Visitors arriving at Tucson International Airport will be about 10 minutes south of the city. One of Tucson’s most popular draws, the Mission of San Xavier del Bac, is less than five miles from here.
Temperatures in this Sonoran Desert city range between 40 and 100 degrees through the year. Tucson experiences a monsoon season between July and September where areas can experience flash flooding. Be aware that certain roads may become impassable and the city will barricade them. Otherwise, the city gets about 12” of rainfall annually.
Religious Attractions in Tucson
The Volunteer Center of Southern Arizona offers guests a chance to donate their time. Arrange an event for your group to help a community. This organization cooperates with Seasons of Service, which incorporate specific holidays into volunteer efforts. Lend a hand by registering online.
Construction on St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson started in 1776, when it was just a one-room chapel serving all 600 citizens of the city at that time. The chapel grew as the population did. Now up to 1,250 people can occupy the building; its floor gently slopes downwards so that all can have a better view of the altar. The church’s parish office should be contacted to arrange tours for groups.
San Xavier del Bac Mission was built in 1797 and retains its historical charm. The church’s interior is lined with original statuary and paintings. It is estimated that 200,000 visitors come to the mission each year to see its authentic Spanish Colonial architecture.
A small monument was built in what is now downtown Tucson to a person who met his end in a tragic love triangle. His body was buried in unconsecrated ground because he had been a sinner. The location is called El Tiradito, and it has a special place in local Catholic lore. Little is known about the history of the troubled lover, but the city’s inhabitants saved the site from destruction when a highway was planned to run through the area.
Attractions and Sightseeing Tours in Tucson
Many of Tucson’s attractions lie out of walking distance from the city’s center. Gray Line offers sightseeing tours from the comfort of a bus. They also offer packages for Tombstone and the Grand Canyon.
Tucson’s downtown district seems to be decorated with a turquoise line drawn down its sidewalks. This is actually a 2.5-mile-long marked path that tourists may follow to discover historical landmarks in the city. A plaque marks each historic building.
Visit the Arizona Historical Society, where your group will see downtown Tucson as it was when it was a Spanish presido in 1775. Trace the city’s history by examining exhibits like a 19th century hotel lobby. Artifacts of historical figures, like John Dillinger’s bulletproof vest, can be seen. Arrangements for guided tours are available for a fee.
The desert is home to a variety of wildlife. The Arizona-Sonora Desert includes a natural history museum, botanical garden, aviary and zoo. See desert animals ranging from tarantulas and snakes to mountain lions. The thin wire fences are nearly invisible on nature walks. Group tours are available.
There is an active astronomical community near Tucson at the Kitt Peak National Observatory. Let the staff give your group a tour of the telescopes on site. The observatory is a 90-minute drive southwest of Tucson.
Festivals and Events in Tucson
Every year, in the middle of December, Tucson hosts the Winterhaven Festival of Lights. The event takes place in the Winterhaven subdivision of Fort Lowell where several dozen homes get decked out in enormous Christmas light decorations. This festival goes on from the middle of December to a few days before New Year’s.
Tucson hosts an International Gem Show for two weeks every December. Vendors from all over the world come to Tucson’s Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase where they display their wares in over 50 locations around the city. The show is open to the public and attendees can purchase anything from a set of granite bookends to a complete set of prehistoric fossils.
Spanish colonialism has deep roots in the American Southwest, and the Spaniards’ Catholic influences are strong. Let your group experience the melding of European and Native American customs in Tucson.