Spend time outdoors, then sample the local cuisine and arts scene in this small town south of Tucson.
Set your sights on birds. Patagonia sits along a prime avian migratory path and is part of the Sky Islands—multiple mountain ranges that rise from 6,000 feet to nearly 10,000 feet high and support five diverse habitats—boasting more than 7,000 species of plants and animals. After some time in nature, try one of this southeastern town's restaurants, get inspired by local art and explore more things to do in Patagonia, Ariz.
The Tucson Audubon Society's Paton Center for Hummingbirds, just off of Patagonia's Naugle Avenue, attracts more than 200 species of feathered friends with native plants and feeders throughout the property. A one-mile nature trail connects the center to The Nature Conservancy Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, which protects one of the last remaining riparian habitats in the region. Patagonia Lake State Park, one of the top Patagonia tourism spots, is popular with birders, as well as families, boaters and anglers. Rent watercraft or just hang out on the sandy beach. Entrance fees to the park include the use of Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, with guided bird walks and 20 miles of Patagonia hiking trails.
Off-road cyclists find astonishing trails that wind through Patagonia's sky islands. In fact, Patagonia has earned a reputation as the Gravel Cycling Gateway to Santa Cruz County. Gravel trails follow remote dirt roads and include long climbs up woodland mountain passes and fast sections through grassland plains of the San Rafael Valley. The Gravel House is a specialty lodging option with all the equipment and knowledge needed for a memorable gravel bike vacation. Also, check out the Gravel Adventure Field Guide for maps of the area's epic gravel trails.
Food for the soul
Stock up on hiking and mountain biking essentials at Red Mountain Foods, a local grocer with fresh produce and healthy snacks. Or, put together your own picnic spread with sandwiches, salads, local wine and baked goods at Ovens of Patagonia.
View small-town life along McKeown Avenue on the patio at Gathering Grounds as you enjoy the café’s espresso bar and breakfast and lunch menu. For dinner, the Velvet Elvis Pizza Company is known equally for its gourmet pies as its unique moniker and decor—an image of The King painted on velvet hangs in the restaurant.
During the annual Sky Islands Fall Artisan Market browse nearly 100 booths showcasing the work of local artisans. This popular Patagonia, Arizona event also features live music, food and a petting zoo. Can't make it to the market? Artists give lectures and demonstrations throughout the year at the Patagonia Museum, housed in a 1914 schoolhouse and now a vessel for items from the town's ranching, mining and railroading past. If the performing arts are more your style, catch a play or film at the intimate Tin Shed Theater or listen to classical chamber music at the Benderly-Kendall Opera House.