So happy to see my former hometown newspaper sending a wave out west to Tucson. It seems New Yorkers have a fondness for the Old Pueblo, this city of desert and mountains and magical culture.
New Yorkers also have a fondness for strong opinion so forgive me, New York Times (and Richard Woodward) for adding my two cents to your Tucson-in-36-Hours hit list. I have a list that gets a bit off the paved trail to see a different side of Tucson:
1) Walk the Wastelands….
….and catch the birds. Tucson’s Sweetwater Wetlands (southwest side of Tucson, off I-10) allows the public (since 1998) to see a variety of birds in a beautiful (yes, this is a wastewater treatment recharge) habitat. Something in me is very very happy to see sustainability working for nature and wildlife. It’s a gorgeous, peaceful walk around ponds bursting with wildlife, with the mountains smiling at you in the distance. Brilliant vermillions swoop over you, geese (or gooses) quack in the distance, hawks sail overhead.
2) DINING TRUCKER STYLE
3) On the Edge of TUCSON NIGHTS
Yes we have a pumping indie music scene, and our treasured Rialto is a stop for many a fine band. But if you’re yearning for a regional flair I suggest a night with our regional roots — Go see
Dolan Ellis,our state baladeer, perform at the Arizona Folklore preserve. It’s a ways out of town so if you’re lazy try some classic flamenco guitar (and dancing) at Casa Vicente restaurant just downtown. A local performance management group called http://www.rhythmandroots.org/ also organizes a variety of Blues, Folk, Bluegrass, Gypsy and World performances throughout the year on Tucson stages.
I agree, the great Tucson outdoors is the place to be in the winter. Saguaro National Park is a perfect destination, but to see huge saguaros I go out to Sanctuary Cove, way out west near the former Lazy K Ranch (I wish that ranch would reopen!) The Cove has a meditative walk, along a trail that leads you into the hills, for beautiful panoramic views of nature (including huge saguaros) and the Tucson skyline.
5) There’s More MEXICAN
I love Cafe Poca Cosa as suggested but it’s fun to get down and dirty with a Sonoran hotdog or a great burrito at El Guero Canelo on South 12th. Then you can stay in South Tucson for dessert at one of our fine Mexican bakeries, like La Estrella bakery, also on S 12th.
6) PICTURE Ansel but also Etherton
7) BUY Local
10) EARLY BIRD the cowgirl way
I’d prefer spending my Sunday more immersed in our regional culture. Attend mass at the San Xavier Mission — then taste some authentic fry bread in the Mission parking lot, which you’ll find being sold by Native American families. Walk the mission grounds and small museum to get a sense of our regional architecture and history.
11) Defending America
I wouldn’t want to end my Tucson sojourn on a somber note (although the Titan Missile Museum is certainly something to contemplate). But if you want to focus on the role ofTucson and our environs in our country’s defense, head out for a beautiful ride and a visit to Fort Huachuca, a great US Army Intelligence Center and a fanstastic museum. You can learn about our early spy days, our Buffalo Soldiers and so many other interesting aspects of the southwest and our country’s defense.
There’s so much to love about our Old Pueblo — this is just my quick take on a 36 Hour template for your tour. What’s your take? Whatever you decide, know that Tucson welcomes you to our unique desert, surrounded by five mountain ranges. Please appreciate-respect-enjoy our nature, art and culture!
Note: Writer Donna Hull comes through and gives us her take of Tucson in 36 Hours (for active baby boomers!) in this blog post. Thank you, Donna!