A decade ago, Tucson's core was marked by vacant storefronts and empty sidewalks. Then in 2014 the streetcar arrived, bringing with it new cafés, coffee shops, and bars. Today, the area beckons with colorful murals, casually cool eateries, and a siesta-slow pace.
In this reborn downtown, it's apt that the year's big event, the All Souls Procession (always the first week in November), focuses on death and renewal. Born in 1990 out of a small private gathering, All Souls has grown into a citywide celebration. Now the event draws thousands, who gather to watch a haunting, sage-scented stream of revelers—clad in luminous wings and other costumes—march alongside skeleton-faced drummers.
Homes in hues of mint and cornflower line Barrio Viejo and El Presidio, Tucson's oldest neighborhoods. Savor the movable feast on a 2½-hour ride with Tucson Bike Tours. En route, you'll pass between 11-foot-high fangs and into the mouth of Rattlesnake Bridge.
Hundreds of murals tattoo the city, adorning hotels, homes, and stores. At North Seventh Avenue and East Sixth Street, the Goddess of Agave emerges from a wall, a Technicolor ode to tequila. Nearby, in a magical realist work outside Epic Rides, a woman's hair becomes the night sky, her dress a vibrant landscape.