Which hotel should University of Arizona visitors choose?

| By Louie Christensen

The University of Arizona is the pride and joy of Tucson—and for good reason. It is a mainstay on countless “Best Colleges” lists, its rafters are filled with National Championship banners from several sports and (fun fact) it’s also where the cult-classic movie Revenge of the Nerds was filmed. There are few metropolitan areas the size of Tucson that get as enthusiastic about their university as this town; it truly is the heartbeat of the city. 

So whether you’re visiting to explore it as an option for yourself or the student in your life to attend, visiting to watch your team compete against an Arizona Wildcat squad, or are in town for the Nova sponsored NCAA Football Arizona Bowl, allow us to help you find the right hotel for your stay. 

Aloft Tucson University 

If this hotel was any closer to Arizona Stadium, it would be on campus. Aloft blends the trendy modern vibe you’ll find across other W Hotels with splashes of eclectic southwest designs. Standing seven stories high, guests staying on north side of the hotel will be graced with a view of Tucson’s first love...the Catalina Mountains. The hotel is situated on the northeast corner of campus, and with all of the University’s athletic venues being situated along its eastern edge, it makes for prime location for anyone visiting for a game or match. 

Tucson Marriott University 

Situated on the west side of campus, Tucson Marriott University puts you at the very heart of the student experience. Not only is the hotel located just off of University Blvd where a large handful of student-favorite restaurants, shops, and bars are situated, but you can also hop on the Street Car and get a ride down to Fourth Ave or Downtown where there are too many fantastic dining options to try in just one visit. 

For those considering attending the University, several new student housing buildings just opened nearby the hotel—and yes they all have rooftop pools—so staying at the Tucson Marriott University will give you a sneak peak into for how your daily life might feel if you choose to live campus adjacent. 

Hotel Congress 

You might be in town for something University of Arizona related, but the thing that gets you really excited to travel is an unexplored city’s food scene. You’re in luck. Downtown Tucson is filled with some of the hottest restaurants, bars, and breweries in town. While you’re at it why don’t you stay at the most classic Tucson hotel around—Hotel Congress. This Tucson treasure opened in 1919 and was actually where bank robber John Dillinger was tracked down at the peak of his crime spree. Today it hosts the Club Congress concert venue, Tiger’s Tap Room (named after the bartender who has worked there for 60 years) and the ever-delicious Cup Café. If the University of Arizona is the heart of Tucson, then Hotel Congress is its soul. Fitting, since some rooms are said to be haunted by benevolent guests who are reluctant to leave. 

If you’re hoping to not have to rent a car on your visit, or pay out the nose for Uber trips to and from campus, fret not. There’s a Street Car stop right around the corner, so you can get to and from campus car-free. 

AC Hotel 

If the idea of staying in the heart of a city’s food scene tickles your fancy, but the thought of staying in a potentially haunted room above a hopping music venue doesn’t excite you...downtown Tucson’s newest hotel might be more to your liking. 

This Marriott hotel is striking. Ultra clean modern lines, stunning city and mountain views, and a rooftop pool are only a handful of reasons why the AC Hotel belongs high on your list of accommodations. Two new restaurant concepts, Charro Steak and Charro del Ray, opened up directly across the street, making the trip from your last “best margarita you’ve ever had” home a safe and easy one. Not to mention its location directly along the Street Car line that will take you up to campus, or over to the Mercado San Agustin area for even more dining and shopping options. 

Starr Pass

If you weren’t aware, the Sonoran Desert that surrounds Tucson is extraordinary. So if you don’t mind driving fifteen minutes or so to get to the University, it’s hard to go wrong with JW Marriott’s Starr Pass. The resort is nestled in the rolling foothills just outside of downtown Tucson; far enough away to feel secluded, yet still close enough to be convenient. You’ll love the beautiful desert setting, designed to catch the unforgettable Tucson sunsets and the kids (and kids at heart) will love the Lazy River. Speaking of sunsets, it’s hard to beat Starr Pass’ Sunset Tequila Toast. This nightly ritual is complimentary and is followed by the story telling of Pancho Villa—can’t get more southwest than that. 

Want to really make your trip to Tucson memorable? Bring your golf clubs and enjoy the 27 hole Arnold Palmer Signature desert golf course that winds in and out of the hills and washes around the hotel. 

Arizona Inn

Tucson is a tale of two cities. You’re either in the heart of it all around the University and downtown, or you’re on the outskirts where there’s more desert wilderness than congestion. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Situated in one of midtown Tucson’s beautiful neighborhoods sits Arizona Inn, a protected oasis that will make you feel like a celebrity visiting the Old Pueblo in the 1930’s. The casita styled boutique resort hotel is so “classically Tucson” it’s almost unfair. The grounds are stunning, the decor is pure southwest, and its location near campus makes it an easy choice for anyone visiting that desires a tranquil home base. 

While Arizona Inn isn’t located on the Street Car line, you are only a short walk ¾ mile away from one of the campus stops or a cheap Uber ride away from downtown. 

