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Driving Southern Arizona

200907-a-weekend-getaways

Photo: Buff Strickland

All hail the saguaro—a plant that can weigh up to eight tons and live more than 150 years, and thrives in the harsh light of the Sonoran Desert. It’s the de facto icon of southern Arizona, a parched and prickly region of acacia, mesquite, and cacti, complete with the odd rattlesnake. Yet you’ll also find mountains, sometimes even snow; a vibrant culinary scene; and hiking trails that lead to sacred tribal lands and centuries-old Spanish missions. This isn’t your average desert adventure.

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Destinations: Arizona · Tucson · The Tucson Area · Tubac

Themes: Road Trip

Inspired by: 3 Southwestern Weekend Getaways — by Katie Arnold, Published Jun. 2009

Hotels (4)

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    Tanque Verde Ranch

    An upscale, 60,000-acre resort near Tucson, Tanque Verde is best visited in spring or fall, when temperatures are cooler and the desert more lush.

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    Arizona Inn

    Just north of the university, 14 sublimely private and controlled acres deploy a succession of gardens crazed with flowers and trees, separated by

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    Hacienda del Sol Ranch Resort

    Hammered-tin lamps and carved-beam ceilings add old-world atmosphere to this charming property. Set in the Catalina foothills, the 1929 former girl

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    Hotel Congress

    This refurbished 1919 hotel built for passengers of the Southern Pacific Line has basic rooms but an unbeatable downtown location. It even played a

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Restaurants (2)

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    Cow Palace

    John Wayne ate here, so a meal is obligatory for all True Grit fans. Keep in mind: real cowboys order steak. And don’t let the kitschy steer on the

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    Wisdom's Cafe

    The lovable dive, has been serving tasty beef enchiladas for more than 60 years and three generations. Order one of their mason-jar margaritas and

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Activities (8)

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    Tumacacori National Historical Park

    The remnants of not one but three Spanish missions are on hand at Tumacacori National Historical Park, accessible via a 41/2-mile trail from Tubac.

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    Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory

    One of the world’s largest telescopes sits atop Mount Hopkins. Amateur astronomers can check out the scaled-down models at the visitors’ center, 10

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    Old Town Artisans

    Once a fort that marked the northern frontier of New Spain, the 150-year-old Old Town Artisans houses a cluster of charming shops (although the tur

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    W Boutique

    The two locations are good sources for warm-weather staples, including slouchy linen pants by Georgie and Warhol-print swimsuits by Diane von Furst

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    Mesquite Valley Growers

    Seventeen acres of prickles and thorns mean heaven for succulent lovers at this nursery that stocks a vast selection of garden art.

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    DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun

    Whether or not you’re a fan of Ted DeGrazia’s much reproduced art, the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is worth a visit: the adobe walls seem to glow i

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    Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop

    The shop sells sinful slabs of homemade fudge (locals swear by the cookie-dough variety).

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    Saguaro National Park

    Hike the sprawling preserve of mature saguaro stands (found only in the Sonoran Desert). Go to the west side to see petroglyphs left by the Hohokam

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