50 Ways to be a Wildcat

This is not your list of must-dos. Those are fun, beautiful, historic, awe-inspiring — and everyone knows them. You can catch up any time by collecting links at various websites. A real Wildcat, though, also knows the deep cuts. For that, we are here for you. Have fun!

click to enlarge 50 Ways to be a Wildcat
Sonoran hot dog at El Guero Canelo

Find the best taco truck/Sonoran hot dog

This never fails to start a lively conversation. Find your own, but perennial favorites are Tacos Apson and El Guero Canelo, the latter so good that Tucson’s favorite band, Calexico, has a song about it. Tacos Apson, 3501 S. 12th Avenue, 520-670-1248, tacosapson.com; El Guero Canelo, 5201 S. 12th Avenue, 520-295-9005, elguerocanelo.com

Watch Tucson’s pro soccer team

Spend a Saturday night watching top soccer action as FC Tucson takes on its USL League One rivals at Kino North Stadium. FC Tucson isn’t just for avid soccer fans; with tasty food and a variety of beverage options, a beautiful sunset and community atmosphere, it’s a great place to spend an evening with friends and family. 2817 E. Ajo Way, 520-600-3095, fctucson.com

Buy a guitar

Buy one cheap because you won’t stick with it or buy a good one because once you discover your most magical chromatic sequence, you’ll play forever. Rock stars favor The Chicago Store, 45 S. Sixth Avenue, 520-622-3341; 5646 E. Speedway Boulevard, 5208861516; chicagomusicstore.com


Dare someone to do standup

Most famous comics have that backstory. We have open mics somewhere every night, but Laff’s is the place to start. Sign up at 7 p.m. Thursdays. Others there will fill you in on Tucson’s remarkably diverse comedy scene. Some women, LGBTQA+ and allies prefer Lady Ha Ha at The Rock. Sign up at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Laff’s Comedy Caffe, 2900 E. Broadway, 520-323-8669, laffstucson.com; The Rock, 136 N. Park Avenue, 520-629-9211, ladyhahacomedy.com

Eat warm fry bread

Tohono O’odham families sell it fresh, usually on Sundays, always at special events. San Xavier Mission 1950 W. San Xavier Road, 520-294-2624, sanxaviermission.org

Follow the steel drum band in the All Souls Procession Nov. 6

It’s more like a dance than a march, so you want to follow a band. Thousands of costumed locals and visitors fill the streets. Think Mardi Gras but more mindful. Tucson’s All Souls Procession and Finale Ceremony are a tribute to loss and transience. Join in anywhere along the route. allsoulsprocession.org

Let improv change your life

Improv makes you a better human. Listening, laughing at yourself, and cooperating as an ensemble are priceless and enduring assets, and improv makes the learning hilarious. Classes are available at Tucson Improv Movement, 414 E. Ninth Street, 520-314-7299; and Unscrewed Theatre, 4500 E. Speedway Boulevard, Suite 39, 520-289-8076

Complete the Huckelberry Loop

Walk, run, skateboard, skate, ride any bike, completing this path that circumnavigates our town is likely to take you all eight semesters. Chuck Huckelberry Loop, 4288 Diamond Street Loop, 520-724-5000, webcms.pima.gov/government/the_loop


See the future of space exploration from the basement of arizona stadium

Since 1980, UA scientists and engineers here have revolutionized what and how we see deep space with technical advances in telescope mirrors. Take a tour. Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, 527 N National Championship Drive, 520-626-8792, mirrorlab.arizona.edu/content/tours-tickets

See ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ at Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium

Pink Floyd’s 1973 release “The Dark Side of the Moon” focused on themes of political and humanitarian empathy. Inspired by the music, Flandrau’s laser light show is, they say, “one of the most startling and bizarre . . . of all time.” 1601 E. University Boulevard, 520-621-4516, flandrau.org

click to enlarge 50 Ways to be a Wildcat
Courtesy photo
From the grain to the aesthetic, there’s no mistaking Barrio Bread is proudly Arizonan.
Take Barrio bread home to mom

It’s almost on the way to the airport but get there early. James Beard award-winner Don Guerra opens at 9 a.m. and closes at noon, or when the bread runs out. Barrio Bread, 18 S. Eastbourne Avenue in Broadway Village, 520-327-1292, barriobread.com

