Wildcat Weekend

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

|By Mish DeCarlo

|Photos by Brielle Farmer

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

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

Eat, drink & be merry in Main Gate Square

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

Frog & Firkin at Main Gate Square in Tucson, AZ

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

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

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

Attend a game at McKale Center

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

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

Support the arts

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

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

Spring Fling

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

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

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

Tucson Neighborhood Guide

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

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

In the City

Armory Park

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

Barrio Hollywood

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

Barrio San Antonio

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

Barrio Santa Rosa

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

Barrio Viejo

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

Broadmoor Broadway

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

Catalina Vista

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


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

Dunbar Spring

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

El Encanto

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

El Presidio

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


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

Highland Vista Cinco Via

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

Iron Horse

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

Keeling/Hedrick Acres

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

Menlo Park

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


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

Rincon Heights

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

Sam Hughes

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

West University

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

Peace and Quiet


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

Flecha Caida Ranch Estates

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

Hillcrest at Wingate

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

Indian Ridge Estates

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

Old Fort Lowell

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

Shadow Hills

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

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

Work Smart: Professional Development Guide

Take advantage of these professional development networks in Tucson, Arizona

|By Mish DeCarlo

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

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

Tucson Young Professionals

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

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

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

Tucson Entrepreneurs

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

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

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

American Advertising Federation Tucson + Ad 2 Tucson

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

American Marketing Association UA Chapter                              

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

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

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

Startup Tucson

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

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

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

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

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

Developing Roots in Tucson

Doing our part to make our city the best place to work and live

| By The Chamber Edge

Phenomenal outdoor experiences, an impressive arts and cultural community, exceptional higher education programs, diversity in housing communities and growing industry sectors are common drivers for bringing people to Tucson. In fact, Tucson's been getting more national recognition for why it's a fantastic place to live, work and place, such as "hot spot for technology and innovation" (AZ Big Media), one of "The 12 Best Places to Live in 2019" (Outside Magazine) and "3rd Fastest Growing Technology Metropolises in US" by Oliver Wyman and in 2017 ranked "Hippest Cities in the US for Under 30" by Business insider. We have soaring growing entrepreneurship programs supported by Startup Tucson, Startup Unidos and the University of Arizona Center for Innovation.

I came here from Texas for my undergraduate and graduate degrees and our Board Chair, Barbi Reuter, moved here from the East Coast when she was a tween. We have both developed roots by raising our families here. But now that we're in our current roles at the Tucson Metro Chamber, we're motivated to do our part to get the word out that Tucson is an exceptional place to start your career, grow a business or relocate your company.

Nationally, reports show that employers universally have concerns related to attracting, retaining and growing talent. We have championed this issue in a variety of ways. You may have already heard about the impressive 66% hiring rate we had from the two hiring events we facilitated. We have partnered with veterans group, the University of Arizona and Pima Community College on ways to engage talent, develop curriculum to address industry needs, and retain talent in Tucson after they graduate. Our workforce innovation summit proved to be a powerful collaboration among many high-level representatives from companies that are all dedicated to developing our talent, starting as early as middle school, to ensure we have the talent to fill all of the emerging needs across many industry platforms. The overarching takeaway is that we have learned that once these connections are made magic happens, Therefore, the Chamber will continue to centralize people, industry and job trainers with the goal of growing the talent pipeline long into the future.

As talent attraction becomes even more competitive, the Chamber will introduce programs for employers and community members to utilize and solidify the necessary relationships between each other and the workforce. As an example, internship programs are proving the key to retaining graduating talent.

The Chamber will continue to grow strategic relationships between our higher education institutions, training partners and employers. We KNOW Tucson is a fantastic place to innovate, grow and evolve.

Tucson's Atomic Ranches

|By Louie Christensen

|Photography by Brielle Farmer

If you haven’t noticed, the Midcentury Modern look is back. Homes from this magical era are being splashed across architecture and lifestyle magazines, and home renovators and interior designers have caught on. Far from the glitz and glamor of the Hollywood hills (and it’s astronomical real estate prices) sits a true midcentury modern diamond in the rough…Tucson, Arizona.

