10,000 employees. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base has over 8,000 military and civilian employees.

Manufacturing plays a major role in the economy. Manufacturing employment in metropolitan Tucson has more than doubled in the past ten years. The growth is due to the increase in high-technology manufacturers such as Hughes Missile Co., AiResearch, Sargent Controls, Opto Power, Burr Brown, and Raytheon Company, which have all been located and expanded here. Catalina Foothills

Tourism contributes over $2.3 billion per year to the Pima County economy.

Area attractions include San Xavier Mission, Saguaro National Park, Old Tucson Studio, Biosphere 2, and Kitt Peak National Observatory. Mexico is an hour away via Interstate 19. Tombstone, home of the famous OK Corral, is only 70 miles to the east.

Classical cultural events include symphony, opera, ballet, dance, and theatre. Popular arts are represented by country and western, rock, folk, and jazz clubs. Sports range from professional baseball, golf, and tennis to college programs including the very popular University of Arizona football, baseball, and basketball games.