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46th DPS Meeting Local Activities
Last updated: Saturday
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Map

We've prepared an interactive map showing many of the locations described below, as well as the hotels and locations of other conference events.

General Info

While you're visiting Tucson for the meeting, and especially if you have an extra day or two before or after, make sure to take advantage of the many attractions in town and throughout southern Arizona. Two good general sources of information are:

Starr Pass Resort: Local Attractions

Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau

Food and Nightlife

There are many bars, clubs, and restaurants in the Downtown area and along 4th and University Aves.  Info about restaurants and other attractions in those areas can be found at the following sites:

Downtown

4th Avenue

University Avenue

We've prepared a list of some local favorite restaurants at the end of this page.

The Tucson Streetcar runs through the Downtown, 4th Ave, and University areas, and there is a station just south of the University Marriot Hotel.  Those staying at the main conference hotel (Starr Pass) can take the conference shuttle to the University Marriot Hotel (schedule here).  Day passes for the streetcar are $4 and can be purchased at any of the Sreetcar stations.  More information about the route and hours of operaton is available at the Tucson Streetcar Website, and they have an interactive map of the route here.  The route and stops are also marked on the interactive map linked at the top of this page.

If you're around Tucson before the conference, the monthly Second Saturdays event will be held downtown on November 8th.

The All Souls Procession will be held on Sunday, November 9th.  The grand finale will start around 9 pm in Downtown Tucson (info here), and is definitely worth checking out after the DPS opening reception. 

Science/Nature

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is located not far from the conference location and is a must-see if you're visiting Tucson.  The banquet will be held there and you'll have some time to explore the museum beforehand, but you may want to head back for a longer visit. 

Kitt Peak is located about 50 miles west of Tucson and hosts one of the largest assemblages of telescopes in the world.  Tours are available for several of them.  Those who are not US citizens should be aware that there is a Border Patrol checkpoint between Tucson and Kitt Peak, and be sure to bring appropriate identification and documentation.  The University of Arizona Mirror Lab on the University of Arizona campus is a one-of-a-kind facility for casting and polishing telescope mirrors as large as 8 meters in diameter.  Tours are available, but you will probably need to book a spot in advance.  Biosphere 2, located about 35 miles north of Tucson, is also run by the University of Arizona and offers tours throughout the day.

Karchner Caverns is located about 50 miles southeast of Tucson and is a very well-preserved wet cave that was co-discovered in 1974 by Randy Tufts (who later did his graduate work in planetary science at the University of Arizona).  Reservations should be made in advance. Colossal Cave is somewhat closer, located on the southeastern edge of Tucson.

Outdoor Activities

Tucson and southern Arizona offer a wide range of activities, and while the weather in much of the country will be keeping people indoors, the weather in Tucson will be perfect for enjoying the outdoors. Starr Pass Resort provides some information on activities in the area, and offers guided hikes and mountain biking.

The resort is adjacent to Tucson Mountain Park and close to the western half of Saguaro National Park, both of which offer excellent hiking opportunities, and their low elevation relative to other mountain ranges in the area makes them ideal for fall and winter hiking.  Sabino Canyon in northeastern Tucson has a tram route through the canyon as well as numerous hiking opportunities, such as Seven Falls and Blackett's Ridge. Good general hiking info for the Tucson area can be found here and here.

Keep in mind that even though it will be November, it can still be fairly warm during the day, and with exertion and a dry climate, you can easily get dehydrated.  Remember to bring plenty of water and snacks, wear sunscreen, have map of the area that you're hiking in, and if possible avoid hiking alone, unless you're on a fairly well-traveled route.  While Arizona is known for its poisonous rattlesnakes, and you may potentially see one while hiking, they are not aggressive animals and actual bites are extremely rare (most victims are young drunk males).  Some good info about hiking safety in the desert can be found here.

The Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway is a paved road to the upper parts of the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, with numerous overlooks along the way.  Because of the significant elevation change, it takes you through numerous ecological zones from low Sonoran Desert at the base to pine forest at the top.

Southern Arizona is a major migration corridor and offers world-class birding opportunities.  More information is available from the Tucson Audubon Society and the Southeastern AZ Bird Observatory.

For those interested in Golfing, Tucson offers many options with both private and city-run courses.  Finally, if you've ever had the urge to jump out of an airplane, there is a Skydiving facility about 50 miles north of Tucson.

Aviation/Military

The Pima Air and Space Museum has one of the largest collections in the world, and also offers tours of the 'boneyard', where a large number of decommissioned military aircraft are stored.  South of Tucson is the Titan Missile Museum, which is a decommissioned Titan nuclear missile silo that was preserved as a National Historic Landmark. 

Attractions on the University of Arizona Campus

There are numerous attractions on the University of Arizona campus.  Their visitor information page has  a full listing, but some highlights are the Arizona State Museum, the Center for Creative Photography, which was co-founded by Ansel Adams, the Flandrau Planetarium and UA Mineral Museum, and the University of Arizona Mirror Lab.

