Located in south-central Pima County on the border with Mexico, Sahuarita and nearby Green Valley are south of Tucson near the Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation.
The area’s original inhabitants were the Hohokam people, who were hunters, gatherers and farmers who dug canals into the tough Arizona soil to water their crops – which mostly consisted of maize, beans, and squash.
Sahuarita’s population was slightly more than 25,000 in 2010, and in addition to its fascinating history and stunning geology, it has become a hot spot for cuisine, art and even wine, which is a burgeoning industry.
The area is full of parks, national forests, museums, and galleries, so even though you may think you’re in the middle of nowhere, you’ll have plenty of entertainment options.
Below are 12 things to do in Sahuarita.
1. Titan Missile Museum
For those who are old enough to remember the tense years of the Cold War, names like Minuteman and Titan may be familiar.
They were the names given to America’s nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, which sat on standby for years, waiting for their final orders to launch – which, thankfully, never came.
Located on West Duval Mine Road in Sahuarita, the Titan Missile Museum is the only site of its kind remaining.
Tours of the well-maintained site are available and are usually given by retired Air Force veterans who are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and even a bit dramatic, adding to the sense of realism.
All other Titan missile sites were dismantled in the decades after the cold war when they were deemed obsolete and unnecessary.
The tours take a few hours and there is an admission fee, so check online before you go.
2. Green Valley Farmer’s Market
Open year-round and chockfull of produce, food, and arts and crafts, the Green Valley Farmer’s Market is conveniently located just off I-19, a few miles from Sahuarita.
It is rumored that it’s the largest and oldest market of its kind in southern Arizona and is open every Wednesday.
Whether you’re looking for some wild Arizona clover honey, an original oil painting, or a pair of turquoise earrings for your mother’s birthday, you’ll find them here.
There are lots of prepared foods too, like pizza, hot dogs, coffee, and those cool tequila-flavored lollipops with the baby scorpions inside. They’re delicious and, surprisingly, safe to eat.
Farmer’s markets are great ways to meet locals and support the local farmers, artists and entrepreneurs who live in the area you’re visiting.
3. Anamax Recreation Center
Like farmer’s markets and parks, recreation centers are great resources for travelers looking to find inexpensive and convenient activities to keep everyone busy and content.
Located on South Camino De Las Quintas in Sahuarita, Anamax Recreation center is part dog-park, part sports emporium, and part relaxing nature trail.
There are baseball fields, playgrounds, a soccer field, skate-park, and covered seating areas too; great places to have a picnic or just read a book.
Throughout the year, the park is home to many special events like live entertainment and art shows, so you never know what you’ll find.
A quick internet search will take you to the city of Sahuarita’s website that includes a helpful map and lots of other pertinent information.
4. Community Performance and Art Center
Located on West Continental Road in Green Valley – just a stone’s throw from Sahuarita – the Community Performance and Art Center hosts more than 100 live events every year, like concerts, plays, and dance.
There’s also an area of the center that’s a dedicated art gallery, which, in addition to exhibiting local art, has special monthly exhibits.
The center also has facilities available to rent for parties and other events.
Considered a cozy venue, the center has held a women’s film festival, big band concerts and even a tribute to ‘Old Blue Eyes,’ Frank Sinatra.
Those who’ve seen events at the center have remarked that there’s not a bad seat in the house.
It’s best to check online and buy tickets before you go.
5. Asarco Mineral Discovery Center
Mining has been big business in Arizona for more than a century.
Though in years past the majority of miners were lonely prospectors hoping to strike it rich, their lives were tough, and most died penniless.
Nowadays, most mining in Arizona is done by large corporations with massive sites and lots of heavy equipment.
The Asarco Mineral Discovery Center was opened in 1997. Its mission is to promote the industry’s importance and educate people on why it’s so vital – and has been for hundreds or even thousands of years.
Located an easy 20-minute drive south of Tucson, the tours are of a working, open-pit copper mine.
The size of the mine and the massive, multi-million-dollar equipment necessary to extract the valuable ore will blow you away.
It’s best to reserve your spot on a tour before you go, as times are subject to change.
6. Madera Canyon
Located in Tucson just off Interstate 19, Madera Canyon is a favorite hike of locals eager to stretch their legs and take in the natural majesty for which the area is famous.
The trailhead is on Old Tucson Road; there are pullouts on both sides of the road which are suitable for parking.
There’s a small fee to enter the park and discounts are offered for seniors and those in the military.
