After a quick trip down to Tucson over the weekend, I thought it would be fun to share some of the quirkier spots around the city. Whenever I travel anywhere, I always try to find the quirkier/off-the-beaten-path attractions instead of or in addition to the more popular ones. Variety is the spice of life, right? I even have a couple (as in more than one) guidebooks for quirky Arizona and I’m determined to see as many sites as I can while I’m here (smile)! So today’s overview will be a mixture and just a taste of all the fun things that Tucson has to offer!
Complete with fangs and a tail that rattles (thanks to a motion sensor tucked away somewhere), this Diamondback rattlesnake stands guard as a pedestrian bridge over Broadway Boulevard. You do have to know where you’re going to find this bridge, but it’s worth the search. There’s a park on one side complete with picnic tables and swings for the kids (or the young at heart).
El Tiradito (The Wishing Shrine)
The Wishing Shrine is located in the Old Barrio section of downtown Tucson. As the story goes, this is the only Catholic shrine in the US dedicated to a sinner buried in unconsecrated ground. It’s said that the man buried there died fighting for his love. Visitors light candles for the man’s soul to be freed from purgatory and many leave written prayers for the healing of broken hearts. I fully admit that it’s the story that caught my attention. This place also takes a little searching and there’s not really much there, but it’s hard not to be taken in to the spirit of the place. An extra candle can’t hurt.
Mission San Xavier del Bac
The Mission is a historic Spanish Catholic mission located approximately 10 miles south of Tucson on the Tohono O’odham San Xavier Indian Reservation. As you’re driving down Interstate 19, it’s pretty hard to miss the building. The Mission was founded in 1692 and is absolutely beautiful. It’s literally a photographer’s dream come true (or at least one’s like me that love old religious buildings). The bright white building cannot help standout against the desert landscape, and if you’re lucky enough to be there when there are storm clouds rolling in you’ve found pure magic. The inside of the church is simple yet stunning nonetheless. There’s a small gift shop as well as an information room. Depending on when you go, some of the local Native Americans set up stalls in the parking lot to sell fry bread (heavenly) and various crafts.
Perhaps my favorite part of Tucson is how well it’s aged. It’s the second largest city in Arizona behind Phoenix, but it’s not as botoxed. Not to say it’s not a modern city, but a lot of effort has gone into retaining the old architecture and the neighborhood feel. One of my favorite activities is simply driving/walking around town to see what can be seen. Tucson boasts one of the largest gem and mineral shows in the world, a huge book fair, and several other events throughout the year. It’s a nice break from Phoenix and a lovely place for exploring new (and sometimes somewhat random) places.
Come travel along!!