READERS' PICK: It's been known as La Paloma Blanca, the White Dove of the Desert, for generations. But not so many years ago, the 18th-century Spanish Catholic mission's wings were looking a little worn; the centuries had taken their toll on the old adobe building, and the damage got a little worse with each gust of wind and drop of rain. Enter the Patronato of San Xavier, a foundation that enjoys the support of hundreds of heritage-minded Tucsonans. The Patronato has performed wonders in the last few years, with a program employing artists from nearby Indian nations under the direction of Italian restoration masters. They've been working diligently to restore the murals and walls of the historic mission's interior, which again sing praise to their makers, both celestial and earthly. It's a must-see for visitors and residents alike, and something in which all Tucsonans should take pride.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Fort Lowell, 2900 N. Craycroft Road. In some ways, this old military outpost may be a lovelier spot today than it was in its heyday. Now surrounded by the rather idyllic Fort Lowell Park, which includes city-acres of greenery and soccer fields, a pool and a duck pond, this once-isolated desert post has even more to offer visitors now than its majestic views of the Santa Catalina Mountains and proximity to the Rillito River. Its territorial adobe structure still stands, and long-term exhibits (currently Images of Resistance, photographs by C.S. Fly) highlight what is now called the Fort Lowell Museum. Permanent displays include The View from the Barracks, a photographic exhibit of daily life in the garrisons of the Southwest; and We Served At Fort Lowell, documenting army life at the fort.