The University of Arizona divided up spring break into “reading days” — March 9-10, April 2, April 21 and May 6 — to reduce the amount of student travel that commonly defines a college spring break.
Rather than taking a flight to Mexico or a road trip to California for a week, students can spend the day off, possibly relaxing or adventuring in the college town of Tucson. There are stunning locations on the outskirts of the city where one can spend time in nature and enjoy the sunny weather.
A great location for picnics, Agua Caliente is a 32 minute drive from the UA campus and is home to diverse plants, wildlife and multiple different ponds, linked by walking trails.
Prohibiting swimming, loud music and alcohol, Agua Caliente may not be the place for an unruly spring break gathering but is a great escape for a day to relax and enjoy the beauty of a historical Tucson park.
The park underwent a restoration in October 2019 to install a polymer lining in the pond, deepening it to become more sustainable in its water conservation. Government staff worked with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release 500 Gila topminnow, an endangered fish species, after reopening the pond in February 2020. Fishing is not allowed.
A 21 minute drive from the UA, Tohono Chul offers many activities. Admission to Tohono Chul gives visitors access to various botanical gardens, art exhibits and a bistro. Tickets are for timed admission and masks are mandated. If you provide your student ID, the price of admission comes down from $15 to $13.
The park’s gardens are planted with both native and adapted plants, specifically designed to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Various gardens incorporate artwork and sculptures. As pictured above, the Moorish Garden features a ceramic fountain on top of an underground water reservoir.
An adobe house built in 1937 was taken over as the Exhibit House. The displays feature nature, cultural pieces and arts of the Southwest featuring the work of regional artists. With three separate gallery rooms, the art includes mixed media, paper crafts, vintage and sculptural pieces.
The Garden Bistro incorporates seasonal crops into its menu that are grown in its own gardens. Order their bottomless prickly pear mimosas and admire the artwork hung on the dining room walls. The Garden Bistro features the artwork of Tucson artist, William Lesch, among other regional artists and photographers.
Seven Falls, Sabino Canyon
The rocky waterfall of Seven Falls resides just a 20 minute drive away from the UA. AllTrails rated this four-hour hike as Tucson's No. 1 trail. Starting at Bear Canyon trail, Seven Falls is a "moderate" difficulty hike, 8.5 miles total and heavily trafficked, according to AllTrails.
Open year-round, the hike features saguaro-speckled mountainsides surrounding the rocky pattern that allow the waterfalls to flow through. The trail does not allow dogs.
A Tucson AllTrails member who gave Seven Falls a five-star review on Feb. 12 called it a “Tucson classic” and said, “The falls are indeed running right now. Water was cold!”
Although the university’s reading days were probably not what students expected in replace of a college spring break, there are still places to explore in Tucson that may give them the same sense of adventure and relaxation.
For hours of operation and more information on these locations, visit these websites:
- Agua Caliente: https://webcms.pima.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=1503
- Tohono Chul: https://tohonochul.org/
- Seven Falls: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/arizona/bear-canyon-to-seven-falls-trail
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