Broadway Boulevard & the Sunshine Mile


Exploring the Sunshine Mile & Broadway Boulevard in Tucson

When it comes to exploring the best of Tucson, Broadway Boulevard is one of the best places to start. This bustling street is home to a wide range of shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, and cultural attractions. Whether you’re a local looking for a fun night out or a visitor hoping to discover the best of what Tucson has to offer, Broadway Boulevard won’t disappoint. From live theater performances to trendy coffee shops, there’s something for everyone on this vibrant street.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the top attractions and activities along Broadway Boulevard, so you can plan your next adventure in Tucson with ease. So, grab your walking shoes and join us as we explore the best of Broadway Boulevard!

Introduction to Tucson’s Sunshine Mile

Nestled in the heart of Tucson, Arizona’s bustling city center lies a hidden gem waiting to be discovered: The Sunshine Mile. This historic district is a one-mile stretch of East Broadway Boulevard, where visitors can experience the vibrant history, culture, and businesses of Tucson.

The Sunshine Mile was once the commercial hub of Tucson and is now a thriving shopping and dining destination for locals and tourists alike. From vintage boutiques to modern shops, this area boasts a wide array of unique and diverse businesses that offer something for everyone.

Sunshine Smiles on Broadway | Zocalo Magazine - Tucson Arts and Culture
Sunshine Smiles on Broadway; image via Zocalo Magazine

In addition to its fabulous shopping and dining options, the Sunshine Mile is also home to some of Tucson’s most iconic landmarks. Visitors can stroll along the tree-lined streets and take in the stunning architecture of the 1920s and 1930s buildings that have been lovingly preserved over the years.

History of the Sunshine Mile

The Sunshine Mile in Tucson, Arizona, is a historic stretch of road that was once a bustling hub of activity for locals and visitors alike. Originally known as Broadway Boulevard, it was rebranded as the Sunshine Mile in the 1950s as part of a marketing campaign to promote the area’s sunny climate and laid-back lifestyle.

In its heyday, the Sunshine Mile was lined with a variety of stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues, all of which drew large crowds from the surrounding areas. The road was also known for its unique architecture, with many of the buildings featuring the distinctive mid-century modern style that was popular during the time.

Sunshine Mile Histor
Sunshine Mile National Register of Historic Place, Hirsh’s Shoes, 1954; Photo by Ray Manlry, THPF Collection

Over the years, the Sunshine Mile has undergone many changes, with some of the original buildings being torn down or repurposed for other uses. However, the area still retains much of its historic charm, and there are still many hidden gems to be discovered along the way.

Visitors can take a stroll down the Sunshine Mile and explore the various shops, restaurants, and other businesses that call the area home. From vintage clothing stores to funky coffee shops, there’s something for everyone to enjoy along this historic stretch of road. And with its rich history and unique character, the Sunshine Mile is sure to continue to be a beloved destination for locals and visitors alike for many years to come.

Broadway Corridor Road Project

The Broadway Blvd (Sunshine Mile) improvement project has been discussed for decades and it looks as though the start of construction will soon be upon us. Stretching from Euclid to Country Club and costing around $22 million to construct, the City has purchased the required properties to allow for the expanded right of way and has reached a nearly complete design. Rio Nuevo has stepped in, as well, to help preserve some structures as well as create community-oriented areas where people can congregate and enjoy themselves.

In all, Rio Nuevo will acquire around 40 properties that they will re-purpose or rebuild and eventually lease with the intention of eventually selling. Preliminary construction work such as utility and other prep work could start as soon as later this year. Instead of describing what the project will look like, we decided it would be easier to just show you! The video above is from Norris Design and the City of Tucson. For more information on the project, you can visit its official website here. We know that many have opinions regarding this project and, like always, we would love to hear them in the comments below!

Best Restaurants on the Sunshine Mile

Home to some of the best restaurants and cafes in the area, this strip of road has something for everyone. So grab a bite and tantalize your taste buds as we explore some of the amazing eats on the Sunshine Mile.

