Photobomb the Scenery in Tucson

Discover the best places to take Instagram photos in Tucson, AZ

By Ciara Jean

Tucson is known for being a college town. Because most Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 34, a lot of IG pictures of Tucson are taken around campus. Don’t get me wrong, the University of Arizona is a gorgeous place to take beautiful photos, but Tucson is more than UArizona. It’s filled with culture, amazing food, and unforgettable desert adventures that give you Instagram-worthy photo ops. Plan your next photoshoot at these adventurous places around Tucson.

Sentinel Peak, “A Mountain”

Photo courtesy of Mikaela

Known for its giant white “A” painted by students from the University of Arizona in 1915, Sentinel Peak is a scenic spot to take stylish photos. Filled with a rich history and agriculture, the peak is known for being one of the city’s best lookouts to watch sunrises and sunsets. People have the option to walk or drive up the mountain to get to the top, so whether you want to hike and take an “I accomplished the mountain” photo or drive and take a “fashionista” photo, there are many locations on the mountain to snap your shot. You would be on high ground, so you have the option for your background to be the mountain or the gorgeous city.

Location: 1000 S. Sentinel Peak Rd.
Best time to go: Sunset (Please note: The park closes 30 minutes after sunset, and the road is closed to vehicles on Mondays.)

Historic 4th Avenue

Photo courtesy of Stacey Gregory

As one of the most popular spots in Tucson, 4th Avenue is packed with multiple picture opportunities. Lined with dozens of restaurants, locally owned stores, and colorful murals, the Avenue will bring your photo ops alive to life with character, culture, and beautiful hues. Historic 4th Avenue is directly northeast and adjacent to downtown Tucson and takes part in keeping the city center thriving. You can show off your favorite food spots and take photos inside restaurants, making everyone jealous of what you are experiencing in this UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Depending on the time of the year, events, fairs, and activities take up the street and bring a whole new kind of background. 

Location: 4th Ave. between University Blvd. and 9th St.
Best time to go: Daytime or sunset

Greetings from Tucson Mural

Photo courtesy of Stacey Gregory

If you haven’t seen the Greetings from Tucson Mural yet, then you need to go visit the most Insta-famous street art in Tucson. This Tucson landmark displays everything about what makes up the city of Tucson. Victor Ving and Lisa Beggs, the creators of the mural, spent time with the locals to make sure that the mural reflects the culture of the city. The art features the University of Arizona, the Sonoran Desert, Tucson landmarks, Mexican culture, and the amazing food you can find here.

Location: E. 7th St. & N. Arizona Ave.
Best time to go: Sunrise or sunset so that the sun isn’t too strong

Fox Tucson Theatre

Known for its beautiful Southwest Art Deco architecture,  has unique decor on the inside and outside of the building. The nonprofit theater was built in the 1930s and is distinctive from the outside for its eye-catching neon lights and vintage sign. With its location in downtown Tucson, it is the perfect place to take nighttime photos when you are out on the town. Although the inside is a two-tiered theatre filled with red velvet seats and colorful ceilings, the most vibrant photos can be taken outside in front of the ticket box or from a distance to get all the lively lights in the background.

Location: 17 W. Congress St.
Best time to go: Night

Tucson Botanical Gardens

Photo courtesy of Stacey Gregory

If you are looking for a different kind of nature photo without a desert background, the Tucson Botanical Gardens is a stunning green paradise. Bursting with color, the trees, plants, and architecture create a bright background and a happy photo. The garden is filled with art, culture, and history, so there are many options for backdrops depending on the picture that you are looking for. There is a fee and limited hours to visit the garden, but it is worth stopping by to soak up the aesthetically pleasing setting.

Location: 2150 N. Alvernon Way
Best time to go: Right when they open when the sun is still low

Barrio Viejo

Photo courtesy of Amanda Conkel

One of Tucson’s oldest neighborhoods, Barrio Viejo is filled with culture and bold colors. Traditional Sonoran adobe homes built in the 19th century—both residential and businesses—are painted in vibrant, bright shades that reflect the personalities of Tucson locals. With centuries of history in the area, Barrio Viejo is mainly made up of 19th century homes and commercial buildings. During the 1880s and 90s the neighborhood was a culturally diverse community of working-class people from Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. In the 1960s most of the neighborhood was bulldozed to create the Tucson Convention Center. The neighborhood is not what it used to look like as it has gone through changes during city development, but many houses have been preserved. With the right lighting and a decent area, photos can be just as colorful as the community.

Location: Between I-10 and Stone Ave. and Cushing and 18th Sts.
Best time to go: Early in the day when the sun hits the buildings

Hotel Congress

A Tucson staple, Hotel Congress is recognized for its rich history and countless annual events and activities. Built in 1919, the hotel has been expanded and renovated over the years to become more than just a hotel. Whether you want to stay in their haunted rooms, participate in their nightlife and experiences, or dine there, the location offers many photo ops that will fill in the gaps in your Instagram feed. Hotel Congress is filled with neon lights both inside and outside, so you can’t miss it when walking or driving downtown. Plus, bars surround the landmark, so getting the red neon sign in the background is easier than you think. The outside walls are covered in murals if you want art in your background. Other backdrops include their outside patio, the stairs in the lobby with the Tap Room Bar sign in the background, phone booths, and their southern-style rooms.

Location: 311 E. Congress St.
Best time to go: Night would be ideal for most photos, but during the day would give you other options too.

If going around town makes you want to eat, check out this Dining Guide for your restaurant ideas.