Tucson to Scottsdale - History & Culture, Art & Design

Duration: 9 Days

Highlights:
• Explore Saguaro National Park’s legendary cacti and stunning landscape
• Stargaze at Mt. Lemmon Skycenter, home to the two largest telescopes available to the public in the Southwest
• Immerse yourself: Choose a full-day tour of one the following: Tombstone, Chiricahua National Monument, Kartchner Caverns State Park, or Bisbee
• Stroll the immense beauty of the Desert Botanical Garden, home to thousands of species of cactus, trees and flowers
• See, hear, and feel the music and sounds at the MIM Music Theater
• Explore Scottsdale's Historic Old Town, including a private tequila experience

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Tucson, Arizona

Upon arrival in Tucson, meet your private driver-guide for a 45-minute transfer to your accommodations. Should time permit, get acquainted with your guide and the region with some private touring.
Cradled in the Sonoran Desert, Tucson’s deep-rooted history blends diverse culture with breathtaking natural beauty. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, Tucson beckons outdoor enthusiasts to explore its unique desert landscape and trails in Saguaro National Park and the Santa Catalina Mountains. With a vibrant tapestry woven from Native American, Mexican, and Spanish influences, the city’s heritage is infused in everything from the adobe architecture in the Barrio Viejo district and historic missions like San Xavier del Bac to its food and the lively festivals and diverse community events. With its rich agricultural heritage, distinctive culinary traditions and delicious array of flavors, Tucson is recognized as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Whether you are seeking outdoor adventures, cultural exploration, or simply a warm and welcoming community, Tucson invites you to experience the magic of the Southwest in a city that embraces both tradition and modernity.

Nestled in the high Sonoran Desert against the Tortolita Mountains in Marana, Arizona, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain stands as Tucson's premier luxury five-star resort. Offering richly appointed accommodations with mountain views, the upscale oasis seamlessly blends natural elements, dark Mesquite woods, and Southwestern flair.
The resort's picturesque desert setting and varied offerings, from Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf, hiking and biking trails, and a sprawling pool complex and spa foster a perfect balance of renewal and adventure, inviting guests to indulge in an unforgettable experience. Culinary triumphs emphasize sustainable, regional, and organic cuisine, while the world-class spa provides eco-holistic treatments inspired by Native Hohokam traditions, promoting balance and healing. The secluded setting makes for a quiet retreat from the everyday stresses of the world.

Overnight: Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain

Meal Plan:

Day 2 - Saguaro National Park

This morning, join your private driver-guide to delve into the Sonoran Desert’s intriguing landscape. With more variety of plants and animals than any other desert in the world, the Saguaro National Park is one of a kind. The Saguaro, the most famous cacti of the region, stand proud amid the prickly pear and barrel cactus and are as individual and distinct as snowflakes. As you travel through and learn about the world’s greenest desert, keep an eye out for gila monsters and the desert tortoise. And you just may find yourself fascinated with finding the Saguaro that speaks to you the most.

Later this afternoon your driver-guide will escort you up to the Mt. Lemmon Skycenter for an unforgettable evening of stargazing and a light dinner. With access to binoculars as well as the two largest telescopes available to the public in the Southwest, you’ll be guided through the celestial wonders of the night sky. Your awe-inspiring adventure brings you closer to recognizing and understand our neighboring planets, spectacular star clusters and distant galaxies where you will feel the immensity of the Universe.

Overnight: Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 3 - Tucson

This morning, your private tour takes you back to the time of the Cold War where the threat of nuclear war with the former Soviet Union was a possibility. As the only remaining Titan II Missile site open to the public, your tour allows you to glimpse into what life was like for the military personnel who stood “on alert” day in and day out in the mid-1960s & 1970s – heightening the threat of nuclear war or preventing it, depending on your perspective. No matter your point of view, this experience into USA’s once top-secret history is sure to be a memorable one.
With your local guide you’ll descend 35 feet (55 steps) into the underground decommissioned missile complex. Visit the launch control center and experience a simulated missile launch. Then journey down the cableway for an up-close look at the Titan II missile itself. This National Historic Landmark showcases a first-hand slice of America’s dual history of nuclear conflict and deterrence as a way of keeping the peace.

