Cool Escapes

Discover Daytrips to Higher Elevations and Even Waterfalls

By Heather Wuelpern

Whether you are visiting Tucson for the first time or have lived here for decades, elevating your Tucson experience by venturing out to nearby areas not only can help beat the heat, but you will see some of Mother Nature’s most superb work. Go ahead and treat yourself to a change of scenery. You may find that you have an entirely new perspective when you journey to higher elevations, explore underground, or discover a place to dip your toes in the water.

Get your camera ready! Adventure awaits.

CHIRICAHUA NATIONAL MONUMENT

Chiricahua landscape

Head east on Interstate 10 through scenic Texas Canyon and take a side trip to the Amerind Museum or the infamous roadside attraction “The Thing” on your way to or from Chiricahua National Monument.

The area encompasses 12,025 acres filled with 17 miles of hiking trails developed to protect the “Wonderland of Rocks” created from the eruption of an ancient volcano. As you drive the nicely paved road past the pines and live oaks, and spot the otherworldly hoodoo rock formations the first time, the chances of someone in the car not belting out Paul Simon’s lyrics, “Who do you think you’re fooling?” are slim to none.

Get up-close to the magnificent hoodoos and catch glimpses of acorn woodpeckers or Mexican jays when you hike easy trails, like Bonita Springs or moderate ones, such as Echo Canyon Loop Trail. Even if it’s too hot to hike or if mobility issues are a factor, you will still have photo ops galore without leaving your car.

Mt. Lemmon

A woman sits on rocks at Mt. Lemmon.

 

How does being about 20 degrees cooler sound? On a hot day, you’ll love to feel the outside temperature go down as you drive up Mt. Lemmon on Catalina Highway. Typically, being in nature and unplugging go hand in hand, but The University of Arizona Mt. Lemmon Science app is an exception to the rule. Not only will you hear the local band Calexico play in the background, but you will also learn about the history and geology of Mt. Lemmon as you drive to the top. Once there, take the ski lift for a bird’s-eye view, devour a cookie as big as your head at the Cookie Cabin, and venture out on a hike starting from Marshall Gulch or other nearby trailheads. Pitch a tent or rent a cabin for the night to enjoy stargazing in the cool mountain air.

Did You Know?
You can go mushroom foraging with the Desert Alchemist to learn how to spot the differences between edible, psychedelic, and medicinal mushrooms. His tours are typically offered three days a week from mid-July through mid-October.

Bisbee

The town of Bisbee, Arizona

Bisbee exudes coolness—both figuratively and literally. This funky hilltop getaway packs history, charm, art, and ghosts within its mountain-flanked roads. After devouring a delectable meal at Café Roka, Poco Restaurant + Market, or Screaming Banshee Pizza, climb up as many of the nine staircases that make up the annual Bisbee 1000 competition that your legs can handle. There’s no better way to sneak a peek at hidden tile mosaics, murals, or gardens than when making the climb.

Just out of town, check out the vintage trailers corralled at The Shady Dell—each one showcases authentic memorabilia from the year it was built. Continue to step back in time on Erie Street in nearby Lowell and snap pictures of classic cars and retro storefronts.

Did you Know?
Ghost tours are excellent excursions to learn about the history of Bisbee. A good night’s sleep might be harder to achieve after you hear about what once happened where you booked your room for the night though.

Mt. GRAHAM

Mt. Graham Arizona

Mt. Graham reaches the highest elevation of these getaways. Being a bit more than a daytrip from Tucson, camping might be the best bet. Riggs Flat campground can be reached by way of the Swift Trail Scenic Drive without the need for a 4x4 vehicle. You will feel that you are on top of the world with the majestic views.

Did You Know?
To expand your horizons even more, head to the Mount Graham International Observatory for an out-of-this-world experience. Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus leads tours with accessibility to the telescopes in the observatory.

Oasis in the Desert

Visitors gather along the rocks in Sabino Canyon

Waterfalls are a welcome surprise at the end of several hikes in and around Tucson, such as Hutch’s Pool or Seven Falls in Sabino Canyon, Romero Pools in Catalina State Park, Bridal Wreath Falls off far east Speedway Boulevard, or Tanque Verde Falls off Redington Road. Of course, the water levels can vary depending on the amount of recent rainfall. Always be extra cautious of your footing since rocks can become slippery when wet. And be aware that monsoons are unpredictable and potentially deadly. Know the forecast and make sure the terrain suits your abilities.

Patagonia Lake

The tip of a red kayak on Patagonia Lake

 

Patagonia Lake offers an escape to water and everything that comes with it, such as fishing, boating, camping, and a beach. Get there by way of Sonoita, and stop at any of the wineries in the area, visit La Cienega Nature Preserve, and get a green chile burrito or a coffee milkshake at the Corner Scoop next to the post office in town. Head back to Tucson via Nogales to see more sights, such as Tumacacori and Tubac.