Old West and AZ History

If you're an old west movie fan, you'll want to visit Old Tucson Studios, located not far from the conference location, and maybe head a bit further afield to Gammons GulchTombstone (the site of the shootout at the OK Corral) is about 70 miles southeast of Tucson.  The towns of Bisbee and Tubac are both rich in history, and both have thriving arts and crafts scenes.  The San Xavier Mission is one of the oldest buildings in southern Arizona, and is located just south of Tucson.

Mexico

The border city of Nogales is about 70 miles south of Tucson, and another popular attraction is Puerto Penasco (also known as Rocky Point), which lies on the Sea of Cortez about 200 miles from Tucson.  Those interested in traveling to Mexico should be aware of the requirements and travel warnings issued by the US State Department or the consulate of your home country.

Bratfest

Bratfest is an annual Oktoberfest party run by the LPL graduate students, and this year Bratfest 36 will be held the Saturday after DPS (November 15th). More information, including location, costs, and t-shirt ordering, can be found at the link below.

Bratfest 36

Restaurant List

Tucson has many great restaurants, the following are some favorites suggested by members of the Local Organizing Committee.  Many are located along or within a short walking distance of the streetcar corridor.

Sinbad's (810 E University Blvd)
This is a nice little moderately-priced Mediterranean place near the UA campus.  They have recently jumped on the hookah bandwagon, so there may be second-hand smoke if you sit outside.  Located close to the shuttle drop off.  

Pasco (820 E University Blvd)
Located on University Ave. close to the shuttle drop off, featuring dishes made with fresh local ingredients.   

La Indita (622 N 4th Ave)
Great moderately priced local Mexican cuisine on 4th Ave., usually with plenty of room.  Accessible via the street car.

Maya Quetzal (429 N 4th Ave)
Guatemalan restaurant on 4th Ave., similar in many ways to Mexican cuisine, with its own unique twist.  Accessible via the street car.

B Line (621 N 4th Ave)
Bistro-style restaurant on 4th Ave. with a range of different foods, and good desserts.  Accessible via the street car.

Pancho Villa Grill (401 E 5th Street)
Located just off 4th Ave, the atmosphere is very authentic with no frills.  The food is very good and very inexpensive.  This is a great place to have a beer and some tacos.  Accessible via the street car.

Cup Cafe (311 E Congress Street)
Located Downtown in Hotel Congress, The Cup has good breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and a rotating display case full of house-made desserts that will convince you to get one even if you don't think you have room.  Accessible via the street car.

Cafe Poca Cosa (110 E Pennington Street)
A very fancy style of local Mexican cuisine known for their rotating menu.  You never know what will be offered, but it is always excellent.  Located downtown, accessible via the street car.

El Charro (311 N Court Ave)
Tucson's oldest Mexican restaurant and the inventor (so they claim) of the chimichanga, a deep-fried burrito.  Located downtown in the historic El Presidio neighborhood.  Accessible via the street car.

Cafe Desta (758 S Stone Avenue)
An excellent Ethiopian restaurant located a few blocks south of Downtown.  Accessible via the street car, plus a short walk.

Casa Vicente (375 S Stone Ave)
A Spanish restaurant located just south of downtown, often featuring live music.

Cushing Street Bar and Restaurant (198 W Cushing Street)
Located in Downtown Tucson not far from the streetcar line, features a range of good appetizers, salads and main courses (mainly meat and seafood).

Rosa's (1750 E Ft Lowell)
You'll need a car to get here, but it's arguably one of the best restaurants in Tucson.  Extremely good Salsa.

Eegee's (Various Locations)
A local fast-food place known for their frozen drinks, and many Tucson natives love their food as well.

Mother Hubbard's (14 W Grant Rd)
Features Native American influenced "southwestern comfort food", open for breakfast and lunch.

Blue Willow (2616 North Campbell Ave)
Serves a wide range of breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods, about a mile and a half north of the UA campus.

Mi Nidito (1813 S 4th Ave)
This is one of Tucson's favorite local Sonoran restaurants.  Bill Clinton once ate there.  The only thing more impressive than the food is the wait time.  

El Dorado (1949 S 4th Ave)
Across the street from Mi Nidito.  People often go there when the wait at Mi Nidito is too long, but the food is still very good and authentic.

Arizona Inn (2200 E Elm St)
The Arizona Inn is located in one of Tucson Historic central neighborhoods.  The restaurant is very high end, but the bar is more affordable.  Both are very good.  Located about one mile from a east end of the street car line.

North (2995 E Skyline Drive)
North is an Italian bistro in the Tucson foothills.  The menu is diverse and there is a good view of the city.  About 25 min from the resort.

Contigo (1745 E River Rd, Suite 165)
A fancy Latin American restaurant located in the Catalina Foothills.