After several trips to Tucson, I started to get bored with the usual. The zoo, been there. Desert Museum, done that. So, I started finding new things to do.
My first stop, and the first place you ALWAYS look for social/cultural events? BOOKMANS! (3 Locations-- Grant, Ina and Speedway) Check out their community board, there are always a ton of free cultural events, concerts, and gatherings. Once we happened to get there in time for a free swing dance lesson (hosted by a local group, not the store it self).
SHOPPING!! Sure, there are the malls. The Elcon Mall, Tucson Mall, Park Place Mall, Foothills Mall...but, you know once you've been to one, you've seen all the stores in the rest of 'em! So... If you're into VINTAGE clothing check out "How Sweet it Once Was" (419 N 4th Ave). They have a great selection of vintage clothes...you won't find any mall trade offs here!
Like malls, but want something a little different? Check out The Main Gate Square. It's located just west of the U of A campus, and is the best plaza to shop! It has a ton of restaurants, and often has live music/ shows being performed. It's a great place to eat, shop or just relax and people watch. If you're into healthier eating, check out the Pita Pit, you'll love it! While you're here you can go to one of the many salons, get a haircut, manicure, or even a massage (shopping is hard work you know!). They also have a farmers market every month.
Looking for something with a little more local flavor?? I found St. Philips Plaza (4380 Cambell) by accident, but WOW. It got my curiosity, I had to know what it was.... All I knew for sure is it had a COBBLESTONE driveway and Santa Fe style stores. It's beautiful, colorful, and full of southwestern stores. It has everything from fine art pieces, to clothing, to bistros and jewelry.
Tired of the zoo and desert museum? I fell in love with the Tohono Chul Park, located at the end of Paseo Del Norte. This is a beautiful place to stroll, and take in local scenery. Be sure to check out the petroglyphs, the sundial plaza and the hummingbird gardens. If you like, they also have guided tours, but my family opted to explore on our own. If you have children, this is the best children's program I have seen at a museum/park/zoo, be sure to check out what's will be happening while you are there.
Want to find the best arcade in town? Golf 'n' Stuff is the place! It's on Tanque Verde Rd... plan to spend hours here! They had over 30 miniature golf holes, THE BEST LASER TAG, go karts, bumper and the BEST arcade! They have 2 or 3 times as many games as your typical mall arcade. Oh, and in case that's not enough, try the rock climbing!! We had a blast, get the all park pass, and some sunscreen, it's worth it!!
Wine tasting-- if you don't mind an hour drive, you have got to check out Elgin. Elgin is a small city with 5 or 6 major wineries. Each of them offer tastings, $1 to $3. Our favorite was Dos Cabezas Vineyards, it's a little hole-in-the-wall spot, cozy, and the wine was excellent, very fruity, dark and velvety. Dos Cabezas Pinor Gris 2000 was served at the White House in 2002!
The best way to spend a relaxing evening? Get a hotel room with a balcony, sit outside, sip some wine, and watch the sky. Stars here look soooo much closer, brighter, and many more are visible.