Lodge On The Desert 

Similar to Arizona Inn, but coming in at a rate that will leave some money in your pocket to really enjoy Tucson’s food scene, is the Lodge On The Desert. Also built in the 1930’s, Lodge On The Desert offers visitors a unique balance between being in the heart of the city and desert escape that really can’t be found in other southwest metros. You’ll find it hard not to be charmed by this elegantly designed hotel. If you’re looking for a little escape after the game or between tours around campus, Lodge On The Desert is located a comfortable 10 minute drive from the University of Arizona. 

Homewood Suites by Hilton Tucson at St. Philip’s Plaza 

Conveniently situated between the ever-beautiful Catalina Foothills to the north and the University of Arizona to the south, the Homewood Suites at St. Philip’s gives visitors a chance to see just that much more of Tucson. A stretch of the 120+ mile Tucson “Loop” sits directly next to the hotel. This paved pedestrian, bike (and horse) pathway runs along the Rillito River and has become a real treasure for the active city of Tucson. If you could live without the exercise but still want to enjoy the fresh air, St. Philip's Plaza is home to three great patio restaurants—Union Public House, Proof Pizza, and Reforma Modern Mexican. If you want to flex your “well I’m on vacation, so why not” muscle, take the scenic five minute drive up to La Encantada and enjoy all the shopping and dining you can handle. From Ra Sushi to LuLu Lemon, you’ll find a happy home to spend those vacation dollars or calories. 

Westin La Paloma 

Located in the Catalina Foothills, this resort may be one of Tucson’s marquee stays. You’ll need to drive fifteen minutes to get to campus, but when you’re trading in some extra time in the car for THAT view of the Santa Catalina Mountain range...it’s hard to call it a “sacrifice.” The resort features two full size pools (one for adults only and the other boasts a swim up bar), three hot tubs, a cold pool, a kid’s pool, and a three-story tall water slide. 

You can take your choice of on-site restaurants, one of which started as an independent restaurant that chose to move onto the premises for the sunset vista the hotel’s foothill perch provides. 

Be sure to bring your golf clubs and work your way around the challenging 27-hole Jack Nicholas-designed golf course. Local legend says that Nicholas was put off by unkind hosts when he first visited the site to design the course, so he took it out on the city by making a course that was extra difficult. True or not, you may want to bring an extra sleeve or two of golf balls. While the course is stunning, it is a challenge. 

Welcome to Tucson 

No matter which hotel you choose, one thing is for sure—if you’re visiting Tucson, you are visiting a city with an award-winning culinary scene, beautiful university campus, and the awe-inspiring Sonoran desert.

Crazy for college vibes? Plan your Wildcat Weekend.

Thistle: The Floral Shop of Your Holiday Dreams

|Photography by Kristen Brockel

Thistle, the cutest floral shop you ever did see, is women-owned and gifts Tucson with a seasonal and unique selection of fresh flowers for delivery, pick-up, weddings, and events. We spent some time with Victoria and Carly while they hand-crafted holiday wreaths. And yes, even the pine cones are glittered by hand.

Wildcat Weekend

Getting the most out of a college-town vacation in Tucson, AZ

|By Mish DeCarlo

|Photos by Brielle Farmer

Immediately after landing at Tucson International Airport, a sign welcomes you with the words “Welcome to Tucson. Home of the Wildcats.” On my first trip to the city, I giddily pointed the sign out to my mom, excited for adventures I had yet to imagine.

Fast-forward four years, and I still get that giddiness every time I see the welcome sign. I smile when I see the giant “A” on top of Sentinel Peak, the Wildcat paraphernalia hanging on restaurant and coffee-shop walls, and the street signs that point to the University of Arizona campus. It’s a reminder of the community that the UA has established in Tucson over the past 100-plus years. Yet, whether you’re a Wildcat or not, it’s hard to miss the bustling energy around the university. After all, Tucson is one of the largest college towns in America. So, next time you’re in Southern Arizona, step into the shoes—or paws—of a Wildcat to get the most out of your Tucson vacation.

Eat, drink & be merry in Main Gate Square

Kick off your weekend as a Wildcat by discovering the sights and smells of University Boulevard. Depending on when you visit, you can experience Bear Down Fridays—a pep-rally with a taste of Arizona spirit. The celebration features the UA cheerleaders, pommies, and twirlers, as well as The Pride of Arizona marching band and UA athletic coaches.

Frog & Firkin at Main Gate Square in Tucson, AZ

Sing your heart out during karaoke at Espresso Art Café or dance until dawn to an ensemble of DJs, some of which are students, at No Anchovies. Cheer on the Wildcats during away games from the patio of Frog and Firkin with a pitcher of beer (they have more than 30 on draft) and some Frog Bites—a University Boulevard delicacy of carefully sliced baguette smothered with garlic, pesto, and mozzarella cheese. Enjoy happy hour with a prickly pear margarita that mirrors the color of the desert sunset on the rooftop of a student-favorite restaurant, Illegal Pete’s. Shop at boutiques unique to Tucson, and when you’re done, hop on the Sun Link Streetcar to explore Historic Fourth Avenue, downtown Tucson, and beyond.

