Are you looking to combine art, shopping and history on a day trip from Tucson? How about throwing in a gentle hike, just to keep the trip active? Let me introduce you to Tubac, Arizona.
The artsy community, a 44-mile drive south of Tucson, tempts baby boomer travelers with shopping, gallery hopping, and working studios. Adobe buildings filled with art and handicraft items line Tubac’s dirt roads. Funky ironwork pieces, bronze water features and colorful pottery spill out into courtyards. The Santa Rita Mountains loom in the distance.
Situated near the Santa Cruz River, in the high desert of Arizona, the artist colony surrounds a Spanish presidio established in 1752. The Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is Arizona’s first state park. From Thursday to Monday, 9-5, visitors watch living history demonstrations or take a peak at the underground archaeological display of the pueblo’s ruins.
A 3.2-mile walk on the Anza Trail takes you from the presidio to Tumacacori National Historic Park. The mostly level path travels through a lush riparian area. Take time to stop beneath the cottonwoods for a little birdwatching. The trail crosses the Santa Cruz River several times so be careful not to get your feet wet. Spanish Colonial mission ruins are the prize at the end of this hike. Since there’s no shuttle, it’s another 3.2-miles back to Tubac unless you’ve coordinated your own car shuttle with friends.
Alan and I visited Tubac recently for the Holiday Art Market. After browsing the exhibit of artistic works at the Tubac Center of the Arts, we wandered in and out of shops, both new and old. At the newly renovated building that is now home to Sole Shoes, we peaked through the display window to see if James Culver was at work on one of his handcrafted leather bags.
Later we crossed the footbridge to Shelly’s Bistro. A light breeze kept the copper wind sculptures spinning as we enjoyed portobello mushroom sandwiches on the outside patio.
Brown luminaria bags placed along the streets and sidewalks, reminded us that Tubac will soon be celebrating Fiesta De Navidad. The desert night will glow with luminaria lights on Dec. 4 and Dec. 5, 2009.
If you can’t make it to Tubac for the holidays, plan to vist February 10-14, 2010 for the 51st Tubac Festival of the Arts. Artists from around the country will participate in a juried show. Browse the art displays or listen to musical entertainment before enjoying a variety of dishes at the food court.
Have you traveled to Tubac? Post a comment to leave your favorite Tubac tip. I just might use it on my next visit to Tubac.