Skip To Content

    I'm Sorry, But Tucson Is The Best City In Arizona And I Have Proof

    I bet Phoenix can't call itself a UNESCO City of Gastronomy...

    The coronavirus pandemic is still impacting travel, and destinations around the world have different COVID-19 restrictions in place. Always check and adhere to local government policies as you're planning future trips.

    I hear a lot of chatter about Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Sedona, but I'd like to discuss the true unsung hero of Arizona: Tucson.

    The WB

    I hereby present the argument that Tucson is *the* best Arizona city to visit by way of the below points. Argue in the comments if you must.

    a cactus
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    1. First and foremost...take a gander at this random block. So quaint. So picturesque. It's Friday and I'm in love.

    a house
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Aesthetics aside...

    2. The bar scene is awesome. For example: Drinks can be drunk from a pew at Owls Club, a former funeral home turned bar for folks who prefer gin with a ghost garnish (maybe).

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Speakeasy vibes + delicious cocktails + a slice of Halloween every night = the perfect spot. And that's not up for debate.

    Address: 236 S. Scott Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701

    3. It's impossible to walk a five-block radius without seeing some sort of street art — it's everywhere and it's all stunning.

    the street art
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    This gorgeous street art is located by 5 Points Market & Restaurant.

    4. There's San Xavier del Bac Mission, a stunning church and national historic landmark built in 1797. The ornate details inside are enhanced by the barren desert backdrop on the outside.

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Address: 1950 W. San Xavier Rd., Tucson, AZ 85746

    5. One can and should inhale pastries at the family-owned La Estrella Bakery. This local biz has been around since 1986, is beloved by the community for its fresh gingerbread ~pigs~ (El Cochito) and sweet bread (La Concha), and, best of all, the spread below cost less than $6.

    the pastries
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    The original location is at 5266 S. 12th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85706, but you can check out their second location at Mercado San Agustin. 

    6. Tours through the west side of Saguaro National Park are just a casual afternoon drive. Nothing special to see here... *sweats in sarcasm*

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    This scenic loop is an easy half-hour ride, there are pull-in spots so you can stop and gawk, and the views are breathtaking.

    Address: 2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson, AZ 85743

    7. And if you really love saguaro views? Then the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is heaven. This place is a zoo, botanical garden, aquarium, and art gallery plopped in the middle of 21 acres of desert.

    the zoo
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Address: 2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson, AZ 85743

    8. Neon is embraced and celebrated at Ignite Sign Art Museum, a kitschy refuge for historically significant (as the name would imply) signs. There's even a mini scavenger hunt for folks who value healthy competition over casual strolling.

    the scavenger hunt
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Address: 331 S. Olsen Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719

    9. The Mexican food here = outstanding. The chorizo burrito and bacon taco at Seis are yum; be sure to wash it down with a fresh agua fresca (watermelon cucumber was my fave) *and* a house-made horchata. I say "and" because you have to guzzle down both.

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Horchata is a Mexican plant milk made from cinnamon, rice, and vanilla that you'll want to drink by the jugful.

    You can check out all of the Seis locations here.

    10. Afternoons can be spent weaving in and out of the institutions lining Historic Fourth Avenue, which includes Antigone Books (oooo we love a #smallbookshop) and the Hut (a tiki-inspired lounge you enter through an Easter Island statue).

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    You can also refuel after doing some Fourth Avenue shopping at BOCA Tacos y Tequila. And if the name wasn't enough indication of what it's serving up... It's tacos! Delicious ones for as low as $3.50 a pop. Be sure to order a GIANT bag of chips for the table to pair with their four house-made salsas, the flavors of which change daily.

    11. There is no shortage of fantastic places to shop. A sampling of my favorites: Hurricane Records, Bon Boutique, St. Vincent de Paul thrift store, Tanline Printing, How Sweet It Was Vintage... The list goes on.

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Tucson values small shops to big-name retailers, so expect tons of unique finds.

    12. The brewery scene is 🤯. Tucson is home to 12 craft breweries that pride themselves on unique recipes that infuse everything from cactus to Mexican spices. Every sip = an adventure.

    hand holding beer
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    13. I usually hate pizza that isn't made in the five boroughs...but Anello is so. Damn. Good. It's loved by locals for its simple menu, which means that each churned-out pie will be nothing short of perfection. You'll also want to inhale the jam- and cheese-topped focaccia starter.

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Address: 222 E. 6th St., Tucson, AZ 85705

    14. There are award-winning spirits up for sampling at Hamilton Distillers, where one can swig some of its specialty: a hot whiskey infused with mesquite. This place is one of six in the nation that makes its own single malt!

    the whiskey in front of the whiskey barrels
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Email to reserve a tour *or* call (520) 628-9244. 

    15. Once again, the art scene is brilliant. Peruse the masterfully curated Tucson Museum of Art, which houses an impressive collection of Indigenous, Latin American, and local Arizonian art...

    the inside of the museum
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    The space itself is also airy and open, a lovely reprieve from all that dry heat.

    Address: 140 N. Main Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701

    16. ....and then dedicate time to the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun designed by Arizona artist Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia. It showcases over 15,000 pieces of original artwork that offer an intimate glimpse into the history and native cultures of the Southwest.

    the inside of the gallery
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Address: 6300 N. Swan Rd., Tucson, AZ 85718

    17. Ice cream! Enjoy the handcrafted kind at the Screamery. Delicious flavors include Rough At Sea (sea salt base, honey-butterscotch swirl, candied pecans, almonds, and pistachios) and Sweet Sonoran Desert (honey ice cream with peanut butter swirl and homemade toffee). Plus, you can get a ~flight~ to sample six flavors in one swoop.

    the ice cream
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    You can check out its four Tucson locations here

    18. Mercado San Agustin and MSA Annex (both across the street from one another) are *chef's kiss*. They're sprawling open markets that have a bit of everything: food, coffee, dessert, and local shops you can spend an entire afternoon exploring.

    the market
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Address: 100 S. Avenida del Convento, Tucson, AZ 85701

    19. Folks can cool down with a raspado! This iconic Mexican snow cone consists of shaved ice and is often combined with condensed milk and ice cream. If your main personality trait is "indecisive," then follow my flavor recommendation: peach.

    the peach raspado
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Here are just a few places you can get 'em throughout Tucson: 

    Taqueria Pico De Gallo: 2618 S. 6th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85713

    Oasis Fruit Cones: 4126 S. 12th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85714 

    Sonora Sno-Cones: 120 S. Avenida del Convento #120, Tucson, AZ 85745

    20. The University of Arizona is home to a gem and mineral museum, which is a truly fascinating pit stop sure to inspire several "engagement ring stone costs" Google searches post-visit.

    the museum
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Address: 115 N. Church Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701

    21. There are so many good brunch spots with unique menu offerings — Prep & Pastry included! Their PB&J toast, for example, combines peanut butter ricotta fluff, strawberry jam, blueberry preserves, cinnamon, sugar, and Japanese milk bread.

    the peanut butter and jelly toast
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Prep & Pastry has two locations in Tucson, below:

    6450 E. Grant Rd. #160, Tucson, AZ 85715

    2660 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719

    TL;DR: Tucson is the best city in Arizona, as evident by the food, the art, the drinks, the shopping... I expect words of agreement in the comment section below.