San Xavier Mission
An outstanding representation of Spanish mission archetecture, the San Xavier Mission del Bac has been a Tucson landmark for over 200 years. Currently undergoing extensive renovations and re-plastering, the mission is well worth a visit.
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park
Arizona's first State Park protects the ruins of one of the early Spanish missions and forts in the New World. Pair a visit here with a lunch at Wisdom's, just south of town, as well as a stop by the Santa Cruz Chili Company.
Built in 1919, the Hotel Congress is the heart of downtown Tucson. The infamous Dillinger Gang staid here in January of 1934. A blaze on the third floor lead to Dillinger being recognized by rescuing fire-fighters and resulted in his capture a few blocks away. Definitely stop by and check out this unique Tucson landmark.
Pima Air Museum & Titan Missile Museum
More than 275 aircraft reside at this museum that is a memorial to the thrill of aviation. Visit the largest air museum in the Western United States and tour President Kennedy's Air Force One. You can also arrange a tour of one of the now closed Titan Missile Silos.
Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum
This world-renown natural history museum, botanical garden, animal habitat all in one is not to be missed. Experience interpretive displays of the animals and plants that are unique to the Sonoran Desert. Hours of operation in February are 8:30-5 with awe-inspiring Raptor Free Flight displays at 10 AM and 1:30 PM.
Kitt Peak National Observatory
The world's largest collection of optical telescopes reside here, near Tucson, on the Tohono O'odham Reservation. Guided tours are available but check the website for schedules. You can also take a self-guided tour as well. Of course the road up the peak is quite popular with local motorcyclists - an added bonus.
Kartchner Caverns State Park
This living system of caverns is unique for its almost pristine condition. Great care was taken in opening these caverns to the public. Reservations should be made in advance because tours are limited to help preserve this fragile environment.
Saguaro National Park
This is the home of the giant cacti that have come to symbolize the American West despite only being found in a small section of the United States known as the Sonoran Desert. There are two sections of the park, one on the East side of Tucson and the other on the West, and both are worth visiting.
Tumacacori National Historical Park
This National Park encompases the ruins of three Spanish colonial missions in Southern Arizona. The adobe structures on the three sites where originally established in the late 1600's and early 1700's by the Jesuit missionary Esteban Kino.
If you head to Tumacacori definitely plan a lunch stop at Wisdom's (you can't miss it on the access road north of Tumacacori - they have a six foot chicken out front - be sure to order the Fruit Burro for dessert!)
Juan Batista de Anza National Historic Trail
- Tucson, Tumacacori
"Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail is a 1200 mile trail through Arizona and California. The route passes through 19 counties, connects with seven National Park Service sites, and tells the Anza story through countless federal, state, regional, and local agencies, organizations and communities. Use the Anza Trail Guide to plan your visit." (nps)
Ft. Bowie National Historic Site
Water was key to existence in this unforgiving landscape and Fort Bowie is a monument to the "clash of culture" between the United States and the Chiricuhua Apaches as they struggled over this scarce resource. This is the land of Cochise and Geronimo. Be prepared for a hike.
Coronado National Memorial
The location was chosen for the panoramic views of the U.S./Mexico border and the San Pedro River Valley and commemorates the Coronado Expedition of 1540-1542. Coronado's expedition had a huge impact on both the history and culture of this area of what is now the United States and Mexico.
Chiricahua National Monument
These fascinating rock formations are the result of erosion of a huge ash deposit from a volcanic eruptions 27 million years ago. The Chiricahua's are one of the many "sky island" regions in Southern Arizona and are host to range of diverse biomes and animal life.
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
These ancient peoples created a vast network of canals and villages in this harsh desert landscape. The "Big House" is one of the largest of pre-historic buildings in North America.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
"Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument exhibits an extraordinary collection of plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert. This is a showcase for creatures who have adapted themselves to the extreme temperatures, intense sunlight, and little rainfall that characterize this Southwest region. Twenty-six species of cactus have mastered the art of living in this place, including the park's namesake and the giant saguaro." (nps)
"The Town Too Tough To Die" is definitely now a tourist trap but it's a fun way to spend an afternoon. Check out Boot Hill, the OK Corral, take in a gun fight or two, and catch a drink at Big Nose Kate's. This is also home to the world's largest rose bush which perfumes the whole town in springtime.
An old mining town that almost died in 1975 is now a thriving artists' community and tourist destination. Home of the Queen Mine, Bisbee produced 8 billion pounds of copper as well as silver, gold, zinc, lead, and manganese. Built on the side of a mountain, Bisbee is known for the arduous iceman stair climb as well as the Bisbee1000.