Bisbee Breakfast Club

2936 E Broadway Blvd, Tucson, AZ; 520-327-0029

Ready to start your day with a delicious breakfast? Look no further than the Bisbee Breakfast Club! Whether you’re craving some fluffy pancakes or eggs benedict, they’ve got you covered. The food is fresh, delicious, and served with a smile. And don’t forget to check out their famous Bloody Marys for that extra kick in the morning!

Bisbee Breakfast Club

Kiss of Smoke BBQ

663 S Plumer Ave, Tucson, AZ 85716; 520-270-7917

There’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned BBQ joint, and Kiss of Smoke delivers exactly that. From their smoky ribs and pulled pork sandwiches to their zesty sides and sauces, it’s sure to hit the spot. Plus, they offer vegan and vegetarian options too – so come hungry and get ready for a flavor explosion!

Rocco’s Little Chicago

2707 E Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85716; 520-321-1860

Ahhh, Chicago-style pizza. Nothing beats it! And at Rocco’s Little Chicago, they serve up slices that are big, cheesy, and oh-so-yummy. Whether it’s classic pepperoni or an adventurous blend of toppings, it’s sure to satisfy your cravings. Oh, and don’t forget to try their Italian beef sandwich too!

Roccos Little Chicago
Roccos Little Chicago

Barrio Bread

18 S. Eastbourne Ave. Tucson, AZ 85716; (520) 327-1292

Who doesn’t love freshly baked bread? At Barrio Bread, they make it from scratch using locally sourced grains. Their artisanal loaves have a unique crusty texture and hearty flavor that can’t be found anywhere else. Plus, their chocolate chip cookies make the perfect accompaniment.

LaVerna’s Coffee Shop

220 S Plumer Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719; 520-623-1389

Nothing starts your day like a steaming cup of coffee from LaVerna’s. They roast their own beans daily onsite which results in a rich and fragrant brew that hits the spot every time. Don’t forget to check out their pastries too – they go great with the coffee!

Welcome Diner Tucson

902 E Broadway Blvd Tucson, AZ 85719; (520) 622 5100 

Last but not least, there’s Welcome Diner Tucson. As soon as you step inside, you’ll feel right at home thanks to its warm atmosphere and inviting decor. But don’t let looks deceive you – this place serves up some seriously yummy grub. From burgers and milkshakes to nachos and tacos, your tummy will be happy when you leave.

Broadway/Treat BikeHAWK

A new BikeHAWK is now ready for use by bicyclists and pedestrians trying to cross Broadway from Treat Avenue. BikeHAWKs are similar to HAWKs, but they have a few special features that make them easier for bicyclists to use. One feature is the easy-to-reach push button. Traditional HAWK buttons are located on the HAWK pole, within reach of pedestrians walking on the sidewalk.

Broadway BikeHAWK

The Broadway/Treat BikeHAWK, however, has an additional push button that can be used by bicyclists while still seated. The BikeHAWK also has green striping that identifies a space in which bicyclists can cross separately from pedestrians. While the BikeHAWK will need to be modified/rebuilt during the corridor widening, the materials will be able to be re-used in the final design.

Nightlife and Entertainment on Broadway Boulevard

Broadway Boulevard is known for its vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene in Tucson. The street is lined with numerous bars, clubs, and music venues that cater to all ages and tastes. Whether you prefer a laid-back atmosphere or a high-energy party, Broadway Boulevard has something for everyone.

Rialto Theatre

One of the most popular entertainment spots is the Rialto Theatre. This historic venue hosts a variety of shows, from live music concerts to comedy acts and theater performances. The art deco architecture of the building adds to the charm of the experience, making it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the area.

Surly Wench Pub

424 N 4th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705; (520) 882-0009

For those who prefer a more intimate setting, there are plenty of bars and lounges offering a cozy atmosphere and specialty cocktails. For example, the Surly Wench Pub is a local favorite, with its eclectic decor, live music shows, and wide selection of craft beers. The Flycatcher is another popular spot, known for its artsy vibe, creative drinks, and live music events.

