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8 Best Neighborhoods in Tucson, AZ

By: Susan Finch
June 30, 2021

Tucson is an excellent choice for newcomers looking for a lower cost of living than the national average. The city doubles as a college town for the University of Arizona, with Downtown and adjacent neighborhoods opening up new pubs, entertainment venues, and dining.

Retirees and young professionals have always loved Tucson for its culture and events, such as 2nd Saturdays along Congress Street, where you can find concerts and local art for sale. So whether you're growing your career in academia, a history buff attracted to the historic Presidio neighborhood, or an outdoor recreation enthusiast, you can find it all in Tucson.

1. Downtown Tucson

Living in Downtown Tucson puts you in the middle of the action with live music, cafes, pubs, and nightlife hot spots. You can wake up and walk to work, yoga, or a public green space. Development is booming in Downtown Tucson with new apartment buildings, condos, mixed-use space, and urban amenities.

Downtown Tucson is made up of smaller, trendy districts, including Congress Street. Tucson Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art. You'll also find cultural stops like the Temple of Music and Art, Railot Theatre, and Fox Tucson Theatre.

Other districts include the quirky and artsy Fourth Avenue District and the Main Gate District, attracting University of Arizona students. The historic Presidio District is like stepping back in time, and the Sentinel District boasts an iconic peak offering panoramic views of the city. The Convention Center area serves as the hub of local and visitor activity.

2. Sam Hughes

Sam Hughes offers a mix of quiet, tree-lined streets and brewpubs with happy hour specials. This Tucson neighborhood is close to the University of Arizona and attracts students with its sports bars and Mexican cantinas. Yet, despite the influx of students, it's known as a laid-back community.

Beyond the college lifestyle, Himmel Park offers jogging and cycling paths. A swimming pool provides a reprieve from the heat, and an open-air theater entertains during the Fall. Sam Hugues is also family-friendly, with kids attending public schools. Parents commute to the University of Arizona or 2.5 miles to Downtown Tucson.

3. Civano

The neighborhood of Civano is a master-planned community on the east side of Tucson. It's earned a reputation for its sustainable construction practices and a walkable lifestyle. In addition, the neighborhood was designed to minimize car use and keep neighbors connected. As a result, homes and buildings are smaller than other areas of Tucson.

Civano amenities include a neighborhood center, tennis court, swimming pools, garden, and service businesses, including cafes and salons. Locals stay active and garden or cycle together around areas like the Fantasy Island Mountain Bike Park.

4. Dunbar Springs

Dunbar Springs is celebrated as the first African-American neighborhood in Tucson. Situated north of Downtown, Dunbar Springs was named after one of Tucson's first teachers, an African-American poet, Paul Lawrence Dunbar. After a rocky go of combining the Dunbar neighborhood with John Spring neighborhood, elders, leads, and activists have worked to make Dunbar Spring a welcoming and diverse place to live that's close to Downtown. As a result, the district has recently undergone a revitalization effort, which has driven up rents and real estate prices.

Locals gather at Trail Dust Town, a historic outdoor shopping center. The area resembles a wild west town with saloon shows, Pinnacle Peak restaurant with Cowboy Steak, and a vintage carousel or Circle-the-Wagons Ferris Wheel. Pack up a picnic for Estevan Park or head to the ballet or a concert at the Leo Rich Theater.

5. Miramonte

Located north of Downtown Tucson, Miramonte is a residential neighborhood known for its quiet vibe. The lifestyle is laid-back, but there are still shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues bustling along Speedway Boulevard.

While not located in Miramonte, the neighborhood is a quick commute to Reid Park. The 131-acre urban park features a 9,500-seat baseball stadium, pond, swimming pools, gardens, and a 24-acre zoo. The DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center, or OPC, hosts shows around a large grass amphitheater. Tucson locals come for the open-air concerts, festivals, movie screenings, and live performances.

6. Keeling

The Tucson neighborhood of Keeling has a suburban vibe with quiet streets and a family-friendly reputation. Most locals make the short commute into Downtown Tucson or nearby areas. It's situated north of the University of Arizona. The proximity makes it an easy commute for students and staff. Plus, Pima Community College - West Campus is also just over I-10.

7. Poets Square

Poets Square is an intimate, close-knit community located in central Tucson. This Tucson neighborhood is appealing to college students, professionals, and small business owners. It's known for its unique diversity and advocacy for the community.

True to its name, many streets around Poets Square are named after famed poets, including Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, and Olive Wendell Holmes. But the area didn't become a registered neighborhood association until 2022. Longtime residents rallied together to stop a late-night fast food restaurant from disrupting the community's fabric. Shopping malls are just a few miles away, and it's about a ten-minute drive to the University of Arizona. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Pima Air & Space Museum are close enough for a weekend visit.

8. Catalina Foothills

Catalina Foothills is home to spectacular art galleries, golf courses, trendy dining, and shopping at your doorstep. The neighborhood attracts young professionals, millennials, and empty-nesters looking to live in one of Tucson's posh neighborhoods. The area is also popular with snowbirds to escape the cold winters of the midwest. Notable spots include the 10-acre DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun.

Outdoor recreation is also plentiful, with the 9,159 foot-high mount Lennon. It's the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains and is a favorite destination for skiers. In addition, Sabino Canyon offers swimming, waterfalls, and a 45-minute tram ride to explore the grounds across nine different stops.

Which Tucson Neighborhood is Right for You?

Moving to Tucson and ready to start looking for your new home? Browse Apartment List to find that dream Tucson apartment.

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AUTHOR
Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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