20 things to love about Tucson, Arizona

After traveling 20,000 miles and being in 30 states, Tim & I surprised ourselves by falling more in love with Arizona.

We expected to go on our cross-country adventure and find Dreamtown, USA. To move away with a gentle good-bye. In reality, we experienced overwhelming gratitude for our hometown: Tucson, AZ.

20 things to love about Tucson, Arizona 1
the view from our backyard

Here are 20 things to love about Southern Arizona (and believe me, I can think of way more than that...I didn't even touch on Sabino Canyon, the U of A, or outstanding Mexican food!).

  1. Perfect Weather, 80% of the time. Aside from the sizzling summers, Tucson is a meteorology dream. The sun shines. The skies are blue. The breeze is sweet. The mornings and evenings are cool. You can wear t-shirts all year long.
  2. Unparalleled Sunsets. It's not an easy task to find a match for Southern Arizona's grand sunsets. Purples, pinks, oranges, and blues explode over mountainous horizons nightly for an art show unlike any other.
  3. Lack of Humidity. We spent almost our entire spring and summer on the east coast and throughout the midwest (north carolina, virginia, pennsylvania, new jersey, ohio, indiana, and minnesota). Sounds nice, doesn't it? Actually, not so nice. I prefer dry AZ to dripping moisture. I will never complain about Arizona summers in the same way again.
  4. No Ticks. The warnings began as soon as we crossed the Mississippi. "Be sure to check your skin when you come in from being outdoors." Apparently, these little bloodsuckers attach themselves to you and can even carry Lyme Disease. Creepy...and not something we have to worry about in Arizona. I'll take rattlesnakes and tarantulas over those bugs any day.
  5. No Tornadoes. Never have I been more grateful for our temperate climate than when we got multiple warnings and watches on our 9-month trek across the USA in an RV. There were many sleepless nights and one almost-evacuation. I understand that these kinds of natural disasters are far less scary when you have a house and a basement, but...it's even nicer not having to worry at all. Same goes for earthquakes.
  6. No Blizzards. Not even in the dead of winter. "Cold" here is like 40 degrees...and that is really cold. 
  7. Being able to go for a walk/run/bike ride outside at least 9 months of the year. If you're the outdoorsy type like we are, Tucson is paradise. We rarely are contained indoors by rain, sleet, snow, or bugs. Sure, it's hot in the summer, but...you can always escape to Mt. Lemmon.
  8. Mt. Lemmon. At 9,157 feet, it's a haven from hot weather in the summer and a snowy retreat in the winter. Best of all, it's only about 45-60 minutes away.
  9. Sunflower Market, Trader Joe's, AND Whole Foods Market. When it comes to the natural food arena, Tucson offers more options than most.  
  10. Reasonably Priced Grocery Stores w/ fresh produce from neighboring states. To say we experienced a bit of "sticker shock" in states across the USA is an understatement. Heavy whipped cream was $7. Avocados were $3 (each). Not prices we were used to. 
  11. Mountains in Every Direction. How foreign it was to look around and see flat lands. Not to get poetic on you, but I felt a little loss of my soul without the purple-blue mountains in the landscape.
  12. Wide Open Spaces. Room to breathe. It's the country out here - even in the middle of the city. It's hard to describe, but that's the way it is.
  13. Nice Freeways with good signage. This is true for "Arizona" more than for "Tucson" specifically, but AZ's roads are in excellent condition compared to the majority of the country. Few potholes. Lots of rest stops. Great for road-tripping.
  14. Sunshine. 350+ days of it. To warm your shoulders, your cheeks, and your heart.
  15. A birth center (and freedom to birth at home). It's shocking to me that some states have actually succeeded in banning home birth (especially considering that they are proven to be as safe as hospital births). Here in Arizona, we believe in giving women options. 
  16. The Smell of Rain in the Desert. Until you've smelled it, you can't quite get it. It smells clean, refreshing, new - full of life and good things. If I could bottle it, I'd make a million.
  17. The Landscape. Yes, cactus are beautiful. In a different way than oaks and pines, I admit...but breathtaking nonetheless.
  18. Big, but not too big. The Tucson metro area is about 1 million, but I wouldn't describe it as densely populated, crazy, or crowded. The city is large enough for H&M and Costco, but not so big that you feel small.
  19. The Ability to get to the sea in 6 hours - by car. When the sea coaxes your spirit, you can get away with relative ease.
  20. Family & Friends. I won't deny that a large part of the appeal of this place is having our loved ones near. It's a wonderful thing for so many reasons.
Since we've moved back, people often see me around town and ask: "Are you glad to be back? Are you happy to be here again?"
I almost want to shout the answer at the top of my lungs, with joy brimming from my [cowgirl] boots, "Yes! GLAD is exactly the right word to describe this feeling."
* Note: Our country is grand, diverse, and beautiful. There are quite a few spots that we loved and hope to visit again - more to come on that topic in the near future.
If you live in Tucson, what do YOU love about it? Tell me what I missed. 
What are a few of the best things about where you live?