It’s easy to view Tucson as a city that grew out of a Wild West town, filled to the brim with nothing but Spanish Mission architecture and Santa Fe styled homes. The reality is that Tucson is a midcentury boomtown. Tucson’s population exploded during the 1950’s and 60’s, filling the town with thousands of midcentury modern ranch homes now known by many as “Atomic Ranches”.

There are hundreds of stunning Atomic Ranches, like the recently purchased Camino Arco hilltop estate designed by Tom Gist, scattered throughout Tucson’s picturesque Catalina Foothills. But, many are financially out of reach for the average homebuyer. Fortunately, there are quite a few affordable midcentury modern neighborhoods across Tucson longing for buyers who will cherish the bold style and restore the timeless character these historic homes posses. 

Windsor Park

Windsor Park consists of over 120 midcentury modern homes featuring bold rooflines, double carports and most importantly…large windows. Originally advertised as “almost living outdoors” with more than 575 square feet of glass in a 3 bedroom home, the builders clearly knew how important the beauty of Tucson’s desert was (and continues to be) to Tucsonans.

The combination of modern design and quiet neighborhood, featuring almost a dozen cul-de-sacs to ensure quiet streets, landed Windsor Park the American Home Magazine’s “Best Home for the Money” in 1963.

Indian Ridge Terrace

Billed as being built “For gracious suburban living”, this midcentury modern suburbia was built by the then famous Lusk Corporation from 1955 to 1964. Using a network of cul-de-sacs and natural desert vegetation, the neighborhood was designed to feel extremely private; and through careful planning the builders promised that “individuality is preserved by insuring that no identical homes in design and lot arrangement appear on the same street”.

The homes were originally built with carports instead of garage doors not only to save on home costs for the buyer, but also to retain a sense of “neighborly openness” among residents. Thanks to the feeling of privacy, many original residents felt comfortable enough having the front of their homes built with massive front windows, adding a sense of pizzazz and modernity to the Atomic Ranches found throughout. It cannot be over emphasized how important individuality was for Indian Ridge Terrace, so you’ll be able to find your perfect home no matter what your unique midcentury modern tastes call for.

San Rafeal Estates

You know your neighborhood is onto something as a developer when it sells out of new homes within two years, and that’s exactly what happened to the award winning San Rafael Estate neighborhood in the mid 50’s.

This is a rather small neighborhood, consisting of three small streets branching off of the two main drags. Many of the homes carry the same clean roofline, and flat burnt adobe brick facade, but some have upkicked A-line gables and large windowed walls. These understated homes may not tickle the fancy of hardcore Midcentury Modernists, but would be perfect for someone looking for something more approachable.

A ranch house in Tucson, Az's San Rafael neighborhood
A brick ranch-style house in San Rafael

Harold Bell Wright Estates

Harold Bell Wright was among the most popular American authors in the 1920’s, so popular that 15 of his 19 novels were turned into motion pictures. Much of his work was written from his beautiful desert home hiding in little Tucson, Arizona. In 1936, Harold felt that Tucson was becoming overdeveloped and moved to a ranch just outside of San Diego, California—a move that sounds a bit ironic today.

The area around his Tucson property was later subdivided and developed, but the roads that crisscross the area were named after some of his famous character like Barbara Worth Drive and Marta Hillgrove. 

These properties sit on larger acreages than most homes in the midtown Tucson area. This inspired many of the architects to incorporate more Spanish Mission and California chic features into their designs. What we are left with is a smorgasbord of styles, lot sizes and inspirations that come together to form a unique neighborhood with a character all its own.

Wilshire Heights

Originally advertised in 1954 as “your calling card to a lifetime of happiness–Beautiful Wilshire Heights…Building restrictions that reflect your good taste.”

