Brewer Allan Conger

The people of Southern Arizona put their spin on places to visit.

By Stacey Gregory

Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Allan Conger spent ten years in the Marine Corps before finding his way back to the Old Pueblo, attending The University of Arizona, and meeting and marrying Alicia, a Tucson native. Not only does he like beer, but he also discovered a creative outlet through homebrewing.

“I like being creative, so we started brewing beer in our garage,” said Conger. “Folks thought we were pretty good at brewing beers, so Alicia and I thought we’d give it a go and try and work for ourselves.”

They opened 1912 Brewing Company, named after the year Arizona became a state. Allan is the brewer, and Alicia runs the taproom.

“The atmosphere is laid back and welcoming.  Our guests often describe it as feeling like home, and they can find something they like because we make such a wide variety of styles,” he said.

1912 offers more than 20 beer styles with about seven core brews on tap. Two flagship brews include Weapons Check (an Irish Red) and the award-winning Naughty Naranja (a gose). Seasonal options (fruit-permitting) include the favorite blueberry pie gose.

“My wife is Hispanic, so we also like to bring in Mexican ingredients, like our Mexican Candy gose,” he said.

When he’s not creating new flavors, Conger is exploring Tucson. He shares some of his favorites here.

Conger’s Tastes of Tucson

The obvious choice, but one not to be overlooked, is Tucson’s Mexican cuisine. You’ll find it on just about every street in the city. One of his favorites was also a 2021 Travel Magazine, “The 10 Best Hot Dogs in the USA,” and that’s The Sammy from El Guero Canelo. This is a Sonoran-style hot dog (a hot dog wrapped in bacon and topped with beans, onions, tomatoes, mayo, mustard, and jalapeño sauce) that has two hot dogs instead of just one.

“One Sammy dog is a full meal,” he said. “In the summer, a great addition is their mangoyada made with mango, chamoy, ice, tajín, and lime.”

Tucson has other options, too. The Parish tops his list. Tucson’s only Southern fusion gastropub offers bold dishes like Guedry’s Gumbo with crawfish hush puppies and an extensive selection of craft beers and unique cocktails created with housemade infused spirits.

“I love their compressed watermelon, pickled berry, and pork belly salad,” said Conger. “The people there are also great, including the owners. They push the envelope with different techniques and flavors.”

And when it comes to date night, the couple’s favorite cocktail is a whiskey sour at the Good Oak Bar, a downtown establishment serving local and regional whiskey and agave-based spirits, Arizona beer and wine, and delicious pub fare.

Follow Conger Around Tucson

Going outside is high on Conger’s list of things to do in Tucson. He spends time hiking and mountain biking at Sweetwater Preserve. The more than 880-acre preserve draws hikers, bikers, equestrians, walkers, and runners year-round. The 15 miles of trails were ranked #4 in the nation by

“You can spend quite a bit of time here, walking around and seeing all the different aspects of nature. It’s a good workout not too far from town,” he said.

He also points out the nightlife is a bit unusual in Tucson. The swanky Owls Club cocktail bar was once a funeral home built in the 1920s in downtown Tucson. Armory Park’s neighborhood haunt offers an extensive whiskey selection, an old-world wine list, well-curated spirits, and a modest beer program.

Another downtown Tucson funeral home was transformed into Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink with a second location in Oro Valley. Both modern Italian eateries serve elevated wood-fired pizzas and pasta, but the downtown location has the Tough Luck Club. The popular downtown basement speakeasy serves cocktails in the basement of Reilly.

Tombstone Re-enactor Sunny Quatchon

The people of Southern Arizona put their spin on places to visit.

By Stacey Gregory

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who loves Tombstone more than Sunny Quatchon. Originally from Los Angeles, California, she arrived in Mesa, Arizona, around 1986, moved to Sierra Vista in 2005, and found her sweet spot in Tombstone in 2010. She discovered The Town Too Tough To Die while searching for a vintage dress to match her handcrafted millinery (women’s apparel for the head).

“I’m a re-enactor, so I came to Tombstone to have an 1880s Victorian dress made. When the shopkeepers saw my bonnet, they asked if I would sell them in their store, so that was the start of me in Tombstone,” said Quatchon.

Today, she keeps busy as a Certified Tourism Ambassador for Visit Tucson, volunteers for the City of Tombstone marketing department, and works with the Arizona 80 Foundation promoting local attractions along 72 miles from Benson to Douglas on Historic Highway US 80.

“I’m far too busy doing tours to make beautiful hats anymore,” she said. “I am a step-on tour guide for the tour buses that come into town from places like Tucson and Phoenix. And besides that, I also show international writers and travel agents from the Arizona Office of Tourism around Tombstone and our Cochise County, the Land of Legends.”

Quatchon loves to dress in her vintage clothes and share the wonders visitors can explore in Southern Arizona’s Benson, Tombstone, Bisbee, and Douglas... and also the enchanting nearby Sonoran cities of Agua Prieta, Naco, Cananea, and Nacozari, Mexico.

Follow Quatchon Around Tombstone

Here, she shares some of her favorite attractions. Tombstone is known for the O.K. Corral, the legendary gunfight site, but there’s so much more to see and do there. Quatchon’s favorite is the Good Enough Mine Tour, a walking tour of an authentic 1880s silver mine that now includes an added dining experience called the Toughnut Dinner Theatre.

“The tour actually has four different levels so visitors can explore depending on how much of the stairs and climbing they want to do,” said Quatchon. “At the new dinner theater, you can go deep into the heart of the mine, sit on a dynamite case, have your dinner, and be entertained.”

The famed Oriental Saloon not only features family-friendly indoor live gunfight shows daily and live music every weekend to complement the full-service bar, but it also has electronic bingo Wednesday through Sunday, a big draw. Quatchon thinks it’s because people love to play electronic machines!

She also likes to show visitors the exciting Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, plus the Bird Cage Theatre and Old Courthouse State Park museums. Her other favorite Tombstone gem is the only Gothic Revival adobe church in the world—Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church at 3rd and Safford Streets.

