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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

My Tucson Wish List

I know we're all travel-deprived. I can feel it in my bones. Every day that I don't have a trip planned has a sense of everlasting doom. Now that Covid boosters are becoming available and kids are able to get vaccinated, I'm really feeling like we're on the track to getting out of pandemic and into endemic territory, so I've done what I do best and have started planning in earnest again.

In early January, Eric, my mom, and I will get on a plane and head to Tucson. We lived there for 13 years and Eric has never been.

Listen, I know I won't die from not getting to travel, but it's also a thing I need that makes me happy. I have been doing really well and being a safe and practical as possible, but next year is the year I get back on a plane. I will have gotten a booster by then and in early January, Eric, my mom, and I will get on a plane and head to Tucson. We lived there for 13 years and Eric has never been there, so this will be a quick trip to introduce him to things we loved and experience things together we never got to do. Believe me, after 23 years away, I have a list.

Biosphere 2

Have you seen that great movie Bio Dome with Pauly Shore? (If not, you totally should.) This is the actual real life version of that, but without the partying. Biosphere started as a way to see if man could create independent ecosystems in an enclosed sphere. It worked and now you can take tours of Biosphere 2 and learn all about how it is used for research and education.

Photo by mohammed alorabi on Unsplash

Reid Park Zoo

I've been to a lot of zoos and there are few that stand out, like San Diego Zoo and the Honolulu Zoo. While we have a large, sprawling zoo here in Portland, I miss the more relatable, easier to navigate zoo in Tucson and am looking forward to how much it has changed.

Photo by Dan Cutler on Unsplash

Old Tucson & Tombstone

If you're a fan of westerns - and even if you're not, because I definitely fall into the not category - you'll love seeing where some of them were filmed. Old Tucson has been a staple in western filmmaking forever, and though the sets have burned down more than once, they have always been rebuilt to bring more to the entertainment industry and to give tourists a thrill.

Tombstone was considered one of the last boomtowns in the American frontier, and was one of the largest silver mining districts. It was also the site of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which has been preserved for history, and is the site of daily reenactments for tourists.

Sonoran Desert Museum

Learn about all the animals and plants and the landscape of the desert with a museum, interactive exhibits, and native animals at this great museum for the whole family. We went several times while living in Arizona and I, honestly, can't wait to go now that it won't be 4,000 degrees outside. 

Tucson Botanical Garden

I don't know if this is new or I just didn't know about it when I lived there, but the Botanical Garden is just that: a place to view all the interesting native plants of the region and marvel in how different they can be from everywhere else you've lived and visited. Now that I no longer live in the Southwest, I have had enough time to learn the appreciation for cactus and succulents like I never did when I was surrounded by them.

Photo by Andrew Ling on Unsplash

Stroll Around Downtown

We were always pretty busy and didn't have much interest in shopping outside of the mall when we lived in Tucson. In fact, it could get so hot out that we just waited until it got dark to do things, so going downtown was never high up on our list. On my last visit, we went down on a weekend and things were really hoppin', so I'm looking forward to checking out all those little boutiques and cafes. 

Eat All the food

We'll only be in town for 4 days, but that's enough time to stuff my face full of my favorite things and then try some new stuff. Just a few of the places I hope to eat are:

  • Little Anthony's - our favorite 50s diner
  • Magpies Pizza - you can't go wrong with pizza that's been named best in the city for two decades, and your taste buds still remember it
  • Eegee's - an Arizona institution! They specialize in a drink that's sort of like if shave ice and a Slurpee had a baby. They have 3-4 regular flavors and then a flavor of the month, made with real fruit. We used to get a cooler of this for parties. Like, I considered driving an hour to get one that time the Travel Goods Show was in Phoenix
  • Bobo's Restaurant - this was a highly recommended restaurant to replace my favorite breakfast place that has closed
  • Tito & Pep - honestly, I kinda just want to go here for the mid-century modern decor, but the food sounds delish and it's supposed to be one of the best restaurants in the city
  • 5 Points Market & Restaurant - you know I have to check out some great coffee places and this is one that just happens to have yummy food and baked goods
  • Savaya Coffee Market - the Google reviews of this coffee shop are all amazing, plus it's right down the street from where we're staying in Oro Valley.
While I'm sure there are more food places I want to try or revisit, these are top of the list. 

I'm looking forward to finally getting to travel in earnest again and getting away when the weather here starts to feel intolerable 24/7. Tucson can be incredibly affordable and while it's cold and rainy or snowy everywhere else, it's between 60 and 70 degrees in January, meaning you can get by with a light jacket or cardigan over t-shirts. 

Have you been to Tucson? What are your favorite things to do or eat?

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