Ten great experiences to have in Tucson

Tucson is full of adventures, historical sites, great restaurants, and lots of fun, easy-going residents. Here are some highlights from our trip, describing ten great experiences to have in Tucson.

One. Amerind Museum

We discovered this museum as we drove from Willcox to Tucson. As often happens, we saw a sign for a museum we had never heard of before and followed the sign, turning off of I-10 toward Dragoon and this fantastic museum. It is a bit of a drive off of the freeway but well worth the trip.

Ten great experiences to have in Tucson

This incredible museum, art gallery, and research center houses one of the country’s largest private collections of Native American artifacts.

Here you will find thousands of exhibits of Native American items from times long past up to the present. This museum is part of the Amerind Foundation, began in 1937 by William Shirley Fulton, and exhibits here are from his personal collection.

Ten great experiences to have in Tucson

Next door to the museum is an art gallery of items from Fulton’s personal collection and contemporary exhibits such as Parched: The Art of Water in the Southwest. The museum and gallery are in a beautiful location in Texas Canyon with its beautiful rock formations.

Sadly, Amerind does not allow photography in the museum or art gallery. It is an incredible place and well worth your time to visit if you are in this part of Arizona.

Two. Crazy Horse RV Campgrounds

Crazy Horse RV Campgrounds was our RV home away from home. Crazy Horse, a medium-sized park, is well-maintained and has a great and very responsive staff. Thank you, Jodie and Greg! We found all the amenities we required here, particularly an on-site laundry.

Unfortunately, for Tank and Lilly, the park has an all gravel surface, as was the case at Bonnie and Clyde’s Getaway RV Park in Carlsbad. The dogs are slowly adjusting to this desert life, though, so no worries. Gravel surfaces are the norm at all RV parks we visited in New Mexico and Arizona.

Covered RV spots are available here!

Three. Pima Air & Space Museum

This museum was our trip destination, the focus of this trip. The aircraft Steve trained and flew on as an overseas operator is at this museum. It was a bucket list item and the highlight of the trip for Steve to see it one more time. Mission accomplished.

Pima Air & Space Museum is the most impressive and comprehensive museum devoted to military aircraft I have ever seen. We visited the museum two different times!

This is the same plane that Steve flew and trained on when he was in the Navy. It is a Convair T-29B, Flying Classroom, Navigation Trainer (1950 – 1975).

This story is much more enjoyable if I tell you that Steve was an undercover CIA operative frequently dropped off overseas to neutralize undesirables in the fight for freedom! Sound good? So untrue.

A few of the planes on display at this magnificent museum.

Four. Titan Missile Museum

This museum took us right back to the days of the Cold War, which I and some of you remember well as the political hostility between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. It was eye-opening to see how prepared the U.S. was at that time to launch a nuclear war against the former Soviet Union.

If you grew up in that era, I am sure you also remember the “duck and cover” air-raid drills in school in the 50s and 60s. When the air raid siren sounded, we were required to duck under our desks and cover our heads – to protect us from a nuclear attack?

This site, containing a Titan II nuclear missile, is the only museum of its kind where you can see a U.S. nuclear missile from this period. The Titan II missile in place in this museum could send a nine-megaton thermonuclear warhead over 6,000 miles away in less than thirty minutes!

Today, what is your opinion about the 54 nuclear missiles strategically placed throughout the U.S. and on alert twenty-four hours every day? Did the mere existence of the missiles increase the threat of nuclear war or did the very existence of the missiles help to prevent all-out nuclear war?

The Titan missile complex is a museum and an education and research center named the Count Ferdinand von Galen Titan Missile Museum Education and Research Center. The tour of this complex is one of the best tours I’ve ever taken!

Five. Fort Lowell

Very little remains today at Fort Lowell, just outside Tucson. The fort was an active Army post during the mid-1800s. Fort Lowell protected the Tucson area during the Apache Wars because it was a large and well-protected fort. It also provided supplies to nearby military installations.