“It’s the oldest Protestant church in Arizona, built in 1882 by Endicott Peabody with financial help from Wyatt Earp, who helped Rev. Peabody hang the classic silver oil lamps from the high ceiling. Tombstone has so many ties into history, and I love taking the tours to Saint Paul’s,” she said.

Follow Her Through Southern Arizona

Quatchon’s tours do not end in Tombstone. Along Old Highway 80, she likes Benson, Arizona, which caters to the RV crowd with more than 1,200 RV sites. It’s the Gateway to Cochise County and is home to Karchner Caverns State Park. Tip: make your reservations ahead of time for the Kartchner cave tour!

She enjoys Bisbee’s Queen Mine Tours too. Guests don a hard hat, miner’s headlamp, and a yellow slicker before boarding a train to head underground. The Copper Queen Hotel has entertained guests and ghosts since 1902 and is filled with Edwardian-era decor, Art Nouveau antiques, grand pianos, and Tiffany chandeliers.

“And then when we get down to Douglas, oh my goodness. The lobby of the 1927 Gadsden Hotel is priceless, all white marble and Tiffany stained-glass windows,” she said. “Downtown Douglas is being refurbished as we speak, and soon will be the largest Dual Port of Entry in the country.”

Quatchon, looking the part in her vintage clothing, is an absolute magnet when promoting her True West town at many important tourism conferences.

“Whether it be Benson, Tombstone, Bisbee, or Douglas—I like to stay with my tours as much as I can so that when we get to our destination, I can answer any questions and just be a good hospitality person wherever we happen to be,” she said.

Artist and Entrepreneur Sloane Bouchever

The people of Southern Arizona put their spin on places to visit.

By Stacey Gregory

Out of all the places in the world artist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and international traveler Sloane Bouchever chose to raise his family in Bisbee, Arizona. Born in New York City and raised all over the East Coast, he found himself exhibiting his paintings and working as a fashion model for the likes of Armani and Versace in Europe for a decade, eventually meeting his wife in Zurich, Switzerland. They started a family in Barcelona, Spain, before returning to the US.

“My wife Danielle and I moved to Bisbee in 1991 with our two little kids,” said Bouchever. “We were searching for a cheap place to live that offered affordable homes, liberal attitudes, great weather, and lots of working artists.”

A man of many talents, he founded more than 20 companies, and as a very early adopter of the Internet, he has been called an eCommerce pioneer. His current company provides encryption services to thousands of online merchants. He and his wife are also international and local humanitarians whose foundation has built multiple schools, medical facilities, libraries, and community centers in Haiti. His most passionate project to date though is the Artemizia Foundation, a contemporary, graffiti, and street art museum and commercial gallery.

“Our growing collection encompasses 700 works of art by 100 artists from 40 countries with a 50-50 ratio of female to male artists, 40% of whom are non-white artists,” said Bouchever.

Visitors can see major pieces by Swoon, Banksy, Lady Pink, PichiAvo, LeDania, Cey Adams, and Ai Weiwei. The unexpected collection is one of many surprises in Bisbee, and he shares his favorites with you.

Follow Bouchever Around Bisbee

Bouchever lives in Bisbee due in part to the thriving arts community, with more than 200 artists and many art galleries. A community project known as the Broadway Stairs transformed the alleyway of Bisbee’s Brewery Gulch with hundreds of thrift store paintings literally nailed to the walls and fences. International street artist MuckRock (Jules Muck) is a dear friend of Bouchever and has painted more than 60 murals on people’s homes and buildings, so he always takes out-of-towners on a “muck tour.” And, of course, visitors will want to explore the new location of Artemizia Foundation in the restored 818 Tombstone Canyon schoolhouse built in 1917.

On the south side of Bisbee is a former open pit copper mine known simply as “The Pit” by locals that he calls a mind-bender. Soldiers, miners, railroad laborers, and other young men started playing baseball in 1909 at the city’s historic Warren Ballpark. Explore the city’s rich past at The Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate.

“Bisbee has changed significantly over the past 32 years, it’s gone much more upscale, but Bisbee is still a liberal oasis in a conservative desert, as we like to say. Local T-shirts simply read ‘Mayberry on Acid’,” he said.

Bouchever’s Tastes of Bisbee

When asked to recommend places to eat, he shared an extensive list. The Copper Pig is his family’s new favorite spot and is a neighborhood eatery that serves upscale comfort food.  They have enjoyed Cafe Roka’s small plates and entrées for 30 years. Dot’s Diner is perfect for outdoor Sunday brunch surrounded by vintage Airstream trailers. Must-try dishes include the grilled pork with noodles and the pho at Thuy’s Noodle Shop and the Thai Me Up, Thai Me Down pizza at Screaming Banshee. He also says you can’t leave out The Quarry for the world’s best “Bitchin BLT.” And the longest continually run bar in Arizona is still operating—St. Elmo’s Bar was established in 1902 and is a beloved dive bar.

“For a tiny town, we’re incredibly lucky to have such diverse and wonderful dining and drinking options,” said Bouchever.

Art & Beyond Tucson’s Must-See Museums

By C. Jill Hofer

T-Town is a treasure trove of art, artifacts, and interesting items on display. Tucson’s museums provide much more than a cool respite from the daytime heat.  They give visitors a close-up look at art from ancient to contemporary and offer a trip back in time and a window to the many cultures that converge to make us who we are today.


The tapestry of Tucson is rich and colorful with a diverse, multi-faceted history. See how the fabric of the Old Pueblo is woven together at Tucson’s many museums inspired by the past.


Two girls look at vintage neon signs inside the Ignite Sign Art Museum in Tucson

The Ignite Sign Art Museum is described as an “out-of-control rescue mission” to preserve and restore historically significant  signs of Tucson. Marvel at neon-bending demonstrations, partake  in scavenger hunts and other interactive activities, or simply bask in the glow of the vintage signs of yesteryear.


This recreation of the Spanish colonial fort built in 1775 later became the founding structure of the city of Tucson. Artifacts are brought to life through docent tours and re-enactments of the daily lives and traditions of Native Americans and territorial settlers.


