Discover Tucson in 3 Days

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Advisor - Emily O'Gorman
Curated By

Emily O'Gorman

  • Arizona

  • Nature Escapes

  • Adventure Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • Food & Wine

  • Active Travel

  • Sightseeing

  • Hidden Gems

  • Outdoors

A cactus at sunset in Tucson.
Curator’s statement

Having been raised in Tucson, and being a proud UofA graduate, the Old Pueblo holds a special place in my heart. With its natural beauty, historical sites and dynamic food scene, there is something for everyone in Tucson. This guide outlines the top things to do and see in Tucson for a long weekend.

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Day 1: Sonoran Desert Museum & Gaslight Theatre

Cactus plants with sunset and mountains.

Start the day by visiting the Sonoran Desert Museum, which displays a mix of botanical elements mixed with natural history. The museum highlights the distinctive elements of the sonoran desert.

Head over to The Cup Cafe located at the historic Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson for a flavorful lunch. Make sure to walk around the hotel lobby and explore the rich history of the place where the infamous bank robber John Dillinger was captured in 1934.

For a night of fun, head over the the Gaslight Theater for dinner and a show filled with live music, comedy and plenty melodrama. The audience is encouraged to cheer for the heroes and boo the villains, making the Gaslight a engaging and entertaining experience for people of all ages.

Day 2: Hiking & Local Dishes

Sabino Canyon in the evening.

On your second day in Tucson, head out to Sabino Canyon and hike one (or some) of the many trails offered. Too tired from the night before and hiking doesn’t sound good? Take the tram and hop on and off at one of the stops along the canyon and walk as far or as little to explore the many nooks and crannies the canyon offers. If it’s warm and the water is flowing, bring your suit to go for a swim in the cool waters! Remember to always bring water and stay hydrated.

You can go to Tucson without trying the ever so famous Sonoran Hot Dog. El Guero Canelo, BK Tacos and Karamelo King are some of my favorites. I always get a sonoran dog and a carne asada karamelo! For dinner, head to Charro Steak in downtown Tucson for a elevated, cowboy steak dining experience.

After dinner, stroll down 4th avenue to admire the eclectic vibe and stop in The Rustic Candle to pick up a local made candle to take home with you.

Day 3: Enjoy the Landscape

Rocky mountains in Tuscon Arizona.

On your final day, enjoy breakfast at Prep & Pastry for a more modern twist on the traditional breakfast. My go-to dish is the monte cristo and I’ll wash it down with a nice mimosa.

After breakfast, take the scenic byway up to Mount Lemmon which stands at the top of the Santa Catalina mountains. Mount Lemmon is a oasis for Tucsonan’s to getaway from Tucson for a weekend to either escape the heat in the summer, or ski at the resort in the winter. After exploring, stop by the Mt Lemmon Cookie Cabin for a sweet treat to enjoy on the scenic drive back down the mountain.

For dinner on your last night, enjoy the stunning setting that the Grill at Hacienda del Sol offers. The Grill specializes in Southwest-inspried cuisine and is surrounded by beautiful landscape.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Rebecca Hanson’s guide, Slow Travel through the Tuscan Hill Towns.

Advisor - Emily O'Gorman

Travel Advisor

Emily O'Gorman

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Arizona.