Reader’s Request: Tucson Faves

Hiiii 😀 Happy almost-Friday! How’s your morning going? Hope you’re having a lovely day so far. Thank you so much for your tips on avoiding the takeout monster 🙂 Let’s see how I do today…

So I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write a post on Tucson faves, since it’s a request I often receive from readers/bloggers who are traveling to Tucson or Arizona. I put together a little list of my favorite places and things to do 🙂


1. Where to stay:

-Westin La Paloma (amazing pool and clean, beautiful rooms)

-Leows Ventana Canyon (also has an amazing pool and beautiful rooms)

-Canyon Ranch (all-inclusive health resort; it’s expensive, but so many amenities are offered, such as decadent healthy meals, tons of fitness classes and spa services)

2. Where to shop:


-La Encantada (this is an outdoor shopping complex and has pretty much everything you could wish for)

-University Blvd. (more local and unique boutiques, Urban Outfitters and American Apparel + restaurants)

3. Where to eat!


-Cafe Poca Cosa (for dinner- re-cap is *here*)

-Little Poca Cosa (for breakfast or lunch)

-Renee’s Organic Oven (lunch- the best gluten-free pizza, salad beasts, gluten-free sandwiches, etc)

-Blue Willow (vegetarian selections and a unique atmosphere)

-Sunday brunch (Lovin’ Spoonfuls- A totally vegetarian restaurant with gluten-free options)

-For Mexican, check out Guadalajara Grill – they make the salsa and guacamole fresh at your table. If you’re wanting the REAL, authentic thing, check out El Guero Canelo. Drink an horchata, too 🙂

-Anywhere at La Encantada

-Edited to say: how could I forget the Good Egg, Eegee’s and Beyond Bread! You HAVE to try an eegee while you’re in Tucson 🙂


4. Clubbin’

-Level (more of a “classy” club. They have a drink called the Green Fairy, which I’ll never, ever have again haha)

-Anywhere on 4th Ave – Maloney’s is our fave

-Cactus Moon (they play country.. and hip hop/top 40)

-Chicago Bar- a total dive bar with incredible local musicians and dancing 🙂

5. Sight-seeing

me and bell

-Sabino Canyon- this time of year make sure to go early since it’s so stankin’ hot. Also, they have a tram that you can ride to the top of the canyon and back. It’s a great choice if you have friends or family that don’t necessary want to walk, but would like to see the beautiful scenery

-4th Ave. There are a lot of cute vintage shops, little restaurants (B Line Cafe is AMAZING) and a couple of health food stores. It’s fun to walk around a look in the little stores and stop somewhere for lunch 🙂

-Farmer’s Markets. We have a TON- check out the Jesse Owen’s park on Friday, and St Phillip’s Plaza on Saturdays and Sundays

-Tourist traps: Gaslight Theatre (local actors who perform in a seasonal melodramatic musical. I’ve lived here forever and always love going to Gaslight shows), Kitt Peak (a national observatory), Colossal Cave (legit cave.. stalactites, stalagmites… bats… everything), Desert Wildlife museum (where you can see our crazy and cute desert creatures) and Tucson Botanical Garden


6. Where to workout

-Breakout Studios: TRX, Zumba, Dance Cardio, Capoeira, High Heel Fit class

-Red Monkey: Zumba, Pilates, TRX

-Yoga: Yoga Oasis (Anusara yoga), Yoga Vida (Bikram and Vinyasa yoga), Arizona Power Yoga (Baptiste power yoga)

-Canyon Fitness: Bodypump, Ballet workout, Warrior workout, Bootcamp, Step, Zumba

Hope this little list helped!! Have you been to Tucson? Any faves I missed?
Off to do the work thang.. assisting two dance cardio classes today, so it’s going to be a good one 🙂



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  1. Curlysar on June 30, 2011 at 10:06 am

    You actually just made me wana visit Tucson lol

  2. Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing on June 30, 2011 at 10:07 am

    This is an awesome list! If I make down to Tuscon anytime soon, I will definitely be checking some of those restaurants out. I had no idea Tucson was so accommodating to GF and veg eating 🙂 Rockin.

  3. Charlotte on June 30, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Love all the recs. Have stayed at Loews Ventana Canyon and agree that it’s phenom! If I remember correctly, I think they have great breakfasts there too.

  4. Claire @ Live and Love to Eat on June 30, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Since reading your blog and seeing photos of Tucson I’ve really wanted to visit!

    Girl, is that a real LV suitcase? That would put me back so many paychecks!

  5. Cait's Plate on June 30, 2011 at 10:13 am

    This is such a good idea for bloggers to do! Whenever I’m visiting a new place I ALWAYS want to know the best places to go and it can be super challenging to dig up. LOVE this!!

