Horseback riding lesson at White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona.

©Kris Davidson/Lonely Planet


A college town with a long history, Tucson (too-sawn) is attractive, fun-loving and one of the most culturally invigorating places in the Southwest. Set in a flat valley hemmed in by snaggletoothed mountains and swaths of saguaro, Arizona's second-largest city smoothly blends American Indian, Spanish, Mexican and Anglo traditions. Distinct neighborhoods and 19th-century buildings give a rich sense of community and history not found in more modern, sprawling Phoenix. The eclectic shops toting vintage garb, scores of funky restaurants and dive bars don't let you forget Tucson is a college town at heart, home turf to the 45,000-strong University of Arizona (UA).

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