Did you Know
The town of Patagonia holds a quaint Fourth of July parade each year. Dine at Velvet Elvis Pizza Company and order such gourmet pizzas as The Exorcist, Southwest Diva, and Tuco’s Revenge.

72 Degrees, Please!

Kartchner Caves in Arizona

Southeast of Tucson lies two underground destinations — Colossal Cave and Kartchner Caverns. Book tours in advance to save your spot to learn about stalagmites, stalactites, and other impressive formations carved out from the earth millions of years ago. Know that even though the temperature at Kartchner Caverns can be 30 degrees cooler than temperatures aboveground on a hot summer day, the humidity level can reach heights that sometimes can make breathing uncomfortable. Both caves are wheelchair accessible as well.

Did you Know?
There’s an easy way to remember which is which. Stalagmites with an M before the “ite” grow from the cave floor like an M. Stalactites, with a T before the “ite” hang from the ceiling like a T.

Harrison Ford Will Not Save You

Hikers must understand the importance of ample water, sun protection, and proper footwear. In addition, the monsoon season poses an additional threat of potential flash floods. Be aware of the forecast, always tell someone where you are going, and have a map in case cell service isn’t available.

Heather thinks of life as a journey full of adventures and tries to inspire others to get out and explore. She gives guided hikes to an off-the-beaten-path crested saguaro for her side hustle with Airbnb Experiences.

Camping Made Easy in Southern Arizona

Discover 7 can’t-miss campsites near Tucson

By Ciara Jean

Southern Arizona is known for its beautiful scenery. Sunsets and sunrises, mountains, saguaro cacti, and green bushes all around is what makes Southern Arizona the best place to take an overnight trip in the Sonoran Desert. Start planning your getaway under the stars with this list of seven amazing campsites any outdoor enthusiast must explore.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park

If you are looking for an adventure within another adventure, Colossal Cave Mountain Park is the perfect place to camp. Located in Vail, Arizona, less than 40 minutes outside of Tucson, the campground has 30 campsites within two large areas, El Bosquecito and La Selvilla, and multiple smaller spots. During the day, there are plenty of family-friendly activities including a guided cave tour, guided horseback riding, and hiking and biking trails. At night, you can start a campfire under some of the largest saguaro cacti and mesquite trees in Arizona.

The campground is more tailored to tent camping, but there are some areas where a limited number of RVs can park and camp too. The sites come with tables and barbecue grills but have no electric and offer limited places to use the restroom and refill water.

Address: 16721 E Old Spanish Trail, Vail, AZ
Tent camping: $10 per vehicle/night
RV and Horse Trailer Camping: $15 per vehicle/night

Rose Canyon Lake

If you are looking to go camping during the warmer months, Rose Canyon Lake is a beautiful destination. Located on Mount Lemmon, the campground has an elevation of 7,000 feet and is surrounded by ponderosa pines and oak trees that give the feeling you are camping in the forest. This is a good location for hiking, fishing for stocked trout, and bird-watching. Plus, it is close to nearby activities on Mount Lemmon, such as the shops and restaurants in Summerhaven.

There are more than 70 campsites, with half reservable and the other half on a first come, first served basis. The campground accommodates both tent camping and RV camping, but there are no electric outlets for either. Credit cards are not accepted, so bring cash.

Address: Catalina Hwy, Mt Lemmon, AZ
Cost: Sites start at $24 per vehicle/night

Picacho Peak State Park Campground

Photography by Kevin Dooley flickr

If you want a more developed option, Picacho Peak State Park Campground is a great place to stay. When coming into Tucson from Phoenix, there is no way you would miss this beautiful peak right off Interstate 10 just 40 miles outside of Tucson. The campsites are located at the bottom of the peak and offer more than 85 sites for both tents and RV campers.

There are multiple activities for families and individuals, such as hiking trails, historical markers, animal watching, and playgrounds for children. Nearby there are also opportunities to go skydiving, visit the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch, and see national monuments like the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.

The state park usually has both reservable spots and first come, first served spots, but due to COVID-19, they are only accepting reservations. Their facilities include restrooms, showers, electric sites, sewage dump station, and trash dumpsters. There is a $7 entry fee to the state park.

Address: 15520 Picacho Peak Rd, Picacho, AZ
Cost: $25–$30 per vehicle/night depending on the season

Patagonia Lake

Photography by Alan Stark flickr

For family fun, Patagonia Lake is a wonderful spot. Located in Nogales, Arizona, about an hour and a half from Tucson, the park has two campgrounds and 105 campsites around the huge lake. Some spots are more secluded, while others are side by side to accommodate larger groups. They also offer boat-in sites for camping on boats. Activities for all ages include a designated swimming area, boating, kayaking, and hiking trails. Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and paddleboats are also available for rent at Lakeside Market. Birds seem to find this lake a paradise, so if you like to bird-watch, this is a prime spot. The park is known for waterskiing and fishing.

The campsites include a firepit, tables, barbecue grills, and electric. Some have ramadas and water spouts. The beach has a picnic area and outdoor showers.

