How to Craft the Perfect Wellness Getaway in Tucson
Tucked away in the southernmost section of Arizona, Tucson is a wellness-lover’s paradise. The city is an oasis surrounded by the Sonoran Desert’s saguaro-dotted valleys and pine forest peaks. Here, you can spend days exploring the outdoors—by hiking, biking, or golfing—or unplugging at the area’s world-class wellness retreats. No matter which pastime you choose, a trip to Tucson is guaranteed to leave you relaxed and recharged.
In partnership with Visit Tucson
Chelsea is Brooklyn-based travel writer, editor, and photographer. When not home eating her way through NYC, she's gallivanting across the globe, sailing the coast of Croatia or hiking the peaks of Peru. Her superpowers include booking flight deals and sleeping in small plane seats.
Connect: Nature in the Heart of the Sonoran Desert
Saguaro National Park
If want room to roam, look no further than Saguaro National Park. The massive expanse is so big (90,000 acres, to be exact) that it had to be split in two sections, bookending the city of Tucson. The stark scenery is iconic for its namesake plant, which you’ll see everywhere as the park houses the largest collection of cacti in all of America. Keep your eyes peeled for the resident jackrabbits, Mexican spotted owls, road runners, and coyotes. For the best panoramic vista, trek to the overlook on the Valley View Trail (especially beautiful at sunset).
Five mountain ranges border Tucson, and Mount Lemmon is one of the most commanding peaks. This towering sky island (a sierra bordered by extreme lowlands) is the highest point in the Santa Catalinas, with a summit of 9,157 feet. Although you can easily cruise the byway’s photogenic switchbacks, passing conifer forests and dusty deserts, the best way to take it all in requires a bit more adventure—and adrenaline. Consider trekking in the backcountry, rock climbing in the canyons, or pedaling the famous cycling routes. It’s even ideal at night due to the crystal clear stargazing at the SkyCenter Observatory.
Unplug: Wellness Resorts, Spas, and Glamping
Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa
Miraval is no newcomer to the wellness world. But the resort is getting a fresh face with its recently revamped Life in Balance spa. The six Clodagh-designed spa tents set the scene for holistic treatments and therapies customized to heal the body, mind, and spirit. Don’t miss the Sonoran Body Polish or the Näga massage, using silk strands and gravity. The best part? The 500-acre resort is all-inclusive, so you can still splurge for that poolside cocktail as well as partake in a roster of 90 weekly classes, ranging from dance fusion to horse grooming.
RELATED: 11 Wellness Retreats to Check Out in 2019
Canyon Ranch Tucson
Check in and bliss out at Canyon Ranch’s original outpost. The resort has been a pioneer of the wellness movement for more than four decades. The beating heart of the property is its 80,000-square-foot spa, where you can schedule a water-based massage in a steam room and hydrotherapy tub, inspired by the region’s Native American sweat lodges. But it’s not all fun and games if you don’t want it to be; a vigorous exercise routine and meal plan can be personalized by a staff of fitness trainers, nutritionists, and medical experts. Healthy eaters will also love the fresh, gourmet food, culinary classes, and alcohol-free menus (this is a detox, after all).
Communing with nature has never looked this luxurious. Set on 60,000 sprawling desert acres at Tanque Verde Ranch, Under Canvas’s 27 glamping tents (just opened last December) offer unparalleled access to Tucson’s diverse landscapes. Choose from a range of family-friendly activities, including horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, and more. At the end of the day, when you want to refuel, join the cowboy cookouts for a true Southwestern experience.
RELATED: 9 Best Glamping Retreats to Visit This Fall
Recharge: Tucson’s Cultural and Culinary Experiences
Pueblo Vida Brewing Co.
One of Tucson’s greatest surprises is its red-hot restaurant scene. (In fact, the city was awarded a UNESCO City of Gastronomy thanks to its Mexican and Native American food culture that dates back 4,000 years.) Today, you’ll find a blend of artful chefs and creative brewmasters adding layers to the city’s already impressive offerings. A favorite local spot to sip some suds is Pueblo Vida. Beyond bellying up to the bar, check out the calendar of events, such as the crowd-pleasing Pints and Poses, a yoga and beer drinking class held in the middle of the craft brewery.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Don’t let the name fool you—this is more than your average museum. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a 98-acre cultural hub, featuring a zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, natural history museum, and art gallery. As almost all of the museum is outside, you’re able to get up close and personal with the flora and fauna (including the park’s 200+ animal species) on a guided nature walk or free desert discovery tour.
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