Tucson. Arizona’s second largest city and praised for its sunshine, good food and nature trails. So why would you ever want to visit?
In all seriousness, it’s best to avoid ‘The Old Pueblo’ if you hate heat and sunshine. (Yes, I accept there are a few of you out there who exist). With an estimated 350 days of sunshine a year and temperatures rarely dipping below the mid-teens even in winter, the heat and sunshine of Tucson are what draws many retirees – so-called ‘snowbirds’ – to the city each year.
But who really wants a great tan, healthy skin and lots of dopamine promoting vitamin-D? I’d much rather be wrapped up in blankets, faced with a grey British sky and turning up the heating at the end of April.
Due to Tucson’s location and varied history, the city has been overrun with a range of cheap, considered ‘tasty’ Mexican-inspired dishes. Think authentic tacos, tamales and quesadillas – all washed down with budget-friendly beer and cocktails.
Alongside the tiresomely spicy cuisine, are also flavours from all over the world. Historic Fourth Avenue is home to a Greek restaurant, burger joints, Italian dishes, you name it.
Five best ‘local cuisine’ restaurants in Tucson, according to TripAdvisor
Tucson Tamale Company (£)
Cafe A La C-art (££-£££)
Bobo’s Restaurant (£)
Prep & Pastry (££-£££)
5 Points Market and Restaurant (££-£££)
But gosh, it’s all just too much choice. Give me an overpriced, overcooked and flavourless carvery any day of the week.
Boring natural environment
Tucson is in the middle of the desert – the dry, dull, empty Sonoran desert. Who would want to go there? Aside from the fascinating landscape, splendid flora and exciting mix of animals, there is really nothing to see here. Avoid the Saguaro National Park at all costs, if you can.
If you’re actually a fan of dust and cacti, then don’t worry, you’re certain to hate Tucson’s other natural feature – the Catalina mountains. Trek for hours and you still won’t get anywhere but simply further along this neverending mountain range.
Yes, it may offer ‘spectacular’ views of the contrasting city and desert below, but who wants to see that? Who wants to be surrounded by nature armed with only a backpack? It’s probably too hot to trek the trails anyway.
Arizona is average
Arizona – the land of the Grand Canyon, half of Monument Valley and an endless list of canyons, lakes, historic towns and cacti.
As previously mentioned, Tucson is the state of Arizona’s second biggest city. However, if you know Arizona, you know that’s not a big or proud thing to be.
If you don’t fancy the gruelling five-hour drive up to the Grand Canyon, then there really isn’t much for you to do near Tucson. The limestone passages of the Kartchner Caverns? Cold and wet. The iconic cowboy town of Tombstone? Busy and overrated. The ‘white dove of the desert’ San Xavier del Bac? Dull Spanish colonial architecture.
Save your pennies and go somewhere truly authentic – Los Angeles.
Long-winded history and uninteresting community
According to historians and my university history professor, Tucson has a fascinating past.
Many cultures have occupied the city and each, in turn, added their own stamp to the area. It’s been fought over, passed from country to country, and was a staple of the railway plight in the West. How exhausting!
Of course, with the merge of histories comes the merge of communities. Tucson is now home to confusing mix of Mexican-American, Anglo-American and even Chinese communities. Unable to truly eradicate this boring past, the Hispanic buildings and artwork can still be seen proudly around the city, whilst the University of Arizona has brought with it palm-trees, good coffee and green spaces that resemble something more at home in neighbouring California.
The people are friendly, but as Brits, we know that should be met with caution. I don’t want to be told to ‘have a nice day’ after I’ve bought my ice-tea, thank you very much!
I hope I’ve deterred you from visiting the city of Tucson. I spent a long, uneventful four months living in Tucson, and definitely won’t be going back anytime soon.
Just ignore my Skyscanner price alert…
Have you been to Tucson? What did you think of the city? Let me know in the comments!
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All images are my own unless otherwise stated