There are three key ingredients to a great town or city: soul, sustenance and youth.  If a town has all three plus scenery or major points of interest (national park, monument, preserve…) or both, then it gets bumped from great town to great destination.

hiking in Tucson

Tucson has a little of each and made it in our top five destinations for Arizona.

Let’s start with soul and youth because downtown is filled with art, culture, history and a college.  We didn’t spend a dime downtown, and yes we spent hours walking around and loved it!  Between the cute shops, historic architecture and groups of skaters, bikers and college students hanging around we had endless entertainment!

Downtown Tucson

downtown tucson

art in tucson

downtown tucson

Sustenance.  I am just going to come out with it, the Tucson Tamale Company has the best tamales we have ever eaten, and that is no small statement!  We are from Texas and travel to Mexico often so we like to think we know good tamales…and these were GREAT!

tucson tamale company

We did find a good vegetarian dive and a very quirky Greek owned diner.  The diner had a backyard BBQ feel from the outside, an old Ihop feel on the inside and the food was Greek meets cowboy.  The food was mediocre but the strange ambiance, people watching and great company we had made it well worth the trip.

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crazy greek

Now it’s time for the bonus features!  To the east and west is Saguaro National Park, North America’s largest cacti that are only found in a small portion of the United States.  We are not usually big into cactus but these tree size dudes are like the Jersey Shore boys of the cacti world.  They are pumped up and undeniable beefy.  It’s impossible to miss them with their giant arms outreached for the sun.

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crazy cacti

tucson arizona

We met up with some fellow travelers / bloggers and hit a moderate 5 mile loop named Hope Camp Trail for some exercise and exploration.  The small amount of snow left on the ground made for a little extra fun!

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And we spotted a family of javalina’s making their way across the road…

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Snow?  Oh yeah, it does snow in Tucson…rare, but it does happen and it happened the one year and the one week we decided to be southern AZ snowbirds!  It was an amazing spectacle!

snow in Tucson

Another must see is the Mission San Xavier Del Bac!  It’s an incredible mission that Jason was bold enough to compare to the Vatican City (yes, there is an article explaining).

mission

So, there you have it, a few of our favorites.  Now it’s your turn.  If you have a Tucson bucket list or a must see we missed, tell us about it in the comments below.