At the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Tucson's Foothills neighborhood is known for its miles of scenic desert hiking trails.
Now with newly opened shops and a burgeoning restaurant scene, the locale has evolved into the city's shopping and dining epicenter. Take note of what the locals are wearing: More often than not, accessories of choice aren't Manolo mules or Birkin bags. Instead, shoppers and diners are likely to sport dusty hiking boots and well-worn backpacks.
Ventana Trail. WHAT: A spectacular canyon wash, and as reward for not turning back early, Maiden Pools may be deep enough for dunking. The trail is 6.7 miles one way; part of it enters Coronado National Forest. WHEN: Sunrise to sunset daily. HOW MUCH: Free. WHERE: Trailhead is at far end of the employee parking lot of Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, 7000 N. Resort Dr.; Santa Catalina Ranger District, 520/749-8700.
Casas Adobes Plaza. WHAT: Charming Italian-meets-Spanish-Colonial plaza, with shops such as Rochelle K (recycled silk cargo pants, cute tanks; www.rochellek.com or 520/797-2279); J. Gilbert Footwear (otherworldly Thierry Rabotin shoes; www.jgilbertfootwear.com or 520/531-8385); Studio Encanto (chunky Mexican candles, cashmere throws; www.studioencanto.com or 520/318-9300). WHEN: Most shops open daily. WHERE: Southwest corner of Ina and Oracle Roads; www.casasadobesplaza.com or 520/299-2610.
La Encantada. WHAT: The new kid on the block, with a bevy of high-end chains and a great market―AJ's Purveyors of Fine Foods. WHEN: Most shops open daily. WHERE: Northwest corner of Skyline Dr. and Campbell Ave.; www.laencantadashoppingcenter.com or 520/299-3556.
J Bar. WHAT: James Beard award-winning chef Janos Wilder's cozy bar set in a mesquite grove; try a micheladas (beer, Clamato juice, and lime over ice). When: 5:30-9:30 Mon-Sat; closed Thanksgiving. HOW MUCH: $$. WHERE: The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa grounds, 3770 E. Sunrise Dr.; www.janos.com or 520/615-6100.
Sauce Pizza & Wine. WHAT: Modern, airy restaurant with a great wild-mushroom and truffled-arugula pizza, and chopped salad. WHEN: Lunch and dinner daily. HOW MUCH: $. WHERE: 7117 N. Oracle Rd.; www.foxrc.com or 520/297-8575.
INFO: The Foothills neighborhood runs along the eastern end of Ina Rd. and continues on Skyline and Sunrise Drives. www.visittucson.org or 800/638-8350.