Sunshine, students, and the Sonoran Desert… the Arizona desert city of Tucson is a buzzing metropolis with loads of charm. But with several lovely areas & neighborhoods, each with its own unique character, deciding where to stay in Tuscon, Arizona, may not be so easy.
Don’t despair! Whether you’re looking for a cool downtown hotel or a quiet, family-friendly home-away-from-home, the Old Pueblo has a spot for everyone. From the vibrant student-centric University of Arizona neighborhood to lively Downtown Tucson, each of district offers beautiful architecture, rich history, leafy green spaces, and plenty of outdoor activities.
Need help planning accommodations for your vacation? Read on to discover more about all the best places to stay in Tucson, AZ, including the top areas, neighborhoods, and hotels to make your base in the city.
Best places to stay in Tucson, AZ
Surrounded by five mountain ranges and spectacular Sonoran Desert-scapes, Tucson has a variety of neighborhoods as diverse as its terrain.
Home to the University of Arizona, Tucson has a young, energetic vibe, particularly in the downtown and south-central areas. The neighborhoods around the University, like Sam Hughes and West University, are leafy and green, with plenty of shops, casual eateries, and areas for outdoor activities.
The bustling Downtown Tucson business and entertainment district is packed with award-winning restaurants, loads of shops, and a wealth of excellent museums. Main Gate Square is one of six smaller neighborhoods that make up Downtown and is the gateway to Tucson’s lively arts and entertainment scene. You’ll find global eateries, specialty shops, and glorious theaters in this buzzing urban hub.
Oro Valley is a peaceful haven north of Downtown with beautiful green parks, hiking and biking trails, and excellent eateries. Ideal for families, it’s one of the best neighborhoods for escaping the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoying the great outdoors.
Catalina Foothills is an enchanting neighborhood at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains with spectacular views, high-end boutique stores, and swanky restaurants. If you’re looking for a luxurious getaway with deluxe hotels, world-class dining and shopping, and fantastic outdoor activities, this is the spot to stay.
Another lovely place for a laid-back vacation is Ventana Canyon. This exclusive resort community in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains boasts condominium complexes that offer home-away-from-home accommodations and a host of amenities like a semi-private golf and tennis resort.
The best areas to stay in Tucson, AZ, are:
✓ Best area to stay in Tucson for first-time visitors and for arts & culture
Looking for all the action on your first visit to Tucson? Downtown Tucson is where it all happens! This bustling neighborhood is packed with cafés and bars, casual restaurants, boutiques and bookstores, and world-class museums. Streets are lined with old brick buildings, and you’ll find an eclectic mix of entertainment, from elegant museums and art galleries to quirky, hole-in-the-wall diners.
The cultural core of Downtown Tucson is the historic thoroughfare of Congress Street. Hip meets history on this tree-lined street where vibrant barrio dwellings rub shoulders with shimmering glass skyscrapers. Tunes float in the air from live music venues. Buzzing bars and renowned art havens stand sentry over paint-spattered startup studios.
Explore historic sites like the elegant 1850s Cathedral of Saint Augustine along the Turquoise Trail, or enjoy a game of ping-pong on Jácome Plaza. Among the most popular things to do in Tucson is to take in an exhibition at the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block and sip a cold Tucson craft beer at the Barrio Brewing Co.
Downtown Tucson has a wide variety of accommodations, from historic retreats to mid-range hotels and brand-name getaways. Expect to pay higher prices here than in other areas of the city.
Perfectly located in the heart of the bustling downtown district, the Hampton Inn Tucson Downtown is a laid-back retreat with straightforward accommodations. Comfortably furnished rooms have en-suite bathrooms and minifridges. Unwind at the outdoor rooftop pool and sip cocktails on the patio. Enjoy a complimentary breakfast every morning.
Charming guest rooms with exposed brick and wooden beams and rustic furnishings offer a comfortable place to unwind. Enjoy the picnic and barbecue area. A short walk will get you to all the nearby attractions. Hotel staff is on call 24/7 to assist with anything you need.
Expect standard Hilton amenities at this comfortable and convenient hotel off Interstate 10. Just a short walk from the Tucson Music Hall, the Doubletree by Hilton Tucson Downtown Convention Center has spacious rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city. Stay connected with free Wi-Fi and stay fit with in-room fitness equipment. Soak up the sun on the terrace next to the outdoor pool.