A model train diorama of Tucson sits inside the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum

A time capsule of Southern Arizona’s ranching and Western heritage, the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum showcases life in the 1900s through recreations of historic spaces as well as numerous railroad artifacts and more than 100 horse-drawn vehicles on display.


Celebrate the proud history of southern Arizona at the historic Josias-Joesler-designed Arizona History Museum. You’ll cruise through transportation history with wagons and a 1912 Studebaker car; explore treasures including Spanish colonial silver and Old West firearms; walk through a replica of an underground mine; and discover the stories and artifacts of Geronimo and Wyatt Earp.


Kids of all ages in the Old Pueblo can delight in a plethora of museums purposely curated with the whole family in mind. These destinations beckon with exploration, discovery, and family fun.


A little Asian girl runs forward with her hands outstretched.

Spend the day exploring this hands-on children's museum, which is home to an abundance of immersive, interactive, educational exhibits. This vibrant attraction welcomes all visitors to learn, discover, and create together.


Marvel at a dizzying array of antique and contemporary exhibitions of expertly curated miniatures collections. Demonstrations, artist receptions, storytime, and special events complement the awe and amazement which is guaranteed with every visit to this world-class Tucson treasure.


Two hawks stand on a branch

Explore the Sonoran Desert’s vibrant ecosystem through a wide variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits. Traverse slopes and grasslands and stroll through cat canyon, hang out in the hummingbird aviary, and more.


Many area museums are rooted in the Native American history of the Old Pueblo. Gain a greater understanding and appreciation at these spaces dedicated to the earliest beginnings of Tucson’s culture.


Just a few miles outside Tucson in the stunning Texas Canyon is the Amerind Museum, where you can explore the traditions and the contemporary lives of Native Americans and gain cross-cultural insights through Native American art, history, culture, and archaeology.


Dedicated to the preservation of Yaqui culture, customs, history, and traditions, this museum features a gallery, gift shop, and mini café. You can also attend history nights and workshops, including traditional flower-making, embroidery, and cooking classes.


A historic photo of a group of women and men from Tohono O'Odham

The permanent collection of important art and artifacts at the Tohono O’odham Nation Cultural Center & Museum extends to the great outdoors with nature trails and petroglyphs, preserving culture and instilling pride through education, programs and outreach.


Tucson is home to veterans from all branches of the armed services and area museums offer outstanding opportunities learn more about Tucson’s military history.


The Pima Air & Space Museum is the 80-acre home to thousands of artifacts and more than 400 historic aircrafts, viewable outside and within indoor exhibit hangers. Three hangers are specifically dedicated to WWII. Let your imagination take flight viewing examples from a Wright Flyer to a 787 Dreamliner.


Inside the 390th Memorial Museum hanger with vintage military airplanes

The 390th Memorial Museum offers a compelling look at WWII history as told through the stories of the 390th Bomb Group personnel. Learn about these heroes and the 673 airmen who sacrificed their lives in 1943. Admission is included in the Pima Air & Space Museum entrance fee.


Curious Tucsonans and visitors alike ponder the questions, “Where did we come from?” and “Where are we going?” These museums offer a look some of the ways we got from there to here.


Classic cars on display inside a museum

The Tucson Auto Museum shares its pristine collection of up to 75 iconic cars along with a wealth of automobilia. There’s something drool-worthy for every automobile aficionado from mid-century classics to vehicles from the movie Batman Returns.


The historic Southern Pacific Railroad Depot is home to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, providing educational outreach, oral history, and archival collections dedicated to Tucson rail history. Visit for a special event or just to be amazed at Engine #1673, originally built in 1900 as a steam engine.


It’s no surprise that the Old Pueblo was described as a “mini mecca for the arts” by the Wall Street Journal—some of the finest art in town is found in these museums.


A gallery shop.

Established in 1950, the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Museum celebrates the life and art of Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia. View the six permanent collections and rotating exhibitions as well as the work of up-and- coming local artists in the open-air mission with a top-notch gift shop.


The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson was established by artists as Tucson’s only museum devoted exclusively to contemporary art. Originally a downtown firehouse, the space is bursting with innovative art and the museum maintains a full exhibition and artist-in-residence program.


A gallery filled with art.

The Tucson Museum of Art hosts 2,000 works of art in a blend of historic adobe and modern architecture. Two main rotating exhibitions complement the permanent collection of sculpture, textiles, paintings, pottery, and more.


The first university in Arizona Territory has been a hub for Tucsonans to gather, learn, and connect since 1885, offering culture, entertainment, and a wealth of art for the public’s enjoyment.


Two guests sit on a bench looking at a painting

The University of Arizona Museum of Art offers something for everyone with special events, art talks, book signings, and rotating shows on contemporary topics as well as special examples from artists of all ages.


The outside of the Arizona State Museum

Since 1893, Arizona State Museum has studied the region’s 13,000-year human history and the Indigenous cultures of our area. Discoveries and findings are shared and expanded through gallery tours, master classes, and travel experiences offered through the oldest and largest anthropological research facility in the US Southwest.


Conveniently located in the Historic Pima County Courthouse in downtown Tucson, the Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum boasts three major galleries: Mineral Evolution, Arizona Gallery, and a Gem Gallery. The collection spans from 1892 to modern times and features many touchable specimens as well as interactive exhibits.


For an Rx on the history of pharmacy, the Coit Museum of Pharmacy & Health Science is just what the doctor ordered. Home to one of the world’s leading pharmacy collections, this unique museum displays pharmacy and health sciences with complimentary admission.


Discover a clear view of the past through The John E. Greivenkamp Museum of Optics’ collection of antique and historical optical devices including telescopes, microscopes, lenses, and cameras from the 18th century to the present.


The wealth of interesting and enlightening museums is indicative of Tucson’s diverse, creative, and insatiably curious residents and visitors. Add these interesting spaces to your must-see list.


The outside of the Tucson Jewish Museum

Located in the first synagogue in the Arizona Territory, the Tucson Jewish Museum & Holocaust Center explores the legacy of Jewish experiences in our area. The center provides education about the Holocaust and other genocides while promoting diversity and human rights through dynamic features highlighting present-day social justice issues.


