Arizona desert landscape with Saguaro cactus at sunset, near Tucson.

City Guide / Tucson

Fun Things to Do in Tucson

By Bri Hand | Dec 20, 2021

Along the scenic vistas of the Sonoran Desert sits the sunny city of Tucson. This southwest city is an expanding hub of culinary cultures, natural beauty, and exciting events. For those ready to take in everything this Arizona city has to offer, Tucson, AZ, is ready and waiting.

Plus, you have this handy guide to help you uncover the many fun things to do in Tucson.

From margaritas to mountain trails, we’re diving headfirst into how to make the most of your time in Tucson. Read on to find out the best ways to live it up in the southwestern gem. We’ll be looking into amazing activities, including:

  • Hikes, trails, and views
  • Culinary adventures
  • Tucson nightlife
  • Local events

Let’s get started! 

Hike through Tucson’s best trails

There’s more to the desert than saguaro cacti and sand. The Sonoran Desert surrounding Tucson is home to a diverse range of fauna and flora, not to mention eye-catching sights. Travel to a unique oasis or hike your way to a gorgeous view. 

Whether you’re visiting or moving to Tucson, there’s always more to see across the next butte. Nature lovers flock to Tucson to spend their days traversing the backroads and trials, so why not trek over to some local favorites, like:

  • Tumamoc Hill: Do you want to go horseback riding or hiking? A three-mile round trip to the top of the hill and back, the Tumamoc Hill trail is visited by more than 1,000 people every day. That means there are plenty of opportunities to chat with locals about the Desert Laboratory, the ecological reserve located on the premises. This U.S. National Historical Landmark is well worth a visit for those looking to get some physical and mental exercise while exploring the trail. 
  • Valley View Overlook Trail: A fairly short hike at less than a mile round-trip, the Valley View Overlook Trail is all about quality over quantity. Mountain views and dynamic terrain await you on this trail. Saguaros, prickly pear, and ocotillos fill the landscape and make for plenty of Insta-worthy moments.
  • Sutherland Trail: Ready for a test of your endurance? Visit the Catalina State Park and hike the 17 miles of the Sutherland Trail. For experienced hikers, the trail offers a challenge with a high elevation and serious distance. That said, you’ll have beautiful views at the higher elevations and, at lower elevations, gorgeous Arizona wildflowers that line the trail. There’s plenty to admire while you’re working up a sweat.
  • Bear Canyon to Seven Falls Trail: Visit the Sabino Canyon and hike the Bear Canyon to Seven Falls Trail for a moderately difficult trek that features plenty of spots to cool off. Dive into any of the cool natural pools near the base of the falls and glance up to see a sky full of unique local birds. It’s a serene place to spend a whole day hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, and learning about Arizona desert wildlife.
  • Canada del Oro Riverfront Path: Cycle around Tucson on the Canada del Oro Riverfront Path. With a smooth paved path and a quiet, low-traffic environment, the route is designed for bikers to feel free. Plus, the nearby park offers even more amenities to check out when you’re ready to hop off your bike.

Other parks you should definitely visit are Tucson Mountain Park, Catalina State Park, and Saguaro National Park. Plus, if you’re looking to spend your day outside in a less rugged way, there are great options for golfing, swimming, and relaxing at any of Tucson’s several public parks or at the Tucson Botanical Garden. 

Looking to bring your furry friend along? Plenty of hiking trails and parks in the city also allow dogs on leashes, so there’s no reason to leave your canine companions at home.

Set off on culinary adventures

One of the many Tucson attractions is the food. From breakfast fare to sweet goodies (and plenty of late-night snack options), the Tucson food scene hits the spot when it comes to flavorful cuisine. Whether you’re looking to start your day with a healthy home cooked meal or trying to satisfy a specific craving, Tucson, Arizona, is a city devoted to all things delicious.

