A Great Place to Learn & Grow
Known as "The Old Pueblo," Tucson became part of the United States with the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico in 1854. Its heritage offers a rich mix of Native American, Hispanic and U.S. cultures. The city — whose metropolitan population is about 1 million — lies in the Sonoran Desert between five mountain ranges, the Tucson, Catalina, Rincon, Santa Rita and Tortolita Mountains.
While winter snows and skiing can be found a 45-minute drive up to Mount Lemmon, the desert floor offers a year-round temperate to arid climate with multiple opportunities to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. Its proximity to wilderness areas, national forests, parks — including the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Chiricahua and Saguaro National Parks — and other natural and historic sites of the Old West make day or weekend trips an opportunity for adventure for all.
Less than two hours by car can take you from Tucson to Phoenix (the fifth largest U.S. city), Nogales (in Sonora, Mexico), or Tombstone, Ariz.—the town too tough to die and home of the infamous OK Corral. A four-hour drive will get you to Flagstaff or Sedona, Ariz., Las Cruces, N.M., or the beaches of Puerto Peñasco (aka Rocky Point), Mexico. And in up to six hours driving, you can be in San Diego, El Paso, Albuquerque or the Grand Canyon.
You can also just stay home and enjoy the many festivals, concerts, fine dining, night life and entertainment, and other activities such as cycling, mountain biking, rock climbing, running, hiking, birding and more… For details, scroll down to our “Sites to See,” “Nearby Attractions” and “Annual Events” sections—or visit our Coming for a Visit? webpage for more “Things to Do While You're Here.”
Top-Rated for Life, Study, Work, Retirement
Tucson has been named one of the five top cities for Gen Z-ers by real estate blog Commercial Cafe and for Millennials by Money magazine in large part because it's home to the University of Arizona and the many amenities and opportunities that come with that. It offers advantages of a large city but with a small town feel.
The university won its best overall composite score ever in the 2024 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, with several strong marks. It came in at No. 14 among colleges and universities designated as Hispanic-Serving Institutions, No. 58 among public universities and tied for No. 115 overall in the latest guidebook. Among other U.S. News recognitions, the UA earned:
- Best Colleges for Nursing: No. 67
- Best Colleges for Veterans: No. 76
- Best Value College: No. 119 – up 24 spots from the prior year.
In U.S. News' 2024 Best Graduate Schools rankings, the College of Medicine – Tucson had its best showing ever at No. 17 overall, No. 12 among public universities, No. 53 in Primary Care, No. 62 in Research and No. 72 in Rural Health (other health-related rankings found here). The magazine also ranked the UA No. 108 out of 2,000 higher ed institutions from 95 countries, coming in at No. 44 among U.S. universities and No. 23 among public universities, on the U.S. News 2023 Best Global Universities listing.
The UA finished 155st overall out of nearly 2,000 institutions in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023, a 25-spot increase from 2022. We rank No. 48 in the U.S. and No. 25 among U.S. public colleges and universities. Similarly, the Center for World University Rankings put UArizona at No. 95 overall, No. 48 among U.S. institutions and No. 25 among public colleges and universities, comparing 20,000 institutions worldwide.
UArizona ranked No. 114 overall and No. 52 among public universities in Forbes Magazine's 2023 America's Top Colleges annual list. It's also placed well on both Forbes’s “Best Employers” as well as “Best Value Colleges” lists—coming in at No. 16 (2021) for Arizona on the first and No. 62 (moving up 46 spots in 2019) on the second. This year, it also ranked as the No. 28 top college in the West.
And it placed No. 12 for Best Health Services among 389 colleges rated in The Princeton Review’s 2024 “Best College” index. Princeton Review also previously recognized UArizona in its rankings of Best Green Colleges, Best Southwestern Colleges and Best Value Colleges, for which UArizona ranked very well in 2019. Likewise, the Fiske Guide to Colleges listed it that year as one of only 20 "Best Buy" colleges and universities in the U.S.
