February 24-26, 2017
Tucson was a new city for us and I ended up loving it. Our travels haven’t brought us to too many places in Arizona, so we were glad when we decided to stop here. When you have no expectations and have no clue what a city has to offer, I sometimes feel like you are more open. Although being with good friends always helps! I have mentioned this before but we never expected to meet so many people on this journey. We have good friends who we now have seen in 7 different states in 10 months. Our latest journey together would be Tucson.
Tucson should be on any road trip itinerary or let’s get warm in the winter travel list. If you are on a budget, Tucson is a great place to be where you can still do and see a lot for free. Here are 6 free things to do in Tucson.
Free Things To Do In Tucson
Hike Brown Mountain Trail
Located in Tucson Mountain Park, west of Tucson it showcases the beautiful Saguros of the area. Brown Mountain Trail was more than I expected for such a short hike. Hiking through Cholla and Saguros to the top of a small mountain to a never ending view. Read about our hike here: Brown Mountain Trail
Walk The Presidio Trail (Turquois Trail)
Setting aside a day to explore the city is a must. Most of our adventures are on the trails or in the mountains, but we enjoy the urban walks as well. The Presidio Trail, which is also called the turquoise trail (as you can tell why from the picture), is a free walking tour of the city. You can pick up this trail at any point in the city. In total it’s 2 1/2 miles. We followed it to the different areas of the city and then just wandered around on our own. A street looked interesting, that’s the way we wandered. The best part, bring your dogs (if it’s not too hot)!
We almost missed this part. This was really fun. It started off as a cool morning and by mid day it was hot! We kept trying to find a place to just buy a water and we ended up at this door step. At first we were trying to figure out why we would go in here for a drink, but our friend insisted. We walked in to find a cute market, some art stores and funky stores. Then with a little more snooping…a large open area with restaurants, a stage and shade! I would have never guessed this was there!
Run or Bike the Santa Cruz River Park Trail
This incredibly maintained bike path runs along the Santa Cruz River. There might not always be water but it’s still a beautiful path to take. If you are itching for a long bike ride or trying to get in that long distance training run, this is the place to check out. There is over 20 miles of paved path and it links up to a couple other small paths. It also runs along the next place we found to explore.
Walk Through Sweetwater Wetlands
We were told by our neighbors at the RV park that we had to check this place out. There is a resident bobcat that people try and see, but aside from that there are many different birds, turtles and plants to view. It’s great for birders and we saw some serious photographers there. It’s not big so you can be here as long or little as you would like. I tried to prolong so I could hopefully see the bobcat, but no luck! So instead of a picture of a bobcat you get these two turtles.
Watch the Sunset at Gates Pass
This is the location for the best sunsets. It is right in between Tucson and Brown Mountain Trail above. There were places to climb to get to a private spot. We enjoyed the quiet, a cold beer (me a coca cola) and the beautiful sunset. On our way back to the car in the dark we heard someone playing a violin. It was the perfect night.
Saguro National Park
This is a small national park with two sections. One just north west of Tucson and the other section north east. The entry is free if you have the America the Beautiful pass or other interagency passes. Go and explore the largest cacti, the Saguros and learn about the area. It’s absolutely beautiful!
Fun Food Spots in Tucson
Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink – Amazing pizza, atmosphere, back patio and beer bar in the back! When you first walk in it’s the main restaurant, head to the back patio. We loved it there and the food is good too!
The Screamery HandCrafted Ice Cream – Seriously just stop here. You will not regret it. We tried their Sweet Cream Honeycomb and were blown away!
Maynards Market & Kitchen – This is a great place for lunch. They have a lot of options. Healthy, light and great quality. They have a cute little market and a nice patio.
HUB Ice Cream Factory – Another great ice cream option. A cute place with a mini train and track. They have seating inside and benches outside if you are walking with your pup!
OBON Sushi Bar Ramen – I was not expecting a ramen place, especially a good ramen place. I wasn’t as happy with the other choices on the menu but they do a really good bowl of noodles.
Batch Cafe & Bar – Come here if you are in the mood for a donut and bourbon. Don’t come too late as they will run out of donuts and I like them fresh, but then who can drink bourbon too early! However, if you want to go and try something, it’s a great place. They knew their bourbon, liked talking about it and had a great selection.
Pistachio – Our third and final ice cream stop of the trip. Can you tell we like ice cream? Pistachio is over by the college. It was really good and had a fun way of displaying their ice cream.
Where we stayed in Tucson
We stayed at Gilbert Ray Campground. It is $20/night for us and $10/night for tents. There is E&W but no dump at each site, just available at each loop. It is first come first serve with a 7 day stay limit.
We liked the location and it was an easy drive to downtown Tucson.
Hint from the locals: put lights under your rig at night to keep the mice away. We did not put lights down and we were lucky to not get any mice. We were the only rig without lights though!
What’s your favorite thing to do or place to eat in Tucson?!
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8 thoughts on “Exploring Tucson, Arizona”
Hi Kim, I love the photo of the brown mountain trail and the Sweetwater Wetlands. I see you are still having an amazing time. Take care, Janis
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Thanks Janis! We are! I hope you are well. Miss you.
Very nice collection of things to do in Tucson. My son lives there and I have done some of the things on your list. I would also add the Hotel Congress for their breakfast. I applaud your choice for watching the sun set, a spectacular recommendation.
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Thank you! We will be back so we will definitely check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!
Really interesting place, though i didn’t manage to visit all of these places the last time i was there. I visited the San Xavier del Bac Mission, and took a trip to nearby Tombstone
This is a great post about my favorite town in Arizona. You showed me even more reasons to love Tucson. I can’t wait to go back.
Great list of things to do in Tucson, would love to visit soon!
I’ve not really heard of Tucson before, so this guide was very helpful! Looks like there’s a fair amount of things to do in the city! The hikes look really good, which is something that I would enjoy doing!
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