Address: 400 Patagonia Lake Rd, Nogales, AZ
Cost: $15–$20 per vehicle

Roper Lake

This campground is for people who want to camp but are not sure if they want to stay in a tent. Roper Lake is located in Safford, Arizona, nearly two hours away from Tucson, and has three campgrounds. Two campgrounds, Hacienda and Cottonwood, offer 45 campsites for tent and RV camping, but the third campground, Gila, offers eight cabins, five non-electric sites, and 14 group camp areas.

Activities here include a designated swimming area with a beach, boating, fishing, and many hiking trails. If you want to adventure off the campground, check out the Hot Well Dunes, Mt. Graham International Observatory, and Discovery Park: Nature’s Hideaway

Hacienda and Cottonwood sites come with water, electric, firepits, picnic tables, and some small ramadas. They also include bathrooms and hot showers by the entrance of the campgrounds. The Gila cabins come with a variety of furniture, beds, electric, and air conditioning and heating.

Address: 101 E Roper Lake Rd, Safford, AZ
Cost: $10 per vehicle for entrance fee, $65–$70 a night for cabins

Parker Canyon Lake

Photography by Alan Stark flickr

If you want a great escape from the Arizona heat, Parker Canyon Lake is the best place to be. Located in Elgin, Arizona, this campground is more than a mile high in elevation. Therefore, it is 20 degrees cooler in temperature than Tucson. They have 40 campsites and 25 RV sites scattered among oak trees and junipers. The campgrounds are just a short walk from the lakeshore and a short drive from the boat ramp and fishing pier. Activities here are boundless and include swimming, fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, boating, and pedal boating. You can bring your own equipment or rent it. You are also able to rent fishing boats, fishing gear, and get your fishing licenses.

Bathrooms are located at the campgrounds, and they have a small concession-operated marina and store open every day. Drinking water, picnic tables, and bear-proof food lockers are available at the campground too.

Address: 9000 S Parker Canyon Rd Elgin, AZ
Cost: Parking: $8 per day or $10 per week
Camping: $20 per night

Saguaro National Park

Photography by John Fowler flickr

Located in the Rincon Mountain District, Saguaro National Park East will have you camping with only what you can carry on your back. This campground is for nature lovers. It is packed with endless hiking trails and wildlife watching. If you are ready to escape electronics, then this is your haven.

The six campgrounds can only be accessed by hiking, but be warned—these are intense hikes with an incline into higher elevations. It is highly recommended that you bring a gallon of water, per person, per day. Temperatures are much cooler at a high elevation, so wearing layers is a must. Permits are required to camp and can be purchased online. The campsites do have bathrooms. There are some sites that do not allow fires. For more information about each campsite visit their website.

Address: See website for campground locations.
Cost: $8 per night, $25 for permit

 

South Tucson, a Community of Culture and Cuisine

Story and Photography by C. Jill Hofer

The city of South Tucson is a one-of-a-kind enclave, nestled entirely within the Tucson city limits. Those yet to discover this tiny municipality are in for a big surprise. Affectionately known as the Pueblo within a city, South Tucson boasts a triple crown of community, cuisine, and culture.

Community 

The sense of community begins at the borders, where colorful mosaics mark the city limits. Incorporated in 1936, South Tucson occupies just over one square mile, with these welcoming borders at 26th and 40th Streets to the north and south, 12th Avenue to the east, and 2nd Avenue and the train tracks to the west. The eye-catching mosaics welcoming drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians are thanks to the Las Artes Youth Art Program. Students ages 17 to 22 work together to create the inspiring public artworks. In exchange, the budding artists build self-confidence and receive on-the-job training as well as a stipend for their community service. 

The community is an official municipality with its own police force, fire department, schools (within the TUSD district), city council, city manager, and mayor. The area is home to supportive, community-building organizations such as the John Valenzuela Youth Center, Sam Lena South Tucson Library, the House of Neighborly Services, numerous churches, and other health and human service agencies. 

As Tucson expands upward and outward, the city of South Tucson is retaining its sense of community and unique identity while feeling nearer to downtown with each passing year. Past census data indicates the area is home to an estimated 5,700 residents and just under 2,000 households, a tiny fraction of the size of Tucson. The city is small but growing and drawing more investment, visitors, and attention than ever before. It’s gaining favor with businesses and attracting bohemians, artists, and musicians to live, work, and visit. Forward-thinking creatives are beginning to repurpose homes and buildings, and the arrival of residents seeking more-affordable housing options is reenergizing, and somewhat redefining, the community.

Cuisine

What’s bringing this attention to South Tucson? For many, the initial draw is a quest for authentic Mexican food. When it comes to cuisine, the city of South Tucson puts the “city” in authenticity. A nationally recognized food scene has for decades lured diners from Tucson, elsewhere in the state of Arizona, and beyond in search of “real deal” Mexican food. Foodies flock to well-known favorites such as 

Crossroads, Micha’s Restaurant, and Mi Nidito Restaurant, which was made famous with a 1999 visit by President Clinton.