A little slice of 1950s paradise in Wilshire Heights

Unlike many building developments of this size, Wilshire Heights did not have a solo homebuilder, rather several architects designed homes of all midcentury shapes and styles that fell within the neighborhood’s aforementioned tasteful building restrictions. They range from rather simple, to those that are unapologetically midcentury modern; you can even find homes from the nationally renowned architects Tom Gist, William Wilde and Arthur Brown.

Glenn Heights

Name a commercial midcentury building in Tucson and there’s a really good chance it was designed by William and Sylvia Wilde. The couple designed homes and buildings together until Sylvia passed away in 1954. William’s designs became noticeably more masculine and structural, almost as if Sylvia held all of his grace and delicacy.

While William is better known for the beautiful commissioned homes and commercial buildings he designed across Tucson, he also built the four model homes for the Glenn Heights Neighborhood. His four designs were then duplicated throughout the small neighborhood, and slightly customized to the buyer’s liking. This allowed the average Joe to move into a well thought out and trendy home. Today you are offered the same option.


Now, If you are a Tucsonan, you are probably thinking about Christmas. Winterhaven may be famous for the annual Festival of Lights they put on through the Christmas season, where the majority of the neighborhood decorate their homes for the holidays. But, underneath all of those twinkling lights and Christmas themed cutouts hide some drop dead gorgeous homes.

Towering Aleppo pines are a fixture in Winterhaven

Walking along Winterhaven’s wide (really wide), meandering streets lined with Aleppo pine trees, hedges and front lawns, you almost feel like you’re in a quiet Midwest town. That was no accident. The builder, C.B. Richards, drew his inspiration from the community of Shaker Heights located just outside of Cleveland, Ohio…which was originally based on a British neighborhood built in 1912. Like Shaker Heights, the residents of Winterhaven had to meet minimum construction cost and to match the neighborhood’s aesthetic. The first homes were completed in 1949 and by 1961 all but seven were built. Because of it’s based on X which came from Y heritage, the homes in Winterhaven have a very quaint—how should I put it—Midwestern midcentury atomic ranch styled English country home feel to them, with each pulling slightly heavier from one style than the next. That sounds like quite the mixture, but it makes for a neighborhood that feels like home even when it isn’t dressed in its Christmas best.

Villa Catalina Townhomes

There are plenty of condos in Tucson that were inspired by midcentury modern styles. If you squint, or catch it at the right angle you can really see it…and then there are the Villa Catalina Townhomes. If Midcentury Modern was an aura, you could see the glow coming from this corner of town from miles away.

Seriously, the only thing missing from this scene is Wendy Peppercorn sitting in the lifeguard tower, Natalie Wood smoking on her patio while Carry Grant mixes a few Gibsons at the wet bar. (How much would round the clock period actors cost?)

Classic midcentury design abides at this 55+ community

This complex is begging for residents who understand what a true treasure this place is, people who can fully embrace the Midcentury Modern lifestyle, and make it something special.


This beautiful neighborhood is tucked behind the Sunshine Mile, a storefront lined strip of Broadway Boulevard originally built during the midcentury that is set for a beautiful renovation in the coming months. What could be better than driving by a mile and a half of stunning commercial midcentury modern architecture before pulling into your equally historic home?

The majority of the neighborhood was built between 1945 and 1955, which predates many of the more “out there” designs that came to represent midcentury modern architecture. While that may disappoint some, these homes carry an extra “classic Tucson” feel that will send nostalgic vibes through any Tucsonan that grew up in midtown. 

Decidedly Tucson details compliment this classic ranch house in Broadmoor-Broadway

Like Wilshire Heights, you can find homes designed by Tucson’s top midcentury architects, and also some more affordable copycats. There are some true gems hiding in this nationally recognized Historic District if you’re lucky enough to find one.

Special Acknowledgement:

There may not be a more iconic midcentury modern designer across Arizona than Ralph Haver. He designed homes that were perfectly styled for the Arizona climate and lifestyle, calling them Perfect Arizona Type Home (PAT Home). Featuring a 1:12 low pitched gable roof, wide floor plans, clerestory and Lucky 7 shaped windows, his homes have become synonymous with midcentury modern homes in Arizona.

