A Guide to Staying and Playing in Tucson for Cheap

When heading off to Tucson for vacation, take a few tricks with you to help you get the biggest experience for the smallest cost. For example, find very affordable Tucson hotels around the Colonia Del Valle area. Several hotels, including La Quinta, Days Inn, and Hampton, are in the area and offer budget rates without skimping on amenities. Whether you want to visit museums, spend your days hiking in the Arizona wildlife, or checking out the city, Tucson is full of cheap or free activities.

Stay Downtown on the Cheap

Unlike many cities, hotel rates don’t go up in Tucson just for their proximity to the downtown area. You can find budget rooms and upscale rooms downtown. Several hotels on I-10, which borders downtown Tucson on its western edge, have affordable nightly rates. Try the Days Inn Tucson Convention Center or Motel 6 Tucson for basic amenities and reasonable prices. For something more upscale that still fits in a budget, the Tucson Marriott University Park has a pool, a restaurant, and spa services.

Walk the Turquoise Trail

Tucson Arizona

One of the coolest things about downtown Tucson is its free walking tour, the Turquoise Trail. It covers a 2.5 mile loop around downtown and passes by a number of historic structures, some dating back to the late 18th century. A downloadable map makes customization easy, since you can take the tour at your own pace and visit the sites you want. You’ll never get lost, either, because a turquoise stripe down the sidewalk marks the entire trail. The map provides historical detail about the sites you see while walking, but you can customize it further by looking up some of the structures in your hotel room before you go!

Low-Cost Museum Visits

University of Arizona Museum of Art

Two of Tucson’s museums offer admission for just $5. Visit the University of Arizona Museum of Art to see European works from the Renaissance era and Modern art by artists like Jackson Pollock. The Arizona State Museum has the largest collection of Southwest Indian pottery in the world. For a completely free museum visit, check out the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum.

Explore Neighborhoods or Hike Trails

Tuscson Arizona shops

If you want to stay in town, several of Tucson’s neighborhoods are walkable and home to great local businesses. Check out Campbell-Grant for some cool local shops, or Miles East West for Cherry Field, its big park great for youth sporting events.

For those who want to get out of the city and into nature, Tucson has five mountain ranges bordering it, and myriad national parks offering hiking opportunities. Hills displaying native cacti provide low-grade hiking opportunities for those who want to take it easy. Trails up into the mountains make great day trips for experienced hikers. Some parks have small entrance fees, but hours of recreation are worth a few dollars. When in Arizona, definitely don’t forget to experience the surrounding desert in some way. The beautiful landscape is unforgettable.

What’s your favorite free thing to do in the city? Share your favorite Tucson experiences in the comments.

Author Bio: Alexandra Shostak is a freelance writer and graphic designer who likes to go on adventures, whether they take her down the street or on a road trip to another state.

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