This post is a continuation of Christmas in Tucson, Arizona that is appropriately titled, winter in Tucson. For Christmas 2019 we escaped West Texas to explore southern Arizona. We are 70-degree people and looked forward to warmer weather. Little did we know that winter was waiting with cold in Tucson.
Tucson is home to a variety of restaurants, the majority leaning toward the Southwestern flavors. Although we’re a bit overdone on Mexican food in West Texas, we decided to try some in Tucson.
First, we tried La Cocina (The Kitchen). The restaurant provides both indoor and outdoor seating and we were told that they often offer live music. There were heaters provided outside. Due to the cold temperatures, we chose to sit inside, even though it was crowded. The winter cold was not addressed properly in this Tucson eatery. Most diners had not removed their coats for dinner.
Instead of waiting for a table we sat at the bar. After checking out the menu we realized that La Cocina offered more unique dishes and we weren’t in the mood to experiment. The server behind the bar was very friendly and understanding.
Our second choice was El Charro, another restaurant about a block away. There we had to wait about five minutes out in the Tucson winter cold for a table. We talked to the cold hostess outside. The low temps were unexpected and not the norm. She quickly seated us in the warm, old building; a welcome relief. El Charro was much more prepared for Tucson winters.
The decor was southwestern and the food was excellent. The Spinach Enchiladas were a show-stopper. We planned to try La Cocina another day, we never made it back.
Tucson Desert Museum
On Saturday we headed to the Tucson Desert Museum. The property spans 98 acres of Sonoran Desert and is open 365 days a year, even Christmas. Mainly considered a botanical garden, the museum also houses exotic and local wildlife, an aviary, a reptile house and an aquarium complete with stingrays to touch and feed at for a small fee.
This museum’s exhibits are almost completely outdoors. Plan on doing a lot of walking. The property was beautiful and the live animal exhibits were our favorites.
To the left, a Big Horn Sheep poses proudly for the crowd. To the right, a hummingbird sits perched above visitors in the aviary. Other exhibits housed beautiful mountain lions, a busy beaver, and wild, Javelinas. Although we enjoyed the views, we thought the animal habitats were small and out-dated.
Goldfield Ghost Town and Mine Tours
The warm truck was our greatest asset when exploring. Sunday morning we took a drive north toward Phoenix. Apache Junction, Goldfield Ghost Town and Mine Tours is a small, tourist-trap type attraction. We like walking around small towns and exploring shops and small art galleries. That is what we were expecting from Goldfield.
Goldfield offers a short train ride around the grounds, a mine tour, a few shops and gunfight shows on the weekends. Food is available at the small ice cream shop that also serves burgers and sandwiches. The Mammoth Steakhouse & Saloon has a bit more to offer. We ran for the steakhouse before the gunfight ended. Our early exit proved wise when a huge crowd appeared behind us.
After lunch, we walked around a bit but it was just too cold and windy. Also, I was really hoping that Goldfield would be more like Oatman, Arizona.
Oatman is one of our favorite places. Years ago a group of retailers moved into the one-time ghost town and opened shops in the restored, original buildings. Again, another blog would be needed to cover Oatman so I can tell you about the wild burros. I’ll keep that in mind.
Cold Winter in Tucson
Sunday brought more cold and windy weather. We took Spotty for another short hike and headed back to the movie theatre. Roadhouse was sold out so we opted for Cinemark. The theatre was not as fancy as the Roadhouse, but it did offer recliners and snacks. We saw Knives Out. It wasn’t the type of movie that needed a big screen, but the plot kept your attention throughout the entire picture.
On the way home, we talked about what to do the next day. We agreed that we were bored with Tucson and the cold. If the roads up the mountains were open and clear we probably would have stayed another day. Instead, we hooked up and aimed our house on wheels back to the east. Again we stopped for the night in Las Cruces. We enjoyed another excellent dinner.
On New Year’s Eve, we arrived back at our West Texas location and actually stayed up past midnight; not our norm. It was nice to have New Year’s Day to chill out before work started again.
In conclusion, we’re glad we checked it out. We learned that we like northern Arizona much better than southern. For us, especially if we’re going to be cold anyway, Williams, Flagstaff, and Oatman get our vote. Check out my Williams, Arizona blog. One of our favorite places.
Enjoy the Journey!