Student Life | All About Tucson | University of ɫƵ

All About Tucson

Food • Environment • Culture

Your College Town

Tucson is ɫƵ’s second-largest city. ɫƵ – ɫƵ’s first university and home of the Wildcats – is at the center of it all. Learn more about things to do in Tucson, our famous culinary scene, what the weather’s really like, and about the region’s culture and history.


If you're looking for places to explore around town, check out our interactive  featuring students' top Tucson recommendations.


Afternoon view of the Tucson, ɫƵ skyline at sunset

Where to Hang Out
Near Campus

Students enjoying coffee at main gate square outside patio

Main Gate Square

Just outside campus, Main Gate Square and University Boulevard is where Wildcats go to watch a game, grab a burrito, socialize, or all of the above.
Map of Main Gate Square location in relation to the University of ɫƵ

Students in front of the Rialto Theater


From brunch spots to concerts, if it’s happening in Tucson, it’s happening downtown.
Map of downtown location in relation to the University of ɫƵ

Student riding bike

Fourth Avenue

Tucson’s famous Fourth Avenue is home to eclectic shops, coffee spots, and restaurants.
Map of Fourth Ave. location in relation to the University of ɫƵ

People enjoying the patio at El Mercado

Mercado District

Explore open-air markets, restaurants, and boutiques in west-central Tucson.
Map of Mercado location in relation to the University of ɫƵ

Things To Do

Top view of food dishes spread on a wood table


Tucson is a globally-recognized food destination. Tucson is the first in North America; recognized for its history of culinary distinctiveness. Explore , where you can eat tacos, the original chimichanga, and the Sonoran hot dog.


Miles Of Mexican Food In America

View of sky at dusk with Kitt Peak National Observatory in the middle

Attractions & Culture

Visit the white dove of the desert, the San Xavier Del Bac Mission. Get up-close to a mountain lion at the open-air ɫƵ-Sonora Desert Museum. Wander one the world’s largest aerospace museums: The Pima Air and Space Museum. Or, look to the stars from Kitt Peak National Observatory. .

Aerial view of bear down friday celebrations on University BLVD

The Community

Many compare Tucson to Austin and Portland – it’s a little quirky, and has a lot of character. A college town through-and-through, Tucson welcomes and supports University of ɫƵ students. There are more than 1 million people who live in the Tucson metro area, and whether you’re a local or an out-of-state student, you’ll feel at home.

Tucson mountain range background view with students rock climbing


Surrounded by five breathtaking mountain ranges, Tucson is an outdoor playground. Cycling is popular here – from cruising on campus to biking the 131-mile Loop. Wildcats love hiking Tumamoc Hill, near downtown; to the waterfalls of Seven Falls; and among the pine trees on Mount Lemmon. Also on Mount Lemmon: skiing and snowboarding.

131 MILE

Bike Loop Around Metro Tucson

Old Main building in the background with students walking dogs on grass


Tucson is cooler and wetter than Phoenix, thanks to its 2,643-foot elevation and the surrounding mountains. Tucson is in the Sonoran Desert; however, the University of ɫƵ is in the city’s metropolitan center. Tucson’s heat is at its peak from June through August; however, spectacular summer monsoons lower temperatures.

Students honoring Day of the Dead by painting their faces.


There are many to look forward to in Tucson. Admire glittery jewels at the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase – the largest and oldest in the world. A beloved tradition is the Tucson Rodeo & Parade, which began in 1925. The All Souls Procession honors and remembers, and ends with an urn lit ablaze.

Students collaborating and working together on a shared workspace


Opportunities abound when it comes to beginning your career in Tucson after graduation. In fact, about 40% of our most recent graduating class decided to stay here for work or school after completing their four years here.

Industries like aviation, space, defense, health care, and a growing start-up scene make Tucson a hub for high demand jobs. Or, continue your education with graduate research opportunities at a Tier-1 Research Institution.

Student Stories 


Road Trip Guide

While there’s plenty to do in-town, we fully support expanding your boundaries. Explore hidden gems across Southern ɫƵ, and some favorites that are a little farther.

Day Trips Near Tucson

Image of Bisbee


A destination for the free-spirited, Bisbee’s morphed from a copper mining town to a culture-filled, delightfully weird haven.

Students Hiking Mt. Lemmon

Mount Lemmon

Just an hour from Tucson, Mount Lemmon’s Northern ɫƵ-esque climate is perfect for hiking, mountain biking, skiing and more.

Tucson Sunset


A blast set in the Wild West past, Tombstone takes you back to the days of cowboys and outlaws.

Arial view of Tubac


Wander art galleries and eclectic shops, walk the Anza trail, visit historic sites – Tubac’s small, but multifarious.

Weekend Getaways

Phoenix/Scottsdale - 2 hours

Sedona - 3.5 hours

Flagstaff - 4 hours

Grand Canyon - 5 hours

San Diego - 6 hours

Las Vegas - 6.5 hours

Los Angeles - 7 hours

Zion National Park - 8 hours

Map of popular cities near Tucson

Tucson 101

Panoramic View of Downtown Tucson and A mountain


The “c” is silent – like Too-sawn


350 days of sunshine annually


The Old Pueblo

History of Tucson

Tucson’s name is derived from the Tohono O’odham Cuk Ṣon, meaning “(at the) base of the black [hill],” a reference to Sentinel Peak – otherwise known as “A” Mountain. The Santa Cruz River valley has been home to cultures including the Paleo-Indians and the Hohokam. Tucson was officially founded by the Spanish in 1775, when Hugo O’Conor authorized the construction of a military fort: Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón.

Historic church in Tucson

Plan Your Campus Visit

Experience it for yourself! Discover the University of ɫƵ – and, our beloved Tucson – on a campus tour.