Japanese tapestries hand on the wall.

The cultural center and museum at Yume Japanese Gardens leads visitors through exquisite garden paths to a gallery brimming with Japanese art. Observe traditional folk artifacts, costumes, decorative arts, and woodblock prints, as well as ceramics, textiles, metal works, and the largest Ikebana flower vessel collection in the United States.

If a society can be measured by its creativity, art, and artists, Tucson makes the grade. Explore the myriad of museums to amplify your inspiration and expand your knowledge and understanding of the many forms of art preserved and displayed in the Old Pueblo.

Chain Reaction

A how-to guide to cycling Tucson’s award-winning Chuck Huckelberry Loop

By Robert Gibson

There is nothing quite like the desert at dawn. Getting out of bed, fed, dressed, and out the door to ride is the proverbial race before the race. Even though Tucson’s midday temperatures can be unrelenting, the early mornings are wondrous. There is something very satisfying about being on the bike before the sun peeks over the mountains. I am fortunate that I live about one-and-a-half miles from The Chuck Huckelberry Loop, named after the Pima County Administrator that oversaw its construction. This asphalt network follows along the banks of the city’s waterways, circumnavigating busy Tucson streets for 131 miles, and is affectionately referred to as The Loop by locals.

The Anatomy of The Loop

When I say waterways, I mean that metaphorically. These rivers only flow during abundant monsoon deluges now. Their banks are the bedrock for the asphalt that encompasses The Loop. The main or “inner” route of The Loop follows the Rillito River Path on the north side, the Pantano River Path and Harrison Greenway on the east side, the Julian Wash Greenway on the south side, and the Santa Cruz River Path on the east side. Along certain sections, mainly the Santa Cruz and the Rillito, there is a path on both sides of the river bank. But be mindful as you’ll need to cross over at certain locations.

The Loop itself is a figurative loop; it’s more of a rhombus or trapezoid. The complete inner route is 54 flattish miles and can be ridden clockwise or counterclockwise. If ridden clockwise, you’re looking at about 700 feet of elevation gain. If ridden counter-clockwise, it’s around 900 feet of elevation. Each direction has a slightly different vibe predicated primarily on how and when you want to finish the uphill sections and, vis-á-vis, your starting point.

What the Tucson area lacks in a cross-town freeway, it makes up for with The Loop. The vast majority of its miles are tarmac uninterrupted by car traffic or stop lights. There are a few instances of road crossings and venturing out onto surface streets. However, you’ll be able to maintain a steady clip as you’ll fly under most major roads for the lion’s share of the route. Signage, directions, and mileage are abundant, easily facilitating orientation, staying on course, and managing time constraints.

Loop Routes to Ride

There are vestigial sections of The Loop that extend farther north and south, primarily along the Santa Cruz River Park. The most significant is the Cañada Del Oro River Park (CDO). The CDO peels off the inner loop at the northwest corner and proceeds northeast along the western flank of the Santa Catalina Mountains. This section heads uphill (+500 feet; .8% grade) for 11 miles and affords stunning views of the rock formations that comprise the northern slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

My favorite route starts at a popular midtown location at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park, located at the intersection of Alvernon Road and Dodge Boulevard. Riding clockwise, you’ll cycle upward for the first 18 miles along the Rillito River Park, Pantano River Park, and Harrison Greenway (+510 feet of elevation; +.6% grade). After that, you are treated to a downward slope for the next 26 miles along the Julian Wash Greenway and Santa Cruz River Park (-680 feet of elevation; -.5% grade). The route concludes on 10 miles of false-flat Rillito River Park back to Brandi Fenton Memorial Park. The benefit of rolling clockwise is that most of the uphill work is completed early, and numerous corners and chicanes exist on the Julian Wash Greenway.

Rolling counterclockwise, you’ll go downhill for the first 10 miles on the Rillito River Park before hitting the 26-mile uphill section from the Santa Cruz River Park and Julian Wash Greenway to the Harrison Greenway on the southeast side. After that, you are treated to a 17-mile downhill dash along the Harrison Greenway, Pantano River, and Rillito River back to Brandi Fenton Memorial Park. The benefit of this direction is that the last 17 miles face the Santa Catalina Mountains, the crown jewel of natural beauty in Tucson.

Herein lies the charm and utility of The Loop: its predictability. The Loop can be whatever ride you want or need it to be, especially if you are riding solo.

Where Recreationists and Cycling’s Masochistic Elite Meet

The Loop is a multi-use path. As such, the list of “pathletes” is lengthy. There will be parents teaching their kids how to ride. Kids showing their parents how to ride. Weekend warriors and cycling’s crème de la crème (especially in the winter) training for their next big race. Human-powered machines of all manner and configurations. Hand-cyclists, recumbents, and the occasional aerodynamic-research- project-inspired fully enclosed bicycle. You’ll witness bipedal modality of all sorts, from your leisurely morning dog-walker all the way up to various luminaries of the endurance pantheon. This variety makes the people-watching aspect of The Loop second-to-none.

You will cross paths with people on all modes of self-propelled transportation at varying speeds and skill levels. Some are commuting to work, some are chasing fitness, and some are exorcizing the day’s anxieties. I feel that, especially if I am the more experienced cyclist, it is my responsibility to ride cautiously and predictably, especially in the more congested areas.

When you’re using The Loop, be communicative. Throw a smile, a wave, a couple dings of your bell, or a friendly “coming up on your left” when encountering others. A little extra courtesy can go miles (pun fully intended).

The other benefit of The Loop’s utility is getting you to and from other rides. Have an itch to tackle the world-class climb that is Mt. Lemmon (25 miles; 5,300 ft. of climbing)? Get off The Loop at the Tanque Verde bridge and head east.

I asked a friend if they had a favorite part of The Loop. They responded, “This right here. You can do a little bit of ‘this’ (gesturing with their head down, mimicking a hard effort) and a little bit of ‘this’ (gesturing with their hand going back-and-forth between us).” So, whether you are using The Loop as a warm-up, a cool-down, a transition to a larger ride, or it is the entirety of the ride, it has something for every cyclist and occasion.