From there, step further into the region’s history with a private guided tour of San Xavier del Bac Mission. Known as the “White Dove of the Desert”, the Mission stands bright and tall against the backdrop of the Sonoran Desert. Known as one of the best examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the U.S., its pristine exterior and intricate baroque interior have undergone loving and careful restoration in recent years. This National Historic Landmark and working church still serves the indigenous community for which it was founded, being attended by the Tohono O’odham Native American community. Afterward enjoy lunch (payable locally) at a local’s favorite spot at The Mercado Saint Augustine.

This afternoon broaden your understanding of the region as you go behind the scenes to learn about the long history of Tucson’s gastronomical significance. Your private guided tour through the region’s multicultural, agricultural heritage includes a walk with a local expert through a historic fruit and vegetable garden to learn about the unique ancestral crops grown here by several different communities. Along the way stop for a guided harvesting demonstration and then let your taste buds experience what you’ve learned with a seasonal produce tasting. This unique A&K experience connects you not only to Tucson’s agricultural history, but also its infusion into today’s culinary culture and the vision for its sustainable future.
After your tour the rest of your evening is at your leisure.

Overnight: Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain

Meal Plan: B,L

Day 4 - Design your Day: Choose from Tombstone, Chiricahua, Kartchner Caverns State Park, or Bisbee

Today’s full day tour takes you outside the city limits and can be customized to your personal interests.

Did you dream of cowboys as a kid? Then travel back in time to the Wild Wild West with a private guided tour of Tombstone, made famous by its 30-second shootout between Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, the Clanton-McLaury gang and others behind the OK Corral. Join folks for an entertaining reenactment of that fateful day and visit the Town’s historic Courthouse, which tells the tale of life in its mining and gambling heyday and what it took to keep the peace in the American Frontier during the late 1800s.

Prefer getting into nature? Head to Chiricahua National Monument to experience a private guided tour of the “Wonderland of Rocks”. Rumor has it that this distinctively unique region may become an official National Park in the near future. Take time to explore this still hidden gem with labyrinths of towering rhyolite pinnacles and balancing spires comprised of compacted volcanic ash before word gets out. Keep an eye out for white-nosed coati, Chiricahua fox squirrel, and the brightly feathered trogon, animals rarely seen elsewhere in the country.
Or perhaps choose to descend into stunning limestone caves of Kartchner Caverns State Park for views of intriguing and colorful formations such as impressive soda straw stalactites, ‘birdsnest’ needle quartz and brushite moonmilk flowstone. Learn about the animals who call the cave home and perhaps take some time to explore above ground in search of javelina and whitetail deer.

Drawn to history and culture? Choose a trip to Bisbee, located a mile high in the scenic Mule Mountains, at an elevation where weather tends to be cooler than its urban cousins. What once began as one of the richest mineral sites in the world and still feels like a step back in time, is now a town now rich in culture and creative spirit. Check out the world-famous Queen Mine and Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum and stroll Main Street’s locally owned and operated art galleries, antique stores, breweries, specialty food markets, and restaurants offering eclectic cuisine.
Return to your hotel for an evening at your leisure.

Overnight: Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain

Meal Plan: B,L

Day 5 - Tucson to Scottsdale

After a leisurely morning and hotel check out, meet your local expert guide for a private walking gastronomy tour through the heart of Tucson – a designated UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
Explore the cultural diversity of the region’s celebrated gastronomic history and its significance with stops at some of the city's iconic restaurants and historic sites. Hear stories about the people and traditions that have influenced Tucson’s diverse cuisine and taste the flavors and cuisines that make Tucson’s food scene unlike any other.
This afternoon your driver-guide will take you north to Phoenix and Scottsdale, twin jewels in the Arizona desert, that collectively form a dynamic metropolitan area offering both urban sophistication and natural splendor.

Phoenix, the bustling capital city, boasts a skyline reflecting economic vigor and cultural richness, surrounded by opportunities for outdoor adventures, from hiking rugged Camelback Mountain to exploring the unique flora at the Desert Botanical Garden. Just adjacent, you’ll find Scottsdale – Arizona’s luxury oasis – known for its best-in-class resorts, gourmet dining, shopping, and world-class golf in the Sonoran Desert. Visitors are easily drawn into the vibrant arts scene anchored in the historic charm of Old Town and the city’s rich past from its Native American roots dating back to 100 AD to its iconic ‘Old West’ heritage during the late 1800s. Together, Phoenix and Scottsdale create a harmonious blend of cosmopolitan energy, upscale leisure, and the captivating allure of the iconic American southwest desert landscape.

