Discover Tucson's Heritage
In partnership with the City of Tucson, the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance has created the Discover Tucson's Heritage guide to connect residents and tourists with the cultural, historic, and natural treasures of the greater Tucson region.
NOTE: This guide is a work in progress and will continue to be updated with additional heritage businesses and events. Feel free to email us with additional eligible listings.
Introduction to Tucson’s History and Culture
Welcome to Tucson, one of the longest continually inhabited places in the United States! Here in Tucson and the Santa Cruz River Valley you can experience a nationally distinctive combination of Native American, Spanish Colonial, Mexican, and American Territorial heritage and traditions intersecting with the natural landscape. Read more
Annual Heritage Events
The Tucson community celebrates its heritage through manyannual events which honor its cultures, traditions, and natural resources. Several cultural festivals, such as Tucson’s Birthday Celebration and Tucson Meet Yourself, emphasize the diverse cultures of this place. Native American heritage is showcased during several powwows and arts-and-crafts fairs. Spanish heritage is recognized during the La Fiesta de San Agustín and the Tucson Spanish and Flamenco Festival. There are many festivals celebrating traditional Mexican and Mexican-American holidays, musical and dancing styles, foods, and arts. Read more.
Tucson’s history and cultural traditions are distinctively exhibited in a variety of crafts, the most prominent of which are iconic expressions of our Native American, Mexican, and western American heritage. These are handmade items that are part of what makes this place distinctive--cultivated and enjoyed by residents, and appreciated and sought by visitors. Read more.
The diversity of heritage destinations throughout Tucson reflects the region’s rich cultural and natural heritage. Visit Tucson to experience Native American arts and crafts, Spanish and Mexican cultures, the legendary Wild West, and the natural treasures that make Tucson a world renowned destination. Read more.
The area that is now downtown initially developed around the walls of the presidio established as a Spanish Colonial outpost in 1775. The 1880 arrival of the railroad in Tucson brought a rush of new residents, architectural tastes, and construction materials, changing the layout and architecture of downtown. Today, this area has some of the oldest and most interesting architecture in the city, reflecting the various eras of Tucson’s architectural evolution, and including both traditional “folk architecture” and buildings designed by locally and nationally prominent architects. Read more.
Tucson is located in the Santa Cruz River Valley, perhaps the longest continually cultivated region in the United States, with an agricultural heritage extending back more than 4,000 years. Over that long timespan it has also been a corridor for the cultural diffusion and exchange of foods and culinary traditions. The Columbian Exchange—the reciprocal exchange of Old World and native foods when Europeans arrived—resulted in a uniquely blended cuisine in this region. Some traditional ingredients of this blend include cactus fruits, mesquite flour, corn, beans, squash, wheat, beef, chiles, cilantro, garlic, limes, pomegranates, and figs. Read more.
Several heritage lodging options are available in Tucson, including charming inns and bed-and-breakfasts, historic hotels and guest ranches, and luxurious resorts. These accommodations offer a wide range of experiences and special services for nature enthusiasts, equestrians, and history and architecture buffs. Read more.
There are several traditional styles of music in southern Arizona, and some can be heard in few other places. These are the sounds of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and the American Southwest, and they are played on local radio stations, at annual festivals, at family celebrations, and in backyards. They celebrate the Native American, Mexican, and American heritages of the people who live here, and remind visitors that they are definitely not in "anywhere U.S.A." This regional music is unique because it is grounded in local history and the mixing of cultures that has taken place in Tucson and the Santa Cruz Valley. Many of the styles draw on each other for inspiration and instrumentation. Read more.