About Robert Gibson

Robert “Robb” Gibson has been riding primarily mountain bikes with some road riding since 1992. What began as a sport he tried to best his friends at became a lifelong passion he has since taught his child (on The Loop). Robb hates getting up early but loves early morning rides. His favorite road ride is Mt. Lemmon, and his preferred mountain bike ride is La Milagrosa.

The People of Tucson: Performer Gigi Chanteuse


By Stacey Gregory

You can't miss Gigi Chanteuse. This petite  performer packs a vocal and visual punch as the front-woman for Gigi and The Glow. Arizona’s favorite dance music cover band draws a crowd at entertainment venues around Tucson, performing happy, upbeat, nostalgic music from the 50s to today’s hits, with cumbia and Latin songs sprinkled into each set.

Her passion for performing was sparked by her grandma, who would make her perform for friends. At five, she started dance classes, and at 15, her professional career began. She formed Gigi and The Glow with her husband Daniel, a seasoned drummer from Los Angeles, CA, when the pair recognized a need for high-energy dance music in Tucson. The couple also works with various musicians to perform other musical styles, including jazz.

She moved from California to Tucson in 1993, raising four children and welcoming a grandson in the Old Pueblo. While her band takes her to gigs in California and Texas and a beach home to Mexico, she’ll always take the five-hour trek to return to Tucson.

Follow Gigi Around Tucson

It should come as no surprise that a performer would seek out local theater. One of her favorites is The Gaslight Music Hall of Oro Valley, where audiences enjoy concerts and revues spanning every musical genre. Guests are treated to the finest family entertainment in Arizona, and a full menu with pizza, wings, sandwiches, salads, and a wide variety of beverages, including cocktails and milkshakes.

Outdoor adventures take Gigi to Sabino Canyon and all the hiking trails found in Southern Arizona. She also enjoys the Omni Tucson National Resort golf course that hosts PGA tournaments and The Westin La Paloma Resort golf courses, noting they’re not only a great place to play golf but also for walking.

Plus, Tucson is known for bike riding. It is the home to one of the premier bicycling events in the country—El Tour de Tucson—that has been part of the community for nearly four decades and welcomes more than 7,000 cyclists annually.

“We performed for them, and it was so much fun. El Tour de Tucson is a tradition here, and we were very honored to do that,” says Gigi.

Tucson is also home to The Chuck Huckelberry Loop, recently voted Number 1 on USA Today’s 2022 “10 Best Reader’s Choice List” for Best Recreational Trail. The 131-mile loop connects the communities of Tucson, Oro Valley, South Tucson, and Marana and provides a safe place to walk, bike, skate, and even ride a horse.

“Riding those bike trails, you’ll see so much beauty. The Tucson desert has so much breathtaking scenery, especially during monsoon season when everything turns green and pops with color. It’s a work of art, like tapestries that unfold overnight,” says Gigi.

Finally, she can’t say enough about the sunrises and the sunsets. When you’re in Tucson, look to the sky for a real treat.

“I grew up in California, and I love California, but there’s nothing like Tucson. The weather here is amazing, and the sunsets are the most beautiful you’ll ever see,” she says.


“Where can I begin? Everything is good here!” says Gigi. “I’m not a big eater, and I love that in the last five years, Tucson now has more and more vegan venues and menus.”

Of course, St. Philips Plaza is high on her list; Gigi and The Glow regularly perform on the patio surrounded by Proof Artisanal Pizza & Pasta, Reforma Modern Mexican, and Union Public House. Guests can choose to dine on handcrafted artisanal pizza and house-made pasta, authentic Mexican food with a modern and playful twist on fresh local ingredients, and made-from-scratch American fare using local and sustainable ingredients. Each restaurant serves clever libations and is a happy hour and brunch staple.

“I could go on and on; Tucson is packed with delicious restaurants. Tavolino Ristorante Italiano and Wild Garlic Grill in the Foothills are some of my favorites. Another is HiFalutin, and inside the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa is Azul Restaurant. Not to mention all the Mexican food; there are just so many options here,” says Gigi.

The People of Tucson: Public TV Executive & Notecard Creator Enrique Aldana


By Stacey Gregory

Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, Enrique Aldana immigrated to New York State when his mother remarried. He was five when he arrived and was enrolled in kindergarten without speaking English. Bullied in school, his haven was watching shows like Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and The Electric Company on PBS. He credits the shows with helping him learn American culture and the language. At 12, the family relocated to Tucson, Arizona, where he graduated from Amphitheater High School and began a career.

His then-girlfriend-now-wife encouraged him to continue his education. At age 28, Aldana enrolled in the Eller School of Business at The University of Arizona—earning his degree in three years and becoming a sales manager at Tucson Newspapers, Inc. Life was good, but it was going to get better.

Aldana had two daughters by now, and his wife, Katie, volunteered at their school. As fate would have it, their daughter’s teacher was married to Jack Gibson, CEO of Arizona Public Media, Tucson’s PBS station and NPR radio licensed through The University of Arizona. He took a chance and asked for an introduction to Jack as a resource for job opportunities. The meeting paid off: Aldana received an offer to join the very organization that gave him comfort as a child. Today he is the senior director of development at Arizona Public Media and won the Association for Fundraising Professionals "Outstanding Fundraising Executive" for 2021.

“I grew up watching public media; it gave me a strong foundation to succeed. I get to pay it forward for people who want to continue to learn or have children who need a safe place to watch quality educational television,” he says.

Tucson Through Aldana's Lens

Not only does Aldana connect to his community through public media, but he also creates notecards. At his daughter Sophie’s encouragement, he started Yours Truly Notecards, marrying his passion for photography with the city he loves. Many of his notecards feature the Tucson landscape and the charm of the Southwest.

“People don’t realize that The University of Arizona has a beautiful botanical garden open to the public. It’s a hidden gem where you can walk around campus enjoying hundreds of species of plants,” says Aldana.

The UA Campus Arboretum houses plants from arid and semi-arid climates around the world. In-person guided tours start at The University of Arizona Memorial Fountain. Tours range from Arboretum History to Sonoran Native Plants, each tour lasting 60–90 minutes.