Cuisine isn’t limited to true-to-roots Mexican heritage food. Visitors here enjoy other landmarks such as Sue’s Fish & Chips and the Café Santa Rosa which specializes in Sonoran and Native American cuisines. Diners also delight in an array of innovative twists including a growing number of vegetarian and vegan options. 

Healthy choices are rapidly multiplying as restaurants respond to a sustained wave of interest in fresh, locally sourced, healthy dining. As they have for decades, the city’s chefs and restaurant owners pioneer their own brand of Mexican, Sonoran, and Native American cuisine with a nod to current trends and interests. El Torero has drawn countless diners to the area with the lure of the original Lerua’s tamale—a regional favorite—and is leading the way with an array of creative vegan options. The University of Arizona has its own presence with The Garden Kitchen, offering seed-to-table gardening and cooking education, nutrition information, and physical activity opportunities.

Culture

Delicious food is clearly a highlight. But before or after devouring that classic tamale, flavorful Sonoran hot dog, or fluffy frybread, look beyond the menu to discover the other flavors of South Tucson. Here, culture is not synonymous with spotless, flawless, or perfect. Photogenic streets are still a little rough around the edges. Artful mosaics are appreciated through chain link fences, and colorful murals can be seen on walls with slightly crumbling corners. The rugged beauty fits well with the renegade history of the city.  

This history, a fierce sense of independence, and an easy, confident, slow-paced vibe define the culture of South Tucson. A relaxed pace of life exists alongside bustling streets and busy avenues lined with thriving businesses. A quick drive offers a glimpse of many of the more than 300 businesses operating in this relatively small area: markets and banks, printers and designers, auto repair shops, and of course, restaurants. Commerce goes beyond the expected convenience stores and chain pharmacies to include a myriad of specialty stores like Handyman’s Haven, numerous tortillerias, meat markets, and grocery purveyors, large and small.  

Overnight stays are available in the Arizona Motel and Paradise Inn Motel. Taverns such as the Saint Charles Tavern and Club 4th Avenue are known for their lively events, music, and loyal regulars. Music, heritage, and camaraderie can be found in abundance at El Casino Ballroom, with a history inextricably tied to the Latin American Social Club. Families reserve the venue year-round for private events and special occasions, and music lovers flock to concerts hosted here by KXCI Community Radio. Those who appreciate art can choose from a myriad of original creations at Galeria Mitotera, a collaborative gallery space showcasing local talent and artists of color. 

There’s a lot to discover in South Tucson. This pueblo within a city is attracting visitors and new neighbors with a sense of community, extraordinary cuisine, and an abundance of cultural offerings. Take a drive, stroll the streets, stop and shop, call for take-out, or make reservations at one of the many restaurants offering dine-in options. See, hear, and taste for yourself why the word is out about this not-so-hidden gem.

To learn more, visit southtucsonaz.gov, check out related pages on Instagram, or dive a little deeper by reading Pulido del Barrio Libre: The Life of Reynaldo M. Santa Cruz, by Renaldo Santa Cruz.

A Day in Tombstone

Dust off your boots and saddle up, partner. We’re road tripping to the town too tough to die.

|By Amanda Oien

A saloon-lined dusty street and the sound of spinning spurs greet visitors to Tombstone, Arizona, a place known for its Wild West history.

In 1881, gunfire rang out near Fremont Street, which later became known as the famous O.K. Corral Gunfight with Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday. In just 24 seconds, 30 shots were fired.

This gunfight would put Tombstone on the map; along with the American Old West’s famous outlaws and its historic buildings that still stand today, including the Bird Cage Theatre which was once known as the “wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast” according to the New York Times.

Morning


Allen Street Shopping

Giddy up, y’all, we’re going shopping. Allen Street is the main street of Tombstone and is lined with vintage clothing, antique and souvenir shops. You can easily spend hours sifting through the past and present.

The Shady Lady’s Closet has everything from Western wear and accessories to 1880’s Victorian wear. If you’re looking for Native American jewelry, pottery, sandpaintings, fetishes, rugs, or artifacts visit one of Arlene’s three locations along Allen Street.

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Afternoon

Lunch

Don’t go hungry now, ya hear? Half-way down Allen Street, you’ll find Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, named after Mary Katherine Haroney, a Hungarian dance hall girl and woman of the night, who was Doc Holliday’s on and off girlfriend. She later became known as Big Nose Kate.

Hunker down for food, live country music, and beer served in a glass stein.

Pro Tip: If you want to dress up and take pictures, behind the bar, on their piano, or with a cowboy or saloon girl, you can do so for free.

Sight-seeing

The O.K. Corral gunfight is reenacted daily at 11a.m, 12p.m, 2p.m. and 3:30p.m.; each show lasts about 30 minutes. However, you’ll want to get your tickets at least 2 hours before showtime to secure a seat.

