Adventure Activities in Tucson - Try if You Dare

Adventure Activity Tucson

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I've been living in Arizona for 22 years, which is more than half of my life. While the jokes abound on how the desert here is a "dry heat," the saying never gets old -- though I could go without hearing, "there's nothing to do in Tucson!" Sure there is; you just have to know where to go and what to do.

Whether you're a Tucsonan or a tourist, there are many things that you have to do while here. Here are five adventure activities in Tucson, Ariz., we dare you to try:

1. Eat a Sonoran hot dog

The longest-held dispute with Tucsonans is which Sonoran dog is the best, BK's or El Guero Canelo's? Personally, I'm a fan of BK. There is nothing quite like a hot dog from BK's quaint little establishment. The way BK dogs are grilled (especially the onions), makes this dog a favorite of my family. It could also be how the hot dog is wrapped in bacon or the way the bun melts in your mouth that brings customers to their knees. My husband eats at BK at least once a week; and when I was pregnant with my girls, I had to eat there at least twice a week.

There is such a rivalry between the franchises, that the two hot dog joints were even featured on the popular Food Network shows 'Man vs. Food' and 'Food Wars.' Surprisingly, the owners were once friends, before they established a rivalry as to whose hot dog reigns supreme. In a taste test, BK beat out El Guero by a landslide. Yet, there are still those who claim El Guero has the best Sonoran dog in all of Tucson. So if you're an adventurous eater, and like trying a hot dog that branches out from the mundane hot dog, then try the two eateries to discover which is the best. And go ahead: We dare you to loudly proclaim that the rival eatery has the best hot dog!
Locations: 2680 N. 1st Ave. (520-207-2245)
5118 S. 12th Ave. (520-295-0105)
Locations: 2480 N. Oracle Raod (520-882-8977)
5201 S. 12th Ave. (520-295-9005)

2. Visit some ghosts

Going on a ghost tour is a must-do when in Tucson. The ghost tour of Tucson not only gives you a historical account of Tucson's rich past, but ghost stories are told as you get to take a walk through sites during the night. The best tour to take is during Halloween, as this seems to amplify the shivers sent down your spine as the stories are told.

Some of the best stories concern the Pioneer Hotel and Fox Theater. The Pioneer Hotel, off of North Stone Avenue and Pennington Street, is currently an office building. However, once upon a time the building used to be a hotel that suffered one of the biggest fire disasters of Tucson history. In December 1970, the hotel had undergone several fire alarms. Panic-stricken guests tried to flee the building. Some jumped to their deaths, or were asphyxiated by carbon monoxide. Twenty-eight victims perished that night. Once the building was renovated in 1977, strange happenings began to occur. Voices can be heard, apparitions can be seen and smoke can still be smelled within the building. At times, it also feels as if you're being watched.

The Fox Theater was built in the late 1920s, and has become the home of many spirits. The theater still has shows to this day, and is part of the ghost tour. Many have claimed to see a man dressed in Depression-era clothing, asking for money to help feed his family. I have yet to see the poor chap. However, if you're lucky, as well as brave, perhaps you can catch a glimpse of the spirit.

3. Seek out a scorpion

This is one creepy adventure activity in Tucson. If you get squeamish at the site of creepy crawlies, then the Sonoran Arthropod Studies Institute isn't for you. Tucson is home to many forms of scorpions, and while most of us would rather not meet one face-to-face, the idea of seeing one in a protected setting doesn't seem so bad. One of the most dangerous species of scorpions -- the bark scorpion -- can be seen here, as well as larger scorpion species that can make you cringe.

There are many cool insects to gawk at. Many are live, while some are mounted. Check out the waterscorpion, which is not really a scorpion, but rather an insect who lies patiently waiting for its meal. The waterscorpion is a cross between a walking stick insect and a praying mantis. If you can muster up the courage for the Sonoran Arthropod Studies Institute, then you should put this on your to-do list for Tucson. But, only if you dare, walk in front of joking family members who like to make you feel as if there is a bug crawling on you.
Location: 2114 W. Grant Road

4. Climb a big rock (or not)

If you're an avid rock climber, then you have to try your hand at Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. Adrenaline junkies can satiate their appetite trying to climb one of the 1,200 climbing routes -- with fitting names such as "Slippery When Wet," "Agatha Christie" and Hard Day at the Orifice." Daredevils only need apply.

If you are inexperienced at rock climbing, perhaps it is better to try your hand at Rocks and Ropes, which is an indoor climbing adventure establishment in Tucson. Mt. Lemmon has many high climbs and traversing that requires knowledge. Rocks and Ropes can teach you the necessary skills and techniques for climbing a rock face, but without the potential hazard of putting your life at risk.
330 S. Toole Ave.

5. Crawl the clubs

One night in April and October in downtown Tucson is an event that features live music. For those of us that have attended the University of Arizona, attending club crawl is almost a rite of passage. The club crawl was established 16 years ago, and is still going strong. The entertainment lineup features many local bands, and up to 80 bands in one night. The crawl extends six blocks around downtown Tucson.

Part of the fun and adventure of club crawl is doing as much bar-hopping as you can do, while seeing as many stages as possible. Another fun aspect of club crawl is being able to experience all different forms of music. It isn't just about one specific genre; there's jazz, rock, grunge, blues and even country music.

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