Three other Photofocus Road Trips for Arizona covered north, north central and central areas. Now we head closer to the Mexican border in southern Arizona.


You’ll jump on I-10 South and drive through lots of flat, dusty land. The desert can be like that. But after you pass through you’ll enter the second largest city in Arizona, Tucson. Like any larger metropolitan area, there is lots to see and do.

We often think of the desert as an arid colorless place. At the right time of year the desert can surprise you with exquisite color blooms. Photo courtesy of Visit Tucson.

Highlights I’d recommend include Tucson Botanical Gardens. It’s 5.5 acres of residential scaled urban gardens connected by walking paths. It includes a Zen Garden, Prehistoric Garden, Barrio Garden and a Butterfly Garden, among others.

Barrio Viejo

Barrio Viejo is splashed with colorful adobe houses, Mexican cantinas serving chili and margaritas, and brewpubs and retro-style cocktail bars. At El Tiradito “wishing shrine,” visitors light candles while leaving prayer notes in crumbled walls. Check the Jewish History Museum, in Arizona’s first synagogue. Find the Museum of Contemporary Art, in a converted firehouse.

Teatro Carmen one of the colorful sights in the Barrio Viejo area of Tucson. This 106-year-old Sonoran Mission style architecture can be found on Meyer Avenue. Photo: Pete Gregoire.


For a step back into the Old West Tombstone is a treat. The town includes the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park with a replica gallows. The O.K. Corral outdoor theater repeats the 1881 cowboy gunfight. Ghosts are said to haunt and hang out at the bullet-riddled Bird Cage Theater. Stagecoaches and folks in western attire wander the streets.

Tombstone, AZ replicates the Old West in architecture and spirit.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ Pipe is a U.S. national monument and UNESCO biosphere reserve and shares a border with the Mexican state of Sonora. The park is the only place in the United States where the Senita and organ pipe cactus grow wild. The photo below was made by my friend Dennis Jones who recently passed through the area. See more of Dennis’ work here.

Cactus at Organ Pipe National Monument. Photo by Dennis Jones.


A small artsy-fartsy town with many shops and galleries. Sort of a smaller version of Sedona. Lots of Mexican pottery and artifacts for sale. A great place to stay is the Tubac Golf Resort. If you like a bed-and-breakfast instead try the Tubac Country Inn. Cool property that is well landscaped and comfortable.

Tubac, AZ is a cute little art town. In addition to art, you’ll find lots of work from south of the border in Mexico.


A mining town like Jerome, but more advanced, because it was a stop on the rails running from St. Louis to San Francisco making it at that time the largest town in the southwest. The architecture here is more advanced with brick facades. Wandering the hills and staircases give lots of different views of the town and surrounding area. Copper Queen Hotel, Restaurant and Bar is where I hang when I’m there. As always, check to see current open/closed conditions as far as Covid-19.

Walls that were made many moons ago have a certain patina. Bisbee, AZ.

This concludes my travel tips on Arizona. There’s even more to explore. Make sure you do additional research before you hit the road to explore this photogenic state.

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob