My velvet escape travel tip: Tucson, Arizona

My velvet escape travel tip“ is a guest series about what the name ‘Velvet Escape’ evokes and what that would be in the hometown of the guest writer. With this series, I hope to uncover travel tips from places around the world to help visitors have a truly local experience.

Tucson , Arizona, encircled by mountains, occupies a patch of desert. So naturally, I choose an oasis as the spot for you to unwind and escape.

Courtesy of Vera Marie Badertscher, all rights reserved

Courtesy of Vera Marie Badertscher, all rights reserved

On the northwest side of town, a forty-acre patch of the beautiful and lushly vegetated Sonoran Desert contrasts with surrounding highways, malls and office buildings. Nearby Santa Catalina Mountains play games with sun and shadow on ridges and arroyos. A clear blue sky arches overhead.

The short drive from civilization through the gate and to the parking lot of Tohono Chul Park will help you slow down and adapt the energy-conserving lessons of the centuries old Saguaro cactuses that welcome you. Their arms stretch to the sky like cartoon bad guys caught by Wyatt Earp. An adobe building, once a home, serves thirsty and hungry humans at the Tea Room, while out back on the patio, fountains, birdbaths and hummingbird feeders take care of the birds. Lacy palo verde and mesquite trees shade the paths meandering through the park. The profusion of red and purple penstemon, yellow poppies and exotic shrubs confound your idea of “desert.”

Courtesy of Vera Marie Badertscher, all rights reserved

Courtesy of Vera Marie Badertscher, all rights reserved

Tohono Chul means Desert Corner in the language of the Tohono O’odham (Desert People) who were here centuries before the Spaniards founded the Presidio de Tucson in 1776. You can opt to have brunch and a glass of prickly pear iced tea on the patio of Tohono Chul Tea House and watch the cactus wrens trying to unthread the umbrella covers and lizards scurry for cover of shade. It’s my Velvet Escape in Tucson.

About this week’s guest writer
Vera Marie Badertscher, a 40-year resident of Arizona, is a freelance writer who specializes in travel with an emphasis on culture.

image159-2 She also blogs about books and movies that inspire and inform travel at A Traveler’s Library.

Read the first velvet escape travel tip: Toronto.

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13 Responses to “My velvet escape travel tip: Tucson, Arizona”

  1. 26/08/2009 5:05 pm

    Being from AZ this article was appreciated. Tuscon was named one the best places to live in America (2009). Tohono Chul Park sounds like heaven. Arizona has vast richness to it with the mountains as the backdrop. There’s nothing like going hiking at one of the mountain parks and seeing a roadrunner scurry across the road 🙂

  2. Dian 26/08/2009 1:11 am

    Vera, I’m putting prickly pear iced tea on my list of things I must try. Please tell me that that it’s only found in Tuscan so that I’ll have an excuse to visit!

  3. Vera Marie Badertscher 25/08/2009 8:40 pm

    Donna: I love the eggs benedict, too, but its so hard to choose from their menu, isn’t it?
    Mara: Should only take about 1 1/2 unless you’re in far north or east Mesa. While you’re in northern Tucson, you should also take your boys to the Biosphere. Incredible place.
    Marina: Come back any time. You mentioned my fav thing–the Tucson vibe.

  4. velvet 25/08/2009 3:53 pm

    Hi there,
    Thank you so much for your comments and kind words. Vera’s tip has certainly given me one more reason to visit Tucson one day! 🙂
    I’m also thrilled that this series has attracted a great following even though it’s only in its 2nd week. I’ve seen some of the upcoming editions and I’m really excited!


  5. Donna Hull 25/08/2009 4:05 am

    Vera Marie has described one of my favorite Tucson destinations. I like to visit on the Sunday’s that Tohono Chul serves eggs benedict although the omelet with guacamole is my second choice. There’s nothing like sitting on the back patio, enjoying Sunday brunch, while the birds flit in and out of the mesquite trees. It’s Tucson’s very own secret garden.

  6. Mara 25/08/2009 3:58 am

    This place sounds fabulous. How long would it take to drive there from Mesa? That’s where I usually stay when I’m in AZ.

    I really like this series. We could all use some velvet escapes in life.

  7. marina k. villatoro 25/08/2009 1:37 am

    I was in Tuscon a little while ago, I fell soooooo in love I ever considered moving there permanently!

    I love the desert, national parks and the vibe.


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