Road Scholar : Home
Signature City Tucson

Program Number: 20397RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/4/2012 - 11/9/2012; 2/29/2016 - 3/5/2016; 3/7/2016 - 3/12/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Price starting at: $825.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Signature Cities Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

In a high-desert valley surrounded by four mountain ranges, Tucson has emerged from a landscape inhabited by Native Americans 12,000 years ago to become a cosmopolitan city of a half-million — alternately shaped by Spanish invasion, Mexican jurisdiction, Old West settlers and the founding of a major university in 1885. Discover this fascinating evolution during a remarkable city adventure that delves into the area’s archaeology, desert landscapes, arts and music, museums, sumptuous local cuisine and more.


• On a field trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, explore a world-class zoo, natural history museum and botanic garden.
• Visit the studio and gallery of the late Arizona artist Ted DeGrazia.
• Experience some of Tucson's special highlights.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile over uneven terrain, standing up to one hour.

Date Specific Information


Participants will take a guided tour of the Mirror Lab on University of Arizona campus. You'll have a behind-the-scenes look at ground breaking work being done with cutting-edge optical technology ahd the revolutionary spin-casting processes that are making telescope mirrors which will change the way we explore the Universe! Current endeavors include the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Giant Magellan Telescope that will be better than the most advanced telescope ever built.


This program date includes a field trip to Tombstone.


This program date includes a field trip to Tubac.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.


Cactus forests, craggy mountains and rolling hills surround this temperate city, which lies in the borderlands of the U.S. and Mexico. The region reflects a blending of the two cultures, along with a history of Native American settlement. The city is dotted with museums, galleries and parks that celebrate this natural and historical diversity.

Suite in a comfortable hotel.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
James Turner

James Turner has a master’s degree in U.S. history and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the University of Arizona. He has been a teacher of Arizona history since 1976. In 2001, he began his career as historian for the Arizona Historical Society, where his chief duty was to support non-profit history museums throughout the state. James enjoys sharing his knowledge on the history of Arizona, the Southwest and Mexico during classes for the museum docents and general public.
Bill Ganz

Bill Ganz is a natural musician, and he’s been singing and playing western music for the last 25 years. Whether playing at campfires, guest ranches or major resorts, he always brings the authentic feel of Arizona to his music. He has performed for the last 20 years with his band, The Bill Ganz Western Band, which has appeared for a series of concerts with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. In addition to performing, Bill teaches private lessons and has been involved in many independent recording projects.
Lisa Wilder

Lisa Wilder is a former environmental field program leader at Antioch College and the University of California, as well as a wilderness skills instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School. In 2001, she moved to Guatemala to learn Spanish and began a fair trade beadwork business working with Mayan artisans. She currently lives in remote New Mexico, where she homesteads.
Meals and Lodgings
   Radisson Suites Tucson
  Tucson, AZ 5 nights
 Radisson Suites Tucson
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The Radisson Suites Tucson features 299 two-room suites with separate living and sleeping areas, and an extra-large bathroom with two vanities. Private balconies present a glimpse of the famed mountain scenery of the Southwest. Refrigerator and microwave in rooms. Located just 20 minutes from the airport and eight miles from the University of Arizona, the hotel is situated in an upscale neighborhood on the city's east side. Guests have access to over 50 restaurants along the famed Restaurant Row, a wealth of museums to visit, and a nearby world-class golf course. Hotel will tranport participants via van to any attractions within a three-mile radius.
  Contact info: 6555 East Speedway Boulevard
Tucson, AZ 85710 USA
phone: 520-721-7100
  Room amenities: Bathrooms include two vanities, a separate tub and shower, and a dressing area. Separate living and sleeping quarters each feature their own TV and phone. Plush feather and down pillows. Most suites have private balconies. Complimentary Wireless high-speed Internet, microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makes, hair dryers, sleeper sofas, oversized desks with executive chairs, two phones with cordless speaker option and voice mail, flat screen televisions in both rooms, controlled HVAC. Room service available.
  Facility amenities: Hotel features oversized temperature-controlled pool with hydro-spa, onsite fitness room featuring Life Fitness equipment, courtyard-style garden settings, full-service business center, coin-operated laundry facilities, complimentary high-speed Internet available throughout the hotel, recreation room, complimentary shuttle service within a three-mile radius, free onsite parking, poolside meal and cocktail service, valet laundry service, free passes to nearby Gold's Gym, hotel shuttle service to and from Tucson International Airport ($15 per person each way), beautifully landscaped courtyard, stunning mountain views. The hotel is in the process of "going green" and has made many changes to become more energy-efficient. A recycling program is in place, fruit-bearing trees are located throughout the property and in the orange groves and guests are encouraged to pick and consume as much fruit as they like. There are many more improvements to mention, but you'll receive a listing of how the Radisson is "going green."
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Road Scholar rate Hotel will extend the Road Scholar group rate to participants wishing to come in early or stay late. This rate extends to three nights before the program begins and to three nights after the program ends. Rates are seasonal.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Road Scholar rate Hotel will extend the Road Scholar group rate to participants wishing to come in early or stay late. This rate extends to three nights before the program begins and to three nights after the program ends. Rates are seasonal.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check in at hotel anytime between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM; register with program's group leader between 4:00 and 5:30 PM in hotel lobby area. You will be staying at Radisson Suites Tucson that night.
  End of Program:
Check out time - Noon at lobby desk. You will be staying at Radisson Suites Tucson the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free hotel parking.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Tucson, AZ
  Nearest city or town:  Tucson
  Nearest highway: I-10
  Nearest airport:  Tucson International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Tucson, AZ
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details



