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Mt. Lemmon
(45 min to 90 min away)

Mt Lemmon is an attractive getaway from Tucson in both the summer and the winter. In the Winter, many Tucsonans drive up the mountain to go play in the snow. Mt Lemmon features Ski Valley, the most southern ski resort in the continental US. Ski Valley features 22 trails ranging from green circle to black diamond. Whether you plan to ski, snowboard, or just relax in this winter wonderland, it has something for everyone. In the Summer, Mt Lemmon offers Tucsonans a break from the heat, as temperatures on the mountain tend to be about 25 to 30 degrees cooler. In the summer, there are a lot of hiking trails and campgrounds to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Three must dos on your trip to Mt Lemmon: 1) Stop at Windy Point to take in the panoramic views of Tucson. 2) Look around the general store and buy some fudge. 3) Get a cookie from the Cookie Cabin.

Sonoita, AZ

(30 min to 75 min away)

Arizona’s Wine Country! Sonoita’s cooler temperatures and rolling hills make it a perfect region for vineyards. In fact, the area has earned the American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation. Two must stop wineries while in Sonoita are Rune Wines for their impressive views, and Arizona Hops and Vines for great wine pairings, including Hot Cheetos and Fritos.

If wine isn’t your thing, check out the Sonoita Fairgrounds for the Santa Cruz County Fair, rodeos, horse shows, and horse races. This is where multi-time Triple Crown winner Bob Baffert got his start decades ago.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

(45 min to 90 min away)

Come visit one of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America. The Hohokam people built the “Great House” with caliche mud and clay sometime between 1350 and 1450 AD. The Great house is 4 stories tall. The National Monument not only preserved the Great House, but also the remains of the larger Hohokam village complex. Its purpose still remains a mystery, as the people who built it left no written language.

The Hohokam people inhabited the Sonoran Desert from around 1 AD to 1450 AD and were known for their advanced irrigation systems, pottery, and distinctive red-on-buff pottery designs.

The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument offers interpretive programs, guided tours, and special events throughout the year.

Bisbee, AZ
(75 min to 2 hours away)

Bisbee is an old historic mining town 80 miles Southeast of Tucson. People visit Bisbee to tour the old mines, visit numerous are galleries, and attend art festivals.

The town was founded in the late 19th century when high-grade copper was discovered in the Mule Mountains. The mining of copper continued until the mid 1970s. The Copper Queen Mine was the most famous, and you can take tours of the mine. 

Downtown Bisbee is lined with Victorian-style homes from the late 19th century. In fact, the entire historic district has been designated a National Historic Landmark.  

For the outdoorsy: Try the Bisbee 1000, a 4.5 mile hike that includes 9 staircases and over 1000 steps. The reward is bragging rights, and a breathtaking view. 

Nogales 
(90 min to 2 hours away)

Two separate towns, but one big city. There is a Nogales, AZ and a Nogales, Mexico. This is the main port of entry into the United States from Mexico, and with it brings a ton of trade and commerce. While you are there explore the local markets, eat at the Mexican Restaurants, shop for crafts and souvenirs. 

Many people from Arizona travel to Nogales for affordable healthcare services, including dental work, surgeries, and prescriptions. 

Please check the latest travel advisors and safety information when planning a visit. 

Tombstone

(1-2 hours away)

Tombstone was founded in 1879 as a mining town when a rich deposit of silver was discovered. Quickly turning the town into a bustling and lawless frontier town known for its saloons, gambling halls, and cowboy culture. With it's eventful history, the town coined the term "The town too tough to die".

Tombstone is the original old wild west town as many of the historic buildings and landmarks have been preserved from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Such buildings at the O.K. Corral, Boothill Graveyard, and the Bird Care Theatre (a former saloon and theatre known for its colorful history and paranormal activity).

 

The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral occurred in Tombstone. A famous gunfight between lawmen and cowboys on October 26th, 1881. This gunfight has been the subject of numerous books, legends, and movies. Most notably the movie “Tombstone” featuring Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott, Val Kilmer, and Bill Paxton. You can watch live reenactments of the gunfight while you visit. 

 

Patagonia Lake State Park
(1-2 hours away)

Situated in the rolling hills of the Sonoita Valley South of Tucson, Patagonia Lake is a 265 acre man-made reservoir. The lake offers swimming, boating, fishing, and water sports. The lake is stocked with Largemouth bass, Catfish, Bluegill, Crappie, and Rainbow trout. Bring your own boat, or you can rent rowboats, paddleboats, canoes, or kayaks. 

The state park offers various camping options, including tent and RV camping. Over 100 campsites with amenities such as picnic tables, fire rings, and restrooms. There are also many hiking trails. Great for bird watching and wildlife observation. Our recommendation is the Sonoita Creek Trail. 

 

Chiricahua National Monument
(90 min to 2 hours)

This national monument is on 12,000 acres in the Chiricahua Mountains East of Tucson. It's known for stunning rock formations include towering pinnacles, balanced rocks, and unique rock spires. Created by volcanic eruptions and subsequent erosion over millions of years. Formations known as “hoodoos”

There are several hiking trails that allow you to explore the unique rock formations. The best ones to go on are the Echo Canyon Trail, The Heart of Rocks Loop Trail, and The Sarah Deming Trail.  If hiking isn't your thing, you can take in the rock formations on a scenic drive on Bonita Canyon Drive, which winds through the monument. Please note, there are no campgrounds. 

