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 the 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 40,000-strong University of Arizona (UA).
Although colorful historic buildings, great bars and restaurants and quirky shops are half of Tucson's charm, the other half lies outside town. Whether it's the beautiful Saguaro National Park, the rugged Santa Catalina Mountains or the world-class Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, you won't regret exploring beyond the city limits.