Illegal Pete's on Main Gate Square in Tucson, AZ

A genuine Wildcat experience is incomplete without a late-night trip to Dirtbags—a college Neverland. Nestled at the northeast corner of campus and adjacent to Greek Row, it has been a student hot spot since 1982, known for instigating wild nights and some of the best memories. Its sticky green carpet and chipped tiles have withstood the test of time, and the signed Arizona sports jerseys hanging on the walls reveal bits about the legends that have visited the bar. Even my dad has stories at Dirtbag’s from visiting friends at UA during his college days, which he told me about as we celebrated my 21st birthday in between the sing-a-long oldies playing from the jukebox at the end of the bar. To guarantee a night at Dirtbags, get there as early in the night as possible, as lines are often long and wrap down the street. But, after all, good things come to those who wait.

Attend a game at McKale Center

One of the quickest ways to get into the Wildcat spirit is to attend a game at one of college basketball’s most intimidating arenas, McKale Center. The unmistakable “Sea of Red”—otherwise known as the UA student section, the ZonaZoo—is a force to be reckoned with, considering that they maintain a position among the largest, fiercest student sections in the PAC-12.

The University of Arizona Wildcats remain a dominant team in the NCAA’s basketball scene, providing more NBA draft picks since 1989 than any other school. For the past 25 years, it’s been known as one of the best basketball programs in the country. Watching a game in McKale Center doubles as an ode to basketball history and the future of the NBA. I’ll say it now, and you’ll hear it around campus and far beyond the Sonoran Desert: the University of Arizona is a basketball school.

Support the arts

In between classes, it’s common for students to walk through one of the nine museums on campus to soak up the culture and relax for a while. Every museum calls to a different niche. Visit the Center for Creative Photography, a one-of-a-kind archive of more than 80,000 images. The UA Campus Arboretum, which integrates a unique collection of trees, shrubs, and other plants with the otherwise manmade setting, is the oldest continually maintained green space in the state.

Get a taste of Broadway as touring shows make stops at Centennial Hall, including big-name shows such as Jersey Boys, The Book of Mormon, and Hello, Dolly! If you’d prefer a local production, you can soak in the talent of students in the University of Arizona School of Dance at the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre, a building that doubles as an amazing feat of architectural design.

Spring Fling

If your visit happens to fall during the UA Spring Fling week, it’s a must-attend event for the whole family. For the past 40-plus years, Spring Fling has been a momentous University of Arizona tradition that now attracts more than 32,000 guests annually. It’s the largest student-run carnival in the US. Carnival rides, games, food booths, and entertainment line the University Mall for students and the Tucson community alike. During concert nights, it is vital to get to campus early, as the Mall quickly floods with eager attendants. Best of all, the event is free for all students, while community members can pay a small fee to enter.

Whether you’re a Wildcat by blood or honorary for the weekend, the University of Arizona community will always welcome you home. Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.

Need more ideas for a Southern Arizona getaway? Check out these 10 reasons Marana is on the rise.

Tucson Neighborhood Guide

With a range of price points, home styles, and locations, there's a dream Tucson neighborhood for everyone. Find yours.

Neighborhood? District? Home cluster? It's hard to decide exactly how to draw the lines around where people live. But let’s not get hung up on terminology. If you’re wondering where to live in Tucson, we’ve got an answer for you. Whether you’re drawn to desert views or you like being in the center of the action, each entry in this guide has something distinct that makes it worth considering. 

In the City

Armory Park

Armory Park may be one of the most unique neighborhoods in Tucson. This downtown-adjacent neighborhood is a blend of Barrio styled homes you’d find in nearby neighborhoods, and craftsman-style bungalows that you’d find closer to the university. Old brick, sidewalks, established trees, and even several multi-story houses define the character of this historic neighborhood. Because of this blend, there is ample opportunity for homebuyers to find a style that best suits them.

Barrio Hollywood

Located a bit further outside of downtown, and away from the area most Tucsonans would consider the “area around campus,” Barrio Hollywood has yet to see the wave of renovations that neighboring Menlo Park has seen. If you were to poll the community members, many of whom have lived in this area for decades (if not their entire lives), many would choose the word “proud” to describe themselves. So, if you are eying Barrio Hollywood hoping to “get in early,” you should know that while change, renovations, and redevelopment are somewhat inevitable, they are further away here than other neighborhoods; that’s not a knock on it, that’s simply how the neighborhood likes it.

Barrio San Antonio

While being one of the smallest neighborhood designations in the whole city, Barrio San Antonio is every commuter’s dream come true. Flanked by Aviation, Kino, and Broadway, you can get to major Tucson employers located on the southside like Raytheon or Amazon, downtown spots like Caterpillar and Hexagon, or anything along Broadway/Campbell or I-10 with ease while living in a neighborhood filled with barrio and desert bungalow character.

