Tucson Named 20th Best City in the U.S. 2021
Arizona’s second city is ascending fast, with bold city leadership and placemaking.
Fast-growing Tucson is buoyed by its sense of place, ranking #10 in both our Weather and our Parks & Outdoors subcategories. The city is poised to ascend up future national rankings, due to a torrent of new investment in all manner of green and common space. Its new Sun Link LRT is sure to improve quality of life, creating a focus on fewer cars and more walkability that’s designed to pull the sprawling population together, closer to downtown. Urban innovation that taps its outdoor bounty by increasing access to it is not a hard sell for a town where almost 25% are aged between 20 and 34. You can thank the University of Arizona (ranked #42 nationally in our University subcategory) for the city’s youthful bounce. The desert city is also blooming economically. House prices are rising fast as the post-pandemic migration from larger urban centers powers Tucson to a Top 5 ranking in our Change in Home Prices category. Citizens are also hanging in despite the pandemic’s economic impact, ranking #21 in our Change in Family Income subcategory. All this places the city in the Top 10 in our overall Prosperity category. Good thing, too, given that the local shopping ranks an impressive #17 nationally. www.BestCities.org
Tucson Listed in Top 25 Best Fall Trips in the World
Road Bike in Tucson, Arizona
There are few better places in the U.S. for world-class cycling than Tucson—at least outside the triple-digit heat of summer. The city of 500,000 has become a magnet for serious bikers in winter, but fall may be the best time of all, with afternoon highs in the 80s (and mornings much cooler than that). The aspen and maple trees in the canyons of Santa Catalina Mountains turn bright gold and deep red, and locals come out of their summer hibernation to host a series of fall events, which includes gem shows and artisan markets that are huge draws for the artists that have put Tucson on the map. For cyclists, however, the focus is blacktop, and the sheer number of road options is the real attraction. There are easy rides, like various sections of the Loop—a 131-mile network that connects all corners of the city to one another with butter-like pavement—to classic epics like Madera Canyon, a 61 to 80 mile out and back that’s popular with the pros who train here in winter. In fall, one of the best rides may be the city’s most famous—Mount Lemmon, a nearly 7,000-foot climb over 59 miles that will take in the aspen trees in the Catalina Mountains. Back in town, there a number of new restaurants to try, including Barrio Charro, a joint project between chef Carlotta Flores of the Charro restaurant family and Don Guerra of Barrio Bread, with menu items like Southwest-inspired “tortamanos” sandwiches, with pulled pork and prickly pear BBQ sauce on house-baked azteca bread. Opening in mid-September, The Citizen Hotel (from $200) is a 10-room inn in a converted downtown building that once housed Tucson’s oldest newspaper. The property is a joint project between hotelier Moniqua Lane and Arizona winemakers Sarah and Rob Hammelman, and it will feature a 5,000-square-foot wine barreling and tasting room in the basement, an easy way to wind down after a ride. —R.K.