From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
Radisson Suites Tucson Shuttle
phone: 520-721-7100
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$15 per person each way
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


30 minutes from airport 




15 miles


Call 520-721-7100 several days in advance of your program's start date and let the hotel know that you'll when you'll need transportation based on your flight's arrival time and about 1/2 hour to get your luggage.


Tucson, Arizona


To Airport




Hotel Shuttle
Radisson Suites Tucson Shuttle
phone: 520-721-7100
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$15 per person one way
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


30 minutes 




15 miles


Let front desk at hotel know your departure date and flight time; they'll arrange for the shuttle to take you to the airport allowing plenty of time to get there. You can call the hotel at 520-721-7100 to arrange for this as well. Remind the front desk the night before your departure that you will need the shuttle!

Driving Directions
  From Tucson International Airport Exit Airport on Tucson Boulevard. Right on Valencia. Left on Kolb. Left on Speedway. Hotel on right 1/2 block before Wilmot at 6555 E. Speedway Boulevard
  Interstate 10 East I-10 West to Kolb Exit. Right on Kolb, follow to Speedway. Left on Speedway. Hotel on right 1/2 block before Wilmot at 6855 E. Speedway Boulevard
  Interstate 10 West I-10 to Speedway Exit. Left on Speedway, follow East. Hotel located east of Wilmot on the left at 6555 E. Speedway Boulevard
Elevation Note: The city of Tucson is 2,389 feet above sea level

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Orientation and Introductions
(Sunday, November 4)
 Afternoon: Check into hotel between 3:00-5:30 PM.

Register with program's group leader in designated area.

 Dinner: Meet for dinner in hotel dining area from 6:00-7:00 PM
 Evening: From 7:00-8:30 PM in hotel meeting room, your group leader will give you a brief orientation to the program and you'll meet the rest of your fellow program participants.
Accommodations: Radisson Suites Tucson
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Early history of Tucson area/Arizona Historical Society/Arizona State Museum/Making Movies in Tucson
(Monday, November 5)

Note: walking up to one mile over paved, even terrain, standing in museums up to 1 hour at a time

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: From 8:30-12:00 noon, you'll learn about the fascinating development of what is now modern-day Tucson from the archeology of the area to the history of the Old Pueblo. Breaks included.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel from 12:00-1:00 PM
 Afternoon: Board bus for Arizona Historical Society and Arizona State Museum visits.

Afterwards, enjoy a guided bus exploration of the University of Arizona campus area and a few Tucson highlights.

 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel from 6:00-7:00 PM
 Evening: Evening discussion/lecture about famous movies filmed in Tucson and receive a list of movies you might want to view when you get home
Accommodations: Radisson Suites Tucson
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: White Stallion Dude Ranch Lunch and Visit/Steward Observatory Mirror Lab Visit/Guided Tucson Bus Exploration
(Tuesday, November 6)

Note: Walking up to a mile over unpaved, packed dirt terrain at Ranch

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Lecture on the Wild West and Tucson area from 1500s to the present.

At 10:30, board bus for a trip to White Stallion Dude Ranch. A working cattle ranch, this beautiful facility offers many wonderful programs to people of all ages. You'll love seeing the beautiful setting and landscaping, and will hear a short presentation about the Ranch's history.

 Lunch: Lunch at selected location
 Afternoon: We have arranged a visit to the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab on the University of Arizona campus. This is a unique opportunity to experience the ground-breaking work being done at this facility. The mirror lab is renowned for developing and implementing technologies that enable production of the world's largest and most challenging ground-based telescope mirrors.

You'll have a behind-the-scenes look at cutting-edge optical technology and the revolutionary spin-casting processes involved in making these giant telescope mirrors. The final result in the process is a light-weight mirror ready for transportation to a mountaintop observatory where it will peer into remote regions of the cosmos; exploring the edges of the universe in an effort to answer a vast array of astronomical questions and make new discoveries. The Steward Observatory is the only place in the world where giant-spin-cast telescope mirrors are produced - you'll see how this is done and how the process is changing the way astronomers and telescopes explore the universe today and in the future.

