Visit Tucson markets Pima County, the city of Tucson, the town of Oro Valley, and bits of the southern Arizona region. About two hours south of Phoenix, Metro Tucson is home to just under a million people and offers a small-town city feel. With ample outdoor facilities and perfect weather, this is a prime destination for your next outdoor event. We chatted with Luchie Javelosa, Director of Tucson Sports at Visit Tucson to learn more about all this area has to offer.
Visit Tucson’s mission is to drive economic development by connecting visitors with their ideal travel & meetings experiences in Tucson and Southern Arizona. Visit Tucson is financially supported by the City of Tucson, Pima County, the Town of Oro Valley and more than 500 individual and business partners.
Things to Do
The sunny city of Tucson is a world of its own. “It comes down to the community here. Off the sports field, we have really unique attractions that you can’t find anywhere else,” Javelosa says. For history buffs, the Pima Air & Space Museum houses historical planes from WWI and WWII. Over at the Arizona Desert Museum, the whole family can enjoy the outdoor museum of the Sonoran Desert wildlife and plant life.
Nature lovers have endless outdoor amenities to explore here. With beautiful weather year-round, hiking is perfect every season. The peak season is during the winter months when the many snow birds arrive to escape the cold.
The city is surrounded by 5 mountain ranges and 2 National Parks. The parks are split up on each end of the city –Saguaro National Park West and Saguaro National Park East. Mount Lemon’s peak is around 9,000 feet, offering an immersive natural experience. “You are still in Tucson, but it doesn’t feel like you are in Tucson because of the vegetation. The climate is very different. It’s much cooler and greener. In the winter, a lot of people go up there because of the snow to sled,” Javelosa shares. Many athletes train on Mount Lemon for running or cycling. Tucson is home a large cycling community across its many parks, and athletes do anything from road to gravel cycling.
After winding down the day, don’t forget to look up at the night sky! “We also have really awesome stargazing and astronomy around here. We have a light ordinance so you can see the night sky. It’s very cool,” Javelosa adds.
The First US City of Gastronomy
In 2015, Tucson was the first US city that was designated the UNESCO City of Gastronomy, honoring centuries of Mexican and Native American culinary history. “This is based on over 4,000 years of agricultural history, so these are the things that we pride ourselves on about Tucson,” Javelosa shares. The Tucson City of Gastronomy is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the local culinary community and sustainability.
The dining experience in Tucson is nothing short of unbelievable. “We like to say that we have the best 23 miles of Mexican food. Aside from more established restaurants around town, there’s the mom-and-pop shops all over the city where people enjoy really unique food.”
The most distinct, iconic local creation is the Sonoran hot dog. “It’s like a bacon wrapped hot dog and it’s put into this bun called the bolillo bun, which is soft and sweet. Different topping options include onions, tomatoes, beans, and jalapenos,” Javelosa describes. In 2018, Daniel Contreras, owner of El Guero Canelo, one of the most famous restaurants in town, won a James Beard award for his beloved Sonoran hot dog. Stop by to try it for yourself!
Home to FC Tucson Men and Women’s teams and countless large annual events, the Kino Sports Complex is one of the region’s most prized, continually expanding multi-purpose sports complex. Its latest expansion opened in January 2020, including 12 new multi-purpose lighted fields and 20 new pickle ball courts. In all, the complex boasts 20 multi-purpose fields, a baseball stadium, and the pickleball courts, and 7 other baseball fields. With over 300 acres, 5,000 parking spots, and conveniently located 10 minutes from the Tucson airport and downtown, the Kino Sports Complex has it all.
The Oro Valley Aquatic Center is competition-ready and hosts a variety of swim and artistic swim events. The year-round facility is equipped with an interactive splash pad, water slide, heated pools, a 25-yard recreation pool, an Olympic Size Competition Pool with Colorado timing system, touch pads, a score board and more.
With 205,000 square feet of event space and three flexible show facilities, the Tucson Convention Center is the premier destination for sporting events, ice shows, theatrical performances, and concerts. The convention center is the home of the Roadrunners AHL hockey team and the Tucson Sugar Skulls, an indoor football league.
UANA Junior Pan American Diving Championships
Hosted by USA Diving, the UANA Junior Pan American Diving Championships will be held at the University of Arizona Hillenbrand Aquatic Center from Oct. 7-10, 2021. The top junior divers from across the Americas will be competing in this premier event.
IWLCA Southwest Cup
This year will be the first ever IWLCA Southwest Cup in Tucson on November 6, 2021 at the Kino Sports Complex. The IWLCA, the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association, represents over 1,200 coaches and staff in the NCAA Division I, Division II, Division III, and NAIA collegiate programs. The Southwest Cup is a weekend showcase tournament for high school students to gain exposure to college coaches from all divisions across 4 full length games.
Annual Arizona Bowl Game
This year will be the 7th annual Arizona Bowl game, an exciting post-season college football game. Sponsored by Barstool Sports, the game will be held on December 31, 2021, with a 2:00 p.m. EST kickoff. The game will be broadcast on Barstool Sports media platforms. The bowl game is played at Arizona Stadium in Tucson and is a fun-filled way to spend your New Year’s Eve!
For those flying in, the Tucson International Airport offers direct flights from surrounding major cities. Renting a car is simple, and many of the facilities and downtown Tucson are a quick drive from the airport. In selecting a place to stay, there are numerous options depending on your preferences. For the utmost convenience, many hotels are located within a ten-minute drive from the airport and Kino Sports Complex. For a resort experience, there are many larger scale, luxurious options like the Marriott or Westin. Finally, for folks searching for an authentic western experience, all-inclusive dude ranches are available for lodging.
Working with Visit Tucson Sports over the years has brought our event to new heights. Their sense of community makes an impact on how organizations operate. Luchie and Nick go above and beyond. Their knowledge and respect for Tucson allows us to keep our event local while continuing to grow.-Kat Jackson, Executive Director Fort Lowell Shootout
We are currently working on bringing two events to Tucson and Visit Tucson Sports has been a pleasure to work with. Their sports director, Luchie Javelosa, has done a wonderful job in educating us on the city, sports venues and hotels. We are looking forward to a long-term partnership with Visit Tucson Sports.– Eric Carlyle, SDLT, Compete Sports Diversity, CEO
For more information or to schedule your next event in Tucson, check out their Playeasy profile!