Ralph Haver lived in the Phoenix Valley, so that is where the majority of his work resides. But, you can find some of his PAT Homes and other designs across Tucson’s midtown and eastside. Consider yourself extremely fortunate if you can find one in your target neighborhood.  

Local Business Spotlight: Carly Quinn Designs

| By Sarah Burton

| Video by Amanda Oien & Brielle Farmer

While going to school for a degree in fine arts, Carly Quinn was in need of a job and ended up working part time for a local artist making tile. What began as a way to pay the bills soon had her undivided attention.

“I fell in love with the technique, and after graduation from college I bought my own kiln,” Carly recalls. She continued tile making on the side while beginning her first full-time job as a graphic designer, but it didn’t quite satisfy: “I was designing temporary tattoos for those vending machines you see, as well as a couple other design jobs, but I was so unhappy I decided to quit.”

Carly saved enough for a small studio, which she shared with another artist, and got to work. “It was the craziest thing for me to do, and I knew I had to get the word out, so I built my own website, created an online Etsy store, and called a bunch of magazines.”

“I was so unhappy in my career, but every single day after work I would go home and make tile.”

When timing was right, she opened her shop—Carly Quinn Designs—and it has become quite an attraction for visitors looking for that perfect bit of Tucson to take home. Carly puts it simply: “I have achieved my dream.”

Her technique is self-taught for the most part, based on a Moorish technique from the 1300 and 1400s called cuerda seca (dry cord). “I knew there had to be a name for how I was making my tiles, and eventually I found it.”

She begins on a blank canvas of terra-cotta-colored base tiles from Italy, which she then draws on with a proprietary wax resist pen. Once dried, she colors in between the wax lines with liquid ceramic glazes. She allows the glazes to dry before placing the tiles into one of the four on-site kilns.

“Firing at 2,000 degrees causes a chemical reaction, so the ceramic turns into glass and fuses to the base tile,” Carly explains. “The end product is weather-proof and will last forever, staying bright and glossy.”

This piece was originally published in our 2018 Artistic Triumph feature.

Timeless Turquoise

Mac’s Indian Jewelry has stood the test of time

Mac and Karen McPherson of Mac'sIndian Jewelry began selling authentic Native American jewelry from a table at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet in the mid 1970’s. Now, nearly 50 years later, their son Shane and his wife Danielle are continuing the family legacy, searching out unique, Native American pieces from Zuni, Navajo, Hopi, Tohono O’odham and Santa Domingo artists from Arizona and New Mexico—often buying from the descendants of artists Shane’s parents traveled the Southwest to find.

From traditional Navajo Squash Blossom necklaces, to modern, contemporary designs, Mac’s has a wide variety of jewelry and accessories in an even wider variety of designs, colors, and prices, with something to fit every budget and style. 

Today, customers can browse their well-organized showroom where timeless, hand-crafted pieces are organized by stone color and style, making browsing a breeze so you can easily find the perfect ring, bracelet or necklace to go with your favorite pair of earrings.

From $12 stud earrings and $20 silver heart necklaces, to a 14k gold inlaid turquoise, lapis and coral Navajo bracelet with a half carat diamond, for $9,000—and everything in between—there truly is something for every style and budget at Mac’s.

You’ll find unique items like traditional silver baby bracelets, rattles, and spoons, along with envelope openers, fine silver Concho belts, silver and turquoise barrettes, bear paw hair combs, and silver, copper, and beaded earrings. There are link and cuff bracelets, fine silver and turquoise rings, Zuni inlay pieces, silver bead and turquoise fetish necklaces of all sizes, bolo ties, watch bands, belt buckles, money clips, and lighter cases, and pendants, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings with stones in hues of blue, purple, and rose. Online, you can browse by price, Tribe, and stone, for vintage, classic pieces.

