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Tucson, AZ - A Favorite Winter RV Destination

Tucson, Arizona, warm winters, stately Saguaro cactus, and a flavor all its own. No wonder RVers love to snowbird here. I’m at the Tucson Visitor’s Bureau with Dan Gibson. He’s the director of communications for Visit Tucson. Dan Gibson: Yeah, absolutely, thank you for having me on your show. Evanne: Well, we’re so glad to have you here, and tell me about the RVer impact and RVers here in Tucson, Arizona. Dan: You know, RVing is obviously a big thing for us. I mean, it’s not just the weather, but I think that we have a lifestyle and a relaxing, laid-back sort of atmosphere that people really enjoy. That being said, there’s plenty to do and plenty to see, so it’s a nice combination for people here.

Evanne: Do you know how many RVers are here? Dan: You know, we haven’t done a specific number for it, but we know that, you know, it’s obviously a big influx. of people here, and when you’re driving down the street you’ll see RVers, but also filling up, you know, we have a wide variety of places, of campgrounds, and services for RVers, so those places are often pretty close to full during our busy season which is January through April. Evanne: Yeah, absolutely, the best weather. Dan: Yeah, exactly, it’s the perfect time to be here, and it helps especially this year that the weather is sort of miserable other places, so it’s been great for us.  

Now, what about attractions and museums? What’s hot to see here? Dan: I think one of the things you absolutely have to see if you come to Tucson is the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. It’s generally considered one of the best museums in America. Sort of the basic idea is that it’s a zoo for animals from the southern Arizona, Sonoran Desert, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an experience where you really understand the desert itself. Surprising to a lot of people, there’s an aquarium there that showcases some of the sea life in northern Mexico. So, there’s big-horn sheep, there’s prairie dogs, there’s sea otters. It’s just a wide variety of, you know, flora and fauna from this area. 

Evanne: What about a hidden gem? What is something that people don’t really know a lot about, but you think they should not miss when they’re here? Dan: I think you have to see the Sona Viera, the mission. It’s a little bit south and west of Tucson, but it’s super close. It focuses on—it’s a mission that was built in the 1500’s, and it’s a collision of sort of the Native American culture, the Spanish culture that was here, and it’s still an operating church, so you can see mass there. But it’s got a wide variety of artwork, native artwork from the time period that was restored by actually the same people that did the Sistine Chapel, so it went through a lot of renovations recently, so it’s a beautiful place. It’s unlike anything else in America. Evanne: We were there quite a long time ago, and we had some frybread. Dan: Yeah, you have to have the frybread. So, you know, it’s dough, it’s a Tohono O’odham and Navaho treat thrown into a fryer. It can be sweetened up with, you know, honey and sugar, or served as a taco with red chili beef, or beans, or lettuce. It’s an incredible meal. 

Evanne: So, whether people are here for a week or a whole snowbird season, they’re gonna be busy. Dan: Oh, certainly, there’s so much to do here, especially in that time of year. bYou know, in January, you know, the gem show starts in January, which is one of the largest gem shows in the world. We have soccer preseason, We have a golf tournament, we have the Festival of Books, there’s really something happening pretty much every weekend. So, you know, if you wanna just lay back and relax, or you wanna get out and see people and the sights of the city, there’s something going on all of the time. Evanne: Wow, well, I know I love it, and I’ve been busy every day here, and there’s still so much more to see. Dan: Well, we try to keep people in touch with that stuff, so if you come to, our website, or you just stop by the Visitor’s Center here, we’re happy to help you however we can.

Evanne: There are a number of terrific parks in town, something for everyone. Let me tell you about three of your plentiful choices. We’re here at Voyager RV Resort, paradise for an active RVer. From pickleball, the fastest growing senior sport in the U.S. and a cross between tennis and ping-pong, to golf, to art, such as stained glass and lapidary, pools, spas, saunas, and a workout room, to concerts, discussions, and events, you’ll find plenty to do at Voyager. The Lazydays KOA has a lot going for it. It’s a beautiful park including their fabulous lemon, orange, and grapefruit trees. They’ve got a lovely pool, a terrific restaurant, and a convenient central location. If low key is more your style, you might look at the Pima County Fairgrounds. With easy I-10 access, it’s perfect for just soaking up the Tucson sun, and it’s an inexpensive, basic choice. So, what is there to do after you’ve found your perfect Tucson RV spot? 

Plenty, farm markets, fabulous sunsets, festivals galore, miles of bike trails, and five mountain ranges will definitely catch your attention. Tucson is home to the globally recognizable Saguaro cactus. Well preserved in two national parks, Saguaro National Park east and west, as well as the spectacular Catalina State Park. These gems offer hiking trails and picnic shelters, loop drives, and up-close views of this desert cactus that grows nowhere else in the world except right here in the Sonoran Desert. If art is more your thing, don’t miss the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun on the northside of town. DeGrazia was famous for his impressionistic paintings of Native Americans and children. He’s also famous for burning a number of his originals, it’s said to have been $1.5 million worth, in protest of the inheritance tax. Enjoy a stroll through the museum, his home and studio, and don’t miss the simple but spectacular Mission in the Sun, showcasing DeGrazia’s hand-painted frescos, fabulous. There’s the Titan Missile Museum just south of town where you can go deep down into a missile silo and see what it would have been like down there if the red button had of been pushed during the Cold War. Does science capture your imagination? Then you’re gonna really love Biosphere 2, now run by the University of Arizona. Of course, Biosphere 1 is the planet Earth. You might recall that in the early ’90s, scientists known as biospherians were sealed inside the glass dome for two years conducting earth science research and growing most of their food in this manmade environment. Today, you can tour the biosphere, see the biomes, walk the grounds, and learn more about how these folks lived, cooked, and recreated. Like my pal Dan at the Tucson Visitor’s Center mentioned, Tucson is reinventing itself as a foodie destination, and your dining options are many, from fine and fancy to simple and delicious. For example, on my way out to a hike, I often stop at a local sandwich joint, Beyond Bread, and pick up one of their fabulous flagship sandwiches to share with my husband, Ray. It’s so good.

Sunday mornings are reserved for my favorite Tucson food truck, Planet of the Crepes, at St. Phillip’s Farmer’s Market. They’re experts at using farm-fresh products from the market vendors to produce mouthwatering meal-sized crepes, yum. One of my favorite local gem spots to sit down and enjoy a relaxing meal is Poco & Mom’s Cantina, perfectly located for delicious
dining after a drive to the top of Mount Lemmon, or a hike through Sabino Canyon. Score a table on their patio, enjoy the fabulous weather, ambiance, and the terrific New Mexican style food. Oh, Taylor, thank you. Oh, my gosh, this looks great. Goodness knows there’s so much more I could tell you about Tucson, but I suggest you come on down yourself and design your own Southern Arizona snowbird adventure. I’m Evanne from sunny Tucson, Arizona, cheers.