Things to do in Southern Arizona

Southern Arizona Things to do

Many have attractions that are just what you expect to find; the Sonoran desert beauty, ghost towns, birding, hiking, and biking. However, don’t miss the opportunity to explore fishing, boating, museums, caves, horseback riding, and yes, even shopping and wine tasting!


Madera Canyon, just east of Sahuarita and Tubac, is known worldwide for its easy access to view and photograph an abundance of species. Coronado National Memorial, south of Bisbee and Herford is another popular destination.

A yellow-eyed junco stared me down

Also near Bisbee and Herford is the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory. Near Sonoita and Patagonia, AZ is Paton’s Birder’s Haven, a hummingbird lover’s paradise. Nogales offers another hummingbird hotspot with Jesse Hendrix Hummingbird Ranch.

Hiking Trails

For the serious hiker, hiking trails of all levels abound in the southern border ranges that surround these towns.

Photo of Tucson Area and Southern Arizona

Be sure to check out Atascosa Trail for the vistas. Bog Springs is a great shorter hike for those wanting to observe the birds and animals attracted by the nearby springs.

The Coronado National Forest, encompassing much of the area just north of Nogales, abounds with beauty for hikers and walkers. Also, look at the recreational activities listed below – most have a variety of shorter hikes with special interest features.


The Southern Arizona Biking Association provides a list of tested mountain bike trails in the area and also provides a PDF of the Topo. Many of the recreational areas also have some bike access.


Southern Arizona Lodging Couldn’t bring your bike? Not ready to go it alone in the more remote areas? An outfitter might be the perfect solution. Southwest Trekking offers Hiking, mountain biking, camping, trail running, rock climbing, and more in remote areas of Southern Arizona and Mexico.

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Try Patagonia Cyclery for bike tours in the Sonoita area as well as bike rentals. Email them at [email protected].

Equestrian lovers should try Coronado Outfitters. You can supply your own horse or rent one of theirs. Arizona Horseback Experience offers a variety of trail rides of differing lengths. They even feature a wine-tasting trail ride!

Recreational areas

This region has a large number of recreational sites. Patagonia State Park, just east of I-19 between Tubac and Nogales has hiking, fishing, boating, and water skiing. Arivaca Lake, west of I-19 and a bit north of Nogales, is a long drive. However, it is one of the more scenic drives in the area. If you are looking for a place to fish, stroll by the lake and watch the birds without any crowds, this is the place for you. Be aware that it is a primitive facility offering only toilets and a primitive boat ramp.

Pena Blanca Lake is the bass fishers’ destination! Just west of I-19 and 5 miles north of Nogales, the lake features picnic areas, toilets, a boat ramp, and a floating fishing dock. If you are interested in caves, consider Kartchner Caverns State Park. You’ll need to make advance reservations, however.

Ghost Towns

At one time the main draw was mining. As the mines shut down many of these communities were either abandoned or suffered a significant decrease in population. Most ghost towns have fallen to ruins, although a few have used their ghost town status to create historical or fun attractions for visitors. The city of Tombstone is dedicated to recreating the Old West town atmosphere. They have events scheduled throughout the year.

Religious Sites

Tucson Lodging San Xavier del Bac, 13 miles north of Sahuarita, is a mission that is still in service today. Commonly known as the White Dove of the Desert, its white facade against the blue sky and desert sands makes a striking image. As a church, it primarily serves the Tohono O’odham Nation but is open to all who wish to attend services.

Photo of Tucson Area and Southern Arizona

Tumacacori National Historical Park house the ruins of three Spanish colonial missions originally founded by Father Kino and the Jesuits. There is a visitors center and museum, walking tours, and on the weekend’s demonstrations of traditional crafts by local artisans.

Our Lady of Sierra’s shrine includes a 75-foot Celtic cross, a 31-foot statue of the Madonna, and a small chapel. All faiths are welcome.

Wine tasting

Come taste the wines of Arizona vineyards! Many are nestled around the Sonoita/Elgin area and more are being developed. Check the websites for wine tasting and special events at Charron Winery, Sonoita Vineyards, Callaghan Vineyards, Collabri Vineyard, and Dos Cabezas Wineworks.


Tubac was originally started as a military Garrison in the 1700s. It has since become a haven for fine artisans with a plethora of shops and galleries to satisfy your shopping gene. Bisbee is another must-stop for shoppers in the area. Expect to find the beautiful Bisbee Blue Turquoise as a featured item! Make sure you travel to Nogales for that trip across the bridge into Nogales, Mexico! Just over the bridge is the huge outdoor shopping area where the locals set up their booths. Beyond that, the permanent shops line the streets.


Did you bring your golf clubs? We have a number of premier golf courses in the area. Try Rio Rico Resort and Country Club, Tubac Golf Resort, Palo Duro Creek Country Club, and Kino Springs.


Southern Arizona Bed and Breakfast Inns

Tucson Botanical Gardens


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