My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Tucson Celebrates 235 Years

2010/08/05by Donna Hull

The view from my favorite Tucson picnic pavillion. A secret that I’m not sharing.

Did you know that Tucson is celebrating a birthday? That’s right, the Old Pueblo turns 235 years old on August 20, 2010, but the celebration lasts the entire month of August. Baby boomer visitors will find special historic, artistic and entertainment events. Check out for the full schedule. And, if you want to celebrate but stay within your boomer budget, be sure to visit Tucson on the Cheap, where Kate Reynolds posts several times a day with all sorts of inexpensive things to do.

I’m kicking off the birthday celebration at My Itchy Travel Feet, by sharing some of my favorite Tucson articles from the blogging world.

Spend 36 hours in Tucson

When the New York Times published an article about spending 36 hours in Tucson, the local blogging community added their own take on the subject. At Tucson Cowgirl, Monica Surfaro Spigelman advised travelers on spending 36 hours off-the-beaten-path in Tucson. Vera Marie Baderstcher, A Traveler’s Library, fashioned a relaxing 36-hour itinerary on Tucson’s northwest side. Should you bring Fido? Edie Jarolim, Will My Dog Hate Me?, chronicled Tucson fun for our furry friends, with so much to do that it took Part 1 and Part 2 to tell you about it. Well baby boomer travelers, I couldn’t leave you out. How about 36 active baby boomer hours in Tucson?

Visit Tucson travel gems

Culture, history, desert gardens—take your pick—there’s plenty to do. At Travel & Adventure in Arizona, Teres Bitler writes her thoughts on one of my favorites, Tohono Chul Park. Did you know The Franklin Auto Museum is located here? Jane Eppinga shares more information on the auto gem at Arizona Museums, A Journey Into Arizona History. Since Tucson is known for its dark night sky, I suggest a visit to the Mt. Lemmon Sky Center. And, look at this list of Tucson attractions from Beth Blair, a former residentand one of The Vacation Gals.

Play outside in the Sonoran Desert

You can’t visit the area without taking advantage of outdoor activities. Even in the August heat, if you start early enough, you’ll have time to enjoy a couple of hours in the Sonoran Desert. Vera Marie Baderstcher pens a guest post for Writing Horseback that details a riding vacation at Tanque Verde Ranch. Of course, I’ve shared one of my favorite hikes to Seven Falls. And any luxury loving baby boomer would enjoy the adventures I found at Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain.

All of that activity calls for rest and relaxation. Sheryl Kraft, Midlife Matters, learned a few lessons about over-scheduling herself on a visit to Canyon Ranch.

Bringing this birthday party to a close, I couldn’t have found a more appropriate post than postcard from Tucson by Pam Mandel, Nerds Eye View, which sums up the multi-cultural scene that adds flavor to my hometown.

I’m changing things up today, rather than asking for your experiences, I’m throwing the doors wide open. What would you like to know about Tucson? Post a comment with your question, I’ll find the answer. Of course, you’re still welcome to tell me about your visit to The Old Pueblo.

Happy Birthday, Tucson


A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate August 5, 2010 at 1:55 pm

An excellent summation of Tucson’s birthday celebration. There are to be numerous events all month long. One of my favorites is an exhibition at the history museum curated by local teens. They created their own exhibit depicting the various ways Tucsonans stayed cool (or tried to) across the many years. And for visitors, remember to drop by the DeGrazia Gallery for some wonderful local art. So much to do . . . so little time.

Thanks for mentioning Appreciate it. And welcome, visitors!


sheryl August 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Thank you so much, Donna, for posting such a comprehensive list of things to enjoy in Tuscon. I'm tempted to return but afraid to over-schedule myself!


MyKidsEatSquid August 5, 2010 at 1:42 pm

My brother had his wedding reception in Tucson eons ago and I remember going to this restaurant where the woman changed the menu daily according to what was at the farmer's market. The food was amazing. I'm wondering if that restaurant is still there. Thoughts?


Donna Hull
August 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm

I think you are remembering Cafe Poca Cosa. It has moved to a
different location since your visit. The interior reminds me of a
stylish NYC eatery but the food is still the same fresh, innovative
fare. The chef uses lots of chiles and the menu is written on
blackboards so that it can be changed daily.


