Whether you’re after the warm sunshine, the dry climate or the delicious food, Tucson, Arizona, has something to offer tourists and residents alike. This Southwestern city is home to the University of Arizona, but it’s so much more than a college town – it’s a cultural haven for art lovers, a destination for outdoor thrill seekers and a scenic wonderland for anyone who loves blue skies and the prickly spires of a Saguaro cactus.
With a population of nearly a million, Tucson is the second most populous city in Arizona. There are plenty of reasons to look for an apartment here, but which neighborhood will be right for you? Apartment Guide ranks the most-searched neighborhoods on the site within Tucson from Jan. 1 through June 20, 2014. Which of these is your favorite place to enjoy a margarita and soak up the sun?
Right in the heart of Tucson, the Downtown area is the city’s most-searched neighborhood on Apartment Guide – and it’s not hard to see why. With colorful buildings, blue skies, scenic mountains in the distance and giant cacti dotting the landscape, Downtown Tucson is where Southwestern culture meets modern amenities.
Downtown Tucson is a perfect neighborhood for the culture vulture – music, museums, restaurants and shops are everywhere you look. The area is an amazing mix of old and new; modern attractions sit alongside remnants of Tucson’s history. Get a taste of what life in Tucson was like prior to the 20th century at the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson, a former Spanish fort that’s now a hands-on interpretive center. Take a walk down Congress and you can’t miss the historic Hotel Congress, where infamous bank robber John Dillinger was arrested.
History buffs can get a break from the sun at the Southern Pacific Railroad Station, built in 1907, while families can enjoy the Carnegie Library, which is now the home of the Tucson Children’s Museum. And if you don’t feel like walking, hitch a ride on the new streetcar! The four-mile route is a green way to get around the Downtown neighborhood.
- Read more: How to Spend 24 Hours in Tucson
Just to the north of Downtown is Central Tucson, one of the oldest and largest neighborhoods in the city. Encompassing the Broadway Village shopping center and the University of Arizona, Central Tucson is known for being especially bike-friendly. If you enjoy getting around on two wheels, the tremendously popular Third Street/University Bicycle Boulevard provides a safe way for cyclists of all ages to get to Tucson’s best restaurants, shops and other attractions. It’s bike-only except for light local traffic.
You’ll also find plenty of museums and art galleries in the neighborhood, which is why it’s home to the Central Tucson Gallery Association. During the summer, on the first Saturday of each month, the galleries stay open late so people can stop in for some culture and refreshments.
- Read more: Best Neighborhoods in Tucson
Northwest Tucson is an ideal spot for families and anyone who enjoys a good mix of outdoor and indoor activities. It encompasses Mansfield Park, which includes plenty of water to cool off in during a hot summer day. This three-pool complex has a diving bay with 1- and 3-meter boards; a wading pool; a 25-meter lap pool and even a water slide.
Located just north of Tucson, Catalina Foothills is one of the most affluent areas in Arizona. Popular for tourists and residents alike, it’s near several popular outdoor recreation areas: Sabino Canyon, Bear Canyon, Pima Canyon and Ventana Canyon. The neighborhood is also known for its resorts, as well as the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Choose from dozens of well-reviewed restaurants, ranging in cuisine from Mexican to Japanese and nearly everything in between. When it’s time for a stroll through town, stop in at any of the upscale shops or art galleries that dot the streets. Catalina Foothills is the perfect place for a renter who enjoys the finer things in life.
- Read more: Best Places to Photograph in Tucson
Eastside is a small neighborhood of Tucson that includes Case Park. Bordered by E Broadway Boulevard to the north, E 22nd Street to the south, S Houghton Road to the east and S Harrison Road to the west, Eastside is an ideal place for lovers of the outdoors. Case Park includes hiking trails, large grass fields, picnic tables, a playground and even a butterfly/hummingbird garden.
Eastside is also known for its giving spirit. The Eastside Neighbors Volunteer Program is a popular local nonprofit that’s always looking for volunteers to help senior citizens in the area.
- Read more: Top 10 Metros for Green-Friendly Apartments
Go Wildcats! Home to about 40,000 students, the University of Arizona is best known for its College of Medicine, College of Law and its top-ranked geology program, according to U.S. News & World Report. UA’s degree programs in pharmacy, analytical chemistry, photography and philosophy are also very popular.
The neighborhood surrounding the University of Arizona is full of apartments for college students who don’t want the dorm life. E University Boulevard is one of the busiest streets in town, full of hotspots for students to meet up and have fun. When it’s time for some quieter entertainment, there are plenty of museums and galleries in the neighborhood to visit.
With a median age of just 18, the University of Arizona Campus neighborhood is perfect for students who want easy access to the university as well as the local amenities.
7. Winter Haven
Just across the Rillito River from the Catalina Foothills is Winter Haven, an apt name for a place where so many people come to enjoy mild temperatures while the rest of the country is snowy and cold. But that doesn’t mean the holiday spirit isn’t present – just the opposite! Winter Haven is famous for its annual Festival of Lights during the holiday season, which always benefits a local food bank. People can drive through the neighborhood to take in the lights, or take a hay ride or trolley ride instead.
8. Starr Pass
Another hotspot for cyclists, Starr Pass is known for its road and mountain bike paths. Located just east of the Tucson Mountain Park, which adjoins Saguaro National Park, Starr Pass is home to several golf courses, the popular JW Marriott Resort & Spa, as well as stunning views of the Southwestern landscape.
Plenty of tourists come to Starr Pass to saddle up their two-wheeled steeds and bike among the cacti, and when they return after a long day on the trails – perhaps after visiting the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum or the International Wildlife Museum — they can relax at any number of bars and restaurants in the neighborhood.
- Read more: Top 10 Bikeable Cities
Right near the center of town is the Broadway/Pantano East neighborhood, a residential area that touches the banks of the Pantano Wash. The neighborhood gets its name from its boundaries – E Broadway Boulevard is to the north and S Pantano Road is to the west.
Jesse Owens Park is a great place for a game of catch or to let the kids run around before they return to school at Harold Steele Elementary. You can also stock up on delicious local produce at the Jesse Owens Park Farmer’s Market, where neighbors meet every Friday to catch up and peruse the vendors’ booths.
10. South Tucson
Although it’s technically its own city, South Tucson is surrounded by the city of Tucson. It’s just one square mile, but packed into that square mile are many Mexican restaurants, colorful buildings and outdoor murals. Its population is mostly made up of Mexican-Americans and Native Americans.
Santa Rosa Park and Santa Rita Park are both in South Tucson, which are both great places to soak up some afternoon sun. The Children’s Museum of Tucson is near the northern border of the neighborhood, and Hwy 10 – one of Tucson’s main arteries – is just to the west, making it easy to get just about anywhere else in the city.
That’s our take on Tucson! What’s your favorite thing about this vibrant Southwestern city?