Authentic Southwest

In a former Spanish presidio in Tubac, Arizona, ristras adorn doorways and artists display crafts. Here's where to stay and what to do
Nora Burba Trulsson

With adobe buildings, dusty streets, and its setting in a mesquite-and-cottonwood bosque along the Santa Cruz River, Tubac has to be Arizona's most Southwestern town.

In November, you'll find clear days, smoke curling from chimneys, and doorways festooned with red-chile ristras. Check names off your holiday gift list at regionally specialized shops and galleries, but also take time to learn about the town's history and sample Mexican cooking.

GETTING THERE

Tubac is about 45 miles south of Tucson; from I-19, take exit 34. For more info, contact the Tubac Chamber of Commerce (520/398-2704).

GO

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park Browse the history museum, ruins of the Spanish presidio dating to 1752, a 19th-century schoolhouse, and a restored 1890s adobe row house. INFO: $3; 1 Burruel St.; 520/398-2252.

SHOP

Tubac Center of the Arts Admire painting, sculpture, and photography by Arizona artists, then hit the center's annual Holiday Art Market (Nov 16-Dec 24) to snap up crafts. INFO: Free; 9 Plaza Rd.; 520/398-2371.

Tortuga Books At this indie bookstore, load up on Arizona and Southwest travel, art, history, design, and biography titles. INFO: 19 Tubac Rd.; 520/398-2807.

Graham Bell Gallery Look for cowboy art, photography, poetry books, and antiques, as well as rustic outdoor furniture and accessories, all in a ranch-house setting. INFO: 1 Will Rogers Lane (off Tubac Rd.); 520/398-9111.

The Country Shop Take your time scanning the merchandise at this rambling store and patio brimming with Mexican pottery, punched-tin mirrors, margarita glasses, and tiled tables. INFO: Closed Mon-Tue; 30 Will Rogers Lane (off Tubac Rd.); 520/398-2121.

 

EAT

Dos Silos Enjoy the smoked-shrimp quesadillas with fresh pico de gallo at this restaurant in Tubac Golf Resort & Spa. Opt for the pomegranate margarita with your meal, or venture to the outdoor bar for a selection of tequilas. INFO: $$; 1 Otero Rd.; 520/398-3787.

HAPPENING NOW

This month, local galleries open their doors for An Art Experience (Nov 10-11; free; 520/398-2704), with special shows and artist demonstrations.

SPEND THE NIGHT

Check into a spacious room at the newly renovated Tubac Golf Resort & Spa (rooms from $109; 800/848-7893), set on 600 acres of an 18th-century Spanish land-grant ranch. Attracted by the wide-open spaces, entertainer Bing Crosby and a group of developers founded this resort in the late 1950s. In the 1996 film Tin Cup, Kevin Costner strolled the resort's greens. Soak up the peaceful scenery yourself, then unkink muscles with a massage (from $90) at the resort's new spa.