Find the 13,000 BC mark when humans hunted mammoths here

On the sidewalk around the reconstructed ruin of the Presidio de Tucson is a timeline that gives context to the fort’s 1775 to 1856 history. The oldest entry marks the earliest evidence of human habitation. 196 N. Court Avenue, 520-622-0594, tucsonpresidio.com


Treat yourself to a spa with a view

Watch for spa-day specials at Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch. All include hang time in the poolside bar and its heated whirlpool, with a stunning view of the sunset over Pusch Ridge. 5501 N. Hacienda Del Sol Road, 520-901-1320

Watch the world’s longest nonmotorized parade

Among the floats and marching bands in the Feb. 23 Tucson Rodeo Parade are costumed riders and more horses than the rodeo. At least one entry honors Black Cavalry service members (Buffalo Soldiers), who helped develop Tucson in the late 19th century. Tucson Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S. Sixth Avenue, 520-791-4873

See what folks were farming 4,000 years ago

The Mission Garden demonstrates historical farming traditions here, including the first known canal-irrigated agriculture anywhere. Tucson was named UNESCO’s first U.S. City of Gastronomy because the city’s restaurants create contemporary cuisine from such native plants and traditional crops. A nearby example is the Augustin Kitchen, 100 S. Avenida del Convento, 520-398-5382, agustinkitchen.com, Mission Garden, 946 W. Mission Lane, 520-955-5200, missiongarden.org

Be kind

Mosaics all over town urge us to be kind. They’re inspired by a young boy, Ben, killed at a political event. In his name, we secretly give handmade bells when extraordinary kindness is shown. Ben’s Bells, 40 W. Broadway Boulevard, 520-622-1379, bensbells.org

Walk a path to San Francisco

Among the first settlers around the San Francisco Bay were Tohono O’odham families from southwest of Tucson. Juan Bautista De Anza recruited them around 1774. An easy 4-mile trail from Tumacácori to Tubac approximates part of his expedition’s path. Mission San José de Tumacácori, 1891 I-19 Frontage Road, Tumacácori-Carmen, 520-377-5060, anzahistorictrail.org

Indulge your inner film geek

The Loft Cinema shows 12 hours of films daily, including monthly screenings of “The Rocky Horror Show” and cult classics. Its internationally renowned film festival is in November. 3233 E. Speedway Boulevard, 520-795-7777, loftcinema.org

Go batty

The bat bridge on Campbell Avenue at River Road may be closer, but serious bat fans gather at 7601 E. Broadway Boulevard as the sun goes down. Both are on The Huckelberry Loop, 520-724-5000, webcms.pima.gov/government/the_loop

See a millennium twist on burlesque

The Tucson Libertine League amps up the sass and style of its forbears at its home club, 191 Toole, which otherwise hosts trendy, rising touring comedians, rock bands and rap artists. Follow their calendar at 191toole.com. 191 E. Toole Avenue, 520-445-6425

Watch Mexican wrestling where you saw Ohgeezy

The Rialto Theatre isn’t just about the big comedians and epic rock and rap shows it hosts. A couple of times a year it’s also home to the Rockstar Wrestling Alliance’s Dia de las Luchas. The Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress Street, 520-740-1000, rialtotheatre.com

Count the neon signs

Since 2011, Tucson sign codes have protected vintage neon signs; see how many you can find. You can also visit Ignite Sign Art Museum, which preserves, restores and displays a collection of historic signs from Tucson, the Southwest and around the country. 331 S. Olsen Avenue, 520-319-0888, ignitemuseum.com

Do a hill-climb trifecta

Sentinel Peak (“A” Mountain) is the easiest. Its views and interpretive signage tell Tucson’s story best. Tumamoc’s the toughest, most diverse and popular. But watch your feet on that little hill behind the old convent. It was penance for generations of novitiates. Sentinel Peak, 1001 S. Sentinel Peak Road, tucsonaz.gov/parks/SentinelPeakPark; Tumamoc Hill, 1675 W. Anklam Road, tumamoc.arizona.edu/tumamoc-hill/walk-hill; St Anne’s Convent, 3820 N. Sabino Canyon Road

Stand over eight civilizations

Ruins of Fort Lowell are prominent at the west end of the park that bears its name. But the soldiers were latecomers. Along Pantano wash at its east end are buried ruins of eight layers of civilization. Interpretive signage lines the Huckelberry Loop there, but details are at desert.com/hardy-site. Fort Lowell Park, 2998 N. Craycroft Road.