Be sure to check out all that the O.K. Corral has to offer, including the stables with buggies, the cowboy bunkhouse, and even a look at the hearse used to take unfortunate souls to their final resting place at Boothill Cemetery. 

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Make your way on over to the Tombstone Epitaph Newspaper Museum. Home to Arizona’s oldest newspaper, it’s still published today. Read the original 1881 reports of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and find out how newspapers were printed back in the 1800’s.

Pro-Tip: Admission to the Epitaph is free

Built in 1882, the Tombstone Courthouse still stands today and is now considered a State Historic Park.  Learn about the miners, cattlemen, and pioneers of Tombstone and see replicas of the courtroom, sheriff offices, and the gallows where seven men were hanged.

Delve into the silver mining economy that kept Tombstone alive with a tour of the Goodenough Mine, dating back to 1878.

Evening

Before riding off into the sunset, stick around for one of Tombstone’s many ghost tours, including a walking tour of Tombstone or a haunted tour of the renowned Bird Cage Theatre, that has been said to be haunted by the spirits of prostitutes and cowboys.

Tombstone has many annual events centered around the town’s history. Take a gander before planning your next day trip to the town too tough to die.

Plan your Tombstone trip today

Pumpkin Picking: Tucson-Area Patches

| By Amanda Oien

Halloween is creeping up and whether you need a pumpkin for carving or want a plump one for your porch, you better get one now before you find yourself gourd-less on October 31st.

With Nick and Laurie Buckelew permanently hanging up the hat on their pumpkin patch, there’s two local spots to get your pumpkins this year and channel your inner Sanderson Sister: Apple Annie’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard in Willcox and Marana Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival in, you guessed it, Marana.

If you’re having trouble deciding on where you want to pick your perfect pumpkin, we’re here to help.

What You Need to Know: Apple Annie’s Pumpkin Patch

Apple Annie’s is located in Willcox, Arizona, which is about an hour from Tucson. But don’t let the drive deter you— it’s a pretty one. Plus, it’s a bit cooler too!

Two scarecrows dressed in overalls sit atop an Apple Annies wagon, surrounded by hay bales and pumpkins.

There’s no charge for admission or parking at the patch or orchard. If you plan on hitchin’ a hayride around the patch or orchard, it’s $4. 

You can pick pumpkins, veggies, and apples at the Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard, either yourself or at the barn stand. If you want to know what fruit and veggies you might find at the farm, check out their Harvest Calendar.

Apple Annie’s is home to Arizona’s largest corn maze, spanning 20 acres. Those 12 years and older, the cost is $8. If you’re bringing little ones, between 3-11 years old, the cost is $6.

Here comes the sun(flower!) Arguably one of Apple Annie’s best photo ops is their sunflower patch.

A straight walking path lined with towering sunflowers as the sun illuminates their bright green leaves.

Each weekend in October, Apple Annie’s hosts their Fall Pumpkin Celebration. The festivities kick off with an all-you-can-eat pumpkin and buttermilk pancake breakfast 8:30-10:30 a.m at the Orchard Grill. Or stop by for an applewood smoked burger for lunch. There’s truly something magical about eating at a picnic table in an orchard. If you still can’t get enough, feast on pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, and homemade cider donuts.

Bonus Tip: If you love candy corn, try Apple Annie’s candy corn fudge. You won’t be disappointed.

What You Need to Know: Marana Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival

Post Farms, where the Marana Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival is located, is around 30 minutes from Tucson. Once you’re headed down Kirby Hughes Road, you’ll start seeing pops of orange in their 50 acres of homegrown pumpkin patch. 

The Marana Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival offers free parking, but does charge for admission. Depending on which day of the week you visit, admission ranges from $11 to $15 per person. Kids 34'' and under get in free.

People pick pumpkins in the distance at the Marana Pumpkin Patch in Marana, Arizona. The sky is a twilight blue with the moon visible.

Before you head to the patch via wagon, get your money’s worth with everything included in your admission: entrance to the corn maze, petting zoo, pig races, jumping pillow, slide and swings—just to name a few. Because the patch and festival are open until 7 p.m, take advantage of the golden hues beaming over the pumpkin patch just before sunset. It’s not only cooler, but you’ll get beautiful photos too.

While a lot of activities are included in admission, some are not. The zipline will cost you an extra $7 and the pony ride is $5.

Bonus Tip: While an added cost, definitely get out those singles for the pumpkin cannon. For $1 a shot, you’ll have a smashing time.

If you’ve worked up an appetite, the festival has everything from pizza and corn dogs to apple cobbler and soft ice cream.

The Bottom Line:

If you’re a bit older, Apple Annie’s is for you. Whether you’re on a date, with friends, family, or out-of-towners, the farm and orchard are the perfect place to wander, take photos, and pick produce. Apple Annie’s has been around since the 1980’s, making it an Arizona staple.

