Road Scholar : Home
Signature City Tucson

Program Number: 20397RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/13/2014 - 4/18/2014; 1/26/2015 - 1/31/2015; 2/9/2015 - 2/14/2015; 2/23/2015 - 2/28/2015; 3/2/2015 - 3/7/2015; 3/17/2015 - 3/22/2015; 4/13/2015 - 4/18/2015; 11/2/2015 - 11/7/2015; 12/10/2015 - 12/15/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Price starting at: $949.00 - 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; Gluten Free    

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. See our date-specific notes below to find the activites and events that inspire you!

Activity Particulars

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

Date Specific Information


Field trip is to the Botanical Garden in Tucson which brings to life the many wonders of the desert. This program does not include the Ted DeGrazia Gallery but rather goes to Tohono Chul Park.

1-26-2015, 3-2-2015

This program will have two special field trips: one is to the Steward Mirror Laboratory where telescope mirrors for giant telescopes are created. The second is to Old Tucson Studios where we'll learn about some famous movies filmed in Tucson area and about the history of the studios.


Tucson is bustling with the annual international Gem and Mineral Show. We'll visit some of the downtown sites showing all kinds of interesting beads, gemstones, supplies, crystals, jewelry findings, and more PLUS we'll attend the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the big event at the Convention Center.


During this program, Tucson is hosting its annual Professional Rodeo Event. Participants will attend the Rodeo Parade and have special Grandstand seating, then attend the Rodeo events of the afternoon.


We will be visiting the Tucson Museum of Art and Old Tucson Studios and attend a concert presented by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and the Canadian Brass.


A special visit will be made to the Tucson Museum of Art located in the El Presidio Historic District of downtown Tucson; a visit to Old Tucson Studios will also be included.


We will be visiting Old Tucson Studios to learn about the movies filmed there over the years, the Pima Air and Space Museum, and the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (more than 4,400 U.S. military aircraft to see).


Attend 4th Avenue Winter Street Fair.

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, centrally located 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.
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 Road Scholar Health & Safety 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 when you'll need transportation based on your flight's arrival time and about 1/2 hour to get your luggage. Please note that airport transportation is dependent upon hotel shuttle availability. Arizona Stagecoach Shuttle to airport (520-889-1000). Approximate cost one way is $44.00 per person.


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! Please note that hotel shuttle service is based on availability. Arizona Stagecoach Shuttle to airport (520-889-1000). Approximate cost one way is $35.00 per person.

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, April 13)

Note: You may request assistance with getting luggage to your room at the front desk if needed; the hotel is large, and you may need assistance.

 Afternoon: Check into hotel between 3:00-5:30 PM.

Register with program's group leader in designated area. If you wish help with your luggage, you need to ask at the front desk.

 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: Tucson's history; field trip to Mesquite Valley Growers and Desert Survivors plant nurseries, evening talk about movies made in Tucson area and Southwest
(Monday, April 14)

Note: Walking up to one mile over paved, even terrain

 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining area
 Morning: From 8:00-11:30 AM, 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 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
 Afternoon: Board bus 1:00 PM for an hour-long driving exploration of the city of Tucson. Your group leader will be your guide.

Arrive at approximately 2:00 PM at the first of two Tucson nurseries, where you'll begin to learn about the adaptive characteristics of plants that do well in desert climates. First you'll visit Mesquite Valley Growers, specializing in shade trees, house plants, cacti and succulents - and a huge selection of citrus trees. Next we'll take you to Desert Survivors, a native plant nursery is located on the banks of the Santa Cruz River in Tucson. They grow well over 400 species of bioregional plants and have chosen to define bioregional as plants which are native to within 500 miles of Tucson. This allows them to grow plants from the Sonoran Desert, Chihuahuan Desert, and Mohave Desert, although their primary focus is on plants native to southern Arizona. Over the years, plants of various desert origin have been offered at Desert Survivors, but they now have decided to grow only plants indigenous to our region. As Arizona is the 3rd most biodiverse state in the United States, the nursery is not at a loss of species to choose from. In fact, over 600 species are native to the Tucson Mountains, over 1,000 species are native to the Rincon Mountains and over 1,250 species are native to the Santa Catalina Mountains. All are found within 50 miles of the Nursery, not to mention the rest of southern Arizona. Desert Survivors Native Plant Nursery also feels that is important to being as ecologically sensitive as possible, and thus they use organic gardening practices and only certified organic fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides in the production and maintenance of the plants that grown onsite. The bus will return to the hotel at approximately 5:15 PM.

