History of Tucson & Southern Arizona Area

Tucson is Arizona's oldest known city having been settled in AD400 by the Pima Indians.  The first Spanish Mission was established by Father Kino in 1700 and still stands today as the White Dove of the Desert, San Xavier (pronounced "san hav-year").  San Xavier is still an active Catholic mission and can be toured.

In 1775 the Europeans settled into the Tucson valley.  The founder of Tucson was Don Hugo O'Conor, an Irishman in the service of the Spanish army.  The Presidio was built to protect settlers from Apache raids. Many of whose buildings still stand and comprise the downtown Presidio District. Shuttles, buses, and trams are available for touring that thriving arts community. The dining is unforgettably unique and satisfying.

Over the years four flags have flown over Tucson including that of Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy (for less than one year), and then the US flag as a territory first, then, in 1912 as the 48th and final contiguous state. The Historical Museum contains many treasures from those eras. Don't miss the pre-Columbian exhibit at the Art Museum.

Tucson was a part of the early, raw, western experience for settlers. Pancho Villa conducted many raids on Tucson from Mexico and a magnificent statue of Pancho on his steed dominates the downtown financial area.

Art lovers will find suprises around every corner as you experience the Tucson love affair with public art. From a rattlesnake that stretches above six lanes of traffic, to the current citywide display of "Painted Ponies" Tucson's statues, sculptures and yard art are without rival.

Today the Old Pueblo, as Tucson is affectionately known, is a resort destination for both the outdoors oriented vacationer and the more world-wise traveler. 

With vast National and Arizona State Parks,  attractions and tours include horseback riding, gunfights at Old Tucson Studios, Flandrau Planetarium, Biosphere 2, Kitt Peak Observatory and the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (which is more like a desert wildlife habitat with interactive displays as well as live desert animal education opportunities).  The city maintains a beautiful, world recognized zoo in the mid-town area and the Tucson Botanical Gardens offer a slightly different view of the what the desert has to offer.

Active adults and families alike will enjoy balloon tours, ATV adventures, world class golf courses, tennis and swimming, as well as many professional sports teams. Get tickets to spring training for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox.  During baseball season, enjoy the Diamondbacks affiliate AAA team, the Sidewinders.  Giveaways during the evening Sidewinders games are common and the Tuesday "Toros Uniform night" is a great time for all (team members don the old uniforms of the Tucson Toros and Tuffy the Toro comes out to thrill the crowd). The University of Arizona offers many exciting college level sports venues with enthusiastic supporters.

Shopping and dining in Tucson are worth the trip alone. Plaza Palomino at Ft. Lowell and Swan features a variety of shops and dining experiences as well as a cooking school with fun open classes. St. Phillips in the Hills, the Presidio District and Williams Centre all offer fabulous shopping.

For an old time Western experience, visit Trail Dust Town. Open to the public daily for shopping and dining in a re-creation of a western main street.  Visit a fine art gallery, ride old wooden carousel or have steak and beans at the steakhouse.  Just donít come sportiní a tie (unless youíre prepared for the consequences).

Tucson has many fine French, Italian and Continental dining experiences. Our Southwestern cuisine is a no-miss with prices ranging from the quick and cheap to "well worth the mortgage I had to take out on the house to dine here".  Vegetarians will find a wide variety of venues, with nearly all restaurants offering fine vegetarian meals.

Tucson is bicycle friendly, so if youíre driving in, bring your bike and helmet (required on Tucson roads) and enjoy the long, winding road out to Colossal Cave Park or to Saguaro National Monument East along wide bike trails.


© 2003-2007 Shelly James
Canyon Country Online, LLC

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