While the landscape and climate of Tucson may conjure up mental images of a vast desert, Arizona’s second-largest city is without a doubt full of life, a variety of delicious (and ever-changing) food, and extensive opportunities to learn more about the world around us. From a wildlife museum that functions more like an in-depth zoo to a facility dedicated to telling the story of an incredibly courageous aerial unit from World War II, the amount of knowledge to be gained within The Old Pueblo is without limit.
Tucson, Arizona became part of the United States in 1854 after being bought, along with a large portion of southern Arizona and southeastern New Mexico, in what is known as the Gadsden Purchase. Since then, Tucson has grown to become the second-largest populated city in the state of Arizona behind the state capital, Phoenix. The city itself has a population of over 500,000 residents, while the Tucson metropolitan area is home to just over a million residents. As one might expect, temperatures in Tucson tend to remain on the warmer side of the spectrum throughout the year, although its elevation does allow for more humidity and cooler temperatures than other desert cities. The area experiences hot summers and more temperate winters, with the lowest recorded temperature in its history coming to a positive and relatively warm 6 °F. On the other side, of course, higher temperatures tend to be significantly more extreme, with the highest recorded temperature at the University of Arizona being set at 115 °F and temperatures in the city rising above 90 °F on an average of 150 days out of the year.
There are a number of establishments that help make Tucson a surefire hot spot for potential residents looking to make the move out West. In this article, we will be highlighting some of these must-visit locations to give you a better idea of what you can expect upon arrival in “The Old Pueblo."
390th Memorial Museum
During the events of World War II, an aerial unit was established and organized with the objective of flying combat missions using Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers.
“The mission of the 390th Memorial Museum is to honor the courage and sacrifice of the 390th Bombardment Group,” says Director of Development Jodi Gonzales.
From its activation on January 26, 1943 to its inactivation on August 28, 1945, the Bombardment Group flew a total of 301 missions against the Nazi regime. Along with a collection of images and documents, the Memorial Museum features over 200 personal narratives given by members of the 390th to provide visitors with a firsthand account of what the group experienced during their time in operation. Not only that, but the museum also has on display one of the only fully restored B-17 Bombers in the United States. Called the “Hidden Gem of Tucson” by local leaders, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more thorough collection of material chronicling the trials and accomplishments of these brave men. (Photo credit: Jodi Gonzales)
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Visiting a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium in one day could prove to be an exhausting, yet entertaining journey through the city of Tucson, but thankfully there is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which covers every one of those bases in a single location across a 98-acre property. Ranked as one of the Top 10 Museums in the United States, the Desert Museum provides visitors with an atypical experience that takes the adventure outside with 85% of its exhibits and activities found anywhere but indoors. Its living animal collection includes 4,892 specimens of 242 different species, with the plant population reaching 56,445 specimens of 1,100 taxa. One aspect of the museum that becomes more important by the day is its focus on the conservation of our natural environment, whether in more familiar desert regions or around the world. Each year, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum welcomes around 400,000 visitors and 35,000 school children through its various outreach programs. Under consistently progressive and creative leadership, it shows no signs of slowing down in the years to come. In the next few months, be on the lookout for the opening of the museum’s brand-new Stingray Touch exhibit! (Photo credit: pixabay.com)
Children’s Museum Tucson
If you’re a child at heart and/or have children of your own, the Children’s Museum is the place to go for equal parts education and fun when in the city of Tucson. Featuring 13 incredible exhibits such as Electri-City, Bodyology, Techtopia, and the STEM-oriented Investigation Station, visitors can take part in exciting and engaging educational activities that are sure to bring them a better understanding of the world around them. The Children’s Museum is located within a historic, century-old Carnegie building, and for younger visitors around the ages of 0-5, there is a more appropriately-sized facility at the 11015 N. Oracle Road satellite location. Over the past four years, the museum has invested over 1.2 million dollars in creating new exhibits and making extensive renovations on those that already existed to ensure that the spaces are more interactive and hands-on than ever before. With these improvements and innovations, the Children’s Museum of Tucson is more prepared than ever to continue providing the Tucson community with exciting, play-based learning experiences for years to come. (Photo credit: childrensmuseumtucson.org)
Located within Tucson’s historic Coronado hotel, The Coronet is an intimate, Brasserie-style restaurant that specializes in providing a rustic, old-world dining experience with a seasonally-relevant menu curated by co-owner Sally Kane and head chef Erika Bostick-Esham. The brunch menu includes delectable dishes such as the Venezuelan Ham Bake and Chai French Toast, along with a wide selection of early morning drinks sure to quench your thirst on a warm Arizona morning. From 3PM to 6PM, patrons can score a deal on select beer, wine, and cocktails during Happy Hour, complete with discounted appetizers as well. During the evening, The Coronet continues down the path of European country cuisine with a unique selection of appetizers, platters to share, and entrees like the Dragoon Session Sausage and Citrus Artichoke Roast Chicken. While The Coronet is a smaller, intimate restaurant, they do accept reservations on most major holidays, and if your party includes 10 or more guests you can call ahead to see if they are able to accommodate your group at the time. (Photo credit: cafecoronet.com)
Originally opened as a takeout spot, Feast now has a new location with plenty of space for guests to dine-in and features a menu that changes on the first Tuesday of every month so that the ingredients used for dishes are not only in season, but also as fresh as possible. As a result, it may be difficult to nail down a particular dish that really defines the restaurant, but the amount of value guests can find in discovering new favorites every month is seemingly limitless. For both lunch and dinner, the menu remains the same, but there is also a brunch menu reserved for Sundays between the hours of 10AM and 3PM. If one of the dishes you’ve come to love happens to disappear between months, don’t fret! Over the summer, Feast provides an opportunity for guests to reunite with their favorites in the form of a weekly rotating menu built around the requests of guests who feel that certain foods should make a brief, yet well-received return to the table. (Photo credit: eatatfeast.com)
While the landscape and climate of Tucson may conjure up mental images of a vast desert, Arizona’s second-largest city is without a doubt full of life, a variety of delicious (and ever-changing) food, and extensive opportunities to learn more about the world around us. From a wildlife museum that functions more like an in-depth zoo to a facility dedicated to telling the story of an incredibly courageous aerial unit from World War II, the amount of knowledge to be gained within The Old Pueblo is without limit. For the younger crowd, there’s no better place to be than the Children’s Museum, where education and adventure join together to create the perfect hands-on learning environment for generations to come. Beyond these highlights and hot spots, there are a multitude of other locations and establishments that continue the city’s trend of being one of the best in the West, and it’s all available to you from the moment you touchdown in Tucson.