We have a Wildcat in the family, my oldest daughter is in her second year at the University of Arizona, so we have discovered that Tucson makes for a great getaway destination. We love it, and winter is the time to go.
There are a few places I definitely recommend to take in the natural beautify of Arizona. The first would be a visit to Sabino Canyon, about 20 minutes from the downtown area and full of scenic mountain views of the Catalina mountains along with plenty of Saguaro cactus, a mountain stream winding down the canyon, and a tour tram that can take you to the top so you can just walk down (or ride the whole way up and down.) It is perfect for both a great hike, or for those that just want to see the scenery without the hike!! For more information visit http://www.sabinocanyon.com.
Another spot to enjoy nature is the Tohono Chul botanical gardens. This is a lovely place to stroll and enjoy the paths, the three gift shops, art gallery and restaurant with great weekend brunch options. Pictured was the most gourmet huevos rancheros of my life, delicious with the Prickly Pear lemonade to wash it down with. For our younger daughter, age 8, there was an enchanting little children’s garden that she enjoyed for quite some time as we relaxed in the shade of the trees. At the entrance they give the kids tiny wood “boats” go down an winding little play stream in the middle of the garden, along with other little interactive and fun things to explore. For more information visit http://www.tohonochulpark.org .
Other unique points of interest in the area we have stumbled upon are the Biosphere 2, which is about an hour outside of Tucson, and was a hit with my husband ( b2science.org). Also the Arizona State Museum (http://www.statemuseum.arizona.edu/) on the University of Arizona campus. The university’s planetarium is also open to the public (http://flandrau.org/visit/planetarium_schedule.) Something on our to-do list for a future visit is an excursion to Tombstone and the OK Corral which I understand is about an hour out of town.
It is just a short one hour flight and Southwest has great fares on a regular basis, so keep an eye out for a deal and pack your bags. We rent a car, and the driving is pretty easy around town. Generally we have used Dollar Rent-A-Car and again, we always seem to find a pretty good deal. Hotels are reasonably priced, our best find so far has been The Lodge On The Desert, which boasts an award winning restaurant that locals enjoy along with the out-of-towners (http://www.lodgeonthedesert.com/). There is no shortage of great places to eat. Our family favorites are both on 4th Avenue near the university, La Indita for delicious traditional Mexican food from the region (and many vegetarian delights) along with the B-Line across the street (B-Line has a dessert case that you do not want to miss!) 4th Avenue is a little eclectic, with a few art shops, souvenir shops and second hand boutiques. I would probably recommend lunch or an early dinner if traveling with kids, the night scene is a little more for the college crowd as the later hours roll around. Whatever you end up doing, you will enjoy getting to know Wildcat Country!!