If you’ve got kids, or if you’re a kid at heart, and are looking for more than a farm experience, Marana Pumpkin Patch is your perfect pick. It truly is a festival, with lots of kid-friendly activities.

Be sure to check each location's COVID-19 policies and as always, if you're feeling unwell, stay home.

The Iconic Movie Locations of Southern Arizona You’ve Never Heard Of

Take a ride through the dramatic Sonoran desert landscape that inspired Hollywood stars and directors. Old Tucson—known as Old Tucson Studios back when—has played host to more than 300 movies and television shows, and it can’t be matched for its sets. However, few know that movies filmed there often featured the panoramic backdrop of Marana's rocky slopes and Saguaro-studded plains. Filming in this area began as early as 1910.  Iconic western films and television shows were set under the vast blue skies, rugged mountain ranges and sweeping expanses of arid desert around the city.

For a true, immersive, Old West experience book a stay at the White Stallion Ranch, a family-run dude ranch on 3,000 acres of pristine Sonoran desert bordering Saguaro National Park West. Saddle up and ride where movie stars made silver screen history. Explore a landscape that hasn’t changed much since cowboys chased outlaws and cattle across the windswept ridges. The ranch even offers film history tours to its overnight guests. 

Marana and its ranches continue to be the setting for movies, television shows, and commercials today. Our spectacular terrain is featured in a nature documentary, Jeep promotional video, Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot, several independent films, and an episode of TLC’s “Four Weddings.”

Discover Marana’s rich cinematic history, a contemporary oasis surrounded by the panoramic vistas of the Old West.

Tip: Get to Old Tucson from Phoenix via Saguaro National Park West through Marana. Take exit 236 off I-10 (Marana Road) and you’ll see two of the wonders of Southern Arizona in one majestic drive.

Bisbee’s 18 Galleries

Experience the New Old West

| By Andrew Schaeffer

Embark on a delightful journey to the mining-turned artist community of Bisbee. With 18 galleries, 35 restaurants and restaurants, and more than 50 places to stay, this quirky town is perfect for an inspiring day trip or overnight stay from Tucson.

Upon arriving in the historic district, stroll up picturesque Main Street and be dazzled by the town’s gorgeous 120-year-old architecture. The scenery is indeed quaint and charming, but this is a town that takes its art seriously. With a vibrant arts community that is continually growing, you’ll find the works of art varies greatly from gallery to gallery. Some galleries are run by the artist themselves who exhibit and sell their own pieces while others cater to showcasing internationally recognized and established artists. This variety ensures you’ll have plenty of excuses to scoop up fabulous art from one (or more) of the fine art galleries that dot Bisbee’s delightful downtown.

To help grow the artist community, three artist residencies are available to visual artists, writers, photographers—really artists who work in any media. These programs help launch young artists’ careers by providing opportunities for them to exhibit their works without having to worry about securing their own gallery or living space. And by embracing them within such a strong artist community, connections that last a lifetime will be made between the fledgling artists and the professionals, as well as to the town itself.

Featured Galleries

Artemizia Foundation
Museum and Annex Gallery

The Artemizia Foundation encompasses a contemporary, graffiti & street art museum with a commercial gallery component located in the heart of Old Bisbee.

Founded by entrepreneur, artist and philanthropist Sloane Bouchever, Artemizia Foundation’s museum exhibits a collection of modern masters including Willem de Kooning and Pablo Picasso, juxtaposed with contemporary masters such as Andy Warhol, Ai Weiwei, Kara Walker, and Yayoi Kusama, alongside street art masters Banksy, Swoon, and Vhils, to provide 20th to 21st century perspective. The Foundation’s collection includes paintings, prints, and sculptures, as well as digital NFTs.

Perhaps most exciting is the diversity of the artists featured. The Foundation’s collection
of over 600 artworks by 90 artists from over 30 countries features an equal ratio of female to male artists, with artists of color making up nearly half.

SamPoe Gallery

Exclusively featuring the work of husband and wife Poe Dismuke and Sam Woolcott, SamPoe Gallery is a paradise of contemporary art. Sharing the space, you’ll bounce around from admiring Sam’s paintings and prints to pondering over Poe’s kinetic sculptures. Sam’s works—inspired by Bisbee’s architectural idiosyncrasies taken into a near-abstract form—shine new light, color, and perspective onto the old mining town’s famous style. Poe’s tabletop contraptions and mechanical marvels give new shape and form to ordinary objects and animals, and his pieces are crafted out of common materials used in ways most of us couldn’t conceive.

Broadway Stairs Gallery

Giving new life to a once-dark stairway alley off Bisbee’s Brewery Gulch, residents created a pop-up gallery and filled the surrounding walls with art. The Broadway Stairs Gallery is made up of funky thrift store finds and dumpster dives, so not only is the alley getting a second chance but the art is as well. The mix is definitely eclectic, and that just adds to the appeal. In a town known for being artsy and being quirky, this resident-made spontaneous gallery is the perfect representation of Bisbee.