Barrio Santa Rosa

Located just south of Barrio Viejo, Barrio Santa Rosa maintains the classic Barrio vibe at a more approachable price, allowing young professionals and families to afford a fixer upper. That being said, with large development projects set to begin along south 6th ave, this neighborhood is taking off. Proximity to downtown, as well as parks and public transportation, make this neighborhood a great fit for those who prefer walking, bussing, and biking to driving.

Barrio Viejo

One of Tucson’s oldest neighborhoods, and damaged significantly during downtown redevelopment projects in the mid-1900s, Barrio Viejo has been feeling the love for the past couple of decades. Architects and artists, drawn to the area’s exemplary adobe homes, have ushered in a new heyday, one that features rowhouses converted to stylish mansions, modern design elements, and rain cisterns. This is a neighborhood for people who want to protect and treasure Tucson’s unique culture, and who also enjoy being able to walk or bike downtown.

Broadmoor Broadway

Convenient to just about anywhere you’d want to go in Tucson, Broadmoor Broadway is a fantastic little neighborhood, full of historic ranch houses, mature trees, and charm. Residents can walk to nearby Broadway Village for restaurants, grocery shopping, and yoga, and it’s just a quick drive into downtown, the University, or Tucson’s eastside. For how close this neighborhood feels to everything, large lot sizes and the Arroyo Chico waterworks project give it a feel of privacy and calm—an oasis in the middle of it all.

Catalina Vista

With a convenient central location, large lot sizes, and beautifully maintained historic homes, Catalina Vista is a great choice for families and anyone working at U of A or downtown. Here, you get all the benefits of living in the center of the city, while still having the perks of living in the desert. Patches of open land and large lots mean plenty of room for rabbits, owls, coyote, and even javelina to roam.  

Downtown

Downtown Tucson’s ongoing redevelopment efforts have resulted in several new apartment buildings. Residents who work downtown enjoy walking to work, and it’s easy to achieve a good work/life balance when you’re surrounded by great happy hour options. It’s also easy to hop on the Sun Link Streetcar and head to the U of A or the Mercado District for a change of scene. One of the perks of living in one of Tucson’s few highrises is the fantastic, unimpeded views of the four mountain ranges that surround town. Downtown also hosts some great fests, like Tucson Meet Yourself, which are in your backyard if you live downtown, so you never have to worry about parking. 

Dunbar Spring

Walk through the streets of Dunbar Spring and you might feel like you’ve entered the looking glass. Artists and environmentalists have combined extreme xeroscaping, sculpture, found art, and murals to create a totally Tucson vibe. This is a great neighborhood if you want to live in a Craftsman bungalow near U of A, downtown, and Pima Community College. It’s a straight shot from here to the Tucson Mountains out west or shopping and restaurants further north. 

El Encanto

An old neighborhood in the heart of the city, El Encanto offers the luxury of newer, northern neighborhoods with all the convenience of city life. Mansions, villas, and mature eucalyptus and palm trees line the streets, which wind their way around a central plaza. While El Encanto feels miles away from the traffic and noise of the city, in reality it's smack dab in the middle of the action. Residents live a stone’s throw from El Con Mall, Randolph Park, the Sunshine Mile, and other retail and culinary hubs. Here, you get all of the privacy and luxury with none of the commute. 

El Presidio

Often referred to as the “Franklin Neighborhood” thanks to the street that runs through its core, the tree lined El Presidio neighborhood is located within the small sliver of northern downtown. This neighborhood is a treasure, so if you are lucky enough to find a home for sale within its borders, you’d be wise to snag it. Where the Barrio neighborhood has a clear Spanish/Mexican feel, pioneer families heading west settled in El Presidio giving it an eclectic style all its own. Depending on when a home was built it will either have a California mission feel, or a late Victorian style complete with tall hedges and ornate gables. There are some multi-use development projects coming El Presidio’s way, all of which fall on its far eastern border.

Feldman’s

In most parts of Tucson, you really need to have a car to get around quickly and efficiently, but the Feldman’s neighborhood is one of several exceptions. Right off of two major bikeways (6th ave and 4th ave), and so close to all that 4th ave and downtown have to offer, there's a lot to do without having to take a drive. Unlike some other university and downtown-adjacent neighborhoods, Feldman's is just removed enough that residents aren’t subjected to all the late-night noise of 4th and downtown.

Highland Vista Cinco Via

Highland Vista is a close-knit community of around 1,200 people with a community park, pool, and garden, all with activities residents regularly participate in. Most of the homes were built in the late 50s/early 60s, so the mid-century vibe is strong and makes the neighborhood very unique. People smile and wave, and most everyone knows their neighbors on a first name basis. Residents are typically young professionals, young families, and retired couples. Highland Vista has participated in Porchfest, a nationwide concert series, for the last 4 years with plans to continue. In addition to this, a few residents take part in a House Concert series—where traveling artists from all over the country give an intimate performance in someone's living room. Admission is donation based and 100% of proceeds go directly to the artist. 

