A Day of Religion, Spanish history, Native American culture, shopping and tacos.
Start your day at the San Xavier Mission before heading down I-19 to Tubac and then the Tumacacori National Historic Park. Lunch at Shelby's Bistro. On your way back into Tucson, stop at Pico de Gallo for an authentic taco dinner.read more
1 hide detailThe Jewel in Tucson's Crown
Our Local Expert Says:
On weekends, locals often sell fry bread and other foods under mesquite shelters in front of the mission.
The Mission San Xavier del Bac, also called the White Dove of the Desert, is nearly as iconic an image to Tucson as sunsets and saguaros. Built between 1783 and 1797, San Xavier del Bac is still an active Roman Catholic church for Tohono O'odham on the San Xavier Indian Reservation. The mission weaves together Moorish, Byzantine and Mexican Renaissance styles and is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish colonial architecture in the United States. The Mission San Xavier de Bac should be at or near the top of any visitor's list.
2 hide detailWhere art meets history
When Spaniards built the Tubac Presidio in 1752, Tubac became the first European settlement in Arizona. In the 250 years that followed, Tubac saw bloody battles with Apaches, then nearly became a ghost town, then transformed into a mining boomtown, then almost another ghost town again. But in the 1940s, the tiny community in the Santa Cruz Valley 45 miles south of Tucson started attracting artists. Today, Tubac has a thriving artists colony, a golf resort, excellent restaurants, and rich history that can be seen the ruins of the Tubac Presidio and the nearby Mission de Tumacacori, a Spanish mission built in 1691.
3 hide detailRemnants of a military fort
In Arizona's scenic southern desert, along the Santa Cruz River, lies Tubac Presidio. Within the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park are the remnants of a military fort founded by the Spanish in 1752. It was uncovered by archaeologists from the University of Arizona. An underground display features portions of the original foundation walls and plaza floor of the fort. Spanish soldiers established the fort to control the local Pima and Apache Indians and serve as a base for further exploration.
Visitors to the site will have access these fascinating archaeological remains including Arizona's first European settlement, the Tubac Presidio (1752), also the old Tubac Schoolhouse (1885) and Otero Social Hall (1914). Additionally the onsite museum has pre-European, Spanish Colonial, Mexican Republic and Territorial period exhibits, including the press that printed Arizona's first newspaper The Weekly Arizona in 1859. The park serves as a trailhead for the Anza Historic Trail.
Picnic tables are provided for to tourists to enjoy a relaxing meal and restrooms are handicapped accessible. The scenic little town of Tubac is full of art galleries and restaurants and is well worth a visit.
Recreational opportunities offered by this 10 acre site relate to the historical buildings and surrounding landscape. Tourists can enjoy a self-guided tour of the area and or take part in a birding survey, up to 180 birds can be seen at or around the park. Additionally a picnic area has been provided.
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is located in the southeast area of Arizona and is close to the Mexican border. The park is 45 miles south of Tucson off Interstate 19 near the community of Tubac.
4 hide detailA piece of Arizona history
About 45 miles south of Tucson off Interstate 10, there is a historic site well worth visiting. The old village of Tumacacori was a Franciscan mission till the days of the Mexican war of independence when the missionaries were told to leave. The mission was then taken over by the devout Akimel O'odham people, who maintained it, fighting off Apache raids until they, too, had to abandon the village. Today, an annual history festival tells the story of the mission. Each year during the first Sa and Su of December, visitors can watch demonstrations of pottery, weaving and other Native American or Spanish arts. The village bookstore accepts major credit cards.
5 hide detailSensational south Tucson taqueria
Our Local Expert Says:
The best tacos in Tucson. They’re small so order appropriately. The house salsa is excellent, but varies in heat from medium to melt-your-fillings hot.
If you don't like a little local color in your cuisine and if you don't speak or at least understand a little Spanish, maybe this isn't the place for you. But, if you enjoy authentic eats and don't need a cloth napkin to dab the salsa from your lips, you'll find some of South Tucson's most genuine and appetizing Mexican meals here. The fish tastes like it came straight from the Sea of Cortez (the fish platter has five pieces of flaky white fish, plus rice, beans and tortillas); the Carne Birria is slow-cooked, tender and tasty. Daily specials feature more great casa-style cooking. The portions are hefty.