When to Go
Summer lodging rates (late May to September) are hugely discounted, even at many of the resorts, but there's a good reason: summer in Tucson is hot! Swimming and indoor activities like visiting museums (and spa treatments) are doable; but only the hardiest hikers and golfers stay out past noon in summer.
Tucson averages only 12 inches of rain a year. Winter temperatures hover around 65°F during the day and 38°F at night. Summers are unquestionably hot—July averages 104°F during the day and 75°F at night—but, as Tucsonans are fond of saying, "It's a dry heat."
The International Gem and Mineral Show descends on Tucson the first two weeks in February; book your hotel in advance or you'll be hard-pressed to find a room.
Festivals and Events
Tubac Festival of the Arts. This rural artisan extravaganza in February brings artists from around the country to exhibit their eclectic, fine, and tourist-oriented art in the charming village of Tubac. Tubac Plaza, Tubac, Arizona, 85646. 520/398–2704; www.tubacaz.com/festival.
Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. This huge two-week trade show in February, comprised of nearly 40 different shows at venues in and around downtown, is the largest of its kind in the world. Most vendors sell to the public as well as to wholesalers. Admission to the shows is free, except for the prestigious Gem and Mineral Show held at the Tucson Convention Center during the last four days of the two-week period. The Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau is the best source of information about the event. 520/624–1817; www.visittucson.org/events/gem-show.
La Fiesta de los Vaqueros. America's largest outdoor midwinter rodeo is at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds the third weekend in February. 520/294–8896; www.tucsonrodeo.com.
4th Avenue Street Fair (). Feeling casual and eclectic? Hit Tucson's 4th Avenue Street Fair, usually held in May and in December, where you can buy hand-crafted wares and hear local bands while munching on every kind of festival food imaginable. Tucson, Arizona, 85705. 520/624–5004; www.fourthavenue.org.
Saguaro Harvest. The majestic saguaro's fruit is harvested at Colossal Cave Mountain Park around late June. 520/647–7121; www.colossalcave.com.
Tucson Originals World Margarita Championship. In October, Tucson Originals, a group of independent local restuarants, hosts the World Margarita Championship. Sample foods, wines, and killer margaritas—then cast your votes—prepared by more than 40 local indie chefs. Tucson, Arizona. 520/477–7950; www.tucsonoriginals.com.