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Why You Should Visit Tubac Art Village in Southern Arizona

Planning a road trip through the Southwest? Add Tubac to your itinerary! It may be a tiny village, but there are lots of fun things to do in Tubac…

Have you heard of the small village of Tubac in Southern Arizona? I hadn’t before I started planning our six-week Southwest Road Trip last winter. I had already traveled fairly extensively in the Southwest but this little town had never made it onto my radar before.

It’s probably because of its remoteness. Just over 20 miles north of the Mexico Border, Tubac is a popular weekend or day trip destination if you are visiting Tucson, but Tucson itself is also left off many Southwest Itineraries because of how far south and out of the way it is.

I love visiting offbeat places so once I read about Tubac I knew I wanted to visit, and our short sojourn there ended up being a highlight of our road trip because despite being a tiny village, there are actually a number of fun things to do in Tubac.

Downtown Tubac

Things To Do in Tubac

Shop at the Galleries and Unique Stores

If you only have time to do one of these fun things to do in Tubac, make sure to explore the shops and galleries that make the town a colorful, artistic, and unique place.

Explore the art village of Tubac

There are two streets in particular you should explore, Plaza Road and Tubac Road, and the plaza in between. The highest concentration of galleries and artisan stores are along these main roads and they are both photogenic and walkable with artwork lovingly laid out in front of colorfully painted stores.

You’ll see ceramic work, sculptures, and other tasteful souvenirs. Tubac is a great place to buy unique gifts and quirky and colorful decor for your home and garden.

Shopping is one of the best things to do in Tubac AZ

Visit Nearby Tumacacori National Historic Park

You can learn about hundreds of years of human history at Tumacacori National Historic Park from the first native groups that called this area home, through to its time as a Spanish mission and now as a National Historic Park.

The original Mission, Mission San Cayetano del Tumacácori, was established by the Jesuits in 1691. After being abandoned for a few years, the most recent mission on the site was built, Mission San José de Tumacácori, and was later taken over by the Franciscans when the Jesuits were expelled from the area. 

Visiting the Tumacacori Mission and Historical park is one of the best things to do in Tubac

It’s interesting to learn about the history of the area by wandering the grounds and reading the information panels, watching the film, and perusing the small museum onsite. Make sure to explore what is left of the old mission as well. There are also some short hiking trails that start in the park.

As this is a National Parks site, you will get free entry if you have an America the Beautiful Pass, otherwise it costs $10 per person.

Tumacacori National Historical Park cemetery

Learn About the Town’s History at Tubac Presidio State Historic Park

Another interesting historical attraction is the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park which is right in town. Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is the oldest state park in Arizona and is dedicated to preserving the history of the first European settlement in the territory that would later become the state of Arizona.

Tubac Presidio State Park

It was also the first fort in Arizona, the first American mining community in Arizona, and the location of the first printed newspaper in Arizona!

There is an excellent museum housed over a couple of different buildings that includes a collection of numerous artifacts from the 18th century. There isn’t much left of the presidio itself, just some small sections of the walls, but it is an interesting place to visit if you want to learn more about Arizona’s early history.

There is a small historic district next to the park so make sure you wander around and check out the historic buildings there as well.

Historic District in Tubac

Go For a Hike

The 1210-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail starts just south of Tubac in the town of Nogales on the Mexico border, finishing in Northern California. This historic trail covers the land route taken from Mexico by Spanish commander Juan Bautista de Anza in 1775-1776. It was his goal to establish a mission on the San Francisco Bay. 

The 4-mile section of the trail between Tubac and Tumacacori (8 miles out and back) is an excellent half-day easy hike and will take you through cottonwood-willow forest and mesquite woodland along the Santa Cruz River. The hike is popular with bird watchers with a high diversity of plant and bird species.

Downtown Tubac

Eat at One of the Delicious Restaurants in Town

For such a small town there are a surprising amount of good restaurants. Try Soto’s Outpost for authentic Mexican, Tubac Jack’s for live music and Southwest cuisine, and Shelby’s Bistro which offers pizza, burgers, and salads.

Sotos Outpost in Tubac

Have a Drink With the Locals at Abe’s Old Tumacacori Bar

Abe’s Old Tumacacori Bar is the oldest continuously run, family-owned bar in the state of Arizona, and has been slinging drinks for over 90 years. It’s a popular hang-out with locals, and the beer is as about as cheap as you can find anywhere in the area. It’s generally open from Thursday to Saturday from 2 pm.

Check Out the Titan Missile Museum

If you’re driving to Tubac from Tucson and gigantic missiles are your thing, don’t miss the Titan Missile Museum. Once a top-secret site during the Cold War, it is now the only location in the country where visitors can view an entirely preserved Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)

Visiting the Titan Missile and the museum allows you to find out more about a time when the threat of nuclear war between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union was a reality.

I hope these fun things to do in Tubac make your trip there a memorable one!

Tubac Arizona

Plan Your Tubac Visit

When To Visit Tubac

The best months to visit Tubac are October to April. During these months the temperature sits comfortably between 65F – 83F. The coldest month is January and although the average high is 65F, it can drop down to freezing at night.

The hottest months are between June and August. If you are visiting during this time, try to explore in the mornings when it’s cooler and stay in the air conditioning later in the day.

Fun Things To Do in Tubac

Where To Stay in Tubac

The two best places to stay in Tubac are the Tubac Country Inn, a historic boutique hotel in the heart of the village, and Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, a luxury resort set on 500 acres that is home to three golf courses, a spa, a restaurant, and a pool.

If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, these are my top picks for Tubac:

Browsing the art galleries is one of the best things to do in Tubac

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