Aldana recommends Agua Caliente Park, a lake area with spring-fed ponds and ducks, herons, turtles, and fish.

“This is a great place to spend time with family and have a picnic. You’ll feel like you aren’t in Tucson anymore it’s so green,” he says.

He also says to explore Mt. Lemmon, an hour from Tucson. The peak of Mt. Lemmon is the highest in the Santa Catalina Mountains at 9,171 feet. The temperature there averages 30° cooler than in the valley, offering a respite from the desert heat, complete with tall trees, brooks, and streams. Hikers, rock climbers, campers, cyclists, and skiers flock here.


“Tucson is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, so there is no shortage of delicious food here,” says Aldana.

His favorite restaurants include The Little One and Boca Tacos y Tequila. The Little One is a Tucson staple and has been around since the 80s, serving healthy and authentic Mexican food for breakfast and lunch in a little space in downtown Tucson. Boca Tacos offers authentic Sonoran Mexican cuisine developed by the founder, owner, and award-winning executive chef, Maria Mazon.

“The Little One is tiny, quaint, loud, colorful, and delicious. I never order the same thing twice. Bring cash here, and be prepared to get a hug with your dish,” says Aldana. “At Boca Tacos each of Maria Mazon’s salsas taste unique and imaginative. The flavors she creates are a taste explosion in your mouth. You must try them all.”

Of all the places to get great food in Tucson, the ultimate for Aldana is not a restaurant at all but a food truck. For more than 25 years, El Manantial Tacos Y Hotdogs has served Tucson from the corner of 36th Street and Park Avenue.

“I’ve been eating their burritos, hot dogs wrapped in bacon, and quesadillas for at least 20 years. I even had them cater my 50th birthday party; they pulled right up in my front yard,” he says.

Keep Tucson Weird

It’s hip to be weird here. Let us show you the ways.

By C. Jill Hofer

How do you describe a place that defies definition? Words like unusual, unique, strange, surprising, odd, and yes, weird come to mind. After all, it’s hip to be weird. The now-famous motto “Keep Austin Weird” was adopted by Portland, Oregon, and other quirky-cool communities looking to retain their unique identity. When we consider a few ways T-town is different, it’s easy to see why we’d like to keep it that way.

Tucsonans Put the “WE” in Weird

It’s the people that make Tucson so special. Diversity defines our municipal identity, and for this, Southern Pacific Railway deserves some credit. In the 1880s, the arrival of the railroad diversified an existing melting pot of Indigenous, Mexican, and American people. The result? A city brimming with culturally influenced dining, events, art, and music.

Tucson’s art and music scene reflects our wonderful weirdness, spans every genre, and defies categorization. For a sampling, simply stroll down Congress Street and Fourth Avenue. Tucson’s love affair with itself is on display and beautifully illustrated by the Tucson Portrait Project at the Fourth Avenue underpass. Marvel at the 7,000 individual photo tiles and consider how we combine to create one amazing community. Throughout town, large-scale professional art installations are showcased alongside a myriad of murals and a plethora of personal projects, all contributing to the collective, arty vibe. Walk, skate, or bike through a rattlesnake bridge. Appreciate the small and large-scale mosaics adorning the city of South Tucson. Cruise around town to applaud the homes, yards, and traffic roundabouts flaunting handmade creations. From sculptures and mosaics to Little Free Libraries, giving pantries, free art sidewalk galleries, and business and residential murals, Tucson’s creativity is on display.

Add a Little Weird to Your World

Tucson loves Tucson. We appreciate authenticity and prefer to express our style through handcrafted, upcycled, local goods. As a result, T-town is filled with fun, funky galleries, shops, flea markets, and a dizzyingly diverse swap meet.

Don’t miss Old Town Artisans, Why I Love Where I Live, & Gallery, PopCycle, and other T-Town merchants for a locally focused, nonstop shop’portunity. For expertly curated threads previously flaunted by stylish Tucsonans, explore the aisles of Buffalo Exchange, a thrift store with 40 stores across the US and founded right here in the 520.

“Tucson is a place where people are appreciated for being unique, individual, and creative. When I came over from Sweden at 18, I felt like I could finally be myself and express my own style, and people actually liked it,” says Buffalo Exchange Founder Kerstin Block. “Tucson is a haven for artists, creatives, and anyone who wants to forge their own path rather than just going with the flow. That’s the beauty of Tucson.”

Take a Walk on the Weird Side

The creative team behind the All Souls Procession dreams up meaningful events, remembrances, craft workshops, benefit performances, and offbeat fundraisers throughout the year. These gatherings orbit around the All Souls Procession and Ceremony, a signature event to honor the dead and celebrate the living. Well over 150,000 people join the two-mile-long human-powered procession through downtown Tucson in the fall. It ends in the ceremonial burning of a large urn filled with the photos, hopes, offerings, and wishes of those in attendance for their loved ones who have passed.

MSA Annex Festival Grounds plays host to a bevy of weird and wonderful happenings. This welcoming plaza pollinates community culture with galas, concerts, artisan markets, workshops, roller discos, dance parties, and more. Mix and mingle with a band of merry weirdos through the local chapter of the  Cacophony Society. Self-described as a “randomly gathered network of free spirits united in the pursuit of experiences beyond the pale of mainstream society,” this group gives Tucson’s counter-culture a boost.

“I transplanted myself to the Sonoran Desert over 35 years ago. Every day I am re-burned by the light, impressed by the tenacity of the bumpy, toxic creatures that thrive around me, and inspired by the magical Wild West surrealism surrounding the Old Pueblo. How could this place ever NOT be weird? Viva!” says All Souls Procession Artistic Director and Founder of Flam Chen Pyrotechnic Theatre Co., Nadia Hagen-Onuktav.

Weird by Nature

Native flora and fauna must be a little weird to survive hot summers, winter freezes, and temperature fluctuations regularly topping 30° in a single day. Towering saguaros and unique species of scorpions thrive alongside the only known non-captive jaguar and ocelot in North America in Southern Arizona. Our javelinas look so much like pigs it’s weird they actually belong to the deer (peccary) family.

