Published: October 2009Best Adventure Towns

Tucson, Arizona

Plan a long weekend getaway with our Tucson adventure guide, featuring great outdoor escapes, where to stay, and where to eat. Then chime in with your picks.

Photograph courtesy of Rick Machle/Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau

Pop. 541,811
GPS: 32°12'N 110°53'W

Moab may rule the singletrack scene, but for road biking, the Southwest hot spot is Tucson, a former mining town sandwiched between Saguaro National Park and five mountain ranges. With more than a dozen local cycling groups and 475 miles of bikeways, there's a group ride nearly every day. Recent city policy has dictated that bike lanes be included on all new roads and reconstructions. "We've had a steady push for the last 30 years to make Tucson more bike friendly," says the city's full-time bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, Tom Thivener. Come November, the mercury dips to a mild 74 degrees and the pros blow in to train. (Lance Armstrong used the 26-mile slog from town up 9,157-foot Mount Lemmon as a Tour de France primer.) Off the saddle, head to University Boulevard, where the college contingent and south-of-the-border flavors spice up an otherwise earthy Old Town.

Your Turn: Tell us about your favorite Tucson adventures, restaurants, and hotels in the comments section below.

Pedal in Lance's tracks on the 26-mile ride up Mount Lemmon, or hit Fantasy Island for 19 miles of looping desert singletrack on the east side of town (from $35 for a one-day bike rental; Climbers can tackle the six-pitch, 5.8 Moby Dick route in Coronado National Forest's Cochise Stronghold ( Hike among anthropomorphic hoodoos dappled with chartreuse lichen on Chiricahua National Monument's seven-mile Heart of Rocks trail (

Cyclists fuel up for Mount Lemmon climbs with white-mocha coffee and fresh-baked baguettes at Le Buzz Caffé ( Wind down with margaritas and Mexican fare at Mi Nidito; their spicy chile relleno was a favorite of President Clinton when he dined here in '99 (

The 1919 Hotel Congress houses two hopping watering holes (doubles from $69; Cup Café for breakfast burritos and joe, and Club Congress for live music and beer. The more plush adobe Arizona Inn is landscaped with citrus gardens and provides complimentary mountain bikes (doubles from $169;

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