Trendy and chic, the AC Hotel Tucson Downtown is a straightforward hotel set in the heart of Downtown within a short walk of some great restaurants. Book a suite for extra living space and a private balcony and chill out at the rooftop pool and bar. Enjoy a delicious breakfast before heading out for the day for a nominal fee.
Set in a pair of historic houses on a quiet tree-lined street, the El Amador Downtown Luxury Inn offers a luxurious retreat in the heart of Downtown Tucson. Beautifully appointed rooms have antique furnishings with spacious living areas and private porches. Relax in the tranquil garden next to a roaring fire. Enjoy a delicious breakfast in the courtyard next to the tinkling fountain.
Luxury-defined, the Blenman Inn is a five-star hotel in the heart of Downtown Tucson with a spectacular sun terrace and outdoor swimming pool. Period furnishings adorn ornately decorated rooms with splendid en-suite bathrooms and decadent amenities. Savor a mouthwatering breakfast every morning before heading out for the day.
The University of Arizona
✓ Top neighborhood to stay in Tucson for a youthful vibe
Vibrant, youthful, and culturally diverse, the University of Arizona and its surrounding neighborhoods have a laid-back yet lively vibe. Home to a youthful and energetic student population, each district around the university has a wide variety of accommodations and eateries, plenty of bars, cafés, and live music venues, and a buzzing nightlife.
If you’re an arts & culture lover, the University of Arizona neighborhood is a wonderful place to stay. Less than two miles away from Downtown Tucson, the campus has the most museums per square mile in the state. From the Arizona State Museum and the University of Arizona Museum of Art to the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, days can be spent wandering around these incredible institutions.
Centered around 4th Avenue, the lively West University area is a lovely walkable neighborhood with local designer boutiques and thrift shops, fantastic restaurants, and buzzing bars and nightclubs. If you prefer wandering around a shopping mall, the Main Gate Square shopping mall is nearby.
The buzzing Main Gate Square district is located right next to the University of Arizona, and it’s a vibrant hub of entertainment. Haute couture boutiques stand next to UofA gear stores and quirky gift shops.
Casual restaurants offer delicious fare from around the globe, and freshly brewed coffee is also available in some of the best cafés in the city. This is also the place to be on Bear Down Fridays when Wildcats fans come out in force to support their home team.
Sam Hughes is a quieter neighborhood with leafy streets lined with beautiful mid-century modern homes and a buzzing student scene. Himmel Park is a popular green urban space with tree-lined paths for jogging and cycling and a seasonal swimming pool. An open-air theater presents performances in the fall.
The University area is very well-connected to Downtown Tucson via the city’s light rail system. You’ll find plenty of budget and mid-range accommodations around here.
Located in the Sam Hughes neighborhood, this 1933 adobe-style in has comfortable rooms with fireplaces and cable TV. Tuck into a delicious three-course breakfast every morning and relax on the sun terrace, in the garden, or next to the outdoor swimming pool. You’ll find plenty of restaurants and bars within walking distance of the inn.
This straightforward hotel at the University of Arizona is ideally located for exploring the area’s museums. Unfussy rooms have en-suite bathrooms and coffeemakers. Book a suite for extra space and a pull-out sofa bed, and enjoy access to a private lounge and a complimentary continental breakfast. Unwind in a heated outdoor pool and a hot tub.
Based on the University of Arizona campus, Graduate Tucson has beautifully appointed rooms with views of Mount Lemmon. Relax amid retro and quirky desert-inspired furnishings and enjoy designer toiletries. Grab your morning coffee in the cool lobby café and sip sundowners at the bohemian bar on the rooftop terrace.
✓ Recommended place to stay in Tucson for a romantic getaway
Located at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains in north Tucson, Catalina Foothills is a discerning neighborhood with stunning scenery, swanky restaurants, luxury hotels, and all-inclusive resorts. Elegant mansions with lush gardens rest against a backdrop of magnificent mountain vistas, and beautiful desert flora abounds.
The neighborhood’s proximity to the mountains makes it a good spot for enjoying outdoor activities. Hiking and mountain biking trails crisscross the rugged foothills – hike the Finger Rock trailhead for amazing views and wildlife spotting.
If you love shopping, La Encantada is the go-to mall for designer brands and high-end boutiques. You’ll also find a fair share of top-notch eateries and restaurants.
