Beyond the Gate

July 23, 2013

With more than 380 acres of sun, shorts, and, of course, exceptional education, the UA is the perfect home away from home for every Wildcat. You can find pretty much everything you need right here on campus – ahem, burritos at 1 a.m. – but I’d be lying if I said you are going to spend all your time here. Yes, we like to joke that we never need to go ‘beyond the gate’ but in fact, off campus, Tucson is bursting with charm. And let me tell you, it is sweet. 

So grab your board, bike, or shoes and let's go!

University Boulevard

First things first, you can’t go anywhere without some desert gear. No, not camouflage. Coast down University Blvd. and you’ll see Wildcats rocking an almost beachwear look. 

In a city where the sun shines 350 days a year, we sport tanks, shorts, and sandals year-round, and University is the perfect place to find your own spin. The boulevard features the A-Store, where you can find that perfect ‘Bear Down’ tee, American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, and tons more. Maybe grab a sweater while you’re there – just in case.

At night, the street has a totally different vibe. Walk down on game day and get ready for some serious celebrating. People flood in and out of hotspots like Gentle Ben’s and Frog & Firkin to watch the game or celebrate the big win.

4th Avenue

After all the shopping and cheering, you’ll need to fuel up with some food. For your new favorite meal, head down a couple of blocks to 4th Avenue.

Ever heard of a Sonoran hotdog? Ever had one? You can get these bacon-wrapped chilidogs on steroids at Pancho Villa’s, only one of Tucson’s countless Mexican restaurants. But I’m not kidding when I say 4th Ave. has some of the best food in town. Seriously. At Lindy’s you can get a burger with pretty much anything on it. Ask for Mac & Cheese. Do it. I dare you.

If you catch the craving and 4th is closed off, you picked a good day. Foot traffic means street fair! Twice a year, the entire strip closes down to celebrate music, food, art, and all things Tucson. Make your way through the crowd to the speakers blasting Jamaican music and the crowds dancing on the sidewalk and get moving. No one is watching, I promise. If you don’t have the moves, don’t worry. Cross the street and join the ‘coyotes’ who, without fail, howl down the entire street.

Congress & Downtown

And when you hit the end of 4th Ave., we’re still not done. Walk just under the bridge and find yourself on Congress Street, the heart of downtown.

Tucson’s top music venues live downtown and feature some of the most amazing artists, local, and international, you’ll ever see. Every year, local artists put together The Great Cover Ups, a three-day performance fundraiser consisting entirely of covers of their favorite big-name bands like The Doors, Arcade Fire, and the Beatles. Shows take place at the Rialto Theater and Hotel Congress, which are across the street from each other; so catching all the acts is just a few steps away. 

There are shows every night on Congress, but something spectacular only comes around once a year. The Arizona International Film Festival screens new films from all over the world right here in Tucson. In 2013, The Screening Room and Elliott's on Congress played 27 films from 10 countries. A little tip: check out this year’s features to scope out your next study abroad adventure.

But the absolute best part of all these streets: the new streetcar. Due for completion in spring 2014, the route will connect Congress, 4th, University and the UA, so your little Tucson adventure will be as easy as jumping on and off the tracks.

So get ready, Wildcat. You have a lot to explore.