    Now I’m hoping I find myself in Tuscon sometime soon!! 🙂

  6. Jenn on June 30, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Last time I was there I tried B Line cafe for breakfast and it WAS delicious! Another fave of mine is Delectables… we always try to go there. I love that you can watch all the passerbyers at both!

  7. Mara @ What's for Dinner? on June 30, 2011 at 10:16 am

    How convenient is this?! 8 days!!!!!!!

  8. Anastasia on June 30, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I would love to visit Arizona one day and your list makes Tucson look awesome!

    I love that print! I really like Dia de los Muertos art. Do they have a lot of shops with things like that there?

    • Fitnessista on June 30, 2011 at 7:41 pm


  9. Leanne (Bride to Mrs.) on June 30, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Sounds like a great place to live!

  10. The Teenage Taste on June 30, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Jeeez, now I want to go to Tucson! Sounds like there is so much to do! 🙂

  11. Kilee on June 30, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I would love to visit AZ. I’ve never been before and it’s on my “list of places in the US that I want to visit.”

    Thank you for putting these recommendations together. I think my dream AZ vacation would include staying at Canyon Ranch, sight seeing and shopping.

    Have a great day 🙂

  12. Parita @ myinnershakti on June 30, 2011 at 10:37 am

    LOVE Tucson! I lived there for 8 months last year and into this year. I would add Lovin’ Spoonfuls to the list of restaurants – SO good!

    • Parita @ myinnershakti on June 30, 2011 at 10:39 am

      Nevermind – I see that you included it – just in parentheses. I need to learn to read more carefully!

  13. Donna @ Love, Run & Travel on June 30, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Ohhh i’ve always wanted to visit Tucson, closest i ever got was the Grand Canyon!
    I love love love the dry heat 🙂
    Thanks for all the tips, people that live there know the best spots!

  14. Jaime on June 30, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I spent the summer of 2007 in Tucson. It was my first time there and I fell in LOVE. Seriously. I have lived in Boston my entire life, so it was like a whole new world. I may just have to move there one day. Loved this post 🙂

  15. Moni'sMeals on June 30, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Cool. I actually have only been in Tucson driving through, this is GREAT to have for the future. 🙂

    Thanks Gina!

  16. Kelly on June 30, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Guadalajara grill is great — they have delicious salsa and cute outdoor seating with plenty of misters. 58 Degrees and Holding used to have great drink specials on Thursday. I really like the outdoor Wildlife museum, but I liked touring the San Xavier del Bac mission, too. The Pima Air and Space Museum is interesting too and you can take a bus tour of the airplane boneyard at the same location.

    • Fitnessista on June 30, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      true- san xavier is so beautiful!

  17. Gina @ Running to the kitchen on June 30, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Never been to Tucson but you make it look fun!
    I love the pilot’s face in the dinner pic.

  18. on June 30, 2011 at 11:17 am

    ahh i love la encantada! cactus moon!! we used to go there on wed nights i think they had dancing contests? hah thats awesome. love guadalajara grill-they have great salsa and guac. beyond bread was obviously a favorite too!

  19. Emily on June 30, 2011 at 11:19 am

    When I went to Tuscon, we went to watch the sunset at a place I think it was called Gate’s Pass. Still to this day I think it was one of the best sunset’s I’ve ever seen! It’s such a cool city to visit especially for us East Coasters!

  20. Cait @ UrbanFencepost on June 30, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I have never been to Tucson, but you make it look and sound like a great place. I would like to visit – maybe when the weather is a bit cooler?

  21. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on June 30, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Thanks for all this great info Gina! I’ll be using it if/when I ever visit Tuscon, and Arizona is definitely on my list of states to see! the workouts at those clubs sound like so much fun!

  22. Ashley @ the fit academic on June 30, 2011 at 11:40 am

    What a perfect post! I live in Tucson and although I’ve been here for almost 2 years now I still feel totally “new.” I’ve been to & done a few of the things on your list, but this will be a great reference for other stuff I should check out while I’m living here!

  23. Kali on June 30, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Yeah, definitely want to visit Tuscon now 🙂

  24. Sara C. on June 30, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I stayed at Westward Look before and loved it; the rooms are like little casitas.
    Oh and can’t forget brunch at El Charro. Yum.

  25. Heather (heathers dish) on June 30, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Oh I want to go there! We always drove through Arizona on our way to California growing up but never spent a ton of time there…seems so fun!