Check into your hotel and enjoy the evening at your leisure. Tonight, experience five-star luxury with a stay at The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician. This enclave of 60 secluded suites and guest rooms evoke a fresh and contemporary elegance creating a space perfect for pampering. Relax by the pool, exclusive to Canyon Suite guests, and dine on a delectable breakfast with dramatic views of Camelback Mountain just a stone’s throw away. Take full advantage of the peaceful retreat by reserving time at one of The Phoenician’s additional amenities – book a transformative spa service, catch a tee-time at its memorable golf course, or simply grab a glass of wine and connect with the desert landscape with ease.

Overnight: Canyon Suites at The Phoenician

Meal Plan: B,L

Day 6 - Scottsdale Sights and Sounds

Itʻs an early morning as you take to the sky in your private hot air balloon. Float high, up to 5,000 feet in the air for incredible views of the Sonoran Desert, and float low, near the ground to see the giant saguaro cacti and keep an eye out of local wildlife, including coyote, jackrabbits, quail, and javalinas. Touch down and dine alfresco on light fare in the heart of the desert. Grab your glass of chilled champagne and toast a breathtaking journey before you head to todayʻs next experience.

After your morning flight head to the incredible Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) for fun and exploration. See, hear, and feel the music and sounds come alive, as you find yourself surrounded by instruments – the kind played by people every day from every corner of the globe. As a VIP, you’ll meet your museum guide to go behind the scenes on a 1-hour tour to areas of the museum not generally seen by the public. With thousands of instruments on display and many more professionally preserved, you’ll find out what it takes to store their diverse collection, discover how exhibits are created, go backstage at the MIM Music Theater.

Then enjoy the museum at your own pace on an entertaining and interactive self-guided tour. With over 4,000 instruments on display with visual and audio experiences demonstrating how they are played – you’ll be taken on a rich and diverse world cultural journey that spans the history of time. You may wish to ‘take 5’ with a break for lunch (payable locally) at MIM’s award-winning Café Allegro, and then head to the Experience Gallery where you can try your hand at making your own music.

Enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

Overnight: Canyon Suites at The Phoenician

Meal Plan: B

Day 7 - Arizona Landscapes

This morning, stroll the immense beauty of the desert at the 140-acre Desert Botanical Garden. With the largest outdoor desert plant collection in the world, it’s also home to a variety of animals too. Select from several themed trails to encounter a bounty of beauty from diverse cacti and succulents to wildflowers. It won’t take long to find that the desert is teeming with incredible natural wonders.

Frank Lloyd Wright not only recognized the splendor of the Sonoran Desert but spent his life infusing nature and natural elements into his world-famous architecture. Your afternoon tour of Taliesin West, Wright’s winter home and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, invites you to experience his vision as it unfolds, like a precious flower. With your guide, you’ll spend 90 minutes exploring the site’s highlights, delving deeper into the origins of Organic Architecture. You’ll also gain access to private living spaces that aren’t available to the public not on the tour.
Enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.

Overnight: Canyon Suites at The Phoenician

Meal Plan: B

Day 8 - Old Town Scottsdale & Margarita Tour

Explore Scottsdale's Historic Old Town on today's exclusive guided tour, showcasing a charming blend of whimsy and Old West charm. Begin your private tour with a Tequila educational experience at a locals’ favorite spot followed by a stroll through Historic Old Town. Learn not only what makes this region distinct but also the secrets to some of its most famous margaritas over paired appetizers. From the Prickly Pear and Habanero Cucumber to the Cayenne with Cilantro, this Margarita Tasting Tour will be unlike any other with visits to several authentic Mexican restaurants including the oldest and historic Los Olivos “The Olives”. Enjoy time to stop and shop should you wish.

This afternoon your private driver-guide is at your disposal to do as you wish. Perhaps take time to continue shopping, go for a hike or return to your accommodations for a luxurious afternoon relaxing by the pool with your new favorite margarita in hand.

Overnight: Canyon Suites at The Phoenician

Meal Plan: B,L

Day 9 - Depart Phoenix

On this, your last day, you are privately transferred 30 minutes to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for your departing flight.

Overnight:

Meal Plan: B

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