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Kristin Tovar didn’t even want to move to Tucson, Ariz., when she married a native of the area. At first, she says, she wanted a bigger city. But after exploring the area and posting her findings on her Instagram account, @WhyILoveWhereILive, she grew to love her new home.
As of press time, Tovar’s account has accumulated more than 17,600 followers. She runs a retail store by the same name, in addition to acting as co-founder for Cultivate Tucson, a collective that builds pop-up markets for different artists and makers to share their work. Here, she gives us the scoop on how to best explore her home like a local.
Tucson’s best-kept secret is: Reid Park. It’s definitely an oasis in the middle of the city. In addition to having a large park that is pretty central in the city, there is a zoo, a baseball field and live music. For families, there are tons of places where kids can run around and play.
Avid hikers will find Tucson’s best trails in: Catalina State Park. The views are stunning, and there are a variety of different hikes, from beginner-level to more advanced hikes. It’s also a good starting place for different trails.
Where can visitors find Tucson’s best taco? There are too many to choose! There is Taqueria Pico De Gallo and Boca Tacos y Tequila. Boca, in particular, has a bunch of varieties of different tacos, and it’s always fun to try something new. For vegan options, I prefer Tumerico.
You’re headed downtown for the night. Where do you go? If I’m taking someone downtown, I would start at the Sand Reckoner Tasting Room for a wine tasting. It also has a micro art gallery. For dinner, there’s The Coronet, and we might also take the streetcar to Mercado San Agustin Public Market.
A tourist activity that is worth the hype is: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, hands down. It focuses on the unique wildlife and botanicals in the region. Most of the museum is outdoors, and you can walk the whole thing. There is also the Packrat Playhouse for kids.
What sets Tucson apart from other cities in Arizona? The diversity of the landscape, the people, the food, the art and the culture, as well as the creativity and collaboration in the community. Someone can be in the middle of the city and be in the desert, but then they can drive up Mount Lemmon and, in under an hour, they’ll be in a totally different ecosystem.
The best place to catch some zzz’s is: Hotel McCoy. It’s a boutique art hotel where there are murals from different Tucson artists outdoors.
It does a great job of hosting events that welcome both tourists and locals into the community.