  26. Sam on June 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I was in Tucson last month for a wedding. Only spent a quick weekend but I loved it!! We had an awesome little lunch and dessert at the Chocolate Iguana on 4th Ave. It’s a super cute little coffee shop/bakery with yummy sandwiches. And the only sightseeing we did (other than our trek to the Amado Ranch for the wedding…gorgeous) was to see the BioSphere. It wasn’t the greatest tour, but it was pretty interesting and it was a really beautiful drive through the desert.

  27. mi-an on June 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Never been to tucson but I will keep these in mind in case I do visit!

  28. Amara@GirlinaWhirl on June 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Hey –just catching up, and …..cloth diapers?! So much better for the environment, If you’re really planning on it high five! If you can’t keep it up though don’t beat yourself up. I couldn’t do it even with my first 🙂 It sounds a lot easier than it is!

  29. kaila @ healthy helper! on June 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I really wanna visit Tuscan next time I’m in AZ now!

  30. Mo on June 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Fantastic list! Do you guys ever go to any sporting events or is that not your thang? How about local festivals? There’s a lot to do here in Wisconsin over the summer – only because we have such a short time to get out and enjoy the weather! Yesterday Summerfest in Milwaukee started – claims to be the largest music festival . . . my favorite is Irish Fest – held in the same place in August – everything from Irish dancing, to tug-o-war teams, to celtic canines, to freckle contests, to bands – a really fun event. Enjoy the rest of your week! Mo

    • Ash on June 30, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      Tucson is great for sports and outdoor stuff because the OTHER seven months of the year are filled with glorious weather. We’ve even had Lance Armstrong come here to train in the winter! I would consider Tucson very much a college town and we’re all pretty dedicated University of Arizona fans. The college sports are great and affordable (If you’re here during football season, hit up a U of A tailgate! So much fun!). Tucson has a minor league baseball team called the Padres and their games are always a good time. Also (again…the other 7 months) it is a hugely popular place for hiking, biking, camping/backpacking, and all things outdoors.

      As far as festivals go, we have a few. Tucson is unique in that it is a big city (750,000 in the metropolitan areas, around a million if you count outlying areas) and has a really small town feel to it. A great sense of community exists and we have some fun get togethers. Two of my favorites:

      Fourth Avenue Street Fair (free!)- held twice a year (usually April and December), the city shuts down almost the full length of four avenue and the streets are lined with vendors, some local, some not, selling TONS of handmade goodies, crafts, and food items. All the restaurants on the street are open and there are street performers and plenty of live music. REALLY fun. I like to use the December one to get some of my Christmas shopping done. And I know Gina’s blogged about this one! (

      Tucson Meet Yourself (free!) – This is really one of the coolest things that Tucson has, because it highlights the EXTREME diversity of our ‘little’ city. It is a three-day folk life festival that revolves around performers and FOOD. There are performances and food from over 60 different ethnic groups, all represented by people living and working here in Tucson. It’s like a little tour of the world in food (can you think of a better way to tour the world??) and the food (and art/performance) is brought to you by your neighbors. This is a really fun representation of Tucson and I didn’t have to eat for days after. 🙂

      The list could go on and on but our more famous ones include the Tucson Gem Show (largest gem and mineral show of its kind in the world), La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (Tucson Rodeo!!! Rodeo is such a big part of our history, the kids get two days off of school for ‘rodeo vacation’), and El Tour de Tucson (an annual fundraising bike race and fun ride, considered to be one of the ‘premier organized rides’ and highest fundraising rides in the country with over 9,000 cyclists participating each year).

      I’ve lived in Tucson my entire life (until my recent move to la capital/Phoenix) and I love it dearly. It is a great community to be a part of and it’s so exciting to see so many people from around the country/world interested in a visit. 🙂

      • Fitnessista on June 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm

        love the street fair and tucson eat yourself 🙂

  31. Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary) on June 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    While I was injured I discovered in the TJ’s frozen section a prepared quinoa dish. It was lightly Indian spiced and had zuch and sweet pot chunks. I micro-ed it up and then served in over raw chopped spinach with sriracha and sliced green onion. LIFE SAVER.

  32. Arianna on June 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I used to live in Tucson! I know it’s a little bit of a drive, but we used to go up to Mt. Lemmon every chance we got!

  33. Cat @Breakfast to Bed on June 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I love visiting my family there. It’s so different than most places. Canyon Ranch makes me swoon!

  34. Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg on June 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I’ve never been to Tuscon…but this is making me want to go!!

  35. Linda on June 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks for this post. We’re heading to Tucson in September for a wedding and are staying at the Dove Mountain Ritz Carlton. Looks like Tucson will be so much fun.

    • Fitnessista on June 30, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      it’s beautiful- you’ll love it!

  36. Kaylene on June 30, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    You’re making me homesiiiiiiiiick. But now I’m looking forward to my visit in August even more!