In addition to jewelry, Mac’s carries authentic Native American crafts, from pottery and walking sticks to wall hangings, tiles, Navajo Kachina dolls, carvings, dream catchers, Tohono O’Odham woven baskets, beaded and leather, silver and turquoise key rings, and Western style purses, with gifts for children for under $10.

Several years ago, Mac’s expanded and opened Silver and Gold Trading, where they buy or take in trade everything from scrap gold and silver flatware to diamond rings, and fine turquoise and Native American jewelry from estates and individuals.

For nearly a half century, Mac’s Indian Jewelry has stood the test of time, providing beautiful, quality Native American pieces at affordable prices. Their knowledge and customer service are unmatched—whether you are just bringing in a piece for a repair or shopping for a signature gift for yourself or family member or friend—the staff at Mac’s will give you all the time you need, and share their expertise with you to help you find the perfect piece to fit your style and budget. Longtime customers might recognize Mac’s wife Karen, who is still very much a part of Mac’s day-to-day operations.  

Whether you are just visiting or have lived in the Old Pueblo your entire life, a trip to Mac’s is a must. Sign up for their weekly email for first dibs on their 50-percent-off piece-of-the week. Every week, a new piece of jewelry or set is highlighted and offered to the first-comer at a deep discount. Be the first to get your eye on a new piece and score the perfect bracelet or necklace to add to—or start—your collection, at a budget most anyone can afford.

Mac’s Indian Jewelry



Silver and Gold Trading



2400 E. Grant Road, Tucson

Local Business Spotlight: Active Fun at Arizona Zipline Adventures

|By Christian Wlach

|Video by Kristen Brockel, Christian Wlach, and Brielle Farmer

Emily Goff, along with two other Tucson-area locals, started Arizona Zipline Adventures (AZA) in 2016. Goff, who grew up on a cattle ranch in Oracle, AZ, saw the business as an opportunity to bring life back into a once-thriving community. 

AZA is located on the backside of Mount Lemmon, in Oracle, which is just over an hour’s drive from downtown Tucson. Goff says the company’s mission is to “enrich the community and promote the enjoyment and exploration of the region.”

Oracle is a small town filled with artisans, families, and ranchers. You may be lucky enough to see some of the cattle as you’re pulling into AZA.   

The Zipline Eco-Tour typically takes 90–120 minutes on a total of six ziplines, all located on 20 acres of private land. Majestic views await in every direction—watch the video for proof.    

Arizona Zipline Adventures has evolved since opening. It now has a kitchen serving award-winning chips and salsa, pizza, burgers, and more. They also host team-building activities and events (both large and small) throughout the year. One of the events is Grill Your Own Steak Night, which happens once a month and includes live music. These events help foster a real sense of community.

“I think that there’s always room to grow and evolve,” said Goff. “Whether that’s doing more programming and activities [like] camping, hiking, or events, there are just endless opportunities.”  

Cave tours are an example of this evolution. After receiving permits from the Coronado National Forest and the US National Forest Service, AZA is proud to offer Pepper Sauce Cave Wild Tours. 

AZA has also helped the local economy. Since opening, the company has created jobs and hired employees from the area, as well as seen other businesses pop up as a result of what was started by the three Oracle residents. 

“It’s just really great the way that this town and this community works together,” Goff says with a proud smile, adding, “All of the businesses support one another. It’s a really great feeling to be a part of that.”

Building a Community

Employees and residents come together to make the small town of La Posada

| By Andrew Schaeffer

To those looking in from the outside, La Posada might just seem like a senior living facility. However, on this sprawling one-acre campus in Green Valley, a friendly small town community is thriving.

One of the largest employers in Green Valley/Sahuarita area, La Posada employs a diverse workforce with diverse careers. Though it is first and foremost a community for senior living, the focus on helping every aspect of the residents’ lives means many industries come together in one place. “Think of it as a small town,” Paul Loomans, director of marketing at La Posada, said. “We have everything from electricians and plumbers to chefs and caretakers. We even have our own marketing and finance departments.” And the employees like working here—in a recent survey, nearly 95% said they were satisfied or very satisfied at work.