Iron Horse

Falling directly between downtown and the university, and flanking some of Tucson’s most happening districts, maybe the best descriptor for Iron Horse is “juxtaposition”—the fresh faces that ebb and flow throughout their four years at the University of Arizona, the deep running historic roots that come with being one of Tucson’s oldest neighborhoods, all the beautiful grunge of 4th Ave and the trendiness of downtown. What can’t you say about Iron Horse? Character aside, Iron Horse does boast the highest Walkability Score of any neighborhood in Tucson. Don’t let the old homes fool you; this is not a sleepy neighborhood. If you’re looking to live in Iron Horse, be ready to bring some energy.

Keeling/Hedrick Acres

A popular residential area with parks for kids and dogs, this cluster of neighborhoods is a great jumping off point for most anything Tucson has to offer. Head north to the foothills for a mountain fix, east toward schools, businesses, and attractions, south to U of A and downtown, or west to the desert. Or, stay put and visit shops and restaurants along Campbell, including BK Tacos, Yoshimatsu Japanese Eatery, Gelish Nail Salon, Sauce Pizza and Wine, and Goodness. Salpointe is on the east side of Mountain Avenue, so if you're home on a Friday night during Football season you can hear the band— a nostalgic moment for anyone who loves sporting events, community, and a good marching band. 

Menlo Park

This is the birthplace of Tucson. No really, it is. A small farm, located at the base of Sentinel Peak, has produced a harvest for more than 4,000 years. So, to call Menlo Park a historic neighborhood is a bit of an understatement. But, with the recent opening of Mercado San Agustin, the MSA Annex, Caterpillar’s new headquarters, and prices that are still within reach for many first time home buyers, Menlo Park is one of the Tucson’s best buys. Menlo Park provides easy access to The Loop trail along the Santa Cruz River, the Tucson Mountains, and a plethora of food options, including historic Tucson eateries like Pat's Chili Dogs and Tania's 33, where meat eaters and vegans alike will find some of Tucson’s best Mexican food.

Miramonte

It’s hard to think of a reason not to live in Miramonte. The neighborhood is characterized by cute historic homes on large lots. The parks and winding streets make it feel a bit removed from the hustle and bustle, but it’s conveniently located next to many great Tucson businesses like The Loft Cinema, Bookmans, and Rum Runner. Third Street, a major bike thoroughfare that runs east to west through the city, cuts right through Miramonte, making for an easy and safe ride to U of A and downtown, as well as destinations further east. Other perks include a Free Little Library and proximity to useful things like grocery stores and gas stations.

Rincon Heights

Sandwiched between the University of Arizona and the future Rio Nuevo renovations along Broadway Blvd sits the often-overlooked Rincon Heights neighborhood. You’ll find college students renting converted duplexes living next to long time residents in classic Tucson desert bungalows, and a fair share of beautiful homes waiting to be renovated. This neighborhood is poised to receive a major value bump as student housing buildings continue to spread out from campus, bringing with them new restaurants and shops. If you aren’t afraid of a little extra energy on game days, Rincon Heights, conveniently located and decently priced, definitely needs to be on your short list. 

Sam Hughes

A haven of historic homes and manicured streets, Sam Hughes is one of Tucson’s most iconic neighborhoods. It’s super bike-friendly, walkable, and offers quick access to U of A, downtown, and shopping and entertainment options throughout midtown. Homes range from quaint bungalows shaded by ancient mesquites to stunning estates lined with palm trees. As if this neighborhood couldn’t be any nicer, it is also home to one of the most visited and recently updated parks in the city, Himmel Park. If you’re a sports fan, you will want to buy season tickets to the University of Arizona’s basketball and football programs. If not, you may be struck with FOMO, seeing that you’re close enough to both sporting venues to hear the cheers.

West University

You’ll find just about every shape, size, and budget of desert bungalow or Victorian styled cottage in West University, but there is one thing you will not be able to avoid: students. This should not come as a surprise. If you don’t want your house to be hit by golf balls, don’t buy a home along a narrow Par 4; if you don’t want to be surrounded by college students, don’t buy a house next to a college campus. The balance between the close proximity to downtown, University of Arizona sporting events, and 4th Ave and how quiet this neighborhood can be creates the biggest draw for West University. With the addition of the SunLink Streetcar that stretches down University Blvd, you can get around with ease.

Peace and Quiet

Civano

In the 1980's, a group of enterprising Tucsonans set out to build Tucson Solar Village. Now known as Civano, this sustainable community has a lot to offer residents. While homes were all developed around the same time, they don’t look like typical track houses. Instead, there’s a focus on big porches and creating community through shared space. This is the place to live if you don’t care about being at the center of a big city, and would instead rather be a part of a smaller village, complete with its own small businesses, trails, parks, and events. 