The nightlife on Broadway Boulevard caters to a diverse crowd, with LGBTQ+ bars and dance clubs like IBT’s and Zen Rock Nightclub providing a welcoming and inclusive environment. No matter what your preference, you’ll find a place to have a good time and make lasting memories on Broadway Boulevard.

Shopping destinations that can’t be missed

The Sunshine Mile in Tucson has a great selection of shopping destinations that are definitely worth exploring. Whether you’re looking for unique souvenirs or trendy fashion finds, the Sunshine Mile has something for everyone.

Midtown Mercantile Merchants

4443 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85712

One of the must-visit places is the Midtown Mercantile Merchants. This shopping destination is a collective of over 20 vendors, offering a diverse selection of vintage items, antique furniture, and local art. It’s a great place to find one-of-a-kind pieces that you won’t find anywhere else.

Shopping Broadway Blvd Sunshine Mile

Eco Groove

657 W St Marys Rd, Tucson, AZ 85701; (520) 777-8307

Another shopping gem is the Eco Groove, an eco-friendly boutique that offers sustainable, ethical, and locally-made products. From clothing and accessories to home goods and beauty products, you’ll find everything you need for an eco-conscious lifestyle.

Antigone Books

411 N 4th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705; (520) 792-3715

If you’re a book lover, be sure to check out Antigone Books, a feminist bookstore that has been a Tucson staple for over 40 years. They have a great selection of books by and about women, as well as a variety of book clubs and author events.

Art Galleries and Exhibits along Broadway Blvd

Broadway Boulevard in Tucson is home to a thriving art scene, with a variety of galleries and exhibits to explore. Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or just appreciate beautiful things, you’re sure to find something that captures your attention.

Etherton Gallery

340 S Convent Ave, Tucson, AZ 8570; (520) 624-7370

One must-visit gallery on Broadway Boulevard is the Etherton Gallery, which features a stunning collection of contemporary photography and art. The gallery regularly hosts exhibitions featuring works from local and international artists, so there’s always something new to see.

Conrad Wilde Gallery

Another great gallery to check out is the Conrad Wilde Gallery, which showcases works by emerging and established artists in a variety of mediums, from painting to sculpture. The gallery also hosts a variety of events, including artist talks and workshops, providing a unique opportunity to engage with the local art community.

Tucson Desert Art Museum

7000 E Tanque Verde Rd, Tucson, AZ 85715

For those interested in Native American art, the Tucson Desert Art Museum is a must-visit. The museum features an impressive collection of Native American art, including pottery, textiles, and jewelry, as well as contemporary works by Native American artists.

Public Art

Broadway Boulevard is also home to a variety of public art installations, including sculptures, murals, and mosaics. Take a stroll down the street and you’re sure to encounter some stunning works of art that are sure to inspire and delight.

Public Art sunshine mile
The mural includes a ’57 Chevy Bel Air and is painted on the wall of Caps and More owned by Larry Montoya. image via

For each Regional Transportation Authority project, 1% of the construction budget is set aside and allocated for public art. Artists commissioned to create public art for the Broadway Project will be selected by a public art panel that consists of stakeholders that represent respective groups such as neighborhoods and businesses.

Hidden treasures off the beaten path

While the Sunshine Mile is known for its popular shops, restaurants, and attractions, it’s also worth exploring the hidden gems off the beaten path. These hidden treasures offer unique experiences and a chance to escape the crowds and discover the local culture.

Tucson Botanical Gardens

2150 N Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85712; (520) 326-9686

One such hidden treasure is the Tucson Botanical Gardens, located just a short distance from the Sunshine Mile. This peaceful oasis features an impressive collection of plants from the Sonoran Desert and other parts of the world, as well as art exhibits and special events throughout the year.

The Gardens & Map - Tucson Botanical Gardens
Tucson Botanical Gardens; image via

Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson

265 S Church Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701: (520) 624-5019

Another must-visit spot is the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson. Tucked away in a nondescript building, this museum showcases cutting-edge contemporary art from local and international artists. You never know what you’ll discover here, from thought-provoking installations to innovative multimedia exhibits.

