There’s a surprising array of remarkable sights, one-of-a-kind attractions and cool escapes. Plus, low seasonal rates make Tucson’s world-class resorts, hotels, spas and guest ranches a great bargain for summer getaways.
Beat the heat, naturally
Think it’s too warm for outdoor adventures? Change your perspective on top of Mt. Lemmon or deep underground. Outdoor enthusiasts can easily escape to Mt. Lemmon for a day of hiking through aspen groves, fishing at Rose Canyon Lake or camping under the starry night sky. For those who want to enjoy the cool temperatures at a leisurely pace, the sky ride at Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley provides panoramic vistas of Southern Arizona. Riders also get a birds-eye view of forest inhabitants such as deer, mountain lions, black bear and coati munde.
Mysteries abound underground at Colossal Cave and Kartchner Caverns. Escape the summer sun at Colossal Cave Mountain Park. Inside the cave, the temperature is a refreshing 70 degrees. Take a tour to see stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, boxwork and helictites. Learn about the cave inhabitants and regional geology, and hear tales of a Wild West treasure still said to be hidden in the cave.
Southern Arizona is also home to spectacular Kartchner Caverns State Park. The brilliantly colored formations in this rare living cave are some of the best in the world, and even in summer the average temperature inside the cave is a cool 68 degrees.
Cool summer nights
Mild summer evenings provide another great opportunity to experience the best of Southern Arizona. Head to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for family fun under a starry night sky. June through August, this world-renowned zoo and botanical garden extends its Saturday hours into the night. While some exhibits close so the animals can rest, mountain lions, beavers, bats and other nocturnal desert dwellers are especially active at night. Along the Museum’s nearly two miles of paths, docents offer entertaining information on night-sky wonders, fluorescent minerals, night pollinators and insects and more.
Visit the Titan Missile Museum at night for a memorable tour into the depths of the country’s cold war history. Special Moonlight Madness nights include activities for kids such as launching seltzer rockets, sampling space food and taking the astronaut test. Moonlight Madness Tours will be held June 12, July 10, August 14 and September 11. Reservations are required. Call (520) 625-7736 for details.
Tucson’s cloudless skies, clean air, and low humidity make it an ideal city for stargazers. Averaging 350 nights of clear skies each year, Tucson is home to some of the world’s top observatories and astronomy research facilities, giving amateur astronomers unparalleled access to the stars. Atop Mt. Lemmon, the University of Arizona’s Mount Lemmon SkyCenter invites the public on an overnight adventure. Learn the constellations, observe interesting atmospheric phenomena and view the wonders of the cosmos from a high-quality astronomical site using the SkyCenter’s outstanding 24-inch telescope. Call (520) 626-8122 for reservations and information.
Summer in Tucson is a great time to get acquainted with Tucson’s thriving art scene. Tucked in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains north of town, the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is a hidden treasure. Artist Ted DeGrazia’s images have become iconic of Southwestern life, and the largest collection of his work is found here. This 10-acre retreat includes an adobe gallery of his thousands of works of art, an open-air mission and DeGrazia’s home – all designed and built by his own hands, with the help of his Native American friends.
For those seeking the best 20th-century photography, the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona appeals to the shutterbug in any casual observer. Today the Center houses the works of more than 50 renowned American artists, including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Richard Avedon and Lola Alvarez Bravo, to name a few. Browse the featured exhibition or be your own curator and call in advance to schedule a private viewing of your favorite photographer’s work.
Galleries throughout the city feature a wide range of work. Shoppers can find eclectic crafts from local artisans at funky shops like Bohemia or view exceptional pieces, such as paintings by the Tucson 7 at Settlers West Gallery. In the foothills, Gallery Row at El Cortijo is a great place to shop for fine art, with six galleries, including Madaras Gallery, Wilde Meyer Gallery and Mountain Shadows Gallery.
Plan your getaway
Ready to start your Tucson adventure? Visit www.TucsonWillSurpriseYou.com or call 888-2-TUCSON for hotel packages, dining discounts, things to do and more. In Tucson, remember to get your Tucson Attractions Passport to enjoy money-saving 2-for-1 offers plus other great discounts to the area’s top attractions, museums and retail locations. Attractions passports are available at the Tucson Visitor Center or order online at www.TucsonPassport.com.
(Brought to you by Metro Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau)