Tucson First Week or Last Week of March

Old Apr 20th, 2013, 10:41 AM
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From St Phillip's plaza, it will be over an hour to Kartchner, probably a good 1 1/4 hours. Allow yourself plenty of time to be there at least 30 minutes before your tour time. Better to see the introductory film first, although you could do it afterwards.

The visitor's center at SNP east is quite interesting. If you see everything there, it will take close to an hour.

You might want to rethink Scordato's, just because of the location relative to Sabino Canyon and the road to Mt. Lemmon. There are a coupld of very good pizza places on the eastside, which will reduce your driving significantly:

New York Pizza, at Broadway and Camino Seco -- been around for as long as I can remember.

BZ's Pizza, on 22nd and Harrison.

Book the Sky Nights program as soon as you can because it is very popular.

There are also a number of restaurants at Kolb & Sunrise, close to Sabino Canyon. The only one I have eaten at in that area is Gavi -- excellent food.

http://www.gavicucina.com/piazzawindow.html
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Old Apr 20th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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Also book Kartchner when you know when you'll go. The more desirable morning and early afternoon tours book up quickly.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 03:24 AM
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I have my airplane and lodging booked and got great rates on both. 1st week of April 2014. I was shocked-$364 for airfare from Arkansas is a bargain. Checked flying from Tulsa and it was $580 for RT flight. $119 a night for Embassy Suites Paloma Village. I ended up not using my AA points and SW doesn't book that far in advance. AA did not have any awards(as usual) that were the lower tier mileage.

I think I pretty much know where I want to eat and what I want to see. I originally had planned on doing the Kitt's Peak Observatory, but now I'm leaning toward Mount Lemmon evening program/observatory. Anyone done both?
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Old May 13th, 2013, 05:22 AM
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I've done both - but Kitt Peak was about 30 years ago so I have no idea what it's like now. I did go to the Mount Lemmon program last October and very much enjoyed it. Just bring warm clothing because it gets chilly up there ate night.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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Sorry, can't answer your observatory question, but we were in Tucson first two weeks of April this year. Weather was about perfect in our book: generally upper 70's to low 80's during the day, cooling to 50's at night. Had a few cooler days and one day of very high wind. It also rained once, while our Colorado home was getting a snow dump.

This changes year to year of course, but the ocotillo and hedgehog cactus were blooming. The prickly pear were getting started but not yet at full peak. Lots of other desert flowers out. Plenty of birds out and about. Tohono Chul and Sabino Canyon were great places to see all this.

Go hungry to St. Phillips market be sure to try some Tucson Tamales!
http://tucsontamale.com/

... Oh, I now looked back and see you have a dinner planned there, and also a meal at Beyond Bread. Perfect! Up in the mall behind AJ's is an amazingly good gelato place called Frost. We also like half-price happy hour margs at Blanco, just around the corner from Frost.

There is also an excellent new Whole Foods (opened in January) on River Road and Country Club. One of the nicer Whole Foods we've been in, a welcome addition to their lackluster Speedway store. We actually liked the deli better than AJs, but can't go wrong at either.

Have a great trip.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 01:33 PM
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We just returned from Tuscon (mid May) and the weather was warm during the day (90's) and cooler at night and windy. It was actually not bad at all and I hate heat over 75 degrees.

At any rate, Feb/March/April will be perfect weather during the day.

I can recommend a wonderful restaurant close to the university -

Social House.
446 N Campbell Ave Ste 150
Tucson, AZ 85719
(520) 747-5223


Also recommend Beyond Bread which has three locations. My daughter loves to go back to Tucson as an alumni and this is the first place they head to. (Personally I've never been - but it sounds good)!

www.beyondbread.com
3026 N Campbell Ave
Tucson
(520) 322-9965

Beyond Bread
6260 E Speedway Blvd
Tucson
(520) 747-7477

Beyond Bread
421 W Ina Rd
Tucson
(520) 461-1111
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Old May 13th, 2013, 02:14 PM
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If you're staying at the Embassy Suites near La Encantada, you have good dining at your doorstep. Both Tavolino's and Acacia are wonderful local chef-owned restaurants.
Down the hill on River and Campbell, Contigo is a treat, Latin inspired dishes, excellent. In St. Philip's Plaza on River and Campbell Union Public House and Vivace's are both consistently good. Vivace's has been around for years and you should give it a try.
The gelato shop FROST(in La Encantada) was founded by two U of A grads who brought over a gelato maker from Italy. There are three locations in town now.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 03:01 PM
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spiro, On April 6, 2014 there is an Arts Festival in Saint Phillips Plaza. See here:
http://www.fineartfest.org/

That happened to us this April as well - we only knew about it because we saw signs posted the week before. They moved the Farmers Market to Brandi Fenton Park that day. It's not far, but it's not as nice a venue (blowing dust for one thing) and not all the vendors were there. Still worthwhile.

I also just saw you already had Frost Gelato on your schedule. You've got it figured out, man!
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Old May 13th, 2013, 06:24 PM
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Nelson,
Thanks for the heads up on the likely move of the Farmers Market.

I thought I would try AJ's over Whole Foods, simply because I can go to those about anytime. We have a couple of very small WF here in Oklahoma, but we occasionally go to Dallas and there are several large ones there and two that are huge huge(spa service, gelato bar, kombucha bar, wine bar, etc etc, in house bbq, etc)

I plan on trying both- Beyond Bread and Baggin's Gourmet.