And if anyone tells you Tucson is weird because we don’t have seasons, let them know we do daily! Tucsonans enjoy spring before 8 a.m., mid-day summers, early evening fall, and a bit of winter overnight.

The 520 even boasts a unique fifth season identified by the Tohono O’odham. “A special time takes place around April, when the mesquite, palo verde, creosote, brittlebush, and other yellow flowering plants are in full bloom. It’s one of the 12 seasons of our lunar calendar, called s-uam masad or yellow month,” says Maegan Lopez at Mission Garden.

Try your Weird on for Size

Don’t be shy! Get out and contribute to the vibe. By exploring the more interesting side of Tucson, you might also discover a whole new side of yourself.


For some wildly weird attractions, stop by any of these fun and funky places around town. The Old Pueblo is home to El Tiradito, America’s only Catholic shrine dedicated to a sinner.

El Tiradito

The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures packs a world of wonder into staggeringly small creations. Valley of the Moon is a unique artist-created enchanted historic fairyland that promotes kindness and imagination. The University of Arizona’s chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Tucson Steampunk Society take members back in time with gatherings, events, and an annual Wild Wild West steampunk convention.

About C. Jill Hofer

An avid appreciator of the Tucson arts, fire performance, music, and maker scenes, Jill Hofer can be spotted at galleries, restaurants, Tucson hotspots, and on a tile in the Tucson Portrait Project. Between openings and special events, she’s sculpting jewelry in her home studio overlooking the Tucson valley.

South-of-the-Border Sweet Treats

By C. Jill Hofer

Visitors and residents agree. In Tucson, life is sweet. Picture-perfect weather, arts, music, culture, nature, and abundant culinary choices make Tucson a top spot to live and vacation. It doesn’t hurt to have easy access to many treats from south of the border without leaving the Old Pueblo. Explore a world of Mexican sweets with no passport required.

What’s so Sweet? Raspados

This cool concoction is enjoyed around the globe. Known as shaved ice, snow cones, Italian ice, and more, by any name, they are refreshing and delectable. Crafted from a variety of freshly chopped fruits and a myriad of toppings, raspados can be creamy with condensed milk and ice cream or non-dairy with just fruit and ice. Add chamoy syrup, chili powder, a squeeze of lemon, and tangy tamarind candies for a distinctively south-of-the-border sweet and sour twist.

Where to Find the Treat? OASIS FRUIT RASPADOS

Since 1983, the Carrizosa family has delighted Tucson with authentic raspados at Oasis Fruit Raspados. Pick your passion from a dozen or more raspados varieties, including banana, coconut, pineapple, and mango, or venture off the beaten path with plum, tamarind, or cantaloupe. Amp up the experience with a Picosito — the combination of tamarind, plum flavoring, and chili powder goes down surprisingly smoothly through the (also delicious) tamarind-dipped straw. Order yours macedonias-style to substitute ice cream for ice. Try an escamocha (loosely translated as “leftovers”): a Mexican fruit salad crafted with variable, flexible ingredients, such as creamy yogurt and a sprinkling of granola for an added crunch. Iced coffees and a broad selection of snack foods ensure everyone goes home happy.

What’s so Sweet? Pan Dulce

The subject of pan (bread) dulce (sweet) conjures images of the pastries offered to ancestors on the Day of the Dead. The most iconic example found in every Mexican bakery is the concha, thus named because it looks like a seashell. Soft bread is baked with colorful cookie dough designs on top. Other classics include bandera (flag) cookies in red, white, and green, and pretty pink niño envuelto (sponge cake jelly rolls) coated in coconut sprinkles. Ever-popular empanadas are tasty filled turnovers, beloved around the world.

Where to Find the Treat? LA ESTRELLA BAKERY

For a pan dulce taste tour, head to a La Estrella Bakery. Sample their showy conchas, taste the bandera shortbread cookies, and bite into the almost too-cute-to-eat cohitos (little pigs) made with molasses and cinnamon. Delight in a variety of classic doughnuts, jelly rolls, and specialty cakes, and don’t miss their top seller: empanadas. Regulars line up for these petite turnovers filled with pineapple, mango, apple, Bavarian cream, and their most popular: pumpkin. The family-operated bakery opened in 1986 on 12th Avenue: both locations also offer bread, tortillas, tamales, and menudo to satisfy sweet and savory cravings of Mexico.

What’s So Sweet? Loca Diced Fruits

Fresh fruit cups (vasos de fruta), found in cities and towns across Mexico, have been a beloved street food for generations. They’re a symphony of seasonal fruits, often topped with tangy chamoy syrup, chili powder, and lemon juice. These colorful cups are a simple, healthy snack full of flavor and zing. As beautiful as they are delicious, unique versions of this Mexican street fare can be sampled at select Tucson raspado shops.


This colorful establishment has a jam-packed menu, but Funland’s loca diced fruit treats can’t be beat. Available in Sandia Loca (watermelon) and Piña Loca (pineapple), they are a fiesta de fruitas. It’s easy to see why they’re named “loca” (crazy). Fruit lovers are lured in by the gorgeous presentation of a whole watermelon or pineapple, cored and filled to overflowing with fruit, Japanese peanuts, and tamarind candies, then topped with a tamarind straw, a single saladito (salted dry plum), and a tiny umbrella. They’re a feast for the eyes, and their generous size makes them suitable to share with the whole family.

What’s So Sweet? Specialty Cakes

Grown-ups and kids on both sides of the border share an affection for confection and a love of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions with a cake. When we think of Mexican-inspired cake flavors, tres leches (three milks) most often come to mind. Give this moist, luscious cake a try, or choose from an endless variety of familiar favorites, from cheesecakes to good old-fashioned chocolate.

Where to Find the Treat? SUSPIROS PASTELERÍAS

Now the largest bakery in Mexico with outposts in Tucson, this family business began in Hermosillo in 2003. The name Suspiros (sigh) refers to desserts so good they “don’t last as long as a sigh.” Artfully decorated and almost too pretty to slice, customer favorites are strawberries and cream, piña colada, black forest, oreo, plum, coconut, and quatro leches.