El Presidio

For a taste of Tucson’s history, check out the historic El Presidio neighborhood. This charming area is home to some of Tucson’s oldest buildings and features a mix of adobe homes, colorful murals, and unique shops and restaurants. It’s a great place to explore on foot and get a sense of the city’s rich cultural heritage.

Tucson El Presidio Historic District
Tucson El Presidio Historic District; image via

Outdoor activities and recreation

When it comes to outdoor activities and recreation, Tucson’s Sunshine Mile has a lot of options to offer. This area is known for its sunny weather, breathtaking landscapes, and stunning natural beauty. Visitors can take advantage of the many hiking and biking trails that run through the area, including the nearby Saguaro National Park and Sabino Canyon. These trails offer a unique opportunity to explore the desert landscape, with its towering cacti, rugged terrain, and wildlife.

For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, the nearby Reid Park Zoo is a must-see attraction. This zoo is home to a wide variety of animals from around the world, including lions, tigers, bears, and more. Visitors can also enjoy a round of golf at one of the many nearby courses, or take a dip in one of the area’s many swimming pools.

Events and festivals on the Sunshine Mile

The Sunshine Mile is a vibrant and diverse part of Tucson that is not only home to some of the best shops and restaurants in the city but also hosts a variety of exciting events and festivals throughout the year.

From the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in February, where visitors can explore thousands of unique and rare gems, to the Tucson Meet Yourself festival in October, which celebrates the cultural diversity of the city through food, music, and dance, there’s always something happening on the Sunshine Mile.

Other popular events include:

  • Tucson Festival of Books in March
  • Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair in April
  • Tucson Folk Festival in May

These events attract visitors from all over the world and are a great way to experience the unique culture and community of Tucson.

Even outside of these major events, there are always smaller events and activities taking place on the Mile, such as art exhibits, live music performances, and food and drink tastings. Be sure to check the local event calendars to find out what’s happening during your visit and make the most of your time on the Sunshine Mile.

 Tips for exploring Broadway Boulevard

Exploring Broadway Boulevard is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Tucson. Here are some tips to make the most of your experience:

  • Park and Walk: Broadway Boulevard has a lot to offer, so it’s best to park your car and walk around. This way, you can take in all of the sights, sounds, and smells of the area.
  • Plan Ahead: There are many businesses along Broadway Boulevard that you might want to visit, so it’s best to plan ahead. Make a list of the places you want to see and map out a route to save time.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: Walking around Broadway Boulevard can be tiring, so it’s important to wear comfortable shoes. You don’t want blisters to ruin your experience.
  • Bring a Camera: There are many beautiful buildings, murals, and sculptures along Broadway Boulevard, so bring a camera to capture all the amazing sights.
  • Try the Food: Broadway Boulevard is home to many great restaurants, cafes, and food trucks. Be sure to try the local cuisine and indulge in some delicious food.
  • Visit in the Evening: Broadway Boulevard comes alive at night, with many of the businesses staying open late. Take a stroll in the evening and enjoy the vibrant nightlife.

Final thoughts

if you’re looking for a unique and enjoyable experience, then Tucson’s Sunshine Mile is the perfect destination. With its rich history, vibrant community, and eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, the Sunshine Mile is truly a hidden gem in Tucson.

From vintage shops and antique stores to art galleries and delicious dining options, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. You can easily spend a full day or more exploring all that the Sunshine Mile has to offer.

Not only is the Sunshine Mile a great place to explore on your own, but it’s also the perfect destination for a fun day out with friends or family. So why not plan a visit to the Sunshine Mile and discover all the hidden gems of Tucson’s most vibrant neighborhood? You won’t be disappointed!

We hope you enjoyed our guide to discovering the hidden gems of Tucson’s Sunshine Mile. This vibrant district is home to some of the city’s best shops, restaurants, and attractions, and we’ve highlighted some of our favorites. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, we encourage you to explore the area and discover even more hidden gems of your own. There’s always something new to discover in this charming part of town, and we can’t wait to hear about your own experiences on the Sunshine Mile!


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