Tucson 101

Your stereotyped guide to college life in the Old Pueblo

There are about 38,000 students at the University of Arizona—and almost twice that number attending Pima Community College—so trying to find your place within the social structure can be harder than trying to find an even-numbered classroom in the UA Harvill Building.

Lucky for you, we broke the massive student population down into seven stereotypes, and made a list of places to go, things to do and tips for making friends.


OK, OK, we know you don't like being called a hipster—even if you do roll up to class on a fixed-gear bike and peel off your American Apparel hoodie to reveal forearm tattoos. You enjoy vinyl records, vintage clothes, Pabst Blue Ribbon (if you're 21) and live music. You might also like ...

• Red Room at Grill: It's one of the few places where you poverty-stricken cool kids can hear live music on a regular basis. No cover charge, no age restrictions—just order something, and tip. If your band doesn't totally suck, they might even let you play there someday. redroomtucson.blogspot.com

• Chicago Music Store: Playing music makes you more attractive—and more attractive means more friends. If you can't play, buy a used guitar at this superstore; take off the strings; and hang it on your dorm-room wall. Just tell your new crew you've been meaning to replace the strings. www.chicagomusicstore.com

• KAMP Radio: You'll probably never get paid for listening to music and talking about it with your friends, but you can force people in their cars and dorms to listen to that music. Get a radio show on KAMP, and rock on. kamp.arizona.edu

• Music venues: Tucson is a musical Mecca. Unfortunately, you won't be able to appreciate much of it until your junior year when you turn 21. If you can't get into the bars, try the Rialto Theatre (www.rialtotheatre.com), Solar Culture (www.solarculture.org) or Club Congress (www.hotelcongress.com/club) for all-ages shows.


You're the student who can't wait until Thanksgiving break to head back to New York, Los Angeles or whatever "elite" metropolitan city you're from. You can't believe there's not a Bloomingdale's or Barneys here; you have a subscription to Vogue or GQ; and you're constantly cracking jokes with your other city-slicker friends about "T-locs" and Tucson in general. Laugh it up: You're the one who signed up for four years of college here. Who knows? You might actually approve of these places:

• La Encantada: Finally, a place where daddy's Porsche will fit in! The best shopping includes AJ's Fine Foods (for the elite foodie in you), Everything but Water (for ridiculously overpriced but adorable ladies' swimsuits) and the Apple Store (because you wouldn't be caught dead without the latest iPhone). www.laencantadashoppingcenter.com

• Gadabout SalonSpas: You may be stuck in this one-horse town, but that doesn't mean you have to look like you're fresh off the trail. Go for the pedi; those cowboy boots are hard on the feet. www.gadabout.com

• Hotel Congress: Well, it's not the Carlyle, but it will have to do. Sip $5 happy-hour martinis on the patio with your fabulous friends, and reminisce about the finer places (i.e., places where a martini costs $20). www.hotelcongress.com


Well, you did it: You made it through fall rush, and you're finally a member of Kappa-Mappa-Whateva. And how did you celebrate? With a keg, of course. Now, we know you might not really explore Tucson beyond Greek Row, but if you do, you might enjoy:

• The Meet Rack: If you're lucky, God might even show you the Duty Hut. www.myspace.com/meet_rack

• El Charro Café: The perfect restaurant to take Mom and Dad on parents' weekend. Just be sure to thank them for paying for your friends ... er, education. Bonus: happy-hour margaritas! www.elcharrocafe.com

• Planet Beach: Because the sun can't turn you that perfect shade of orange that makes the girls go crazy. www.planetbeach.com

• UA Student Recreation Center: The perfect location to scope out hotties and work off all those calories you drank last night. Talk about multitasking! campusrec.arizona.edu


If your thing is painting, photography, sculpting or writing scripts, let's face it: You're artsy. Hitting up art-supply stores, going to museums and checking out coffee-shop exhibits are all considered "normal" activities in your world. Admittedly, you don't get out much, because you're "working on your masterpiece," but when you do, check these out:

• All Souls Procession: All Souls brings all the strange factions of the Tucson art scene together for one flaming celebration of death. It's our version of Halloween. Mark your calendar for Nov. 7. www.allsoulsprocession.org

