My husband and I love to travel together but as you can imagine, we both have very different ideas about what we want to do on vacation. I like to enjoy culinary adventures, meet chefs and take cooking classes. He likes to play golf. And nap. So I’ve found the perfect destination, Tucson, a place where we’re both free to do what we want.
It may not be on your radar screen as a foodie paradise, but you’ll be surprised to know that Tucson is the first city in the U.S. to be recognized as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, joining cities in Brazil, China, Colombia, Japan, Lebanon, and Sweden. It was selected for the “region’s rich agricultural heritage, thriving food traditions, and culinary distinctiveness.” Tucson is best known for its Sonoran-style Mexican food, claiming to have the best 23 miles of Mexican food this side of the border.
From James Beard nominated chefs down to the corner taco trucks, you can’t go wrong with a meal in this town, but here are a few standouts.
El Charro Café is the city’s oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family. , opened in 1922. Locals head here for two things, its famous carne seca, a dried beef dish, and the chimichangas which are rumored to have been created here.
Along with the dozens of Mexican restaurants, more modern cuisine is also front and center in Tucson. Bird Modern Provisions & Bar has reinvented and elevated Southern classics, like deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes and grits.
Mission Garden is an edible museum of sorts, built to interpret a Spanish Colonial walled garden that was part of Tucson’s historic San Agustin Mission. The garden grows heirloom fruit orchards and vegetable gardens, plants brought to the U.S. by Europeans more than 300 years ago.
There are also a number of farmers markets as well as annual food events that should not be missed. You’ll be amazed at the diverse selection of desert-grown produce.
But its not all about the food. There’s also homegrown whiskey that’s worth a try. Hamilton Distillers, established in 2011, produces three award winning Whiskeys del Bac—Classic, Dorado, and Clear—with a goal to “make a true Sonoran Desert whiskey.”
Tucson is a golfer’s paradise with more than 40 courses that will appeal to golfers of all levels. The Tucson National Catalina Course is home to the PGA Tour’s The Tucson Conquistadores Classic is one of Golf Digest’s 75 Best Golf Resorts in North America. Its 8 lakes and 80 bunkers will challenge even the lowest handicappers.
Sewailo Golf Club was designed by Native American golfer Notah Begay to showcase all the Sonoran Desert had to offer. Its as picturesque as it is challenging with 40,000 native plants and 14 acres of lakes.
The Robert Trent Jones designed Arizona National Golf Club is desert golf at its finest, set among the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The views are some of the most spectacular in the golf world.
But this is a couples’ weekend after all so while its food for her and golf for him during the day, there’s plenty to do when you come together in the afternoon. The art galleries and museums of Tucson are unmatched in terms of their diversity and interest. There’s also mountain biking and hiking for the more adventurous, in addition to great wellness experiences and spas.