In other rankings, Tucson is:
■ The first U.S. city designated a “UNESCO City of Gastronomy” with our “Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food”
■ Ranked No. 96 Best Place to Live and No. 99 Best Place to Retire by U.S. News & World Reports
■ Top 10 among Business Insider's Most Popular Cities to Live
■ Among the Most Bikeable U.S. Cities according to the Travel Channel (No. 8), Walkscore/Redfin (No. 9) and Bicycling ( No. 23)
■ Top 5 Places to Live for People with Asthma in U.S. by Safewise (No. 2) and NerdWallet (No. 4)
■ Home to two Top 25 High Schools in America and three in the Top 10 in Arizona as listed by U.S. News & World Report
■ Best Places to Work Remotely if you can work from anywhere by Bankrate
■ Top 30 Best Places to Retire in America by Bankrate (No. 28) and BestBoomerTowns.com
Sites to See
A few websites to visit for activities near the university and downtown include Main Gate Square, the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association, Downtown Tucson Partnership and Mercado San Agustin public market — all of which can be traversed via the new Sun Link Tucson streetcar system. A free monthly festival is hosted also by 2nd Saturdays Downtown and, twice a year, the Fourth Avenue merchants host street fairs and “Club Crawl” events.
For arts and entertainment events sponsored by the University of Arizona, visit UA Presents — which brings nationally and internationally-renowned dance, classical, jazz, pop, theater and spoken word artists to campus.
You can also find other valuable information at the University of Arizona's “Why UA?” webpage, the UA Health Sciences “Resources for Prospective Faculty” webpage, and the UA College of Medicine’s “Prospective Faculty” webpage.
- Biosphere 2
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
- Colossal Cave Mountain Park
- San Xavier del Bac Mission
- Old Tucson Studios
- Kitt Peak National Observatory
- Reid Park Zoo
Here are a few activities to enjoy throughout the year:
- Tucson Jazz Festival
- Dillinger Days
- Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase (one of the largest events of its kind in the world)
- Major League Soccer Pre-Season Training Tournament
- Tucson Rodeo & Parade - La Fiesta de los Vaqueros
- Tucson Festival of Books (the fourth... no third-largest event of its kind in the U.S.)
- Cyclovia Tucson
- Tucson International Mariachi Festival
- Tucson Folk Festival
- Juneteenth Festival
- Vamos a Tucson Mexican Baseball Fiesta
- Tucson Meet Yourself Festival
- Shakespeare in the Park
- 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo (mountain biking)
- All Souls Day (Dia de los Muertos) Procession Weekend
- El Tour de Tucson
- Luminaria Nights - Tucson Botanical Gardens [ranked as one of Top 10 North American Gardens Worth Traveling to See]
- Holiday Nights – Tohono Chul Park
- Winterhaven Festival of Lights
- Arizona Bowl
Other Things to Do
- Arizona History Museum (and Downtown Museum, Fort Lowell Museum and Sosa-Carrillo-Frémont House)
- Arizona Opera Company
- Arizona State Museum
- Arizona Theatre Company
- Catalina State Park (see Arizona State Parks for others in area)
- Center for Creative Photography (among photographers housed in the collection: Ansel Adams, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edward Curtis, Graciela Iturbide, Dorothea Lang & Alfred Stieglitz)
- Children's Museum Tucson
- DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
- Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium
- Franklin Auto Museum
- Gaslight Theatre
- International Wildlife Museum
- Jewish History Museum
- Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
- Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
- Museum of the Horse Soldier (at Trail Dust Town)
- Pima Air & Space Museum (at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base with tours of 'The Boneyard')
- Pima County Parks (including Tucson Mountain Park, the Sweetwater Preserve and Brandi Fenton Memorial Park)
- Postal History Museum
- Presidio San Agustin del Tucson
- Reid Park Zoo
- Saguaro National Park (East and West)
- Southern Arizona Transportation Museum (at the Tucson Historic Depot)
- Titan Missile Museum (in Sahuarita)
- Tucson Museum of Art
- Tucson Parks & Recreation
- Tucson Symphony Orchestra (with Venezuelan-born, Spanish conductor José Luis Gomez)
- University of Arizona Museum of Art
For more information about our clinical & training facilities, visit: