It’s worth the 3 ½ hour drive and an
overnight stay to visit the historical X Diamond Ranch and experience a
hands-on archeological learning experience. The Little Bear ruin site
lies adjacent to the South Fork of the Little Colorado River, right on
the ranch property among the foothills of the White Mountains and
contains many rooms with different masonry styles. The construction of
the site as well as the types of pottery found clearly indicate that the
ancient people that built it occupied the area during the three hundred
year period between 800-1100 AD. Staff offers lectures, videos, and
hands-on opportunities to excavate, stabilize, and reconstruct artifacts
and learn about the life and lifestyle of the ancient peoples of the
Southwest. The on-site Little House Museum has artifacts from the Old
West and a John Wayne collection. Wayne’s ranch was next door to the X
Call Charles Rand (928)-333-3541 for information and arrangements.
Two hikers explore White Mountains
Close up photo is of a classic Kokopelli or flute player glyph.
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is a
“must-see”. It is really more like a zoo and botanical garden than a
museum. Has knowledgeable docents to interpret the exhibits. Lots of
walking, but wheelchairs and strollers available there. 883-2702.
This is the oldest and largest
anthropological museum in the Southwest. Major collections of
prehistoric artifacts of the Hohokam, Mogollan, and Anasazi cultures.
Exhibits and photographic collections documenting the lifeways of
historic and living American Indians. This is a major center for
archaeological research and has a vast library on Southwest-related
topics that is open to the public. On the campus of the University of
Arizona, just inside the Main Gate at Park Ave. and University Blvd.
Permanent and rotating exhibits by new
and established photographers. Lifetime archives of renowned artists
such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Off of 2nd St. University of
Arizona Fine Arts complex. 621-7968.
Flandrau Science Center
Hands-on science exhibits, laser and
planetarium shows and lectures (special age-adapted shows for children),
mineral museum, nighttime telescope viewing, science gift store. Cherry
and University Blvd. on the University of Arizona campus.
Foundation Gallery in the Sun
This jewel of a home and gardens houses
the vast collection of the themed works of this legendary multi-media
Tucson artist, Ted deGrazia (1909-1982) who mined his own gold with
which to make the gold leaf that adorned some of his works. Themes of
some of the collections include Indian lore, bull fighting and rodeos,
Spanish exploration of the southwest. 6300 N. Swan Rd. 299-9191.
Discovered in 1974 by two University of
Arizona college students, this “living” cave (its formations are still
growing) was kept secret and protected from harm for 14 years. In 1988,
the State Legislature (most voters not even aware of what they were
approving) appropriated funds for the creation of a state park. The park
opened in 1999.
This unique new tourist destination in Benson, AZ (about an hour’s
drive) is often booked. However, they release 100 tickets every day for
walk-in visitors. If you’re there before 8 a.m. (aim for7:30) you may
get in. It’s worth a shot. It is located nine miles south of I-10, off
State Hwy 90, exit 302. (Southeast of Bed and Bagels). Phone first to
see if reserved tickets available: 1-800-285-3703. See:
Other places of interest near there are
Chiricahua National Monument, Tombstone Courthouse State Park, Fort
Huachuca, Bisbee, San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, The
Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve, and Nogales, Mexico. (See
This popular day trip destination is
just across the Mexican border from Nogales, Arizona. Eat at LaRoca
restaurant. Great seafood, Mexican dishes, and mariachi music.
Prescription drugs are very cheap in Nogales. Fun to shop for Mexican
craft items, such as goods, clothing, jewelry, ceramics, furniture,
glassware, baskets, and paintings. No special insurance or visa
required. Protected parking for about $3.00 at McDonald’s or Burger King
one block from the border on the American side.
Pima Air & Space
See retired Air Force One, where Lyndon
Johnson was sworn in as president and 250 other historic airplanes,
including inhabitants of two hangars devoted to World War 2 aircraft.
Visit the Challenger Learning Center for exhibits and activities on
space travel and exploration. Go for a virtual ride in the Morphis
flight simulator and experience travel via a spaceship, an F14 fighter
plane, and other aircraft. 6000 E. Valencia. 574-0462.
Reid Park Zoo
Travel from the mountains of South
Africa through the Asian rain forest to the African savanna in one day.
This gem of a zoo houses more than 500 exotic animals from around the
world. Entrance: 22nd st. and Randolph Way (one block west of Alvernon).
This beautiful historic Catholic
church, built in 1783 is known as “the white dove of the desert”.
Founded (in a different building by a Spanish Jesuit, Father Eusebio
Francisco Kino in 1692), the church has been run by the Franciscan order
since the late 1760’s. Today's church was built in 1783. It is situated
on one of four Tohono O’odham reservation sites in the Tucson area.
Visitors are welcome to tour the church and museum and at Sunday masses,
some of which feature mariachis and other music. Call 294-2624.
Directions: Houghton south to Valencia (about 9 miles), Valencia to
I-19, I-19 a short distance to Exit 92.
Tubac Art Colony
This historic town and artist colony
was founded in 1752 as a Spanish Presidio or fort, and is the oldest
European settlement in Arizona. There are 120 shops, artist studios, and
galleries, The Presidio State Historic Park and Museum and the Tubac
Center for the Arts. Many special events and art exhibits. 40 miles from
Tucson via I 19 north, exits 40 and 34.
Stroll through specialty gardens, e.g.,
cactus and succulents, birds and butterflies, sensory, native American
crops, Mexican… There are many fountains, the historic Porter home, a
gift shop, nursery, and daily tours and classes.
2150 N. Alvernon Way. 326-9255.
Hands-on fun for sightseeing-dulled or
heat-dazed children! Four robotic dinosaurs, giant walk-through maze,
real police motorcycle and firetruck to climb on, giant bubble to view
from the inside, miniature grocery store, science exhibits and
experiments, music room, toddler section…Housed in the historic Carnegie
200 S. 6th Ave. 792-9985.
of Art and Historic Block
Established in 1924 and located in the
historic El Presidio District, the Tucson Museum of Art maintains a
permanent collection of more than 5,000 works. In addition, the Museum
mounts 10-12 visiting exhibitions of works in a variety of media each
year. The Palice Pavilion houses pre-Columbian, Spanish colonial, and
Latin American Folk Art. The Goodman Pavilion features western artists,
including Joseph Henry Sharp, William Merritt Chase, Marsden Hartley,
and Olaf Wieghorst. Adjacent and part of the museum is the historic Casa
Cordova, Tucson’s oldest house. Pick up brochures there and start a
walking tour of the historic district and major arts destinations.