It is geologist's paradise, offering insights into the regions volcanic history and erosion processes. It’s also home to diverse flora and fauna. 

Fun Fact: The monument was once the stronghold of the Chiricahua Apache Chief Cochise and later served as a hideout for Apache Warrior Geronimo.

 

Picacho Peak State Park
(15 min to 1 hour away)

A standalone unique thumb shaped mountain rising nearly 1500 feet above the surrounding desert, located just North of Tucson. It is a volcanic mountain composed of rhyolite and other volcanic rocks.

The park is popular for hikers and rock climbers. The Hunter Trail is a steep and rugged trail with cables and metal handrails that take you to the summit of the peak. 

March and April are the best months to visit as its beautiful wildflowers are display. Wildflowers such as poppies, lupines, and brittlebush. 

Be sure to save time for Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch to feed the critters. From Ostrich to stingrays.

Fun Fact: Picacho Peak State Park is the farthest West Civil War battle

 

Parker Canyon Lake
(75 min to 2 hours)

Parker Canyon Lake is a 130 acre lake that sits at an elevation of 5,375'. With the high elevation, it offers cooling weather, making it a great summer getaway. 

The lake offers fishing and boating, while the surrounding area offers camping and hiking. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout, catfish, bass, and sunfish. The lake is limited to electric motor boats, and non motor boats, making it a great spot for canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding. 

The lake is located in the Coronado National Forest, which offers amazing hiking. Camping (Tent and RV) is also available in the National Forest. There are picnic tables, fire rings, and restroooms.

Kitts Peak National Observatory
(45 min to 2 hours)

Located in the Quinlan Mountains just Southwest of Tucson, Kitts Peak is one of the most important and well-known observatories in the world. Kitts Peak has been instrumental in numerous groundbreaking astronomical discoveries and research projects. It has contributed to our understanding of dark matter, the expansion of the universe, and the search for exoplanets.

Kitts Peak is home to more than 20 optical and radio telescopes, making it one of the largest collections of astronomical instruments in the world. With it's high elevation (6,880') and it's remote location, it is ideal for astronomical observation. 

Kitts Peak offers guided tours, stargazing programs, and educational workshops. 

Willcox
(1 to 2 hours)

Located East of Tucson, Willcox is an agricultural town known for its wine graphs, pistachios, and apples. Willcox has recently emerged as a notable wine-producing region. With it's high desert climate of hot days and cool nights, it is conducive to growing wine grapes. There are several wineries and vineyards to visit in Willcox. 

Willcox also has several historical sites such the Willcox Commercial Historic District featuring well-preserved buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Willcox hosts an annual event called Rex Allen Days in Honor of the famous cowboy and singer Rex Allen who was born in Willcox. The celebration includes rodeo, parade, live music, and other family friendly activities. Another annual event to check out is the Willcox Wine Country Spring Festival which showcases local wines and food.

Tubac and Tumacacori National Historical Park

(30 min to 75 minutes)

Tubac is located South of Tucson in the Santa Cruz River Valley surrounded by the Santa Rita Mountains. The town of Tubac dates back to 1752. Making it one of the first Spanish settlements in what is now Arizona. It was originally a Spanish Colonial Presidio (Fort).

 

The Tubac Presidio State Historical Park is the preserved remains of the original Spanish Presidio (Fort). The park features a Museum, historical buildings, and exhibits.  The Tumacacori National Historic Park features the preserves ruins of three Spanish mission communities that date back to the 17th century.  Mission San Jose de Tumacacori is the most prominent feature of the park. Established by the Spanish Jesuit missionaires in 1691. The complex includes a church, conveto (priests’ quarters), cemetery, and gardens. The mission communities were established to convert the local indigenous O’Odham people to Christianity and the Spanish way of life.

Today it is a vibrant artistic community. Home to many galleries, studios, and shops. Tubac also has a ton of boutique shops with a wide range of art, jewelry, pottery, clothing, and other handmade goods. Every February is the Tubac Festival of Arts. But there are also various food and wine festivals throughout the year.

If you are looking for a relaxing place to stay, head to the Tubac Golf Resort & Spa which features a championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, a spa, fine dining, and upscale accommodations. The golf course is where they filmed the move "Tin Cup" featuring Kevin Costner and Don Johnston. 

Colossal Cave Mountain Park
(15 min to 1 hour)

Colossal Cave is a Limestone cave located just to the Southeast of Tucson. It was formed about 3,500 years ago by the action of water on the porous rock. 

There are several guided tour options that provide insight into the geology, history, and folklore associated with the cave. There is a Ladder Tour which involves climbing ladders and navigating tight spaces, and a Wild Cave Tour for the more adventurous and strenuous experience​. 

There are also popular hiking trails outside the cave. The Rock Wren Trail, the desert Ecology Trail, and the Loma Verde Loop are great options. There are even  Guided Horseback tours. Providing a unique perspective to the park’s desert scenery and are suitable for riders of varying skill levels.

Kartchner Caverns State Park
(30 min to 75 minutes)

Kartchner Caverns is located Southeast of Tucson and offers two guided tours. The Rotunda/Throne Room Tour and The Big Room Tour. Each tour offers a different perspective of the cave’s beauty with various formations of stalactites, stalagmites, columns, flowstones, and more. 

The Discovery Center features interactive exhibits and displays that provide visitors with information about the cave’s formation, geology, and delicate ecosystems.

The tours are open seasonally, so be sure to check their website for availability.

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