See Salvadore Duran

Thrilling as flamenco, seductive as tango and gritty as a mariachi’s grita, the man, the legend performs regularly at the Hotel Congress Patio. We dare you not to dance. Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress Street, 520-622-8848, hotelcongress.com

Rediscover the magic of a bubbling brook

Listen to the sound of the first stream many Tucson kids ever know. Relax and breathe. Or take your dog, a book, or binoculars to find a scarlet tanager in the towering Aleppo pines of Barnum Hill. 3400 E. Zoo Court, tucsonaz.gov/parks/GeneCReidPark#BarnumHill

click to enlarge 50 Ways to be a Wildcat
Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson

Visit art museums, free

Find classics at the TMA on first Thursdays. Look for scale and drama at the MOCA on third Thursdays. The Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block, 140 Main Avenue, 520-624-2333, tucsonmuseumofart.org. Museum of Contemporary Art, 265 S. Church Avenue, 520-624-5019, moca-tucson.org


Experience magic realism

Only one shrine in the world is believed to be dedicated to a sinner: El Tiradito. Naturally, it’s haunted. Unload whatever’s troubling you or just be present in the community of sinners. El Tiradito Shrine, 418 S. Main Avenue, tucsonmuseum.org/shrinecurse.htm

Find fun in the fear

The spooky season brings two immersive experiences to scare you silly. Nightfall turns Old Tucson into a ghost town inhabited by engaging enigmas and ruthless rogues. Also, there’s music. The Slaughterhouse feels like an escape room complex with villainous apparitions and dirty tricks. Old Tucson, 201 S. Kinney Road, 520-883-0100; The Slaughterhouse, 1102 W. Grant Road, 520-917-0177

Take a DIY dive-bar tour

Everyone knows the Buffet on Ninth. The Shelter puts it to shame, dive-wise. Across the street is The Mint Bar, so shady nobody cool goes there. Buffet Bar, 538 E. Ninth Street, 520-623-6811, buffetbartucson.com; The Shelter, 4155 E. Grant Road, 520-326-1345, facebook.com/TheShelterCocktailLounge; Mint Bar, 3540 E. Grant Road, 520-881-9169, themintbar.net.

Hug a stranded pet

Volunteer at Pima Animal Care Center. Animal Care Center, 520-724-5900, 4000 N. Silverbell Road.

Visit the D&D version of the Mos Eisley Cantina

If you know, you know. It’s Short Rest Tavern, hidden within Games & Gadgets at Tucson Mall, 4500 N. Oracle Road, Suite 253, 520-460-6891, shortresttavern.com

Believe in make believe again

A hundred years ago an artist with a dream built a fantasy storyland that still delights all ages. Tours, special events and adventure shows happen on the first Saturday and third Sunday monthly. 2544 E. Allen Road, 520-323-1331, tucsonvalleyofthemoon.com

See how many places you can eat in one place

American Eat Company is the bricks and mortar home of seven popular Tucson eateries. It also has a bar and mariachis play for breakfast Friday and Saturday. 1439 S. Fourth Avenue, 520-867-8700, americaneatco.com

Drink at Casa Video and Film Bar

Swarms of UA film school students explore its comprehensive collections, and you can pick up ambient cinema savvy for your trivia games. 2905 E. Speedway Boulevard, 520-326-6314, casafilmbar.com

Sell that clutter

Channel Marie Kondo and ditch everything that’s not bringing you joy. Bookmans might buy it, especially books, magazines, games, sheet music, musical instruments, and very unique décor and accessories. Multiple locations, bookmans.com

Meet Madera Canyon’s Wild Turkeys

When heat drives everyone else to Mount Lemmon, you head 90 minutes south to Madera Canyon. Enjoy the shade of 10 kinds of oaks over miles of moderate trails, or tackle that challenging climb to Mount Wrightson. Mind the bear. Ranger station: 520-281-2296.