Flecha Caida Ranch Estates

We all have our reasons for living in Tucson. If yours involves mountain views and riding a horse off into postcard sunsets, you just might find your new home in the Flecha Caida neighborhood. Featuring some of the only remaining land in the foothills with large desert lots, Flecha Caida is littered with old ranch style homes on horse property. Acreage ranges from 1-5 acre lots and cannot be subdivided. Most homes were built in the 1950’s, and the families stay. If you’re lucky enough to find your dream home here, you’ll achieve the perfect balance between wild west dreamscape and the convenience of city life. While it sounds like Flecha Caida is worlds away, it’s really only a 5-10 minute drive into town. 

Hillcrest at Wingate

This quiet neighborhood is surrounded by nature and is a great choice for families and those who want to live near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Raytheon, or some of Tucson’s larger commercial and industrial centers. This pedestrian-friendly ‘hood has plenty of sidewalks (not always a given in Tucson neighborhoods). Nearby attractions include the Pima Air and Space Museum and the airplane boneyard, where many planes from different areas have found their final resting place. Another neighborhood fixture is the appropriately named Coyote Corridor, where at least one resident has reported seeing quite a few coyotes over the years.

Indian Ridge Estates

There is only one way in to Indian Ridge Estates: Camino Principal. But once you're in, it's like being transported to 1940s southern California. All of the houses are sprawling one-story ranch-styles, each of them unique and amazing. This is a neighborhood for those in-the-know. Also, those with some cash to burn. This neighborhood isn’t one of Tucson’s cheapest, but we imagine residents would say it’s worth the cost. 

Old Fort Lowell

This neighborhood gets its name from Fort Lowell, an army post established here in 1873. It features many beautiful, historic adobe homes and some newer homes as well. The proximity to Fort Lowell Park and the San Pedro Chapel is just one of many perks to calling this neighborhood home. 

Shadow Hills

The Catalina Foothills are home to some of Tucson’s most scenic neighborhoods.  Shadow Hills is the perfect neighborhood for those who love the plants and desert scenery, and who don’t want to live in a cookie-cutter development. It is far enough north to have great views, and it's quiet, but it doesn’t take long to drive from the U of A or downtown. 

Want to learn even more about Tucson neighborhoods? Looking for your mid-century dream home? Check out our story on Tucson's Atomic Ranches.

Leave No Stone Unturned

8 places in Tucson to get your gem and mineral fix year-round

|By Nina Kolodij

There’s no better place to explore the wonders of the Earth than at the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show—the largest and oldest of its kind in the world. Once a year, TGMS takes over the city for almost an entire month, culminating in a colossal weekend of international vendors and fascinating science talks. But what are rockhounds and geoscience aficionados to do during the remaining 11 months? Luckily, these impressive local rock shops are there to fill the void when the TGMS off-season blues start to kick in.

Tucson Mineral & Gem World

A historic landmark in and of itself, Tucson Mineral & Gem World is a veteran in the world of rock shops. Since 1968, brothers Ron and Richard Ratkevich have been cultivating a collection of more than 100,000 unusual artifacts and gorgeous specimens. The store contains a gold mine of treasures, including local and exotic minerals, fossils of countless prehistoric critters, preserved animal skeletons, and meteorites from outer space. The space has become a home for unusual items that would fit right into any museum exhibit, such as mammoth fur and restored Native American artifacts. Located on Kinney Road, this rock shop is the perfect follow-up after a visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum or Old Tucson Studios.

Dah Rock Shop

Visitors of Dah Rock Shop have described their experience as similar to being swept away in a glimmering tide of rocks and minerals. Originally known as the Discount Agate House, DAH has been serving the Tucson community with extraordinary samples of rocks, minerals, and more for 40-plus years. In addition to the vast supply of shelves and cabinets filled with top-tier samples in its indoor space, the rock shop also maintains a remarkable outdoor selection of rough-cut rocks at astonishingly reasonable prices. If there’s something you’re looking for, be it a rare mineral or a handcrafted piece of jewelry, you’ll be sure to find it at DAH Rock Shop.

Norcross-Madagascar LLC

Norcross-Madagascar LLC and its e-commerce branch, Madagascar Minerals, is an international expert in—you guessed it—African minerals and fossils. The company was founded in 2004 and has since become one of the biggest names in every aspect of buying and selling natural and geological Madagascan riches. Not only does Norcross own and maintain multiple mines known for the highest quality stones, but it also excels in the processing and hand carving of exclusive material from the best locales. So, when you visit its headquarters right here in Tucson, you’re really getting the rock shop version of farm-to-table business.

Mineral & Fossil Co-op

For the most jaw-dropping collection of spectacular fossils in town, visit the Mineral & Fossil Co-op. Actually a coalition of mineral and fossil dealers, the Co-op is home to top-tier fossil personalities such as GeoDecor, The Bug House, Sahara Sea Collection, and so on. If you’re a museum with a few million dollars to spare, you’ll find juvenile stegosaurs, T. rex and mastodon skulls, and dining room tables that will make your heart sing. In fact, some members of the Co-op regularly work with museums to provide and prepare new critters for research and exhibition. Guests with a smaller budget are sure to fall in love with the ample variety of wares at lower prices. Window-shopping is encouraged, but keep the drooling to a minimum.