The employees genuinely care about the residents and help ensure they have easy access to activities they enjoy. From bus rides up to Tucson to hear the symphony play to leading yoga and fitness classes, employees keep the active seniors active. Nurses are on staff to guide residents in their medical care, and forums with professional speakers are frequently organized to stimulate the residents’ minds. With all these facets of wellness addressed, not only is the standard of living higher but studies show that the life expectancy is, too.

In fact, 99% of residents reported they were satisfied or very satisfied with living at La Posada, and that’s in large part due to the caring nature of the staff.

The small town feel doesn’t stop there. With La Posada’s core goal as providing superior care to their senior residents, a big part of achieving that is by building active relationships between residents and employees. Many of the 700 residents and 600 employees are on a first name basis, and it isn’t uncommon for them to get to know one another while employees are on the clock. La Posada gives a very human relationship for its employees—which can be hard to come by in the service industry—and ensures that everyone is enjoying their day. “We’re like a big family,” Paul described. He recounted that many employees view the residents as mentors or adoptive grandparents, picking up some wisdom while they build their relationships. And this isn’t one-sided—each year residents donate to help their student worker friends pay to continue their education at Pima Community College or the University of Arizona. In 2018, more than $100,000 in scholarships was given to employees of La Posada thanks to the kindness of its residents.

Donating to scholarships isn’t the only way La Posada gives back. As a non-profit, the organization is a well-known charitable driving force the Green Valley/Sahuarita area, as well as Southern Arizona as a whole. “Well over $1 million is donated for community engagement each year,” Paul said, highlighting specifically the donations to the Sahuarita Food Bank.

Many of the facilities on campus aren’t just for La Posada residents. The Shoppes at La Posada act as a social hub for the Green Valley/Sahuarita area. In addition to volunteer-run coffee shop and a genealogy library, you’ll find many concerts and events in this area, further strengthening La Posada’s ties to its surroundings.

New on the Block

| By The Chamber Edge
| Photo by Brielle Claire Photo

The fact that major companies have chosen the metropolitan Tucson area as their home shows signs of more good things to come for our community.

Caterpillar Surface Mining & Technology Division | Caterpillar announced their plans to relocate their Surface Mining & Technology Division to Tucson in 2016 and will complete their new headquarters in Spring 2019. This $50 million facility in Downtown Tucson will house more than 650 employees.

Northwest Healthcare | Northwest Healthcare plans to expand to Tucson's eastside with the construction of a 70-bed hospital on 18.5 acres, employing 600 healthcare professionals.

Hexagon Mining | Hexagon is a global leader in mining technology, and they announced a relocation to Downtown Tucson in 2017. Their offices are part of a new mixed-use facility that will house more than 250 employees. Completion is expected in Spring 2019.

Amazon | In the past eight months, Amazon has announced two new facilities in Tucson. The first, an 855,000 sq-ft. distribution center expected to be completed in May 2019, will employ 1,500. The second, an auxiliary, $4.3 million distribution site for contractors, will provide more business opportunities.

GEICO | National insurance leader GEICO announced the construction of a 200,000 sq-ft. facility in central Tucson in 2018. Already with 2,000 employees, this new facility will allow them to expand their operations by another 700.

Texas Instruments | Needing to expand in Tucson, Texas Instruments announced the construction of a new $29 million facility in central Tucson. The 125,000 sq-ft. building will be completed in the next 12-18 months and they will expand their large workforce by 35.

Vector Launch | Adjacent to already completed World View and Spaceport Tucson, Vector Launch, a microsatellite space-launch company, is constructing a new facility and employing 200 high-tech workers.

Raytheon | Raytheon is Southern Arizona's largest private employer. They are constructing new building on their expansive plant near Tucson International Airport and will add nearly 2,000 jobs bringing their total to more than 12,000.