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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


A freshman’s guide to spring break in Tucson

Here are five things to make your week unforgettable
View of the Catalina Mountains. Photo courtesy Arizona State Parks and Trails.

Whether you’re looking for beautiful hikes, days on the lake, good food, interesting history, or a fun street festival, here are a few ideas for the ultimate spring break in Tucson.

Patagonia Lake

An hour’s drive will take you to Patagonia Lake State Park, where you can swim and boat. Courtesy Arizona State Parks and Trails.

Located only an hour and a half south of Tucson by car at 400 Patagonia Lake Road, Patagonia Lake State Park is an ideal place to visit if you are looking for outdoor activities.

The 2.5-mile long lake is popular for boating, picnics on the beach, fishing, hiking and camping.

Boat rentals are available through the marina, which includes canoes, rowboats, paddle boats and pontoon boats.

The park also offers events such as guided walks, bird-watching and live music. To register, call the visitor center and depending on the activity there may be a sign up fee.

The entrance fee per vehicle is $15 Mondays through Fridays and $20 on the weekends and holidays. However, if you walk or bike in, it’s $3. The gates of the park are open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.

For more information about Patagonia Lake, check out the website.

Festival of Books

The Tucson Festival of Books brought in 125,000 people in 2023. Courtesy Festival of Books.

The annual Tucson Festival of Books returns to the University of Arizona Mall for the ninth  year, featuring a wide-range of authors talking about and selling their books on Saturday, March 9, and Sunday, March 10.

The festival, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, has been running since 2009 and is completely free to attend and open to the public.

In addition to the abundance of books available, there are also food vendors and discussion panels hosted in the Student Union Memorial Center and author tents throughout the festival grounds.

To get ready for the festival, check out the free panel discussion on Monday, March 4, that will cover how to make the most of the festival experience. The discussion, covering everything from navigating the festival grounds to parking, will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Tucson Medical Center Marshall Auditorium, 5301 E. Grant Road. For more information about the festival, check out the website.

American Eat Company

The exterior of American Eat Company at 1439 South 4th Avenue.

Grab a bite at American Eat Company, a lively food court at 1439 S. Fourth Ave., about 10 minutes north of the University of Arizona campus by car.

Inside the former meat market you’ll find seven local restaurants offering tacos, pizza, sandwiches, chicken tenders, hot dogs and raspados and aguas frescas, as well as alcohol for individuals 21-and-older at the Market Bar.

American Eat Company has open seating and live music on Fridays. For more information about American Eat Company, check out the website.

Hike in Catalina State Park

The scenery on the trails of Catalina State Park. Photo courtesy Arizona State Parks and Trails.

Half an hour north of Tucson is Catalina State Park, a beautiful destination for hiking, biking and exploring.

There are many different hiking trails nestled in the Santa Catalina Mountains varying in difficulty level. Some of the most common trails are the Sutherland Trail, which is a difficult hike at 9.1 miles one way. The Romero Canyon Trail is 7.2 miles one way and increases in elevation as you discover beautiful pools along the way. Or you can opt for the one-mile loop Nature Trail.

“Bring enough water for your hike, depending on the level of difficulty and weather. Turn around when your water is halfway gone,” said Michelle Thompson, Chief of Communications.

The park is open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. It costs $7 per vehicle or $3 for an individual or bicycle. Find additional information about Catalina State Park on the website.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Aircraft “Boneyard”

Former military planes located in the aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is the home to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, also known as the “Boneyard.”

That’s where the base parked retired aircraft beginning after World War II. It is considered the largest of its kind in the world and for 23 years, the base opened the Boneyard to the public for tours.

Those tours are now a thing of the past. The tours were eliminated largely due to manpower limitations according to a written statement from officials at Davis-Monthan. But you can still get a glimpse of the planes through the chain link fence circling the Boneyard, located about 25 minutes southeast of the UA campus by car.

The 309th serves as an active aircraft maintenance, storage, parts reclamation and regeneration facility. More information about the Air Force Base is available on the website.

Arizona Sonoran News is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.

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