The hike to Madera Canyon is one of the most popular; there’s even a creek, which is usually flowing despite the arid desert surrounding it.
The park and canyon are home to many desert animals, including deer, javelinas, birds, snakes and even tarantulas.
If you’d like to get a peek at some of them, go early in the morning or in the afternoon, as most desert animals are nocturnal.
There are also campgrounds if you’d like to rough it for a night.
Of all the amazing, historic places to visit in Arizona, Tubac is perhaps the most important because it’s one of the oldest European settlements in the entire state.
Settled in the mid-1700’s, the town was originally a Spanish fort with orders to protect the missionaries who came to the area to convert the Native Americans to Christianity.
In addition to its history, Tubac is now just as well known for its art, galleries, and restaurants, many of which serve amazing fusion cuisine including traditional ingredients and recipes with a touch of modern flair.
Tours of the fort are available and the downtown is a great place to stroll around, enjoy a cappuccino or glass of wine, and peruse all the cool shops and galleries.
Though the village of Tubac is remote, there are sufficient hotels in the area; some are a bit far away, so make sure you know before you book.
8. Tumacacori Mission
Known in Spanish as Mission San Cayetano del Tumacácori, Tumacacori Mission was built in 1692 by Spanish Jesuits who came to the area with the idea of converting the Native Americans to Christianity.
Nearly 60 years after it was established, the Native Americans in the area rebelled against the missionary’s methods and interference in their lives.
Though the mission was deserted for a few years, the missionaries came back and built their new mission in the Spanish Colonial style.
In the mid-1700’s the missionaries were recalled to Spain amidst rumors that they’d become wealthy and were involved in things in which they weren’t supposed to be.
The mission is within the boundaries of the Tumacacori National Historic Park which comprises nearly 360 acres.
The park and mission are easily accessible from Interstate 19.
9. The Tucson Museum of Art
Located on North Main Avenue in Tucson, The Tucson Museum of Art is only 15 minutes from Sahuarita and is one of the places you should definitely make it a point to visit while in the area.
Sporting multiple galleries of permanent and temporary exhibits, the museum’s specialty is art with southwestern and Native American influences, both contemporary and classic.
In addition to art, the museum is home to many artifacts from the pre-Columbian civilizations in Mexico and Central America.
There is a great book and gift shop too, as well as a restaurant and café.
Though it’s fine to swing by anytime, check ahead if possible because there might be something on their calendar that you won’t want to miss.
10. Green Valley Pecan
Like mining, cattle, and tourism, nuts are big business in Arizona.
You may have noticed the large, orchard-like farms on the side of the interstate driving south of Tucson. Many of those trees are pecans, which thrive in southern Arizona’s harsh climate.
Located on East Sahuarita Road, Green Valley Pecan is one of the biggest producers around.
Tours of the working farm are available and there’s a great gift shop too, with lots of tasty stuff like roasted pecans, pecan oil, and of course, pecan pie.
They’re open every day, so stop by, have a look around, and pick up some stocking stuffers for family and friends back home.
Their products are packaged to retain freshness, so don’t worry about them losing their flavor on the trip back home.
11. Desert Diamond Casino
Not to be outdone by its casino counterparts in Tucson, Phoenix, and Scottsdale, the Desert Diamond Casino in Sahuarita is open all day, every day and is a great place to blow off some steam and enjoy all the casino has to offer.
Though it’s a favorite of local gamblers, you don’t need to be one to enjoy it.
The facilities include a 2,000-seat concert venue, sports bar, restaurant, and the ever-popular Diamond Buffet, which lots of regulars think is as good as anything you’re likely to get in Las Vegas.
The casino is close to Tucson International Airport and has a hotel too, so consider staying a night or two before heading off on your Arizona adventure.
12. Gene C. Reid Park
Due to its warm winter climate, Arizona is the winter home of many of major league baseball’s teams who flock here every year to warm-up before the season officially begins.
At more than 130 acres, the park is conveniently located in Tucson’s city center and is home to a baseball stadium that sports nearly 10,000 seats, which is where the Colorado Rockies come to train.
Considering the park has two lakes, public swimming pools, playgrounds, and even a small zoo, it’s a place you won’t want to miss.
The park also contains multiple trails which wind their way through some of Tucson’s urban sites, like a golf course, picnic areas, and tennis courts.
Check out the park’s handy website for everything you’ll need to know before you go.