20 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to Tucson

Considering a move to Tucson? If sunny days and star-studded nights speak to you, it might be the ideal city to call home.

Tucson, also known as the Old Pueblo, is a city of surprises: some ghostly, some gastronomical, and some are just gems. Keep these 20 tidbits in mind and you’re sure to make the most of your move to this city in the Southwest:

1. Tucson is the first UNESCO Capital of Gastronomy in the United States.

With a rich food history, a dedication to innovative urban agriculture, and a restaurant scene that makes foodies salivate, Tucson is a great place to be hungry, however briefly. 

2. You’ll want to bring sunscreen.

Tucson has an average of 284 days of sunshine or partly-sunny skies per year. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Tucson also ranks among the cities with the highest melanoma rate. Smart Tucson sun-worshippers apply sunscreen early and often.

3. But you’ll need an umbrella too.

Monsoon season in Tucson is no joke. From mid-June to the end of September, the monsoon provides half of our annual rainfall. Flash flooding is common, so drive with caution and avoid flooded roadways.

4. Tucson isn’t just snowbird city.

We’ve got a reputation for our wiser residents, but Tucsonans are actually younger than the national average. We’ve even been ranked among the most hipster cities in the country, with our wealth of tattoo parlors, second hand stores, solar-powered hangouts and trendy night life.

5. Our favorite museum is outdoors (mostly).

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is like an incredible zoo, botanical garden, and desert oasis all wrapped into one.

6. The Santa Cruz River has no water in it.

During the rainy season the river floods, but it’s a dry river bed most of the year. Experts say groundwater pumping and natural catastrophes contributed to the issue which some call the city’s “longest-running urban tragedy.”

7. Our hot dog is top dog.

Our bacon-wrapped, deliciously-loaded Sonoran hot dog nabbed an award often reserved for fine cuisine. Loads of restaurants and hot dog carts deliver the goods, but the big winner of the James Beard Award can be found at El Guero Canelo. All hail, tube steak!

8. We have the finest example of Spanish Colonial Architecture found in the U.S.

Mission San Xavier del Bac dates back to 1783. Services are still held in the mission church today, and it draws an estimated 200,000 visitors every year. 

9. Mountain views and cooler temps are a short drive away.

Just an hour away, Mount Lemmon is about 30 degrees cooler than the city. While there you can hike, camp, or just take in those Incredible panoramic views.

10. We are the birthplace of the mighty saguaro.

The saguaro cactus is native to Tucson and will only grow in the Sonoran Desert. The largest cactus in the U.S. takes its sweet time to mature. You’ll wait 70 years for their first flowers. Check out Saguaro National Park to see these behemoths in person.

11. You can get your flight fix here.

Tucson is home to one of the largest air and space museums in the world, the Pima Air & Space Museum. There you’ll see more than 350 historical aircrafts. Want a preview? Check out their immersive panoramic tours online.

12. We know how to rock.

The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase typically runs from late January into February, and includes 40 different shows at multiple locations around Tucson. Shoppers will find everything from quality jewelry to fossils, beads and crystals and free seminars and events abound.

13. Our downtown is happening.

Recently renovated and serving up cute boutiques, a buzzy nightlife scene, great restaurants and that hipster haven: Hotel Congress, downtown Tucson is where it’s at (seriously, the Cup Café desert case alone is worth the trip!). 

14. We’re near the southernmost ski run in the nation.

Skiing might seem unlikely when you’re in the desert. But beautiful Mount Lemmon also houses Ski Valley. While Tucson isn’t known for snow, Ski Valley boasts about 180 inches per year.

15. We’re the Mexican food capital of the U.S.

Self-proclaimed, that is, but we think you’ll agree our Mexican food is legit. Even past Presidents have given a thumbs up to restaurants like Mi Nidito. And El Charro Café claims to have invented the chimichanga.

16. We have a one-of-a-kind portrait gallery.

Walk the Fourth Avenue Underpass and you’ll see about 6,000 portraits of locals (Including yours truly!). Dubbed the Tucson Portrait Project, the display offers a snapshot of the people of Tucson in 2008.

17. Our city is spirited.

Budding ghost hunters and paranormal investigators alike say Tucson is home to a number of spirits. From the historic Presidio District to Hotel Congress and the 22nd Street Antique Mall, paranormal enthusiasts have loads of places to go for a case of the chills

18. We love to get together.

From festivals and events to markets and more, there’s always something going on in Tucson. Our All Souls Procession is legendary, our rodeo is among the best, and our 4th Avenue Spring Street Fair is unforgettable. Seriously, if you’re sitting home with nothing to do, that’s on you.

19. Stargazing is epic here.

Clear skies yield some of the best stargazing you’ll find, in fact some call our fair city the Astronomy Capitol of the World. We’re near Kitt Peak National Observatory and we have outdoor lighting ordinances in place to limit that nasty light pollution. The result: you can see the Milky Way from Tucson with the naked eye.

20. Tucsonans are active.

Our abundant sunny days are perfect for golf and tennis. Our mountain ranges beckon to rock climbers. Our parks are perfection for hikers. And we’re known for being bicycle friendly. Just take care in the heat, and be sure to bring water with you when you go.

Charish Badzinski