Tucson welcomes travelers with a blast of indie cool. Home to the University of Arizona, this overgrown college town boasts striking desert landscapes and an easy melding of Anglo and Hispanic traditions, experienced most deliciously in the Sonoran dog, a bacon-wrapped hotdog topped by salsa and layers of tasty decadence.
West of the university, 4th Avenue bustles with fiercely independent bars and boutiques, plus a delicious chocolate shop. A public streetcar links 4th Avenue with downtown, where new restaurants and watering holes are opening almost weekly. None, however, match the fun-loving awesomeness of Hotel Congress, a retro hotel and music hall. The El Presidio Historic District is the home of the Tucson Museum of Art, arts and crafts shops and the ruins of a Spanish fort.
Saguaro cacti dot the city’s desert fringe, where scrubby trails wind through the east and west sections of Saguaro National Park. Desert flora and wildlife are also featured at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. For culinary adventuring, Sonoran-style Mexican dishes are a tasty place to start.