4 Things to Do in Tucson (Besides Shop for Gems)

Woo-hoo, you’re Tucson Bound! It’s nearly time for JCK Tucson and the rest of the area’s gem shows—and with the holiday season officially over, you can concentrate on your plans. First up: Make a list of must-see exhibitors for JCK Tucson, and get up to speed on the scheduled events (do that here). Once you’ve finalized your show plans, why not round out your itinerary with some fun activities outside of the show? After all, this is something like a vacation for many attendees—or at least it should be! The beautiful Arizona setting is not one to waste, and the Tucson area offers lots of tempting treats that you’re sure to love if you’ve got time to enjoy them.

1. Eat

Besides the fantastic (and convenient) venues offered by JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass, Tucson has a seriously awesome restaurant scene. As a matter of fact, the city recently stepped up its culinary game, opening a number of new restaurants and even winning the UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation in 2015. From fine dining experiences to casual fare, Tucson’s got it all. You can find a list of the best new Tucson restaurants here, and check out Thrillist’s Most Essential Restaurants in Tucson for all the must-eats.

2. See the Sights

Tucson is a dream for anyone who loves the great outdoors, with ample hiking trails and breathtaking scenery. From Sabino Canyon to Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway to the Tohono Chul botanical gardens, there are a lot of opportunities to enjoy the city’s spectacular setting. Consider a historic bike tour through Tucson (guided ones are available) or savor the beauty of the Southwest with a round of golf at the resort. If you have time leftover, there is a long list of museums to explore (all of them are listed here). Those walking shoes you’re packing? Not just for the show floor.

3. Shop

When you’re not strolling the aisles for gems, Tucson has some amazing shops of its own for you to explore. Browse artisanal goods and pick up some sweet attire at the local boutiques, where undiscovered treasures await. You’ll find intriguing Southwestern products at stores like Native Seeds, where spices and sauces abound, or visit Tucson Tamale Company and take home some of the area’s tastiest traditional delicacies. The Lost Barrio, located in Tucson’s Warehouse Shopping District, is the place for furniture and other unique finds, while the Madaras Gallery is a must-stop for art lovers. These are just the tip of the iceberg—or, in this case, the cactus. You can find additional shopping recommendations here.

4. Do (Almost) Nothing

Bear with us here: For those who have made the journey to Tucson countless times, or for those still recovering from a busy holiday season, sometimes doing nothing is the best possible option. The JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass offers plenty of opportunities to unwind and take it easy, whether that consists of whiling away an afternoon in the spa (body wrap and facial, anyone?), drifting lazily along the Starr Canyon River (it’s heated!), or checking out one of the resort’s restaurants, from upscale Italian to laid back barbecue. With such an amenity-rich venue, you don’t really need to go anywhere (that is, if you don’t want to).

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