Galleries at a Glance

Main Street

Art Home  79 Main St.

Artemizia Foundation Museum  27 Main St.

Artemizia Annex Gallery 24 Main St.

Belleza Fine Art Gallery  27 Main St.

PanTerra Gallery  22 Main St.

55 Main Gallery  55 Main St.

J.F. Thamm Gallery  40 Main St.

Tang Gallery  32 Main St.

Main/Page Gallery 2 Main St.

Subway Street

SamPoe Gallery  33 Subway St.

Brewery Gulch

Broadway Stairs Alley

Subway Gallery  47 Brewery Ave.

Howell Avenue

Central School  43 Howell Ave.

Plan your art tour of Bisbee

Tubac Road Trip

by Jeff Atwell | photos by Fred Schmiedeskamp

Friends from out of state had been in town for two days. We checked in on their Instagram to see how things were going. They had traipsed through the Catalina foothills on a sunset horseback ride, conquered vertigo on the zip lines out in Oracle, and discovered prickly pear margaritas at their resort. By all accounts, they were having the quintessential Southern Arizona getaway.

We were on the agenda for day three, and said we’re taking them to Mexico. Or, just 20 miles shy of the border to Tubac. Mid-May in Southern Arizona means 100˚ is here or near. But on this blessed day, cloud cover and a forecasted high of 79˚ made us feel like school kids on a snow day.

Good Fortune #1

Ten miles south of Tucson, Mission San Xavier creates a bright white pop just off I-19. We pulled in right at 11am. Mass had started and there was just enough room at the back of the mission to step in and get a look at the statues and murals inside the oldest European structure in Arizona, without disrupting the service.

We walked the grounds and got some pictures of the Spanish Colonial architecture and cactus gardens in full bloom. On the way back to the car, the Tohono O’odham frybread stand and curious ground squirrels provided two more things our friends from the East Coast had never seen.

Good Fortune #2

We had wanted to have lunch at Elvira’s, a 90-year-old restaurant from Mexico with satellites in Tubac and Tucson. All morning I had been thinking about their mole poblano. But it was Sunday and we were hunting food at lunchtime without a reservation.

When we found Habanero’s in another corner of the village of Tubac and snagged the last open table, we were back on our lucky streak. We started with a round of habanero mango margaritas and tore into a basket of chips with guacamole and salsa that was hot, hot, hot. After some hefty street tacos, we were back on our feet.

Good Fortune #3

Our covert motive for the Tubac trip came out when we started to stroll. Tubac’s shops sell art, jewelry, and all sorts of Mexican home decor. The last time we came down to Tubac, we wanted to get a tin star chandelier for the patio but could not decide on raw tin, patina, or painted. After stewing on it back home, we decided on yellow. Bright yellow.

As we popped in and out of import shops and art galleries, I tried to remember where that little place was that had the painted stars—down an alley off a side street, where the pavement turns to dirt. We walked through the village and searched many colorful shops before we found it. High gloss and cartoon yellow. And it was the last one!

Good Fortune #4

On the drive back to Tucson, a massive storm formed over the Catalinas. Our friends were used to rain, but not desert rain. We could see ribbons of downpour angling off the wall of grey that blocked out the mountain. We were barreling down 1-19 under a bright sky without a drop of rain on the road until we hit midtown.

We had hoped to stroll Fourth Avenue or the University of Arizona campus to show them a little more of our city, but everyone wanted to get back to the house and watch the storm from the patio. The yard smelled of wet creosote and the chill in the air was invigorating, the last we’d feel for a while. We hung the star, sat back, and watched the ground suck up the rain. When the storm let up, we asked what they’d like to do next and they chose another Southern Arizona phenomenon—they went back to their resort for a siesta.

A Desert Getaway to Remember

Discover the top reasons to stay at Aravaipa Farms | By Heather Wuelpern

Whether you live in Tucson or Phoenix or are just visiting, there’s a place you need to discover. About an hour’s drive from northwest Tucson or two hours southeast of Phoenix—through a saguaro forest and into one of Arizona’s most pristine red rock canyons—lies Aravaipa Farms Orchard and Inn. This 46-acre oasis in the desert is a must-visit, especially after remarkable renovations were completed in March 2017. Read on to see how there’s something for everyone at Aravaipa Farms Orchard and Inn.

Create lasting memories

With room for up to 19 guests, the Inn has plenty of space for a family reunion, girlfriends’ getaway, couples’ retreat, or any other group looking to connect with Mother Nature.

Photography by Julie Foskett

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Experience the great outdoors

Outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring the Aravaipa Wilderness Preserve—the entrance is only five miles east of Aravaipa Farms. After a day in nature, you can relax by the pool, dine, and share stories of your adventures.

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Photography by Julie Foskett

Romance under the stars

Sometimes couples don’t agree on everything. Perhaps one loves to camp in the great outdoors, the other prefers comfy accommodations. Aravaipa Farms has the best of both worlds—where nature meets comfort.

