"A Modern City in the Old Pueblo" Top 5 Page for this destination Tucson by lamentforicarus

Tucson Travel Guide: 953 reviews and 2,189 photos

The sleek high-rise buildings and modern shopping centers in downtown often mislead visitors to think of Tucson as a relatively young and upcoming city. In fact, it is one of the oldest inhabited areas of the United States, with Paleoindian artifacts dating back 12,000 years. Permanent agricultural settlements first began to appear in the area around 1000 B.C. The Tucson Presidio was established in 1775 by Hugo O'Conor, marking the birth date of the town. In 1821, Tucson declared its independence from New Spain and joined Mexico for more than thirty years before the Gadsden Purchase turned Tucson over to the United States. Evidence of Tucson's rich history and unique cultural identity and can be seen in the San Xavier Mission, one of the oldest buildings in the nation (see my Must See pages), and the Yaqui and Tohono O'odham Nations nearby.

Today, Tucson embraces a diverse make up of Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo-American culture, and celebrates its heritage through a multitude of festivities and events occurring throughout the year. Experience a Yaqui dear dance, a tradition which combines native belief with the Catholic holiday of Easter, introduced by the Spanish. Celebrating Cinco de Mayo or El Dia de los Muertos serves as a reminder of Tucson's strong Mexican heritage.

The natural beauty of the Sonoran desert abounds in the city and its surroundings, drawing hoards of tourists each year. The wide variety of plant and animal life attracts nature-lovers from around the world, and can be seen on the rocky trails of Sabino Canyon, which bend around Saguaros and Prickly Pear cacti in the Catalina Mountains, or the footpaths of Tohono Chul Park (see my Must See pages), where thousands of flowers draw tiny hummingbirds and brightly colored butterflies.

No visitor to Tucson will find a shortage of sights to see and activities to do. Whether you come for the natural beauty and serenity of the Sonoran desert, the 360 days of annual sunshine, or the extraordinary culture and history, you will be captivated by the city's old charm and young heart.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Desert beauty, rich history, and laid back attitude
  • Cons:Hot in the summer!
  • Intro Updated May 21, 2004
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Reviews (34)

Comments (12)

  • Jul 27, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    The Night Blooming Cereus is beautiful! How do they know which night will be the night it will bloom?

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Dec 13, 2007 at 10:00 PM

    great page!

  • Oct 29, 2007 at 8:14 AM

    Don'texitcartotakepicturesofthefencedcemetery. Afterexitingyourcarandwalkingupanelevated dirtdrivewaytotakepicsanIndianpolicetruckwilldrive upandunfriendlyuniformedIndianswillthreaten youwithacitationfortrespassingonIndianland.Thereis nowarningsign.

  • Hopkid's Profile Photo
    May 15, 2007 at 5:23 AM

    Great tips here! My dad has a night blooming cereus and sends us photos each year when it blooms. Oh, and La Parilla Suiza...mmmmm good!

  • barbskie's Profile Photo
    Sep 10, 2006 at 6:45 AM

    Fascinating thing! Great tip.cheers

  • roamer61's Profile Photo
    Apr 27, 2006 at 5:51 AM

    Looking forward to my trip there, in mid May.

  • wcph's Profile Photo
    Aug 27, 2005 at 4:41 PM

    Nice page and the sunset shots are simply stunning.

  • zuriga's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2005 at 9:32 PM

    Your pages are terrific. I'm really homesick now for Tucson where I spent two winters. You captured the true feeling. Did you get to Kitt's Peak Observatory?

  • Gwynethart's Profile Photo
    Feb 10, 2005 at 11:53 PM

    Wow, neat pages! I hiked through the desert there, in the snow - so special, I will never forget that. :-)

  • madamx's Profile Photo
    Nov 20, 2004 at 4:32 PM

    Great Tucson page! Can't wait to see those desert sunsets :o) What do you think is the best mexican restaurant in town? ~ Helen

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