  37. Alex on June 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    I live in Tucson too! While you listed most of my favorites, here’s the ones you left out:

    Places to eat:
    Paco’s on University: This place is new, but it’s fabulous and their focus on local, organic and fresh produce really is impressive.

    Zemam’s: Ethiopian food with a bring your own wine/beer policy. This place is just amazing. Not much for ambiance, but the food is killer, and they don’t give you utensils.

    Zona 78/Harvest also have tasty food with a focus on local/organic.

    I completely second Yoga Oasis. I volunteered there for a year (in exchange for FREE yoga), and it’s by far my favorite yoga studio in Tucson. Love them. Their yogahour class can’t be beat: $4 for a sweaty yoga sesh?! Yes please!

    • Fitnessista on June 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm

      i’ve been wanting to try zemam’s!

  38. Dana Marie on June 30, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Hey gina! I am subbing a zumba class tomorrow and was wondering if for beginner Zumba-rs you use the same beats per minute? any tips?

    • Fitnessista on June 30, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      nope, i just use zumba music and stuff on the radio- the beats change for every song

  39. Kristine @ Running On Hungry on June 30, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Love these! Makes me miss living in Tucson! I think I need to come back for Homecoming this year!

    I also love:

    I love staying at the JW Marriott – even though it’s a bit out of the way, it’s beautiful and has the most relaxing pool/fire pits!

    I miss RA Sushi in La Encantada! (Is it still there?) and North was always a favorite too.

    We used to love Chopped for yummy soup and salads too! And Penguins fro yo! (Totally blanking on what the self serve fro-yo place is called by the Albertsons on Campbess that I also loved!)

    Such a great list!

  40. Aimee on June 30, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I live in Tucson, and I have to add Sushi Garden as a favorite. They have an awesome lunch buffet (for only 8.95) and incredibly happy hour prices.

    • Fitnessista on June 30, 2011 at 7:31 pm

      we love sushi garden!

  41. Nicki on June 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Love your suggestions girl! I’m from Tucson and grew up on Eegee’s 🙂 As mentioned- Mt. Lemmon is great as is El Charro (they have a gf menu). The fro yo on Campbell- America’s Yogurt right?? Love the AJ’s at La Encantada too (totally time wasting place). Hope you and the pilot have a great weekend! If you get a chance, the Farmers Market out east on Old Spanish Trail on Saturdays is a good one 🙂

  42. Nacho Lindsay on June 30, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Enjoyed your restaurant recommendations (you gave me nacho recommendations earlier this year).

  43. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on June 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    What a great post, Gina!

    I get at least one email almost daily from someone about to visit San Diego and I don’t have a master post or to-do list. I seriously need to compile something like this.

    And why was I not living in AZ when you were?! Gah!! I wish I could have had a “local” like yourself to show me the ropes and maybe I would have liked it more. I felt so…lost! the whole time I was there 🙂

  44. Ali @ urbanfruitbat on June 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    I’ve never been! But it sounds like there are so many fun things to do! I will put it on my list of places I would like to go. Sounds like a blast.

  45. Yolie @ Practising Wellness on June 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I just have to say that I adore your handbag in the picture for “sightseeing”. Gorgeous! *sigh* I’m feeling severe handbag lust 🙂 xyx

  46. Katheryn on June 30, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Regarding the restaurants you mentioned – are they kid friendly? They don’t have to have a kid menu, but we wouldn’t want to feel out of place bringing our two kiddies inside. Thanks for the list!

  47. Jen @familyfoodfitnessandfun on June 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    My parents spend their winters in Tucson, so we travel to visit them every year. My mom and I love shopping at La Encantada…love the restaurants there too! Now I want to check out Canyon Ranch, it sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing this list, I’m going to make a point to visit some of these places 🙂

  48. Tara on June 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Can’t forget the incredibly delicious egg!! It may not be super fancy, but it is super delicious. I also really like the cupcake place on University Blvd, Red Velvet Cupcakery. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but we always make a point to stop. I also really enjoyed the biosphere II, even though it’s a bit of a drive I think it’s worth it. It was really cool.
    I’m gonna miss Tucson! My brother just moved back home after two years out there.. it is one of my favorite cities ever. I know I’ll be back because I love it so much.

    • Fitnessista on June 30, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      how did i forget the delicious egg?!

  49. Katie on June 30, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    My husband’s from Tucson and always talks about Eggees, but has yet to take me there. I know it’s far from healthy, but I enjoy El Guero Canelo.

  50. kari on June 30, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    thank you so much for the information on Tucson. One day i would love to visit that city, im in need of a change to call home. have a relaxing evening.

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