Shoot out the lightning

Tucson chubascos (“monsoons”) will compel you to get that shot. Use iLightningCam on your iPhone. You’re welcome.

Liberate your inner Ansel Adams

Take inspiration from Ansel Adams’ no filter collection at the UA’s Center for Creative Photography. Then follow exhibitions at Etherton Gallery Downtown. For gear, the pros’ choice is Monument Camera. 1030 N, Olive Road, 520-621-7968, ccp.arizona.edu; Etherton Gallery Museum, 340 S. Convent Avenue, 520-624-7370, ethertongallery.com; Monument Camera, 15 E. Fort Lowell Road, 520-690-1484, monumentcam.com

Shop Fourth Avenue

We recommend Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Avenue, 520-792-3715, antigonebooks.com; Tucson Thrift Shop (especially popular with fashionistas and drama majors) 319 N. Fourth Avenue, 520-623-8736, tucsonthriftshop.com; Popcycle (tops for sustainability), 422 N. Fourth Avenue, 520-622-3297, popcycleshop.com

Swim in Peppersauce Cave

You’re an experienced, responsible, sober hiker with a reliable partner, right? Keep this to yourself. hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=738

See all the gems and minerals

Tucson swarms with globe-hopping rock-hounds for February’s Tucson Gem and Mineral Show (tgms.org/show). Meanwhile, wander rooms full of precious rocks and jewels from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., every Wednesday to Saturday at the UA’s Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum in the Historic Pima County Courthouse. 115 N. Church Avenue, 520-621-7433, gemandmineralmuseum.arizona.edu

Ride in Cyclovia

It’s an annual bike ride, not a race, with the goal of building community in areas with little street activity. Thousands turn out for Cyclovia, diverse in every way, and everyone’s a winner. This year’s is Oct. 20. cycloviatucson.org

Watch Mexican baseball

The 2022 Vamos a Tucson Mexican Baseball Fiesta Oct. 6 to Oct. 9 is spring training for Pacific Winter League of Mexico teams. The Wildcats face the Naranjeros of Hermosillo Oct. 6. Prior fiestas have attracted 25,000 fans from both sides of the border. Kino Sports Complex, 2500 E. Ajo Way, MexicanBaseballFiesta.com

Summon Stranger Things in Bisbee

Magic Kenny Bang Bang runs the most haunted room in the most haunted town in America. His look and demeanor evoke a 19th century villain, fresh from tying maidens to a train track. You won’t understand what just happened, but it’s fun to speculate over post-séance libations at Chuckleheads across the street. The Bisbee Séance Room, 520-203-3350, 26 Brewery Avenue, thebisbeeseanceroom.com

Salute pioneering feminist botanist Sara Plummer Lemmon with a flyover

Mount Lemmon’s namesake braved its 19th century wilderness and conquered its peak to study its unique plant life. How strange it must’ve seemed to a scholar from Maine! 10300 Ski Run Road, 520- 576-1321, skithelemmon.com, womenhistoryblog.com/2016/12/sara-plummer-lemmon.html

Zip it up on the north face

Fly over the other side of Mount Lemmon with Arizona Zipline Adventures, 35406 S. Mount Lemmon Road, Oracle. 520-308-9350, ziparizona.com

Drink local beer exclusively

Visit Tucson has thoughtfully listed all 21 of our local breweries. Each one offers several different brews, and some change with the seasons. visittucson.org/restaurants-and-nightlife/breweries/

Cultivate a jazz jones

The Century Room at Hotel Congress has loads of jazz programming. It’s always a classy date night, but now major artists stop here in the run-up to the Tucson Jazz Festival Jan. 13 to Jan. 22. Fest tickets are at tucsonjazzfestival.org. Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress Street, 520-622-8848, hotelcongress.com/family/century-room

Rethink Cochise and Geronimo

Driving to Dragoon you’ll experience the high desert and towering rock formations of the vast lands tribal families traversed with the seasons. Since 1937, The Amerind Foundation has documented the artifacts and sociology of indigenous populations here. 2100 N. Amerind Road, Dragoon, 520-586-3666, amerind.org

About The Author

Comments (3)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Tucson Weekly

Best of Tucson Weekly

Tucson Weekly