A major addition to the arts complex at the University of Arizona, the Center for Creative Photography was conceived by Ansel Adams and is now the chief repository for his work. The photograph collection of the Center is one of the finest and largest in the world, with more than 60,000 photographs. Although the collection's main strength is photography by 20th-century American and Mexican artists, the Center holds significant collections of 19th and 20th century photography from around the world. In addition to Ansel Adams, the Center also contains the works of Richard Avedon, Edward Weston and Louise Dahl-Wolfe. A unique feature of the Center is print viewing. The public can view up to three boxes of prints from several thousand photographers by calling ahead and setting up a reservation.
Train and history buffs will love a visit to this underrated downtown Tucson attraction. The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum in downtown Tucson preserves and interprets Southern Arizona railroad heritage through the museum's educational outreach, oral history and archival collections. The City of Tucson purchased the former Southern Pacific Railroad Depot on Toole Avenue in 1998, restoring the main depot and three adjacent building to reflect accurately their Restoration of the main depot building and the three adjacent buildings to their 1941 architectural style was completed in 2004.
The Tucson Museum of Art houses a permanent exhibit of pre-Columbian art, Western art, Latin American art (from ancient to contemporary), modern and contemporary art, and Asian art, plus traveling exhibits. It also houses an art school and an art library. There is a fine gift shop within the museum, as well. Located in the historic El Presidio (the original walled city), the Art Museum shares the district with historic homes, one of which is on the National Register of Historic Places. All are within easy walking distance of the museum. Well worth a visit when you're in downtown Tucson.
Winding along the dry Santa Cruz River, this park is a fun place to forget the woes of the day. The park features a very popular disc golf course (the oldest in town, incidentally), as well as the Garden of Gethsemane, a peaceful little corner created as a repository for the works of sculptor Felix Lucero. On Thursdays the Santa Cruz Farmers' Market sets up here, offering the best local fruits, vegetables and herbs. Be sure to stroll along El Paseo de los Arboles ("The Pathway of the Trees") a special memorial walk with beautiful tiled walls. The park is currently being renovated to add more bike trails.
The Presidio San Agustín was Tucson's first neighborhood. Named for the Spanish-built Presidio de San Augustin del Tucson, the historic area is the site of the original walled fort of Tucson. Though none of the original wall remains, the Presidio San Agustín offers a re-creation of the Tucson Presidio built in 1775.There are still many historic adobe homes and buildings standing in the area, which are occasionally showcased during home tours. Top attractions here include the Tucson Museum of Art, Old Town Artisans, and El Charro Restaurant. Bordered by West 6th, Sunset Park, South Arizona, and Freeway Street. Don't miss the free tours offered by the Tucson Museum of Art, which is part of this historic city block. Call the museum to check seasonal hours and tour availability.
Sentinel Peak, also known as "A" Mountain, is local landmark, as well as a city park. Fans of the University of Arizona maintain the decades-long tradition of painting a giant "A" on the side of the mountain in honor of their alma mater. Sentinel Peak is often referred to as Tucson's birthplace, because it is the former site of an ancestral Pima Village. Although this is a non-traditional park, it's certainly worth the hike up simply for the dazzling views of the Tucson valley. Plus, the park recently received several upgrades, including two shaded plazas, new park entry signs, handicapped-accessible parking spaces and a new paved path.
Within its boundaries, this 20,000 acre park has miles of hiking trails and numerous incredible desert vistas. If that sounds appealing, a hike up to Gates Pass will reward you with a charming stone gazebo from which to take in a stellar sunset view. Other outdoor activities within the park include horseback riding, picnic areas, camping and archery/rifle/pistol ranges. The park is conveniently located on the road to some of Tucson's most popular attractions, including the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Old Tucson Studios. The park offers plenty of pull-out points for motorists looking for the perfect spot to capture that postcard-perfect desert sunset.
Ted DeGrazia is a Tucson legend. His home and the surrounding buildings, originally built in open country in the foothills of the Catalinas, are now surrounded by the city. The gallery, his former home, his workshop, and the roofless chapel were all built by hand from native materials. The "gallery" now serves as a museum to the famed artist. It also houses the gift shop and a small gallery dedicated to the religious festivals of local Yaqui tribes. The grounds are rustic and artful, and the garden is lovely. Well worth a visit, even if you're not a DeGrazia devotee.
The University of Arizona campus is an excellent place for a scenic stroll, with groves of mature olive trees and shaded pathways surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens full of palm trees and cacti. Start at the UA visitor center, where you can learn more about the campus and pick up a map. Highlights include the arts complex with its nationally known photo repository featuring the work of Ansel Adams, the Arizona State Museum, Centennial Hall, and the Flandreau Planetarium. Don't miss the Old Main building, the university's first building and a great example of territorial-era architecture. The university's student union offers several dining options.
San Xavier is considered one of the finest examples of Mission architecture in this country. Founded by Father Eusabio Kino, today it serves as the parish church for the Tohono O'odham tribe and often hosts concerts. The elaborate interior has been carefully restored using techniques taught by experts from the Vatican in Rome. Numerous native artifacts are housed inside, including books, maps and photos. Tourists are welcome any time except during services. There is no admission charge, although a donation for the continued upkeep of the mission is appreciated. The stunning architecture and storied history of Mission San Xavier del Bac makes this one of the Southwest's biggest treasures.