All About Tucson
Food • Environment • Culture
Your College Town
Tucson is Arizona’s second-largest city. The University of Arizona – Arizona’s first university and home of the Wildcats – is at the center of it all. Learn more about things to do in Tucson, our famous culinary scene, what the weather’s really like, and about the region’s culture and history.
If you're looking for places to explore around town, check out our interactive Google map featuring students' top Tucson recommendations.
Things To Do
Attractions & Culture
Visit the white dove of the desert, the San Xavier Del Bac Mission. Get up-close to a mountain lion at the open-air Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Wander one the world’s largest aerospace museums: The Pima Air and Space Museum. Or, look to the stars from Kitt Peak National Observatory. See more of Tucson’s must-sees.
Many compare Tucson to Austin and Portland – it’s a little quirky, and has a lot of character. A college town through-and-through, Tucson welcomes and supports University of Arizona students. There are more than 1 million people who live in the Tucson metro area, and whether you’re a local or an out-of-state student, you’ll feel at home.
Tucson is cooler and wetter than Phoenix, thanks to its 2,643-foot elevation and the surrounding mountains. Tucson is in the Sonoran Desert; however, the University of Arizona is in the city’s metropolitan center. Tucson’s heat is at its peak from June through August; however, spectacular summer monsoons lower temperatures.
There are many annual events to look forward to in Tucson. Admire glittery jewels at the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase – the largest and oldest in the world. A beloved tradition is the Tucson Rodeo & Parade, which began in 1925. The All Souls Procession honors and remembers, and ends with an urn lit ablaze.
Road Trip Guide
While there’s plenty to do in-town, we fully support expanding your boundaries. Explore hidden gems across Southern Arizona, and some favorites that are a little farther.
Day Trips Near Tucson
⬤Phoenix/Scottsdale - 2 hours
⬤Sedona - 3.5 hours
⬤Flagstaff - 4 hours
⬤Grand Canyon - 5 hours
⬤San Diego - 6 hours
⬤Las Vegas - 6.5 hours
⬤Los Angeles - 7 hours
⬤Zion National Park - 8 hours
The “c” is silent – like Too-sawn
350 days of sunshine annually
The Old Pueblo
History of Tucson
Tucson’s name is derived from the Tohono O’odham Cuk Ṣon, meaning “(at the) base of the black [hill],” a reference to Sentinel Peak – otherwise known as “A” Mountain. The Santa Cruz River valley has been home to cultures including the Paleo-Indians and the Hohokam. Tucson was officially founded by the Spanish in 1775, when Hugo O’Conor authorized the construction of a military fort: Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón.