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All Shapes and Sizes of Cactus at the Saguaro National Park

Standing Out in the Desert is the Mission Church of San Xavier del Bac

Focus of Student Life in Tucson is the University of Arizona Campus

Starr Bumble Bee: A Colorful Exhibit at the Pima Air and Space Museum

The Saguaro Cactus and athe Typical Tucson Desert Sunset

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Tucson - where the old west, Native America, and Mexico all meet in the Arizona desert


Tucson is home to about a million people and is the main city between Phoenix and the Mexican border, which is about 70 miles south at Nogales. There is a very strong Mexican influence in Tucson, along with Native American culture and a feel for the old wild west. It’s the mix of these backgrounds which mean that Tucson retains a unique character, and has not been over-run by modern American culture.


That isn’t to say that the city is old-fashioned. It has a big student presence as it is home to the University of Arizona, which hosts one of the biggest book festivals in the United States each March: The Tucson Festival of Books. The Tucson Gem Show in February is one of the largest gem and mineral shows in the world. Tucson is also a big music city, having produced artists including Linda Ronstadt and Calexico, and its music ranges from the Tucson Symphony Orchestra to the mariachi music of Mexico.


In the foothills in the north of the city are several luxurious spa resorts, and there is a busy contemporary dining scene, with chefs inspired by its cultural mix. In particular you can eat some of the finest Mexican food in the country in Tucson.


Its diverse background is easy to explore in its main attractions for visitors. Number one is the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, to the west of the city, with a collection of wild animals in their natural landscape. Close by is Old Tucson Studios, where classic westerns like Gunfight at the OK Corral and Rio Bravo were filmed, and which today remains a working film studio as well as a wild west theme park.


South of the city is the mission church of San Xavier del Bac, founded in 1692 and one of the most beautiful Spanish mission churches, while in total contrast is the Pima Air and Space Museum, a huge display of over 300 aircraft and spacecraft from around the world.


The most distinctive feature of the desert landscape that surrounds Tucson is the saguaro cactus, best viewed by going hiking in the Saguaro National Park, which is divided into two parts, one to the east and one to the west of the city. There are other hiking trails, canyons, and recreation areas in and around the city, making it a good place for an active vacation. With several museums, gardens, historic buildings, and excellent shopping, Tucson has a lot to offer the visitor to this part of southern Arizona.


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