The ruins of the historic buildings remaining of this fort are part of a pretty city park today. The park is a great family sporting and picnic area.

Six. San Pedro Chapel

The charming San Pedro Chapel, constructed in 1932, is only a few minutes drive from Fort Lowell on a hillside. As we pulled up to take a look, I couldn’t help but think this was the perfect wedding venue. The San Pedro Chapel no longer holds worship services.

Weddings and neighborhood events are the primary uses for San Pedro Chapel today.

Seven. Garden of Gethsemane

How this garden of sculptures came into existence is a great story. Felix Lucero, severely wounded during World War I, made a deal with the Virgin Mary to spend the rest of this life creating religious art if she would spare his life, and so he did.

Although originally from Colorado, Lucero became destitute in Tucson in 1938 and began creating his Christian statues while living under a bridge. He made molds from damp sand and covered them in plaster. After Lucero died in 1951, the City placed his sculptures in a small park near that same bridge.

The sculptures fell into terrible disrepair, but artist Greg Schoon was commissioned to repair Lucero’s statues. The City of Tucson, State of Arizona, and Downtown Development Corporation now maintain the sculptures.

Weddings, quinceaneras, and other events are often held at this pretty little park.

Eight. Rattlesnake Bridge

Many cities have decorated highway pedestrian bridges, but the Rattlesnake Bridge over Broadway Boulevard in Tucson is the most unusual I have seen. A rattlesnake! The snake’s open jaws, complete with shiny fangs, greet pedestrians at the beginning of the bridge.

The actual bridge over the highway appears to be the hollow stomach of a rattlesnake. At the end of the bridge, pedestrians encounter the winding tail with extended rattles at its end. I certainly did a double-take as we drove under it!

The artist that designed this fantastic bridge is Simon Donovan.

Nine. San Xavier Church

San Xavier Church, nine miles south of Tucson, is registered as a National Historic Landmark. San Xavier began as a Catholic mission in 1692, and construction of the Church standing today was finished in 1797.

This Church allows a limited number of visitors at one time, and the visit is limited to five minutes and only just inside the front doors. The trip out to see the magnificent Church was well worth the time for us; the interior is beautiful and filled with original statues and murals.

San Xavier is considered by many to be one of the most significant examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the country. An earthquake damaged the Church in 1887, and in 1939 it was struck by lightning. Preservation and restoration are ongoing.

Ten. El Charro Café

I had read about the El Charro Café, so we made it a point to have lunch here one day. It is a small but world-famous restaurant in downtown Tucson that the same family has continuously operated since 1922. That means it’s just about 100 years old!

We came to try the famous Carne Seca. This creation is strips of beef dried in the sun, shredded, and mixed with tomatoes, onions, and chilies to create a fantastic food treat. We enjoyed a delicious platter of this concoction. This restaurant provides nationwide shipping!

We saw many other fun sights and met some great people in Tucson. We planned to stay in Tucson overnight, maybe two nights only but ended up parked at Crazy Horse RV Park for four nights – so much to see and do there.

Ten great experiences to have in TucsonTen great experiences to have in TucsonTen great experiences to have in Tucson

7 thoughts on “Ten great experiences to have in Tucson

  1. Pingback: What an amazing two month long RV adventure | Always Want To Go
  2. You’ve done it again! We have to go back to Tucson now!

    1. It was a great town with so much to see!

  3. We were in Tucson in 2019. I’d recommend the Biosphere. It’s about an hour drive but worth it.

    1. The Biosphere was on our list of things we wanted to see, but ran out of time. We were disappointed to have missed it but will catch it on our next trip. Thank you for reminding me; I had forgotten!

  4. What a fantastic trip! You triggered lots of memories of the Cold War. Beautiful churches and that Garden of Gethsemane would be a sight to behold.

    1. It was great fun. When we walked into that Titan Missile Museum I could see myself as a little girl, racing under that desk when the alarm went off, covering my head! Memories, huh?

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