Curious about some of the best establishments in the city? Try out a few of these local favorites to get a taste of what Tucson’s all about:

  • Penca: Experience fine dining with elevated food inspired by Mexico City. At Penca, entrees include Pibil-style pork, pan-seared market fish, braised short rib, and roasted poblanos. Top of your meal with a Mezcal cocktail from the small-batch mezcal bar, like the Jícara, to fully experience the agave of the region.
  • Tito & Pep: A brand-new eatery in Midtown Tucson, Tito & Pep has already made its mark on the local food scene. Relax in a casual atmosphere and enjoy some smokey, mesquite-grilled pork chops, harvest vegetable posole, or a crispy chicken torta. If you’re looking for a beverage pairing, Tito & Pep offers an exciting wine menu with options ranging from Spain to California.
  • Barrio Bread: Looking for a shop that’s the best thing since sliced bread? Barrio Bread bakes up fresh, artisanal bread like the Guadalajara-style Birote, the Barrio Baguette, and the Apricot-Cranberry loaf. With locally sourced ingredients, including Arizona-grown grains, this bakery is reimagining the craft of baking. Many of its loaves are stamped with a beautiful saguaro stencil, too!
  • Kingfisher: Taste the award-winning flavor of Kingfisher’s top-notch seafood. Try dishes like the grilled Ruby Trout, pan-roasted Atlantic Salmon, or the Kingfisher’s lobster roll. Whether you make a reservation or order takeout, be sure to check out the dessert menu to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Consider this lineup as just an appetizer to Tucson’s many restaurant options. This is a foodie town through and through, so bring your appetite and look forward to expanding your palate.

Take a tour of Tucson nightlife

Dance, laugh, and drink your way through metropolitan Tucson. Local nightlife offers friendly cocktail bars, exciting music venues, and a variety of clubs.

Locals always find a reason to get out and enjoy the city, and so will you. While you’re in Tucson, be sure to visit a few of the top spots for nighttime fun, like:

  • Laffs Comedy Caffé: Ready to chuckle, guffaw, and howl at local and national comedy acts? Laffs Comedy Caffé is the first-ever comedy club in Tucson and has made a name for itself as a proving ground for some of the biggest stars in the comedy world. There’s also a weekly open mic night for those looking to take the plunge and get a taste of the limelight.
  • The Rialto Theatre: Opening in 1920, the Rialto Theatre has more than 100 years of history within its walls. From early movies to vaudeville shows, the Rialto is a long-established bit of Tucson history. Today, the theatre hosts national acts and over 200 events every year. With a focus on community, the Rialto continues to inspire well into the 21st century. 
  • SideCar: Send your taste buds on a trip with the cocktails at SideCar. This cozy neighborhood bar offers a unique cocktail menu offering herbal, sour, frothy, and dark drinks that can satisfy even the experienced drinker, or those trying out craft cocktails for the first time. Plus, the down-to-earth atmosphere and refreshing design make it an amazing place to spend an evening chatting it up with locals.

The nightlife doesn’t end there. You can spend every night of the week exploring dance clubs, dive bars, or local venues to find your niche in a city as large and diverse as Tucson. When it comes to enjoying everything the city has to offer, there’s no reason to settle for anything less than amazing.

Explore local events

Tucson events bring the city together. Get out and start meeting your neighbors at local festivals, or bring your out-of-town friends into the city for one of the many annual events put on in the city.

Many residents flock to local events such as:

  • Tucson Rodeo Parade: If this is your first rodeo, strap in. The Tucson Rodeo Parade has been a tradition for nearly 100 years and occurs every February. You can watch the horse-drawn coaches, folk dancers, and marching bands move through the city or explore the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum to learn more about the history of the festival.
  • Tucson Festival of Books: For the literary-inclined, the Tucson Festival of Books is a yearly favorite. Set on the University of Arizona campus, this two-day festival involves pursuing boxes, chatting up vendors, and spending time listening to award-winning authors talk about their craft.
  • Tucson Marathon: Get your blood pumping by signing up for the Tucson Marathon. This yearly event is a Boston Marathon qualifier and attracts runners from throughout the country and the world. Whether you’re looking to compete against the other runners or just aiming for a personal best, this marathon is a wonderful way to push yourself and uncover your potential.

Don’t forget about the gem and jewelry shows, local music festivals, cultural celebrations, and holiday fun. There’s always a reason to get out and explore, so don’t hesitate to try something new in Tucson—you might stumble onto a truly memorable experience!

Prioritize fun with Landing

Your itinerary is probably looking a little long at this point, which is a good thing. By the time you arrive in Tucson, you’ll likely have a full calendar and a mountain of expectations that the city is sure to exceed. 

That said, there’s a bit more preparation needed to maximize your fun times in Tucson—booking your next apartment through Landing.

At Landing, we’re reinventing apartment living to help you avoid the pitfalls of renting. With flexible leases, no application fees, 24/7 member support, and so much more, we help members experience stress-free and fun-filled living in Tucson. Discover our fully furnished apartments in Tucson today.

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About the author

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.