What to Do in Tucson with Three Days
The following suggested itinerary is meant to guide you to the city’s very best—the essential Old Pueblo experience. You’ll need your own car, a camera, a hat, and a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
Try to get an early start for sightseeing, especially during the hot months, when you only have a few hours before the weather gets unbearable. If you’re an early riser I’d suggest heading downtown to the St. Augustine Cathedral before 7 a.m. You can stand across the street and watch as the rising sun lights up the Spanish revival cathedral, and the tall, skinny imported palm trees cast their shaggy shadows against the glowing building. It’s a perfect Southwestern scene.
Hop in the car and head west from downtown into Tucson Mountain Park, stopping to enjoy the view of the desert below at Gates Pass. Then spend a few hours exploring the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, just down the hill.
Drive to midtown for a filling greasy-spoon breakfast at Frank’s.
On your way back downtown, stop by the Arizona Inn and have a look around the lush grounds.
In the late afternoon, drive into the foothills to Sabino Canyon Recreation Area and take a tram ride up into the canyon or hike one of the trails.
As the sun dips behind the Santa Catalinas, head on over to Hacienda del Sol for drinks and appetizers (or dinner) on the patio overlooking the city.
Depending on your personal inclinations, you should either tour Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson, or head north up the Sky Island Scenic Byway into the Santa Catalina Mountains. Both trips are scenic and fun and take about two hours of driving time round-trip; it just depends on whether you prefer sweeping mountain views or otherworldly underground sights.
If you’re headed up to the mountains, stop at the Rincon Market on your way out of town and pick up a picnic lunch. If you take a trip to the caverns, stop afterwards at the Horseshoe Café in Benson for lunch. Either way you go, you’ll likely get back to town in the late afternoon if you get an early start.
Once back downtown, head to Old Town Artisans to have a few drinks in the lush courtyard and check out the shops.
© Tim Hull from Moon Tucson, 1st Edition