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Journal of ASPR - Summer 2013 - Enjoy Tucson: Things to see and do
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2013 ASPR Annual Conference

Enjoy Tucson: Things to see and do

By Laurie Pumper, ASPR Communication Director

Arriving early? Staying after the conference is over? Looking for something to do with your free time? Tucson offers a multitude of things to see and do — as does the resort where the conference is located. The Wall Street Journal referred to Tucson as a “mini Mecca for the arts,” while Frommer’s travel website calls Tucson “Arizona’s most beautiful and most livable city.” Tucson is a metropolitan area with nearly a million residents — without the hassles of big-city driving or pollution.

Our conference headquarters
The JW Marriott Resort & Spa has world-class spa facilities and nationally acclaimed golf courses, as well as a beautiful pool and relaxing lazy river! The resort is nestled in the mountains just west of the city of Tucson, with hiking and bike trails among the saguaro cactus. Best yet, almost everything listed in this article is just 15 to 30 minutes away from the resort.

The active life
There are ample hiking, biking, rock climbing, and horseback riding opportunities throughout the Tucson area. Nearly surrounded by five mountain ranges, Tucson offers hikers of all skill levels convenient access to unspoiled beauty with hundreds of miles of trails. Landscapes range from cacti-covered hills to pine-topped mountains, making hiking an option for every season. Within the city there are many miles of trails for walkers, bikers, inline skaters and horseback riders. One of the top rock-climbing destinations is Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains; at elevations up to 9,000 feet, you will feel some cool breezes, even during the summer! If you’re a “birder”, Tucson is home to more than 500 species of birds – including species of hummingbirds that are found nowhere else in the US. View a complete list of Tucson area birding sites on the Tucson Audubon Society website.

Arts and culture
Tucson is home to top-notch art and specialty museums such as the Arizona State Museum, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson Museum of Art, and University of Arizona Museum of Art. The Pima Air & Space Museum is the largest non-government funded aviation museum in the world. For those who love history, there are beautiful Spanish missions like San Xavier del Bac and ancient Native American archaeological sites. For music lovers, national pop and rock stars play venues like Centennial Hall, the Tucson Convention Center, and the area casinos (see below). The Rialto Theater hosts an array of local and national bands in a wide variety of genres and the Tucson Jazz Society provides concerts and educational activities as well.

Family fun
Bringing your family? Visit the Arizona-Sonora Museum in Tucson Mountain Park – which is more like a zoo than a museum – with animals exhibited in very natural settings (including a hummingbird aviary). Also enjoy the Reid Park Zoo in the heart of Tucson; the exhibits will take you from South America to an Asian rainforest, and on to the African savannah. The new “Expedition Tanzania” exhibit is a seven-acre habitat for elephants. The Children’s Museum Tucson provides play-based interactive experiences (such as “Pet Vet,” an exhibit where kids get to put on lab coats, check out pet X-rays and other vital statistics, and “groom” stuffed animals) in air-

Games for big kids
Tucson is home to several casinos, including Casino Del Sol, owned and operated by The Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Try your hand at cards or test your luck on the slot machines. You can also enjoy fine dining or catch a show. Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment offers bingo, slots, poker, blackjack, and Keno; it’s owned and operated by the Tohono O'odham Tribe, and has three locations in Southern Arizona.

Like to shop?
According to, “Tucson is a shopper's dream. There's a mixture of specialty shops, indoor malls and outdoor shopping that's sure to please the most discriminating shopper.” Shop at the Tucson Mall (Tucson’s largest shopping mall), Park Place Mall, La Encantada, or Foothills Mall (with outlet shops like Saks Off 5th). Or visit shopping districts like Campbell Avenue District, Downtown Tucson Partnership, the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association, the Lost Barrio, and Main Gate Square. Fourth Avenue has a variety of eclectic shops and restaurants too. Main Gate Square is a nice shopping and eating area located on the University of Arizona campus.

Restaurants and nightlife
Tucson is known for its Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, but the city’s culinary scene is expanding to several other types of dining adventures. Among the restaurants receiving top ratings from Zagat: Beyond Bread (bakery, sandwiches), Café Poca Cosa (Mexican), Le Rendez-Vous (French), The Dish (new American), and Vivace (Italian). Find more information about restaurants and nightlife at

?Find more things to do in Tucson at:

Journal of ASPR - Summer 2013

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