Arizona Lapidary & Gem Rough, Inc.

Behind many smooth and shiny specimens is an individual who spent countless hours polishing rough stones to perfection. If you’re interested in becoming that individual, then the Arizona Lapidary & Gem Rough is the place for you. This rock shop is a mom-and-pop, geologist-owned kind of place, where you can take advantage of gorgeous stones, professional cutting and polishing services, and free mineral identification. The lapidary offers a diverse list of rough rocks and minerals ready for polishing, and if you buy 25 pounds or more, you’ll even get a discount. For those looking for a touch of custom beauty, this rock shop also doubles as a jewelry design, repair, and metal smith.  

Aerolite Meteorites

At Aerolite Meteorites, the vastness of outer space fits right into the palm of your hand. This rock shop—or rather, the largest commercial meteorite company in the world—is led by CEO Geoff Notkin of the award-winning show Meteorite Men. Although Aerolite’s alien discoveries reach customers all over the world, including many museums, its headquarters are right here in Tucson. While the location isn’t open to the public, curious shoppers can browse a well-stocked online store, where prices range from under $10 to almost $500,000. Occasionally, Aerolite also offers meteorite-hunting expeditions in Arizona, Chile, and Morocco; hang out with the TV stars, and keep whatever space rocks you find!

Hausen Rock Treasures Wholesale Inc.

For a wealth of stunning specimens without the bother of traipsing around outside, there’s Hausen Rock Treasures Wholesale. Browse for extraordinary geological specimens from the comfort of your home, and because the Hausen home base is in Tucson, getting your rocks and minerals shipped right to your door has never been easier. Although it markets itself as a wholesale and bulk provider, this rock shop will gladly work with any customer to find the ideal specimens, the most powerful healing crystals, and the most superb jewelry for your growing collection.

Whether you prefer to sift through shelves, explore the outdoors, or order online, there’s a Tucson rock shop to occupy your time no matter the time of year.

Looking for classic Arizona turquoise? Stop by Mac’s Indian Jewelry.

Work Smart: Professional Development Guide

Take advantage of these professional development networks in Tucson, Arizona

|By Mish DeCarlo

We all have to work, and we all want to thrive.

Tucson is becoming increasingly attractive for young professionals due to reasonable housing costs, a steadily growing economy, and connected communities. Tucson offers many resources for professionals and entrepreneurs that encourage growth, continuous education, and practical skill building. Get inspired by fellow professionals, learn from experts, and find resources in the Tucson area to help you get where you want to go.

Tucson Young Professionals

Tucson Young Professionals (TYP) provides a clear avenue for networking within the Tucson community while strengthening professional skills and promoting education, the arts, and the city. Members are eager to amplify the voice of Tucson’s young talent to develop a better place for young professionals to live, work, and play. TYP promotes Tucson, along with the rest of Southern Arizona, as a region filled with opportunity.

The organization hosts four signature events—CEO Roundtable, Member Mixers, ignite520, and ENGAGE. Each event serves a different purpose while curating a community of connections and inspiration in the professional workforce. The CEO Roundtable is held once a month and features a speaker who candidly shares their journey, from pitfalls to successes, in the professional world. Member Mixers also happen monthly and are hosted at a different venue each time. These events encourage members to explore Tucson, network, and have fun. Ingite520 is an annual, two-day professional leadership conference designed to catalyze personal and professional development, expand professional networks, and celebrate the successes of the Tucson community. ENGAGE is a unique opportunity for members to share their voice and address challenges in Tucson while facilitating conversations between mid-level professionals, C-suite executives, and community thought leaders. The event is limited to 50 guests, and participants are chosen through an application process.

TYP works to attract and recruit seniors from colleges and universities in Southern Arizona to engage with them about potential job opportunities in the community and encourage members to create an outlet for change. Members are aged 21 to 45 and receive priority purchase of discounted tickets to annual events; discounts at select local businesses, cultural institutions, and art organizations; and free VIP admission to monthly CEO Roundtables. To get involved with TYP, visit the Tucson Young Professionals website.

Tucson Entrepreneurs

Tucson Entrepreneurs offers business coaching, mindset mastery, and networking for startups and growing businesses. Members are provided with resources that educate in leadership, marketing, time-management, and practical business skills necessary to create successes and build optimal business culture.

On the first Tuesday of every month, Tucson Entrepreneurs hosts its free monthly meet-up. The topics of these meetings range from how technology is changing the workforce to the impact of election results in Tucson and the effects of the city’s rising minimum wage on its small businesses. Tucson Entrepreneurs also offers private and group coaching along with networking events at local Tucson businesses.

Their door is open everyone from early-stage to experienced entrepreneurs, leaders, managers, or employees looking to excel in their job or create a better workplace experience. Further, anyone who wants to master their mindset for happiness and success in their life and business is encouraged to become a member of Tucson Entrepreneurs. For membership inquiries, visit the organization’s Facebook page.

