This desert city dwells amongst magnificent Saguaro cacti and palm trees. There’s an indescribable vibe in this town – perhaps it is due to the well dated history here, or the hubbub of trade and life situated on the edge of a vast, seemingly inhospitable desert, once well traversed by barefoot Indians in the midst of night. In the Sonoran desert that surrounds this metropolis, you will find vast seas of cacti – everything under the sun from the “teddy bear” Cholla cactus, to the giant Saguaros, to Nopales. Lining the streets are the alien-looking Palo Verde trees which are entirely olive green, from the tiniest twigs to the largest branches.
Tucson is internationally known for its annual collection of gem shows, held every February since the mid 70s. Here, your wild imagination will be satisfied – as the entire city is transformed into a marketplace of beauty, reminiscent of a time when men on camels would be laden with goods from faraway lands. Here, sellers from around the world boast their enormous geodes larger than most of your household furniture, thousands of years old petrified wood with spiraling swirls of vibrant colour cut into gorgeous slabs for tabletops, swathes of precious gemstones like rubies and diamonds worth millions in all, and more treasures than you could ever possibly dream up.
For a day in Tucson, try out Urban Fresh to pick up some smoothies or juice and food for a picnic, and then driving out to the Sonoran Desert Museum in West Saguaro National Park. It’s a gorgeous drive, and the museum is well worth the mileage as it is 95% outdoors, and you get to learn a tremendous amount about the unique biome there. Don’t miss out on the raptor free fly event there, either. For dinner, try out Renee’s Organic Oven, where they serve organic Italian cuisine and offer gluten-free and vegan options. Or alternately, for a nice night out, the Tasteful Kitchen is supposed to offer upscale vegetarian and vegan cuisine.