I should also say that my wife is allergic to capsacin(especially fresh jalapenos, or any pepper that is even mildly hot). This took us 3 years to figure out. She breaks out in a rash and joints swell,plus several other things. What is very unusual is that a neighbor of ours has nearly the same thing. Hers is worse than my wife as she requires an epipen and visit to the hospital. So, we are careful to avoid spicy foods, especially if it is fresh. Canned foods don't seem to have as bad as effect. So, not much Southwest/Mexican food. I do plan on eating at Tucson Tamale. She can get the Swiss Cheese Tamale. I've already called them. Perhaps the plantain tamale too.
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Old May 14th, 2013, 06:29 AM
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My wife also has a problem with hot peppers, not really allergic but riles her stomach badly, result of a stomach infection from many years ago. She has to avoid even mildly hot food. There were several Tucson Tamales that she could eat:

The Austin - Spinach & Mushroom (her favorite)
New Delhi - tasty but weird having Indian food in a tamale!
Boise - Potato based
Pumpkin - like having pumpkin pie in a tamale
Wisconsin - the cheese one.

Some of the ones that say "frozen only" on the website menu were sold hot at the market.
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 05:28 PM
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Still can't decide on Kitts Peak or Mount Lemmon.
Mount Lemmon isn't showing a "night sky" program hardly at all in March or April Calendar. I don't know if that will change or what. I just emailed them to inquire about it.

Have my air reservations, Kartchner Caverns reservation(Rotunda). I went with Embassy Suites Paloma Village for my lodging. I do plan on doing the Raptors Flight, Animals Interaction, and Live & on the Loose at ADSM.


Birdie, Do you have hiking suggestions. We do plan on doing Seven Falls @ Sabino.


Not sure what we will do at East or West Saguaro yet.
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Old Jan 8th, 2014, 11:17 AM
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Spirobulldog,

There are a lot of trail at SNP East. Go out Boradway of Speedway to the end. The is parking and trailheads. Or, go into SNP East, take the loop road and park at one of the trailheads.

Did you ever get a response on your email about the Mt. Lemmon program?

Spiro -- send me a PM (look on my profile). A few of us are getting together here in Tucson at the end of March.
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Old Jan 8th, 2014, 01:40 PM
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Spiro, I might skip Saguaro East unless you find a hike that you really want to do. My recollection (and anyone can feel free to chime in if I'm mistaken) is that the loop drive is pretty flat and uneventful. I just seem to remember being surrounded by cacti and that was about all I could see. The drive through the west section of Saguaro was more hilly and dramatic.

I believe there are some great wilderness hikes in the east section but they require a decent time commitment, more than just 1-2 hours. I did hike up one trail for awhile and it was ok but not spectacular. Some day I want to go back and backpack into the mountains. The one hike I did in the west section led to some petroglyphs but I don't remember what it was called - it was probably an hour to 1.5 hours.

Having said that, if the desert wildflowers are in bloom it might be beautiful both places. I just don't remember the loop drive in the east being very exciting and you might want to use your time elsewhere.
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Old Jan 8th, 2014, 02:37 PM
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I prefer the east sector. The paved loop road is a great way to see the park. And, with the storyboards placed at over a dozen viewpoints, a great way to learn about the Sonoran Deset climate, history, and flora and fauna.

American Southwest website has a short comparison:

"Two scenic regions either side of Tucson containing particularly dense and flourishing forests of the saguaro cactus, plus many other Sonoran Desert plants. The west section is quite developed, with many short trails, while the east is more remote, and includes an extensive backcountry wilderness"
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Old Jan 8th, 2014, 02:42 PM
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Forgot to add that the east unit is anything BUT flat. In fact, it is quite hilly. From the park website:

Cactus Forest Loop Drive
8.0 miles
Paved, and open to motor vehicles and joggers as well as bikes. The drive is narrow with tight turns and steep hills. Always ride single file and alert other users when passing by saying, "passing on your left."
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Old Jan 8th, 2014, 02:47 PM
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I'll probably hit East and West sides both. I pretty much hit every section of a national park even the part that may not be so great. Plus, you never know sometime the best things happen when you least expect it-wildlife etc.
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Old Jan 8th, 2014, 02:55 PM
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If you will be here the last weekend in March, contact me, spirobulldog
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Old Jan 8th, 2014, 04:41 PM
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We will be there April 3-7
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Old Jan 9th, 2014, 06:28 AM
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Last February after leaving Yuma, I took AZ Rt. 85 south through Organ Pipe Cactus NM. There was a loop that I took east of the highway that was interesting. There were quite a few informational signs that were keyed to a flyer that I got at the information center.
The Organ Pipe cactus is scattered among the Saguaro and a couple of other species.
Top off the gas tank in Why if you use this route.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2014, 01:57 PM
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We visited both parts of the Saguaro park and I loved the eastbloop road with many gorgeous vistas.

A favorite Mexican restaurant on the west side was Teresa's mosaic cafe.

We were not wowed by the dessert museum which was packed, really packed. We saw more from our patio .

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but not ours alone. It is expensive too.
It does have a gorgeous gift shop.
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