• Galleries: As an art student, you obviously know everything. As an art student in Tucson, you can walk from gallery to gallery while annoyingly opining on all that you see. Take advantage: downtown, Fourth Avenue, Sixth Street, University Boulevard—go ahead, tell 'em what you think! www.tucsonweekly.com/gyrobase/LocationSearch?locationCategory=1113916

• Center for Creative Photography: A world-class museum, archive and research center on the UA campus. Ansel Adams, anyone? www.creativephotography.org

• Café à la C'Art: What's better than marveling at art with your crew of artsy new friends? Picking it apart afterward over a delicious burger at Café à la C'Art, that's what. Watch who's listening, though; that guy at the next table may be the painter whose work you're trashing. www.tucsonmuseumofart.org/visit/cafe.php


For you, the best thing about Tucson is its abundance of hiking trails, bike routes, mountains and always-sunny skies. Your favorite snacks are trail mix, power bars and bulk granola. You save up your money to buy things like kayaking paddles or climbing gear, and your less-outdoorsy friends make fun of your Birkenstocks. (In your defense, they are comfy.) If you haven't already, be sure and try these:

• Mount Lemmon: You are just one steep-ass bike ride away from the evergreen-covered mountaintops of Mount Lemmon. Start pedaling. www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/forest/recreation/trails/mt_lemmon.shtml

• Sabino Canyon: Hiking, biking and general nature loving—find it here year-round. Bonus: After the rainy season, the ponds and streams are filled up for your skinny-dipping pleasure. www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/forest/recreation/camping/sites/sabino.shtml

• Tuesday Night Bike Ride: Once a week, Tucson's bike crew gets together to celebrate their hatred of cars. It's like the longest train of bikes you ever saw, slowly meandering through the streets and shutting down traffic. Bonus: They meet right in front of Old Main, a major plus if you live on campus.

• Meet Me at Maynards: Wanna meet other fit bodies? Meet 'em at Maynards on Monday nights, and jog your way to a perfectly toned friendship. www.meetmeatmaynards.com

Science Geek

You don't just like to gaze up at that big ol' sky full of stars; you love it. Astronomy is either your major or minor; you got an A in calculus; and at any given moment, you are questioning the possibility of life on Mars, the existence of aliens, etc. Your ultimate goal in life is to someday discover a planet and name it after, well, yourself. You should go to:

• Sky Bar: By day, it's a solar powered café with $1 espresso. At night, it's an astronomy-themed bar where even sky-gazing geeks can score. Go ahead; use your best constellation-themed pickup line. www.skybartucson.com

• Kitt Peak National Observatory: One word. Telescopes. www.noao.edu/kpno

• UA Flandrau Science Center: From the Mineral Museum to the planetarium, you'll have hours of geeky fun. Mars exhibits, laser-light shows—what else can you ask for? www.flandrau.org

• The Taco Shop: Because all that star-gazing makes you hungry—and where else are you gonna go at 3 a.m.?


This will be the first of many degrees for you, because you really enjoy learning. You're the kid who always made others feel bad about skimming the chapter instead of actually reading it. You enjoy the finer things in life, like poetry, philosophy, thought-provoking discussion and The New York Times. You may or may not own a sweater vest, and your cat is named after a famous author, naturally. You'd fit right in at these places:

• Bentley's House of Coffee and Tea: To do all of that intellectual thinking, you'll need coffee. Of all the smart coffee places full of jittery smart people, we think Bentley's is the smartest. www.bentleyscoffeehouse.com

• UA Poetry Center: Step one: Check out your favorite poet's work at the Poetry Center. Step two: Copy that work, but add in your own whiny teenage angst. Step three: Read it aloud at Bentley's open-mic night. poetry.arizona.edu

• Bookmans Entertainment Exchange: If you want to make intellectual friends, you're gonna need more books. For, about $2 each, you can pick up The Iliad and other assorted classics. www.bookmans.com

• The Loft Cinema: Those Oscar-winning blockbusters are for the bourgeois. You only watch the good stuff—winners of awards nobody's never heard of, low-budget documentaries and the occasional cult classic. www.loftcinema.com

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