As I spend my afternoon writing about Tucson, I continue to be amazed at how much we found to do there, and the fact that I still have a list of things we didn’t do! It really is a fabulous city.
So, just to recap. We’ve written about the beautiful Sonoran Desert, an article that chronicles all of our outdoor adventures in Tucson. I’ve also covered our spontaneous afternoon in downtown Tucson, a guide to a full day of sight-seeing, eating and cocktail-ing in the center of town.
This will be my last article about things to do in Tucson until the next time we visit. It’s basically “everything else” that didn’t fit into the first two articles. But don’t consider these the leftovers. You’ll see tortillas larger than your face, and experience a 30-degree temperature change in the space of an hour.
San Xavier del Bac
The San Xavier del Bac mission dates back to Spanish colonization in the late 1600s. The current church was completed by 1797, built by Franciscan monks, and the architecture inside and out is striking.
This fact blew my mind: those were native to the area went from being Spanish citizens, to Mexican citizens, to United States citizens in the space of 300 years.
The mission is free to visit, and is open daily from 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
1950 W. San Xavier Road – Website
Tanque Verde Swap Meet
The Tanque Verde Swap Meet is one of those things that Tucsonians mention with a smile of nostalgia and home-town affection. Held on the weekends only (Friday-Sunday), it’s like a gigantic flea market. Plus, there’s $1 beer from 11-3 p.m. on Sundays!
4100 S. Palo Verde Road – Website
Places to Eat in Tucson
In no particular order…
This place is known for hosting President Bill Clinton. In fact, the “President’s Plate” is on the menu, which supposedly represents his meal there on February 25, 1999. While we forged our own culinary trail, we enjoyed everything we ate. The margarita was yums, and I went straight-up Arizona with my enchiladas nopalitas (enchiladas with prickly pear cactus).
This place gets busy, even on week nights, so plan ahead.
1813 S. 4th Ave. – Website
La Carreta del Rorro
They say no visit to Tucson is complete without sampling a Sonoran hot dog. There are many places you can get one, but Eric enjoyed his visit to La Carreta del Rorro, an unassuming food cart.
6353 N. Camino De La Tierra – Yelp
Located just a few minutes from our RV park, Tiny’s Saloon is a convenient place to stop if you’re hungry near Saguaro National Park or the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It’s nothing fancy, but the food is satisfying. We had a couple of dinners there, including one with our friends from Drivin’ and Vibin’.
4900 W. Ajo Hwy – Facebook
If you like greasy-spoon diners that make killer food, then you will love Frank’s. We headed there for brunch after church, and the place was filled with regulars. We could not believe the cook on the grill behind the bar. He was literally throwing finished plates out for the servers, practically faster than they could get them to the tables. Sit at the bar to watch the magic.
3843 E. Pima St. – Website
Eegee’s is a chain you’ll see all over Arizona. It’s a cross between a fast food hamburger chain and Subway. We went for the two things everyone raves about: the slushs and the ranch fries. Upon examining the ranch fries, you’ll say to yourself, “Why have I never made these at home?” And then you’ll stuff them in your mouth and stop asking questions.
Lindy’s on 4th
We’ve saved the best for last, so pay attention! It’s a good thing we found Lindy’s on our last night in Tucson, or else we would be 200 pounds heavier. This place has incredible tater tots, and a creative, mouth-watering specialty burger menu.
Eric had the Mac & Cheese burger, with creamy mac & cheese, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and Lindy’s sauce. Yeah.
I had the Kush, a crazy mix of raspberry preserves, green chilies, blue cheese crumbles and bacon. It tastes as awesome as it sounds.
431 N. 4th Ave. – Website
Take a Drive
Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway
The Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway begins on the northeast side of Tucson, and winds 27 miles into the mountains. The trip to the top takes about an hour, as you climb to 8,000 feet. Don’t be surprised to go from cactus and 62 degrees, to pine trees, snow and 34 degrees. Because that’s what happened to us. The views are incredible, so make sure you stop at a few overlooks.
This is one of our favorite things we did in Tucson.
My dad loves cowboy culture, so he’s always told me about his visit to Tombstone, Arizona in the early 1980s. I was a bit disappointed by our visit. The town was more touristy and less authentic than I imagined. It kind of felt like the town had pocketed the tourist dollars, rather than using them to keep the place up.
Nonetheless, we walked around and sprung to see the gun fight at O.K. Corral. And don’t forget your sarsaparilla!
And there you have it! I dare you to fit this much into two weeks in Tucson.