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The Daily Wildcat

98° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Tucson doesn’t suck; you do

It’s a complaint I hear almost daily from California transplants, various escapees of colder climates and “”T-locs”” alike: “”I hate Tucson. Tucson sucks. This is the armpit of Arizona; nay, of our whole great nation.””

My first response is, “”Really? Have you been to Yuma?””

Tucson sucks? As a Phoenician who has adopted this gloriously tenacious town as my southwestern paradise, I strongly beg to differ.

For starters, step outside in the late afternoon sometime this week and you’ll understand one reason to love Tucson. Monsoon season, which is now officially underway, imbues the otherwise unbearable summer with what can only be called magic. Nothing I’ve encountered is quite as beautiful as the bruise-colored columns of clouds, or smells quite as good as the desert after a storm.

Gorgeous thunderstorms don’t even scratch the surface of Tucson appeal, nor will they do much to appease the haters. Tucson is ripe with culture, entertainment, adventure and beauty. You just have to step out of your comfort zone and find it.

Let’s begin with something most college students love to do, perhaps more than they should: drinking. For the 21-plus crowd, there’s no place better. Sure, Los Angeles and Las Vegas have their share of the glitzy nightlife, but you’ll find yourself shelling out $15 for a freakishly blue, disappointingly weak drink anywhere you go. Even the “”dive bars”” in such towns make it almost impossible to get pleasantly buzzed for less than $50.

Enter Tucson, where every night offers at least one hotspot where liquor is cheaper than bottled water at Circle K, and where even those who bellyache about the lack of glitz, can drink until they experience the literal meaning of the phrase. The drinks are dirt-cheap, the locals are friendly and you never have to wear slacks or heels.

Of course, there’s more to do than drink in this town. There’s a reason Food Network’s “”Man v. Food”” has visited multiple Tucson restaurants, and why our Mexican food has made it onto the national radar—it rocks. From Mi Nidito, where former President Bill Clinton once ate, to El Guero Canelo, where Adam Richman tackled the Sonoran hot dog, there are millions of perfect bites of Tucson culture just waiting to be sampled.

Even if gluttony and drunken debauchery are not your style, Tucson and the surrounding areas offer some of the best outdoor adventuring around. From hiking to climbing to spelunking to biking, outdoorsmen will find no shortage of activities to pique their interests.

The point is this: don’t knock a place until you’ve explored it. Sure, Tucson isn’t what some would call glamorous, but if you wanted streamlined corporate America to rule your college town, you came to the wrong Arizona university; Mill Avenue is beckoning, with its tawdry chains and low adventure quotient.

The best thing about Tucson is that it’s weird, a little off the beaten path, and a little scrappy. As a town, it doesn’t take itself too seriously — no “”Keep Tucson Weird”” buttons adorn its hipsters, à la  Austin or Portland. It’s like the quiet girl in a teen movie who hasn’t figured out she’s gorgeous yet; you can’t help hoping she stays quirky and unassuming.

Tucson doesn’t buy into its own hype much.

If you hate Tucson, you don’t know it. So get off University Boulevard, and get to know the place where you live. I dare you not to love it.

Either way, at least you’re not in Yuma.

— Heather Price-Wright is a creative writing senior. She can be reached


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