Teresa Bitler August 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Thanks for the mention, Donna! You have a great site, and you recommend some of Tucson's best for boomers. I'd add DeGrazia's Gallery of the Sun to the list. It's beautiful and free, and his UNESCO Christmas cards (designed in the 1960s) will likely bring back memories of holidays past.


Donna Hull
August 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Thanks, Teresa. I agree about the DeGrazia Gallery of the sun. It's
one of Tucson's hidden gems.


Donna Hull
August 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Appreciate you stopping by, Kate. If anyone knows what's going on in
Tucson (that is also budget-friendly) it's you.


EdieJ August 5, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Thanks for sharing my story with other dog lovers, Donna, and for introducing me to some great bloggers I didn't know about (as well as reminding me of the terrific writing community that Tucson has).


Donna Hull
August 5, 2010 at 2:13 pm

You welcome, Edie.


Sandy2118 August 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm

So many good suggestions here! I was supposed to visit Tucson many years ago, during the air controllers' strike and never got there. Hoping to remedy that when I can travel again. I have been reading about the history of the area in a new book about global warming. The desert must be so beautiful!


Donna Hull
August 5, 2010 at 2:31 pm

The desert is beautiful, although sometimes it takes awhile for
Easterners to appreciate it. That was the case for me. At first I
remembered the lush, green landscape of the South. I decided to leave
that in the South and appreciate the desert for what it is. In my
opinion, the Sonoran desert is especially beautiful.


August 5, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Hi Donna,
Now I know where to turn when I have the opportunity to visit Tucson, Arizona. Thanks for linking to Writing Horseback dot com.
By the way, is there horseback riding in Tucson other than nearby Tanque Verde Ranch?


Donna Hull
August 5, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Nancy. Glad you enjoyed the article.

Yes, there are other guest ranches in the area. White Stallion Ranch
is located in the Tucson Mountains. I'll come watch you ride. And
there are several day-ride outfitters. The Tucson CVB has a
comprehensive listing at Visit Tucson.


August 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Happy Birthday Tucson! What's the best time of the year to visit?


Donna Hull
August 6, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I enjoy Tucson the most from November through April. The Old Pueblo
makes a great winter get-away.


August 6, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Thank you for the good suggestions and links, Donna.

Is there a Hispanic Heritage Trail or something similar in Tucson?

and of course, being a musician, I have to add that my favorite song about the city is Carrie Newcomer's Moon Over Tucson. What is yours?


Mark H August 6, 2010 at 10:49 pm

I went to Tucson many years ago with a work trip. I still recall the stunning sunsets, the towering cacti (with their great arms reaching out), the wild desert scenery and an excellent desert zoo with displays of animals adapted to the desert.

I also love the contrast with cities in Australia as their ages are often similar (Australia was settled in 1788 and cities are starting to celebrate 150 or 200 years, depending on when they were started.


Donna Hull
August 6, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Mark, the zoo you mention is the Desert Museum. And you are right,
Australia and the desert southwest have much in common, including ages
and desert terrain.


Mike G August 8, 2010 at 2:07 am

Happy Birthday Tucson, I miss you.

Went to UofA “79-'83 and lived there '86-'87. I miss Gates Pass for sunsets. Seems like we were there every other day. Reddington's pass and cliff jumping in Romero canyon.

Mt. Lemmon was always a fun day. Got up there early one morning during a snow storm then they closed the road about 8am so we pretty much had the mountain to ourselves with a few others and the locals.

What else? Blues concerts at the park. Beer outside at the original Gentle Ben's. So many outdoors choices. Life was more laid back and I spent a lot more time outside with good friends.
Time to go down and visit, Phoenix is stressing me out!


Anonymous August 11, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I absolutely love Tucson. Lived in Phoenix for 12 years and visited there as much as possible. One of my favorite places to hike was always Sabino Canyon. And I loved going down to see the old missions just south of the city.


Donna Hull
August 11, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Sabino Canyon is a great place to hike. I enjoy taking first-time
visitors to Tucson for a walk in the canyon. It has probably changed
since your last visit as major flooding a few years ago really changed
the terrain, especially in the upper portions of the canyon. However,
it’s still worth a visit. Mission San Xavier de Bac is going through
hard times due to a loss of funding. Restoration efforts (and money)
are needed.


Donna Hull
August 13, 2010 at 2:12 am

I’m not aware of any Hispanic Heritage Trail. Although walking tours
of downtown include Spanish heritage sites. I found a good description
in Frommer’s:

And, of course, there are the missions south of Tucson.


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