American Advertising Federation Tucson + Ad 2 Tucson

The American Advertising Federation Tucson (AAF Tucson) is a collaborative hub for a full spectrum of industry experts. Young professionals, rising stars, and today’s leaders from fields of advertising, marketing, communications, and media are encouraged to promote their industry’s importance and economic impact to the Tucson community.

Ad 2 Tucson is an American Advertising Federation affiliate where young professionals, aged 32 and under, who have experience in the field of advertising, marketing, and communication support the community. It offers a unique, career-launching platform that enables young industry professionals to get in front of established leaders.

All American Advertising Federation affiliate events in Tucson are posted on the AAF Tucson website. Events are open to the Tucson community and intended to connect professionals, cultivate new ideas, and excite and inspire the community. Some event examples are happy hours, featuring complimentary cocktails and appetizers, with a focus on promoting a common topic such as “How to Leverage the Latest Trends in Video Advertising.” All events require a ticket purchase.

Those interested in joining AAF Tucson should fill out a membership application.

UX@UA

UX@UA is a community for UX (user experience) learners and enthusiasts. It aims to grow UX expertise at the University of Arizona and in the Tucson community. Ultimately, UXers work to solve problems and design better digital experiences for users.

While there is no single UX program, degree, or central office at the UA, the members of UX@UA are doing UX work and studying UX methods across many departments and disciplines. Together, they can collaborate and build relationships centered on UX. The group can help members with crafting research studies that may include usability testing, user interviews or surveys, creating prototypes of prospective products and services, and making sense of user-research findings by pulling themes from studies.

Every month, UX@AZ hosts in-person meet-ups that include presentations and time to socialize. UX@AZ also has a drop-in hour every Friday for those seeking help in making websites, services, or products more accessible. The drop-in hour also serves as a platform for teaching those interested in learning how design-thinking practices can guide you to creative, impactful, human-centered solutions and for sharing about the field of UX and its possibilities as a career path in a more intimate setting.

Those who are interested are encouraged to participate in any of UX@AZ’s events, whether they are brand new to UX, a professional wanting to share expertise, or somewhere in-between. Members participate in local UX conferences and national UX celebrations. To learn more about UX and get involved, visit the UX@UA website.

American Marketing Association UA Chapter                              

The American Marketing Association (AMA) strives to be the most relevant force and voice shaping marketing around the world. It is an organization committed to service leadership. Members of the AMA are comprised of dedicated professionals who work, teach, and study in the field. The University of Arizona has a collegiate AMA chapter that provides members with a better understanding of what marketing entails while empowering them with leadership experiences and enabling them to give back to the community.

The Tucson chapter of the American Marketing Association is hosted by the University of Arizona, and it encourages Tucson professionals in the industry to get involved. The closest non-collegiate chapter—comprised of professionals through corporate affiliation—is in Phoenix. The University of Arizona AMA chapter holds meetings that include hands-on marketing and professional development activities, networking opportunities with professionals across a variety of industries, and fun philanthropic and social events. Members have the opportunity to participate in a marketing conference in New Orleans every spring.

For information about membership, visit the American Marketing Association website.

Startup Tucson

Startup Tucson focuses on supporting entrepreneurs within the community. The goals of Startup Tucson are to increase the number, quality, and diversity of startups and change the narrative of Southern Arizona as one that is seen as supportive and attractive for entrepreneurs, innovators, and startups. Startup Tucson is committed to ensuring equal access to its services and is supported by many Tucson businesses, such as the University of Arizona, The City of Tucson, and Arizona Commerce Authority.

Every year, Startup Tucson hosts TENWEST Impact Festival. It is one of Startup Tucson’s signature events. The festival curates a dialogue between the community and its innovators while working to solve the economic, social, cultural, and environmental challenges in Tucson. It spans ten days and is packed with exhibitions, talks, and interactive experiences. One of the days is dedicated to IdeaFunding, which aids as the business and entrepreneurship event inside of TENWEST Impact Festival. It is a full day of pitch competitions, panels, discussions, speakers, and networking.

Beginning entrepreneurs and seasoned veterans alike are encouraged to become a member of Startup Tucson. To obtain membership, you must attend Startup Labs. This ensures that there is an understanding of what your business is and what its needs are. Anyone who completes Startup Tucson 101—the first lab—is eligible to join the free membership program. To stay eligible, members must then complete a Startup Tucson Growth-Tracker survey. Every year, members must also complete a check-in survey to maintain their active membership. Members have access to one-to-one coaching and mentoring, PR support as needed, exclusive deals and discounts with vendors and partners, and network-only education courses. They also have the opportunity to apply for IdeaFunding Pitch Competition. For more information on how to attend Startup Tucson 101 and join, visit Startup Tucson’s website.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just beginning your journey in the workforce, the Tucson community is a connected and ambitious network to be a part of. Join your neighbors, friends, and colleagues in an organization that fosters professional development and personal advancement in the place you call home.

Discover more professional development opportunities in Tucson with this list of major companies that have expanded to Tucson.