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32 comments on “20 things to love about Tucson, Arizona”

  1. We love spotting coyotes, javelinas, roadrunners, and all of the other wildlife you tend to run into in Tucson! Also, the desert here is surprisingly lush. There are so many wildflowers, beautiful cacti, and flora. It's great being so close to nature with endless areas to hike and explore.

  2. We lived south of Tucson (Sahuarita) for 7 years. How I find myself missing it, for all the reasons you mentioned and more! Don't forget the incredible Sonoran Mexican food available in Tucson and the surrounding region. The blue, blue sky, and the view for miles and miles. I loved your statement that even in the city, it's country. So true. I can't describe it either, but you are right. One day I hope to retire there.

  3. I moved away from Tucson almost 3 years ago. You don't know what you got till its gone can't wait to BURN UP next summer cause I'm moving back. And will never complain bout the desert again..

  4. I am interested in moving to Tucson from CA. I love California but it is so expensive. I struggle with finding a neighborhood community that have kids, sidewalks, grass, etc. Do you have any suggestions on where to look in Tucson? Thanks so much

    1. Hi Jill. So wonderful that you're considering a move to the Tucson area! What amenities are you looking for in a community? Do you prefer wide open spaces or proximity to shops & restaurants? What size and style of house are you searching for? My favorite areas of Tucson are Oro Valley, the Foothills, and Vail - but I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you may have.

      Also, check out TucsonTopia.com. Lots of resources about things to do in Southern Arizona.

      1. However it should be noted those places you mentioned are not really Tucson...aside from the foothills, but that's debatable. I moved from Rita Ranch, which really should be incorporated into Vail, to midtown so I could get MORE Tucson.

  5. thank you so much for this! I am considering a job in Tucson and I'm from the midwest. It's so very different from where I live now that I have a certain apprehension about the change. The things you cite are all things I appreciate... and I'm tired of dark cold snowy winters. It sounds like the risk might bring some welcome changes. If you google Tucson however, you certainly do get an array of opinions... from positive to extremely negative!

  6. Hi, Thank you so much for this list! My husband and I are wanting to move to Tucson, and are now even more encouraged. I think that we're both going to love it there, a slower pace for me (I'm originally from WV) and the "city life" feel that he needs (he's from MA, where we live now) would be great for both of us. And it's also going to be great for all of the physical problems I have.

    1. You're welcome, Chris! Please do let me know if you have any specific questions about the Tucson area. I am a native to the area and have lived up-and-down the state...so I'm a bit of an "Arizona expert." ;)

      You might also want to take a peek at: http://tucsontopia.com/.

  7. Ah, I can relate! Many of those same things are true of Wenatchee. I love living here and although we are missing a few opportunities I will hate it when we have to move away. :(

  8. Ok this made me laugh..such difference in perspectives! I've grown up around ticks, picked hundreds off of me and they don't bother me. Show me a trantula and I would be terrified!! Yikes! Oh and I love the humiditiy of MN only because I know come winter it will be cold!!