It’s a step beyond tres leches, and the fourth leche is yogurt! For a taste of old Mexico, the bakery serves coyota cheesecake with a sampling of coyota pastries on the side. Coyota was the name given to the women of Mexican and native heritage who visited cities and towns to sell their round pie-crust goodies. Eventually, the famous pastries were also called coyotas. To this day, they provide a decadent taste of history.

What’s so Sweet? Paletas

At first glance, these frozen delights look a bit like an ordinary Popsicle. One bite reveals a world of difference. Refreshing and simple, paletas are handcrafted from a dizzying array of ingredients, from natural fruits to nuts and cookies. The contents are blended with condensed milk or water, poured into a mold, and chilled. A bit like a mosaic on a stick, paletas are delicious works of art.


Named for Michoacán, the Mexican state where paletas originated in the 1940s, this bustling pink-striped paletería offers a tantalizing variety of flavors. La Michocana’s strawberries and cream paleta is numero uno, and among the dairy-free selections, their watermelon and mango paletas top the list in popularity. Several varieties are dipped in chocolate and coated in coconut, pistachios, walnuts, or pecans for an added flavor sensation. The spicy Diablito features Mexican candies and chamoy syrup for a tangy twist. Variety, freshness, and innovative paletas keep customers returning again and again.

What’s so Sweet? Mexican Candies

To most American palates, the mix of tangy, spicy, sweet, and sour tastes aren’t expected in a candy. One brave bite will pucker your mouth, open your eyes, and tantalize your taste buds. At first odd and intriguing, the flavor combinations may have you reaching for more. You might find yourself dreaming about complex, nuanced Mexican candies long after your taste-test expedition.

Where to Find the Treat? FOOD CITY, MOM & POP MARKETS

A quick trip to the grocery store or corner market can feel like a mini-vacation in Tucson. Add a little spice to life at any Food City grocery store or one of the many Hispanic mom and pop markets around town, where bountiful candy aisles transcend the standard Snickers and traditional Twix. Tried-and-true favorites include dried mango strips coated in spicy chili powder, mysterious wrinkled saladitos (dried plums), colorful bandera coconut bars, and off-the-chart sweet marzipan varieties. Tamarind-based snacks abound, served in plastic spoons, on drinking straws, and in the spiraling serpentina candies often found atop raspados and diced fruits. Mexican candies are often presented in clear packaging to reveal a glimpse of what’s in store, so grab the ones that catch your eye.

The People of Tucson: Wine Importer Dale Ott


By Stacey Gregory

Dale Ott knows the alcohol and spirits business. This fifth-generation Arizonan grew up on a little farm in Coolidge, Arizona, before arriving in Tucson for college. She left and came back five times — the sixth time, she thought she might as well stay. Eventually, she married Steven Ott, a fifth-generation Tucsonan, and the two embarked on careers in the alcohol industry that led them to wine importing. The pair are opening Nossa Imports this spring, an import and distribution company that gives a platform to underrepresented wine regions of the world. They often travel to Mexico and the Iberian Peninsula to meet with small vineyards to help them break into the tricky US market while simultaneously bringing what has been an inaccessible luxury item to everyone.

“Why do we need inaccessible things? We need things that bring people together, especially now, and landscape and food and beverages do that. It’s the things that make us all the same,” said Ott.


While these two are often off traveling the world, Tucson is always where they return, a place filled with culture. She points to South Tucson with its different municipality, vibrant style, and the native reservations, most notable the Tohono O’odham Nation, as examples.

“The coolest thing about Tucson is that we are such a multicultural place. The Borderlands is one of the most diverse regions with our mix of cultures across the region and all the history that goes along with it,” said Ott.

Ott says unique geographical spots around town are what tie cultures to its community. Gates Pass is one of her most special places. According to Ott, the land was part of Mexico, and now it’s in the US.

“Going up to Gates Pass, there’s a little rock house that’s kind of up on top. It’s a two-second hike up from the parking lot and has the best view of the sunset in town. When we’ve accomplished something big, we’ll take a bottle of champagne and go watch the sunset with our dog,” said Ott.

Another place that has been part of Mexico is the Mission San Xavier del Bac, a historic Spanish Catholic mission located about 10 miles south of downtown Tucson, on the Tohono O’odham Nation San Xavier Indian Reservation. And, of course, there are hiking trails with three noted favorites. The Finger Rock Trail leads to Finger Rock, a 100-foot-high formation that marks Finger Rock Canyon located in the Santa Catalinas. Seven Falls is a trail found in Sabino Canyon that boasts seven waterfalls, and 25 miles south of Tucson is Madera Canyon Nature Trail that features beautiful wildflowers.

Ott’s Tastes of Tucson

When it comes to food, Ott has praise for two of the most talented chefs in her eyes, both born and raised in the Old Pueblo. Mike Hultquist Jr., the fourth generation to run the family-owned-and-operated El Torero with his dad, Mike Hultquist Sr., commands the kitchen inside the pink restaurant that opened in 1956. He blends old school and new school that Ott says is beautifully unified.

The other notable chef is John Martinez of Tito and Pep, a contemporary neighborhood bistro that encompasses the spirit of Tucson and the Southwest. After starting restaurants in New York and along the East Coast, Ott says that he returned with a completely different level of understanding internationality and hospitality that he brought back to his hometown of Tucson.

Of course, Ott has a bevy of places to get a cool drink across town. She loves dive bars, including Danny’s Baboquivari and The Shelter in midtown. On the west side is The Wagon Wheel and Nevada Smiths Steakhouse Saloon on Miracle Mile, where you can toss peanut shells over your shoulder onto the sawdust-covered floor. Downtown, her favorite is one of the oldest bars in Tucson, Arizona, The Buffet.

“This is really where my husband and I courted each other. We both worked till four in the morning, and then we would find a place for breakfast before going to The Buffet at 6 a.m. for a hot dog and to say hi to all the rest of the hospitality community with the same schedule. Talk about part of the community. It’s a place where everybody is the same, you know,” said Ott.