Travel review of Tucson Arizona

Oct 4th, 2009, 01:25 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 1
Travel review of Tucson Arizona

Trip report: Tucson Arizona

I decided to stay over the weekend after a conference in Tucson. What a mistake! I hope to warn others away from Tucson as a tourist destination with my report.

My research and questioning of natives told me that staying in the DT/University area was best and that between the walkability, the trolley and the bus, I wouldn't need to rent a car. The entire trip was incredibly frustrating because maps on hotel web sites didn't sync with Mapquest or Google or maps in the travel guides, making it impossible to figure out how to get somewhere online. Misinformation abounds with the natives who have a "who cares" attitude. The visitor's bureau does a poor job of communicating the basics about getting around Tucson and hours of sites to visit so I spent my entire trip walking long distances only to find places closed or transport methods inoperable. The trolley didn't work, the bus requires exact change which I didn't have and the area is not that walkable unless you are up to 8 mile walks. Taxis were expensive, prices given over the phone doubled at the destination, they take forever to get to you and every single taxi company ( I tried 4) asked me where the places were that I needed transportation! They didn't seem to understand that knowing Tucson and getting you there was part of their job, not mine. Additionally, there are so many homeless people that I often felt anxious walking about, even in daylight.

One particularly frustrating episode was finding Uof A's Art Museum hours on the web and also asking at the History Museum for the hours and being told it closed at 5pm; walking 4 miles to get there only to have the door slammed in my face as I arrived at 4pm with a flip "sorry". Then a 4 mile walk back making an 8 mile walk for nothing. Not only were the hours not communicated correctly, but the unhelpful attitude really set me off. I would not go back to that museum now if a limo dropped me at the front door after this experience.

The bright spots were the Royal Sun Best Western on Stone Ave. which was newly remodeled in a "design on a dime" kind of hip way and well located and budget savvy and the staff were very nice, even if ineffectually unable to answer basic questions about Tucson. The Pastiche restaurant on Campbell offers great menu/food,/service/ambiance and I highly recommend it (these were the only folks I encountered in Tucson who seemed to "get" the tourist service aspect). they have been on Wine Spectator's award list for best wine lists for many years running. Also, Penguin Yogurt and Ice Cream in the University area has awesome yogurt and toppings, even if they couldn't seem to keep their tables clean and bussed outside. It's worth a stop.

Other than these 3 bright spots, I thought Tucson was a bust and I would not recommend it as a destination and I would not return. Being in Tucson is akin to being stuck visiting an incredibly dysfunctional family. Tucsonians don't seem to get how to organize themselves or to make tourists feel welcome. They are nice enough folks, but they seem completely oblivious, clueless and apathetic about tourism, about their own city and about how to treat visitors.

If you have a choice, probably renting a car, getting out of Tucson, and heading to North Arizona would be a good idea. One note here is regarding Prescott, AZ. I cruised their web site which didn't answer my question and emailed Robert, the visitor manager there with a question. He shot back an email basically saying I don't have time for your question, it's a bother and "go to our website". How does he think I got his email if I hadn't been on the website. This response turned me off enough that I decided not to visit Prescott - just the opposite of what the visitor's bureau strives for! Nice job, Robert!
nph is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 03:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 214
I am so sorry you had such a difficult and disappointing stay in Tucson and it's unfortunate you were not advised to rent a car. My family and I LOVE Tucson, have stayed in a variety of locations there but as its features are so diverse and spread out, consider a car a necessity.

Greater Tucson has so much to offer tourists with its Old West, Spanish and desert influences... southwest art, artists and galleries, a top notch Desert Museum, Colossal Caves, Old Tucson Film Studios, Pima Air Museum, spring baseball, scenic golf, horseback riding, road trips to nearby Observatory, Missile Silo, Tombstone, Bisbee, Tubac, Nogales Mexico and more. Great Mexican food, I could eat at Cafe Poco Cosa almost daily.

Old Scottsdale to the north would be more pedestrian friendly-compact with trolley transportation. Tucson is a large spread out city.
jojo46 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 03:39 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,718
Sorry your trip was a bust.
The countryside around Tucson is extraordinary. Sabino Canyon, Mount Lemmon, Star Pass, Museum of the Desert are treasures. The Mission and Tubac are scenic side trips.

You had bad guideance on where to spend your time.

Better luck on another visit.
stumpworks73 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 04:15 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 3,849
"Tucsonians don't seem to get how to organize themselves or to make tourists feel welcome. They are nice enough folks, but they seem completely oblivious, clueless and apathetic about tourism, about their own city and about how to treat visitors."

Not so for all Tucsonians. We went to a gtg of a dual poster here & at Travelerstogo Oct. '07 & had a marvelous time! They couldn't have been any nicer & I've seen them since then, at a gtg this year in Victoria,CA.

They hosted a private BBQ for the group at their home which was a beautiful adobe with views over the city to the mountains beyond.
Toured Saquaro National Park:

Went to Boot Hill:

& Tombstone:

And wonderful Kartchner Caverns:

Had dinner at El Charro & also a wonderful family run restaurant that has since closed.

Sorry you had a bad trip, but maybe you should take some responsibility for not researching enough? We had a marvelous time with our online friends there. They couldn't have been any better hosts!
olesouthernbelle is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 04:25 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 6,418
Sorry you had a bad time. I can't believe a native would tell you a car isn't necessary...I suppose it could be done, but would be unpleasant, difficult, and you'd miss the best parts of the city. Which you did. I'm also sorry no one told you that hotel is located between two parks which have probably the highest homeless population in Tucson. I rarely see homeless in Tucson in other areas (except near the downtown library and bus station - as in most other cities).
lennyba is offline  
Oct 5th, 2009, 08:11 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,854
Hmmmm...a bit suspicious...
First post by a first time poster and it's negative,
what a surprise, LOL !

I'm a native Tucsonian and have never witnessed many of the
situations you describe here.

Fishy-fishy !

razzledazzle is offline  
Oct 6th, 2009, 05:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,869
The Tucson Trolley works fine - if you are there on fri-Sun (as you were), and if you are going to places on its very limited route. It is more of a tourist attraction/working museum in itself rather than a serious urban transit system.

While there are some places to visit in the downtown area, most of tourist Tucson is outside the city proper and really requires a car.
bigtyke is offline  
Oct 6th, 2009, 06:29 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 3,125
It's unfortunate you had a bad time, and I do think you received some poor advice (you really do need a car!). But its ridiculous to condemn an entire city and all the people in it, as a tourist destination, based on a single weekend.

So I post this in the interests of providing an alternate view to people thinking of visiting.

I went to Tucson in '07 (same as OSB!) and had a terrific trip. We enjoyed Saguaro National Park, the Arizona-Sonora Desert museum, the Aviation Museum, Sabino Canyon, and other sites around the city. And had several excellent meals. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at what an interesting vacation destination Tucson was, it was a little bit unexpected. I would happily go back there.
china_cat is offline  
Oct 6th, 2009, 08:15 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 5,545
You'd think after walking 8 miles he'd have realized that a rental car would be useful. Most cities in the west are best seen by car. The only exception I can think of is possible San Francisco. Even there if you wish to explore Marin, the wine country, etc. a car is necessary.
RBCal is offline  

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