Arizona's second-largest populated city, behind Phoenix, Tucson lies amidst the lush Sonoran desert scenery, rugged mountains, and rolling hills of this border region. Skies are clear and blue with over 350 days of sunshine per year. Also called "the Old Pueblo," the city's name refers to the volcanic mountain nearby, Cuk Ṣon in the Native American O'odham language.
Jesuits had founded the Mission San Xavier del Bac in 1700 a few miles upstream, but it was Hugo Oconór, in 1775, who established the military fort in New Spain that was to become Tucson. Aristocratic descendants of the king of Ireland, the O'Conor family had moved to Spain to avoid British rule. Following the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, the city became part of the USA, and from 1867 to 1877, it was the capital of the Arizona Territory. By 1912, when Arizona became a state, five flags had flown over Tucson: Spanish, Mexican, American, Confederate, and the State of Arizona.
During the first decade of this century the downtown Tucson Rio Nuevo project added retail stores and a community center. Historic buildings have been restored, including the Hotel Congress designed in 1919, the Art Deco Fox Theater of 1929, the Rialto Theatre open from 1920, and St. Augustine Cathedral, completed in 1896. The Broadway Village shopping center at Broadway Boulevard and Country Club Road; the Fourth Avenue Shopping District between Downtown and the University and the Lost Barrio East of Downtown, are popular shopping districts. The University of Arizona campus, and the Tucson Botanical Gardens are also located in Central Tucson. Reid Park, Tucson's largest park, includes Reid Park Zoo and Hi Corbett Field.
Trail Dust Town is an old Western movie set in Tanque Verde, now converted into a shopping mall, that includes the Museum of the Horse Soldier, with chronicles of the Western cavalry. Other museums/galleries in town include the University of Arizona Museum of Art, the Tucson Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson.
Tucson International Airport is the local public airport, located ten miles to the south, with nonstop flights to 17 US destinations. Rental cars, shared ride vans, taxis, hotel shuttles and the Suntran city bus (number 11) are the getting downtown options. All departures are from the road besdie the lower level of the terminal building.
Amtrak provides service to Tucson three times weekly on the Sunset Limited line between Orlando and Los Angeles, and the Texas Eagle line between Chicago and Los Angeles. The Tucson station is at 400 North Toole Avenue.
The Arizona Shuttle has shuttle bus service between Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and Tucson. Greyhound Lines, with a station at 471 West Congress Street, connects with points all over North America. TUFESA buses connect Tucson with various points throughout Mexico.
Suntran buses cover the region. Cash fares one way are $1.50, and free transfers allow you to change from one route to another, wherever routes intersect - two transfers allowed within two hours. One day passes can be bought on the bus for just $3.50.
The Sunlink Tucson Modern Streetcar project, expected to begin service in late 2013, will connect city centers such as the University of Arizona, University Main Gate business district, the 4th Avenue business district, Congress Avenue Shopping and Entertainment district, and the Mercado District.
Gay Tuscon has up-to-date GLBT bars and clubs listings, plus restaurant and hotel suggestions, and events and group activities around town.
Tuscon Pride events Pride Parade and Pride in the Desert, take place in mid-October.
The guys at BOTOP, Bears of the Old Pueblo, always have something on - check their calendar for monthly socials and special annual events.
The Arizona Guide, a website from the state office of tourism, explores the regions and cities of Arizona, including Tuscon.
For map locations and website links to gay bars and clubs, and some restaurant, hotel and museum suggestions, see our gay Tucson listings pages.