If you’re looking for a day or overnight trip from Tucson, Southern Arizona has plenty of options — some will even give you a bit of a respite from the summer heat. Here are a few suggestions:
It’s always a cool 47 degrees underground for the Queen Mine tour in Bisbee (www.queenminetour.com). Above ground, enjoy the charming Victorian architecture of homes perched on the hillsides and visit art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants and specialty stores.
The Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Sanctuary, just south of Patagonia (www.patagoniaaz.com), is a must for bird-watchers, and in summer, the preserve attracts its greatest concentration of birds — including the exotic violet-crowned hummingbird. There are streams and three miles of easy trails. At Patagonia Lake State Park, visitors will find a swimming beach, rowboats and canoes for rent, picnic ramadas, a campground and other amenities.
Hummingbird lovers will also enjoy Ramsey Canyon, near Sierra Vista, where the canyon walls create a cooling environment. June is the hottest month, but when the summer monsoons arrive, they create a splash zone enjoyed by kids and adults alike. More information is at www.visitsierravista.com.
Tubac is touted as the place where art and history meet. Once the site of the Spanish Presidio, today it is a shoppers paradise, with art galleries, specialty stores, cafes and restaurants. Some shops have reduced summer hours (see www.tubacaz.com). You can stop on the way to see the Mission of San Xavier Del Bac, a premier example of Spanish Colonial architecture known as the “White Dove.” Founded in 1692 by a Jesuit missionary, Father Esubio Francicso Kino, this is still a working church (www.sanxaviermission.org/).
For more history, head off to Tombstone, “The Town Too Tough to Die,” with its daily re-enactments of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Next to the Boothill Graveyard, with its touching and amusing epitaphs, is a Jewish memorial dedicated in 1994 as a symbol of friendship between the Jewish and Native American communities (theres no record of Jewish citizens actually buried there). Tombstone also boasts the world’s largest rose bush, at the Rose Tree Inn Museum. For more, visit www.tombstone.web.