Visit aravaipafarms.com or book your stay by calling Laura at 520-261-7373 or email info@aravaipafarms.com.

10 Reasons Marana is on the Rise

By Lindsay Lawson

Travel north of Tucson on I-10 and you’ll discover the town of Marana, Southern Arizona’s diamond in the rough. Visiting for a day or weekend is definitely not enough time to experience all that Marana has to offer—with so many plans for new attractions and services in the works, even a week of exploration won’t do this destination justice. It’s no surprise many Arizonans are relocating to Marana after learning about these perks:

1. Fresh air everywhere

Becoming one with nature in the heart of the Sonoran Desert is easy when you don’t have to go far. Whether you prefer a casual hike and a picnic lunch or a more adventurous experience, the Tortolita Mountains offer pathfinders of all skill levels a trail to remember. From birding to bicycling, outdoor adventures await! Saguaro National Park borders Marana and provides a gorgeous backdrop of flora and fauna to be enjoyed by all.

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Signal Hill petroglyphs

2. Family fun minutes away

Keep the kids happy each summer at the Heritage River Park Splash Pad and earn yourself many cool parent points. Explore the cycling path along the Santa Cruz River and enjoy the picturesque desert waterway that attracts a variety of wildlife to observe. Annual family-friendly events hosted by the Town of Marana take place throughout the year, including the Fourth of July Spectacular, Cotton Festival, and the Holiday Festival and Christmas Tree Lighting.

3. Engaging education everyday

Today’s kids need a school environment and curriculum that embraces technology and prepares them for a bright future. Qualified and caring teachers and staff members engage students as they begin their journey as lifelong learners. Marana has an acclaimed school district with award-winning learning environments in addition to offering local charter, alternative, pre-K, and private schools to accommodate each student and family’s needs.

4. Good food = Good mood

Foodies: prepare yourself for delightful delicacies found only in Marana. From juicy burgers with creative fixings to Southwestern-inspired soups, salads, and entrées, a new dish is always waiting to be discovered in the many restaurants that make up the growing dining scene. Try Core Kitchen & Wine Bar’s True American cuisine or Cortaro Sushi’s inventive rolls.

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The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

5. UNESCO gastronomy tours

Who knew combining food and learning would be so fun? Marana’s Gastronomy Tours are the first to be approved by UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. Walking through ancient archaeological sites, hearing stories about the cultures that farmed and foraged in the Sonoran Desert from expert tour guides, and tasting dishes inspired by local ingredients is an experience you won’t want to miss.

6. New beginnings, new homes

The appeal of Marana’s new homes with modern layouts and mountain views can’t be beat. Along Twin Peaks Road new housing developments are popping up and inviting young families, retirees, and everyone in between to get a fresh start at making memories at a lower price point than many Tucson neighborhoods. Plus, Marana’s ideal location makes trips to downtown Tucson or Phoenix a breeze.

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Tucson Premium Outlets

7. It’s shop o’clock somewhere

Whether you’re shopping for necessities or treasures, you’ll find what you need in the many shopping destinations Marana offers. It’s easy to make a day of retail therapy in Marana due to the opportunities to relax between visiting unique boutiques and your favorite outlets. Live music from local bands and a kid’s play area are offered at Tucson Premium Outlets, while Arizona Pavilions Marketplace features a Harkins Theatre and popular local restaurants.

8. Cheers to that

Looking for your new favorite cocktail or craft beer? Take a mixology class at the Ritz-Carlton’s Ignite Sushi Bar, or have an expert pour you an ale featuring Marana-grown white Sonoran wheat at one of the many local breweries. New to the area, Casa Marana’s taproom offers local craft beer, a variety of wines, and coffee delights. Check out Dove Mountain Brewery, Growler’s Taphouse, Catalina Brewing Company, and Button Brew House to satisfy your thirst for great beer.

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Catalina Brewing Company

9. Nice shot!

Teeing off at any of Marana’s four championship golf courses will inspire your inner golf pro to come out and play. Desert golf is an experience enthusiasts and professionals travel worldwide for, but living in Marana means these challenging courses are available for you to conquer any day of the week. The best part of golfing in Marana? Scenic views of purple mountains, blue skies, and saguaro-lined fairways. If you don’t have the gear or time to commit to 18 holes, practice your swing at Topgolf. The party atmosphere there combines golf, food, and drink, even after dark.

10. Two words: Mesquite grilled

Choosing between a sizzling steak, finger-licking good ribs, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, and flavorful chicken at Li’l Abner’s Steakhouse is tough, but no matter which you pick, you’re going to have a great meal. Since 1947, Li’l Abner’s has been a top choice for slow-smoked meats while maintaining a great ambiance for diners to enjoy. The oldest steakhouse in Marana is the perfect place for date night, time with family, or special occasions.

Ready to discover Marana for yourself? Check out discovermarana.org for even more inspiration.