Tucson Special

(Cox7 advertiser) If you take Interstate 10 south to Tucson from Phoenix, you will find yourself in a place where you can explore, relax and play. Tucson, and the area that surrounds it, is a unique experience of history, culture and urban life. Get set for a Tucson Special Edition of Arizona Weekend Explorer.

Kartchner Caverns State Park, located an hour south of Tucson in Benson, AZ, is the site of the 200,000 year old living cave. Park Ranger Erika Way explains, even though southeastern AZ is a dry climate, water is still penetrating through the limestone and creating the formations found in the cave. In order to protect the environment and conditions in the cave, tours are limited to groups of 20. The tour is barrier free and can accommodate wheel chairs and scooters. Kartchner Caverns are open year round and reservations are recommended for those wanting to take the tour.

Need to get away for a day or two, but you don’t want to go too far away from home? Then Tucson is a great choice. Dan Gibson, Director of Corporate Communications for Visit Tucson.org, describes Tucson as having great food and a great night life. It is luxury living with a lot of variety and many activities and events are free. Gibson says Tucson is a blend of history and modern. It is like a different world.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is located just outside Tucson and represents what is found in the Sonora Desert. Collection Specialist Debbie Hutchinson, talks about the Warden Aquarium and the focus on both the fresh water fish found in the rivers of the Sonora Desert and the tropical species from the Gulf of California. With 85% of the museum outdoors it will change how you think about museums.

Kylie Walzak, Program Manager for Living Streets Alliance recognizes the variety of outdoor activities accessible for people of all ages in Tucson. Bicycling is one activity that is very popular and there are bike paths galore for the youngster learning to ride and the seasoned road warriors, as well as all those in between.

No doubt you’ll find a lot to keep you and your family busy in Southern Arizona, but Tucson is also full of wonderful resorts for family fun, relaxation and rejuvenation.

Glenn Sampert, General Manager of Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa, invites visitors to get wet and wild this summer. With five pools, water slides, a lap pool and the therapeutic mineral spa pool, getting wet will be easy. Traditional family outdoor activities are also close to the resort. Mt Lemon offers cooler elevation temperatures and Sabino Canyon is a photographers dream. There are a number of Summer Specials to make a stay at the La Paloma a special get away this summer.

The Marriott Tucson Starr Pass is another Tucson resort with Summer Deals. General Manager Russ Bond is sure the water experience at the resort will be a treat. Whether visitors want to drift the day away on the Lazy River or swim against the current for exercise it will be a cool way to spend the day. The Salud Patio overlooks the water and is a great spot for afternoon and evening happy hour.

Both resorts are known for fine and casual dining but the city of Tucson is filled with some of the best Mexican food to be found. Chris De Simone of Gray Line Tours explains the Best of the Barrio Tour features the Sonoran influence that dominates the cuisine in Tucson. The half day tour covers the south side of Tucson and features five Mexican restaurants and five food experiences. The tour is part of the Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food being promoted in Tucson. De Simone says if you want to know about the unspoken key to finding out about the Sonoran culture; eat the food.

James Wilder, Chef, Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails, wanted to create a different culinary expression when he opened the restaurant. He wanted to be mindful of all of the culinary and cultural influences on America. The Mexican food he does is influenced by the ingredients first. His menu is shaped by the ingredients grown here over the years and the wonderful authentic Mexican and Sonoran food that has been cooked here for years and years.

Ride the Sun Link streetcar to explore the five districts of Tucson; U of A, Main Gate Square, 4th Avenue, Downtown, Westside and Mercado. Main Gate Square is an urban destination located next to the University of Arizona. Main Gate Square is a fun and exciting place. With jazz concerts and great food there is something for everyone.

Dan Gibson explains an event called 2nd Saturday. He says the streets are taken over by music, dance, food and vendors. It is a great time to come out and experience Tucson. 4th Avenue is a wonderful way to get a good feel for Tucson by getting to know the locally owned businesses found there. The Rialto Theatre is one of the best indoor venues in the country and a fantastic place to experience music in Tucson.

Adam Lehrman, of Tucsonfoodie.com, describes Tucson as an eclectic interesting scene regarding food. When it comes to food you can find what you want from a taco for $1.50 on the south side or a fancy meal downtown or at a resort. The vibe is like Austin or Portland but unique to Tucson and the southwest.

R Bar is an intimate space specializing in craft cocktails, natural wines and craft beers. Rory O’Rear, Beverage Director moved to Tucson with his family sixteen years ago and he has seen tremendous changes in Tucson. O’Rear says Tucson has had a culinary and beverage explosion over the years. Lehrman and O’Rear agree there is a dining experience for everyone in Tucson.

Tucson, Arizona has become a modern city without losing its charm.