Guided bus tour of Tucson follows.

 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel from 6:00-7:00 PM
 Evening: This evening, you'll be treated to a performance by a country/Western guitarist/vocalist from 7:30-8:30 PM.
Accommodations: Radisson Suites Tucson
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: De Grazia's Gallery/ Lunch at El Charro Cafe/ Sabino Canyon Tram Excursion/ Dinner on your own
(Wednesday, November 7)

Note: Walking up to a mile over the course of the day and standing for up to 1/2 hour during gallery visit

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: This morning, you'll board the bus and travel to Ted DeGrazia's art gallery.

In the 1940s, Arizona artist Ted DeGrazia had little success finding a gallery to represent him, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. First he built a studio at the corner of Prince Road and Campbell in Tucson, but as the city grew around him, he and his wife Marion bought 10 isolated acres n the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains to build a chapel, home, and a small adjoining gallery to exhibit his originals. The prolific artist soon needed more space to house his continuing output of originals. As his fame and finances flourished, he designed and built a larger adobe galley on the site and moved his growing collections out of what is now known as the Little Gallery at DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun.

 Lunch: Lunch today will be at El Charro Café near Sabino Canyon .

Established in 1922, El Charro Café of Tucson is the nation’s oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family, featuring traditional Sonoran cultural style and innovative Tucson style Mexican food. They have several locations thoughout Tucson.

 Afternoon: After lunch, you'll have a Sabino Canyon Tram Tour followed by some free time on your own.

This extremely popular recreation area is located along Sabino Creek at the edge of Tucson, Arizona. For many who come to visit the Southwest, this area provides their first close encounter with the Sonoran Desert and the fascinating variety of plants and animals that make it their home. There is a self-guided Desert Nature Trail at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center which provides an excellent way to get to know the plants that have adapted to living in this demanding environment. A 45 minute shuttle exploration will be taken upon arrival with time available for your personal exploration. Bus returns to the hotel about 5:00 PM.

 Dinner: Dinner will be on your own tonight.

Located just a few blocks from the hotel is Restaurant Row, where many different kinds of restaurants will lend themselves to your dining pleasure. The hotel van will take you there and pick you up, if you don't feel like walking. Just inquire in advance at the front desk for shuttle times.

Accommodations: Radisson Suites Tucson
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum/Mission San Xavier del Bac
(Thursday, November 8)

Note: Walking up to one mile over the course of the day over paved and unpaved terrain. Standing for up to an hour at a time at museum and at Mission.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: From 8:00-9:00 AM, there will be a lecture in the hotel's meeting room about the flora and fauna of the Sonora Desert, and how plants and animals have adapted to the climate here.

At 9:30 AM, bus will depart for a field trip to the Arizona-Sonra Desert Museum. This Museum is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one location.

Exhibits depict the natural landscape of the Sonora Desert region so realistically that you find yourself looking into the eyes of mountain lions, prairie dogs, Gila monsters and more!

You'll see more than 300 animal species and 1,200 kinds of plants.

Although you don't have to walk all of them, there are almost 2 miles of paths traversing 21 acres of beautiful desert.

 Lunch: Lunch at Ironwood Terraces Restaurant at The Desert Museum
 Afternoon: After lunch, bus departs for another field trip, this time to Mission San Xavier del Bac.

The celebrated Jesuit missionary and explorer, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, first visited 'Bac" in 1692. Eight years later in 1700, Father Kino laid the foundations of the first church, some two miles north of the present Mission site. He named it San Xavier in honor of his chosen patron, St. Francis Xavier, the illustrious Jesuit "Apostle of the Indies."

In 1768, Fray Francisco Hermengildo Garces, a man of outstanding personality and prodigious accomplishments among all missionaries in Arizona, established his headquarters at San Xavier. From here, this Franciscan Friar set forth on his many missionary explorations.

Bus returns to the hotel at 4:30 PM.

 Dinner: Dinner from 6:00-7:00 PM at the hotel
 Evening: Following dinner, we'll have our program closing and question and answer time in a hotel meeting room with your group leader.
Accommodations: Radisson Suites Tucson
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Breakfast at the hotel/Hotel check-out by 12:00 noon and departure
(Friday, November 9)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert

Author: Steven J. Phillips and Patricia Wentworth Comus

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Book of Answers

Author: David Wentworth Lazaroff

Early Tucson (Images of America)

Author: Anne I. Woosley and Arizona Historical Society

So You Wanna See Cowboy Stuff?

Author: Magers, Boyd

Description: Here's the only complete tour guide ever assembled leading you directly to all the western movie and TV memorabilia as well as filming locations in the entire USA!

True Tales and Amazing Legends of the Old West: From True West Magazine

Author: Editors of True West

Tucson: The Life and Times of an American City

Author: C. L. Sonnichsen

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

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