    Glad you love where you live. We secretly (or not so secretly) are still looking for the dream place for us to live. Somewhere warmer year round is on our list!

    1. I have to argue back that tarantulas are perfectly harmless and don't carry diseases. (You're right that they are pretty terrifying to behold though). ;)

  9. I have some additions for your Tucson list! I love the farmer's markets, the ability to be 'dressed up' in jeans, and the variety of options for higher education.

    1. Which farmer's markets do you frequent? I've only been to the Rincon Valley Farmer's Market...and haven't been particularly impressed. That said, I'm sure the quality, variety, and prices vary quite a bit depending on the time of year.

      1. St. Phillips plaza, Broadway Village, Santa Cruz (in Mercado St. Augustin), the one downtown, the one at Maynard's, the one at Jesse Owens Park, not to mention the Co-op on 4th, 17th street market and there really are more!

  10. Oreganos!!!! That is my favorite pizza place in the whole country and I go there EVERYTIME I visit AZ. I've only been to Tucson twice and it was lovely.

    I absolutely adore where my sticks and bricks home is located, Ventura CA. The weather is perfect nearly year round averaging about 75. The food options are AMAZING. Farmers markets, co-ops, and wonderful grocery stores abound. The beach is is 5 mintues away and the mountains about 30 (foothills about 5 minutes away) minutes away. The town feels small but it's near LA and Santa Barbara. Like you I have to say it's really the people that make our like in that town and right now I'm missing them like crazy. I will say the downside is affordabiltiy.

    1. California would probably be "second place" on my "list of states to live." ;)

      I agree that Oregano's is a fun place. I haven't been there in awhile.

  11. The two branches of Frost - the best ice-cream shop in the world - are worth moving to Tucson for (and yes, I have been to Italy lots of times).

    Plus the old-fashioned Americana/Hispanic feel about the older parts of town. Tucson is not like all those cities that sprang up 5 mins ago that have no history or character.

  12. It seems as if I need to move to AZ! The cold winters of Gunnison are really starting to wear on us but I don't think my hubby could put up with the heat of the summer - but if I reminded him of the trade off - 3 months indoors in the summer for 9 months outside vs. 5 months (if your lucky) of cold, 2 months of mud and yuck and 3 or 4 months of nice and perfect weather.

  13. My wife and I have been in Florida for 10 years and the desert is calling. We'll probably move back to Tucson within the next 9 months. I miss it all.

  14. Here are some of my Tucson favorites:
    1) smell of rain in the desert, (2) lightning storms (3) almost non-existent "dress code" (4) mountains in the distance.

  15. Im a total California coastal girl and though its beautiful, I love living in the desert now. I love the slower pace of Tucson...not so rush rush, but still has all the conveniences you want and need.

    I also love monsoon season. Though, when we first moved here, it TERRIFIED me having lightening strikes actually hit the ground (never experienced that before...), but now I long for monsoon season every summer.

    So glad you're back to share the love of Tucson! :)

    1. Ah, the monsoons. They definitely deserve to be on this list! I always look forward to when they roll in mid-summer.

    1. Please do! We'd love to have you...and you would go crazy for the weather here! It's 67F now. Tomorrow? High of 64F; low of 47F.

      P.S. What city did you visit in AZ?

  16. Sounds to me like you know right where home is. That's a good feeling to have, for sure. And I am certainly glad you guys are back. We missed you!

  17. I don't know if it is a Tucson thing, but I find the everyday pace here much more livable,more than the, "everything, all the time" pace of life back east. Maybe its the summertime heat, maybe not. But life is more mellow here.

  18. I am going to show my husband this list tonight...it might help my MOVE US TO AZ campaign! :) Great list...Although I would add Eegees to my list! Haha!

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