In Tucson, a beloved outdoor destination for winter sunshine, the old school is back in business again: birding is important, hiking is all the rage, and the parks are filled with tourists looking for food. nature. And at the Tucson Museum of Art, ancient artifacts light up. The museum unveiled the Kasser family’s new wing of Latin American art in July 2020, showcasing thousands of works spanning over 3,000 years.
Seeing Aztec and Mayan antiques alongside contemporary works by Latino artists is a revelation, said Kristopher Driggers, Schmidt curator of Latin American art at the museum. “These ancient works are not just distant remnants of a civilization from long ago,” Driggers said. “We have contemporary artists who look at these ancient traditions and reinterpret them. “
Driggers quoted Mexican-American artist Enrique Chagoya, who evokes Mayan codices – folding books of colorful glyphs – in his satirical “Illegal Alien’s Guide to the Theory of Everything”. Over the 10-foot-wide mixed media painting “Paradise Lost”, Los Angeles artist Patrick Martinez overlays a figure from the Mexican archaeological site of Cacaxtla on the stucco facade of a Los Angeles market. (Martinez has a solo exhibit at the museum starting November 4.)
The museum wing is part of a range of new or revamped Tucson destinations now open to tourists. They are a welcome boost for an industry that is still recovering.
“Arizona said 50% of people employed in tourism lost their jobs during the darkest time of the pandemic,” said Dan Gibson, senior director of communications for Visit Tucson. This year, Gibson added, he was pleasantly surprised by the numbers. Hotel occupancy rates have increased, with cumulative averages at 78% of 2019 levels, according to STR, a global hotel data and analysis company.
A few blocks from the Tucson Museum of Art is the new headquarters of the Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum, which reopened in July in the 1929 Spanish Colonial Revival-style Pima County Courthouse.
Arizona has a rich mining history, and Tucson has long been a pilgrimage destination for hunting dogs and gemologists, who come from all over the world for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. (It’s canceled this year, but it’s for 2022.) In the new museum, people can admire a 410-pound silver nugget found outside of Globe, Arizona, or browse through burnt-out meteorites in the size by the journey through the atmosphere.
And at the 98-acre Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, a new raptor program brings visitors face to face – nose to nose, perhaps – with the Great Horned Owl and the Sonoran-native Ferruginous Falcon. , among other birds of prey. In sweltering summer weather, the hands-on raptor program takes place indoors, but winter sends birds and visitors to the milder warmth of the desert landscape.
Tucson has also welcomed an increase in accommodation options.
The Tuxon Hotel opened in July 2020 in a renovated 1969 motel. Cabanas flank the original boomerang-shaped pool, and the hotel’s 112 guest rooms have been renovated with southwestern touches. Guests can borrow a set of wheels from the hotel’s free fleet of bikes and explore the Chuck Huckelberry Loop, a 131-mile network of shared-use trails (for pedestrians, bicycles, skates and more. horses). The system connects parks, outdoor art exhibitions, bus routes, and hiking and biking trails, as well as schools and shopping areas.
Opened on the University of Arizona campus in October, the 164-room Graduate Tucson has a rooftop bar with a pool, fire pits, and views of Mount Lemmon. The hotel’s oversized cacti and woven blankets complement the desert theme, and there are retro UFO lamps in the rooms.
With the Santa Catalina Mountains as a spectacular backdrop, the Hilton El Conquistador Tucson hotel divides the difference between downtown and the desert. In October, the hotel added a spa with treatments ranging from classic massages and facials to a $ 160 singing bowl therapy session that promises to harness the “vibrational and material properties” of your body.
And this fall, the Citizen Hotel is set to open with 10 rooms in the 1913 building that once housed the former Citizen of Tucson newspaper. Family-owned Sand-Reckoner Vineyards will blend and bottle their wines in the hotel’s 5,000 square foot cellar, which is lined with volcanic stones quarried just beyond the city limits. Hotel guests are invited to free wine tastings; everyone can stop for a drink at the lobby bar.
Speaking of taste delights, in 2015, UNESCO named Tucson Creative City of Gastronomy, making it the first American city to receive this designation. The tourist board boasts of having the best 23 miles of Mexican food north of the southern border. Creative openings continued during the pandemic, including Barrio Charro, an informal collaboration between Tucson baker Don Guerra and chef Carlotta Flores, and upscale Flora’s Market Run.
Enduring foodie highlights prove that not everything in Tucson is ready to be reinvented. For the city’s must-try Sonoran hot dogs – a bacon-wrapped confectionery topped with beans and salsa – visitors always head to James Beard Award-winning BK Tacos or El Güero Canelo.
This is unlikely to change anytime soon. “Open a new hot dog restaurant in Sonora?” Gibson asked of Visit Tucson. “It would sound a little weird.”