Synonymous with luxury, the Catalina Foothills has some beautiful boutique hotels and deluxe resorts that come with all the bells and whistles (and personalized butlers to boot!)
Nestled in the Catalina Foothills, the Eddy Hotel Tucson has comfortable rooms with en-suite bathrooms and designer toiletries. Enjoy a dip in the heated swimming pool, kick back with drinks on the patio, and soak up the spectacular views. Hike the nearby Chuck Huckleberry Loop.
Situated within the St. Philip’s Plaza shopping center just three miles from Rillito River Park, this contemporary all-suite hotel offers one-bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens and dining areas. Enjoy a grocery shopping service, an outdoor pool with a sundeck, and regular evening socials with snacks and drinks.
Dating back to 1929, this beautiful boutique resort has spectacular gardens and breathtaking views. Rustic-chic hacienda-style rooms and casitas boast Wi-Fi and iPod docks, fireplaces, and private patios. Savor a mouthwatering breakfast every morning and sip world-class wines with dinner from the restaurant’s expansive wine cellar.
Boasting staggering views of the Santa Catalina Mountains, the award-winning Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa has five outdoor pools with shimmering waterfalls. Relax in a private cabana by the pool and unwind with a wellness massage at the world-class La Paloma Spa & Salon. Practice your swing on a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course.
✓ Recommend area in Tucson for families
North of Tucson, Oro Valley is a quiet residential suburb and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, this laid-back desert community is ideal for a relaxing vacation away from the bustle of the downtown and university districts.
Established by prospectors in the late 19th century, Oro Valley (meaning ‘gold’ in Spanish) has fantastic hiking trails and world-class golf courses. You’ll find a great choice of eateries and family-friendly restaurants in and around town, and the Oro Valley Aquatic Center is the perfect place to beat the heat.
Head to the Oro Valley Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning to stock up on fresh produce, pick up some arts and crafts gifts, and meet the locals. Hit the slopes of Mount Lemmon in the winter and meander along the Pima Canyon trail in spring to see some incredible wildflower displays.
Nestled at the foot of the Catalina Mountains in the Sonoran Desert, this sprawling resort has four stunning swimming pools, tennis courts, and a 45-hole golf course. Relax in the beautiful gardens, unwind in hot and cold whirlpool tubs, and enjoy pampering treatments at the deluxe spa. Spacious villas are available for families.
Set along a cycling route, this classic Holiday Inn hotel offers comfortable rooms with minifridges and microwaves. Book a suite for extra space and whirlpool tubs, and stay connected to family and friends back home with free Wi-Fi. Enjoy complimentary breakfast every morning and relax by the outdoor pool.
Soak up the spectacular views from the outdoor swimming pool and enjoy barbecues under the stars. Casual rooms have basic amenities, including cable TVs and free Wi-Fi. Spacious suites have living areas, kitchenettes, and whirlpool tubs. A complimentary breakfast is included.
✓ Top-rated neighborhood for an outdoor lifestyle
Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains northeast of Tucson, Ventana Canyon is one of the most beautiful canyons in the Santa Catalina Mountain range. The area is home to a luxurious 1,100-acre exclusive resort community, as well as several luxury resorts.
The surrounding Sonoran Desert landscapes are ideal for enjoying an outdoor lifestyle, and you’ll find plenty of trails for hiking and mountain biking here that offer some interesting Tucson day trip options.
The semi-private Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club offers an array of upscale amenities, including an Olympic-size swimming pool, tennis courts, and golf courses.
Located a few miles from the historic cavalry post of Fort Lowell and Sabino Canyon, this high-end resort has two beautiful swimming pools, two golf courses, and a luxury spa. Deluxe rooms have iPod docks and Keurig coffeemakers, and suites have private patios with incredible mountain views. Dine on globally inspired cuisine at one of four restaurants.
Nature trails, a golf course, a luxury spa, and tennis courts, the Lodge at Ventana Canyon has it all. Located just two miles from Sabino Canyon, the all-suite hotel is set on 600 acres of beautiful grounds with incredible views of the surrounding mountains. Enjoy fitness classes and a personal trainer in the gym and relax by the sparkling outdoor pool.
Ventana Retreat is a lovely second-story air-conditioned condo that offers a comfortable home-away-from-home stay. Enjoy access to heated swimming pools, hot tubs, a tennis court, and a fitness room. Stay connected with free Wi-Fi, relax on the screened-in porch, and soak up the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.