 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel from 6:00-7:00 PM
 Evening: This evening, participate in a discussion/lecture about famous movies filmed in Tucson. You'll 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 guided exploration; Saguaro National Forest West for guided nature hike; western music performance in evening
(Tuesday, April 15)

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

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Lecture with Sandra McMahan in a hotel meeting room about the unique climate of the Tucson and how plants and critters adapt - and there are some interesting stories here!

At 10:30, board bus for a trip to White Stallion Dude Ranch. A working cattle ranch, this amazing 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 White Stallion Ranch from 12:30-1:30 PM will feature some excellent cuisine, nutritous, colorful and delicious!
 Afternoon: At 1:30 PM, bus will depart for the Saguaro National Forest West for an easy hike, guided by Sandra McMahan. Fifteen miles west of the city of Tucson, the Tucson Mountain region of Saguaro National Park is smaller, lower and biologically younger than the east section but the saguaros are just as large and extensive. The north and west areas are generally flat with uninterrupted forests of the huge cacti, while the land becomes more mountainous towards the south and east, rising to a high point of 4,687 feet (Wasson Peak) where the saguaro are replaced by scattered bushes and sparse grassland. There, the temperatures are lower and the environment more moist. You'll learn a lot about saguaro cacti as you wander along the trail (this is a fairly easy hike!). Return to the hotel about 4:30 PM - free time to rest and relax prior to dinner.
 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: Field trip to Tohono Chul Park; special event field trip to Desert Botanical Garden; dinner on your own
(Wednesday, April 16)

Note: Walking up to two miles on paved/packed dirt terrain over the course of the day and standing for up to 1/2 hour at a time several times during the day

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel from 7:00 - 8:00 AM.
 Morning: At 8:30 AM, bus will depart for Tohono Chul Park. Award-winning Tohono Chul Park is where nature, art and culture connect. Named one of the World’s Great Botanical Gardens by "Travel & Leisure" and listed by "National Geographic Traveler" as one of the top 22 Secret Gardens in the U.S. and Canada, there is something for everyone here. This oasis in the desert offers a respite from the hectic pace of daily life, provides an informative look at the region’s fascinating cultural traditions and its even more interesting flora and fauna. You'll discover an absolutely magical site here, and will want to come back again!
 Lunch: Lunch today will be at Tohono Chul Garden Bistro. Each dish is plated to look as lovely as the gardens surrounding the Bistro and the flavors are truly amazing. The menu changes seasonally, and even daily, based on what local, organic fresh ingredients are available.
 Afternoon: After lunch, our bus will take you to the Desert Botanical Garden for our special event/field trip for this particular program. The Garden's commitment to the community is to advance excellence in education, research, exhibition and conservation of desert plants of the world with emphasis on the Southwestern United states. Located on 145 acres, with 65 acres under cultivation, 50,000 plant displays are showcased in beautiful outdoor exhibits. This is one of only 24 botanical gardens accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Volunteers first created the Garden and volunteers keep it humming today. Along with the staff, they work closely to maintain the Garden's status as a premier plant research institution. We think you'll love being at this facility, and will truly be overwhelmed by its size and the number of beautiful plants and exhibits you'll see. We'll depart the Garden at approximately 5:00 PM. The bus will drop you off at Restaurant Row, where you'll have dinner on your own.
 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 pick you up there if you don't feel like walking (after a long day, you may not!). We'll let you know what time the shuttles will pick up.

 Evening: Free evening after dinner.
Accommodations: Radisson Suites Tucson
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Mission San Xavier del Bac; Sonoran Desert Museum
(Thursday, April 17)

Note: Walking up to 1.5 miles over the course of the day on paved and unpaved terrain. Standing for up to an hour at a time at museum and at Mission.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel from 7:30 - 8:30 AM. We'll be starting the morning programs a little later today, so you can have some time to enjoy the hotel's pool, watch a morning news program, or visit with new friends.
 Morning: Board bus at 9:30 AM for a field trip to Mission San Xavier del Bac. You'll arrive there at approximately 10:00 AM. Your docent tour will be scheduled for 10:30 AM. 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. The bus will depart the Mission between 12:00 and 12:30 PM to travel to the Sonoran Desert Museum.
 Lunch: Lunch at Ironwood Terraces Restaurant at The Desert Museum from 12:30 - 1:30 PM.
 Afternoon: At 1:30 PM, you'll begin your exploration of the Sonoran 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. The bus will depart for the hotel at 4:00 PM, arriving at approximately 4:45 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 and Departure
(Friday, April 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Check out of the hotel by 12 noon
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

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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.

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