Road Scholar : Home
Signature City Tucson

Program Number: 20397RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/5/2014 - 11/10/2014; 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;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Price starting at: $999.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Signature Cities Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 12; 5 Breakfasts, 3 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 and learn how Arizona artist Ted DeGrazia and his wife have evolved from their 1940s purchase of 10 isolated acres of foothills into a renowned gallery.
• With each program, participate in a Tucson special event, with each one learning more about the city, its heritage and its future.

Activity Particulars

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

Date Specific Information


Enjoy a concert performance presented by the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music featuring the Morgenstern Piano Trio and observe a master class with University of Arizona students coached by pianist Behzoud Abduraimov.

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, Old Tucson Studios and attend a special 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.

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 (depending on shuttle availability).
  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 (depending on availability), 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

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.




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.

Driving Directions
  From Interstate 10 Eastbound Exit at Speedway Boulevard; turn left and go east on Speedway for nine miles. The hotel is located on the north side of the road at 6555 East Speedway Blvd.
  From Interstate 10 Westbound Take Kolb exit. Right on Kolb and go north to Speedway Boulevard. Turn left onto Speedway; the hotel is on the right at 6555 East Speedway Boulevard, 1/2 block before Wilmot.
  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
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: Hotel Check-In, Registration with Group Leader, Program Orientation and Introductions
(Monday, February 23)

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 between 4:00-5:30 PM.

 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, our group leader will give us a brief orientation to the program and we'll meet all of our fellow program participants.
Accommodations: Radisson Suites Tucson
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Early History of Tucson Area/Mission San Xavier del Bac/Country-Western Guitarist/Vocalist Performance
(Tuesday, February 24)

Note: Walking up to one mile over paved, even terrain, standing up to one hour at a time on field trips

 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining area
 Morning: From 8:30-12:00 noon, we'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: After lunch, board bus for an exploration (about an hour) around Tucson. After that, bus will travel to mission San Xavier del Bac.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 about 5:00 PM.

 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 3: Lecture: Wild West and Tucson 1500s to Present/De Grazia's Gallery/ El Charro Cafe/ Sabino Canyon Tram/ Dinner at Leisure
(Wednesday, February 25)

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

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: This morning there will be a lecture in the hotel's meeting room 8:00-9:00 AM on the Wild West and Tucson area from 1500s to present.

At 9:15 AM, we'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 in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains where they built 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.

From 10:00-11:15 AM, enjoy all the gallery has to offer. Board bus at 11:30 AM for trip to lunch destination.

 Lunch: Lunch today will be at El Charro Café near Sabino Canyon from 11:45 AM to 1:15 PM.

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-style and innovative Tucson-style Mexican food. They have several locations thoughout Tucson.

 Afternoon: Board bus no later than 1:30 PM and travel the short distance to Sabino Canyon. At 2:00 PM, we will have a Sabino Canyon Tram excursion, followed by some free time on our 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 tram ride around the Canyon will be taken upon arrival, with time available for our own personal exploration. Bus returns to the hotel about 5:00 PM.
 Dinner: Dinner will be on your own tonightThere are several restaurants nearby; the hotel van will, if available, transport if walking there is not appealing. Also, there are taxis available to travel to restaurants of choice elsewhere in the city. The hotel does serve dinner in the evening, so some of us might want to stay at the hotel and have dinner there. Our group leaders will have some ideas as to where to dine.
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Radisson Suites Tucson
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Rodeo Parade/Rodeo Events/Tucson Film Lecture
(Thursday, February 26)

Note: Walking up to one mile over the course of the day over paved and unpaved terrain

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel from 6:45-7:30 AM.
 Morning: Bus will load at 7:30 AM and depart at 7:45 AM for the Tucson Rodeo Parade, which begins at 9:00 AM. We'll have Grandstand seating, so we'll have a great vantage point from which to view the parade. Over 200 non-motorized floats are on display along the one and one-half mile parade route.

After the parade, we'll go from the parade site to the Rodeo grounds or we'll go to the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum with its new exhibits. You'll walk amongst 125 horse-drawn vehicles and the great displays featuring life as it was in late-1800s Tucson. Deciding what to do after the parade will be the choice of the group leaders based on timing and the consensus of the group.

The gates to the Rodeo Grounds open at 11:00 AM, so we may be able to catch part of the Mutton Bustin' and Justin Junior Rodeo.

 Lunch: Lunch on our own on the Rodeo grounds. There are lots of booths and places for us to eat, so when we're hungry, we can get traditional Rodeo food like hot dogs, burgers, burritos, and other things - this may be the one meal where we won't be able to provide vegetarian, gluten-free, low-fat or low sodium foods.
 Afternoon: The ProRodeo Competition starts at 2:00 PM, so we'll head for the grandstands for the events of the afternoon. These are scheduled to continue until 4:30 PM. Keep a close eye on your group leaders; they may determine that we need to depart earlier, depending on how tired people are. Bus will depart at designated time received from the group leaders and will arrive at the hotel no later than 5:00 PM.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel from 6:00-7:00 PM
 Evening: Evening 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, Dinner

Day 5: Flora and Fauna of Sonora Desert Lecture/Sonora Desert Museum/ Old Tucson Studios Visit
(Friday, February 27)

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 Old Tucson Studios

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel from 7:00-8:00 AM.
 Morning: From 8:00-9:00 AM we'll have a class about the fascinating flora and fauna of the Sonora Desert.

At 9:15 AM, the bus will depart for a field trip to the Arizona-Sonora 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 we find ourselves looking into the eyes of mountain lions, prairie dogs, Gila monsters and more!

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

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

Our visit will be from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM.

Bus departs for lunch destination at 12:15 PM.

 Lunch: Lunch at Ironwood Terraces Restaurant at the Desert Museum from 12:30-1:30 PM.
 Afternoon: At 1:30 PM, bus will take us to Old Tucson Studios, a movie studio and theme park build in 1939 for the movie "Arizona." It has since been used for filming several movies and television westerns, such as "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" and "Little House on the Prairie." It was opened to the public in 1960. We will have an exploration of the site, learn of its history, the movies filmed there, and live cast entertainment featuring stunt show and shootouts.

The main street at Old Tucson appears prominently in 1990s westerns such as "Tombstone." The Heritage Square Project, a 5,000 square foot spread with three new streets lined with 12 new buildings we completed in 2011 and more movies can now be filmed here.

 Dinner: Dinner from 6:00-7:00 PM at the hotel followed by program closing.
 Evening: After dinner, we'll have our program closing and question and answer time in a hotel meeting room with your group leader from 7:00-8:00 PM.
Accommodations: Radisson Suites Tucson
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Breakfast at the Hotel/ Hotel Check-out by 12:00 Noon/ Departure
(Saturday, February 28)
 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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