Award-winning extra-virgin olive oils from both hemispheres line shelves inside Tubac Olive Oil, sharing space with bottles of traditional aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy. Visitors can explore the fruity, nutty, and peppery notes of oils pressed in Egypt, Greece, and other countries or opt for mild Moroccan olive oil, which the shop's specialists infuse onsite with flavors such as bacon and black truffle. Balsamic vinegars that have been smoked or steeped with flavors such as espresso make sophisticated dressings and sauces. Patrons can also peruse olive-oil-based soaps and beauty products.
Brewing just 90 gallons at a time, the brewers at Sentinel Peak Brewing Company nano-brewery maintain tight control on the quality of their beers by hand-crafting such small batches. Often inspired by their travels, the resulting beers include a roster of regulars and a handful of seasonals, such as the Haboob IPA, and the Summer Scorcher Citrus Ale. At the brew-pub, visitors can sip on their ultra-fresh, unfiltered beers alongside an impressive menu of beer-friendly eats, such as soft pretzels and buffalo-chicken paninis.
Nearly a half century ago, horticulturist Harrison G. Yocum opened his backyard to the public, displaying a bounteous collection of cacti and palms. After a few relocations, expansions, and the establishment of a nonprofit charter, Tucson Botanical Gardens now spreads 17 distinct plots across more than 5 acres. A delicate rumble hearkens the arrival of the Garden Railway miniature train, which winds through gardens uniquely dedicated to birds, butterflies, wildflowers, and traditional Native American crops. Admission—which is free for garden members and children younger than 3—grants passage to five different tours, and groups of 10 or more can arrange self-guided or docent-led tours at a discounted rate. If visitors awaken their appetites by savoring aromas from the onsite herb garden or by staring at clouds shaped like canned goods, they can dig in at the Gardens' Café, where sun spills through a slatted gazebo onto iron tables loaded with roast-beef baguettes and mexican tortilla soup.
Elemental Artistry's performers play with fire for a living. Blending the fluidity of dance with a theatrical sense of spectacle, the troupe—which includes an NBTA gold-medalist baton twirler—whirls flaming props into fiery vortexes, dazzling spectators at events ranging from the Tucson Celtic Festival to the sweet sixteens of local volcano gods.
In addition to more than 150 performances since 2007—some of which have earned print and television attention in the Arizona Daily Star and on KOLD News—troupe members teach their craft in workshops and classes that lead students of all ages through movements, such as poi spinning, staff and baton twirling, and hula hooping, using unlit props, at least to start. The art form's constant movement and careful coordination can help to tone muscles, awaken ambidexterity, heighten kinesthetic awareness, and occasionally open interdimensional doorways. Elemental Artistry's dance architects can also develop flame-free spectacles using props ablaze with LED lights.
As the sun rises and illuminates the jagged Sonoran Desert with rose-colored light, colorful hot-air balloons rise into the sky right along with it. This scene occurs seven days a week from September to May during Tucson Balloon Rides' one-hour sunrise floats. Soaring with the morning's easy wind currents, FAA-certified pilot Kevin Wilbur ferries passengers for 10 to 15 miles at altitudes between 500 and 4,000 feet over the cacti forests of Saguaro National Park West and the shrub-covered flatlands of Avra Valley. While gliding over the Tucson Mountains, he also points out important sites as well as deer, foxes, and coyotes. After a gentle touchdown, Captain Kevin and guests enjoy a champagne toast and brunch. If the voyage inspires anyone to become a hot-air-balloon pilot or a cloud, he can also help them earn their private or commercial pilot license with his training program.
Until 2 in the morning, the sounds of billiard balls hang like offbeat commas in the conversations of players leaning on their cues. Of the 18 tables at Pockets Pool & Pub, 10 are regulation Brunswick Gold Crown pocket tables, 6 are coin-operated, and 2 are Spider Elite Carom tables, which are heated to keep balls moving smoothly. Like deserted kangaroo towns, carom tables have no pockets—the game is played based on one’s position against the rails. Every week, the tables host nine-ball, pool, and one-pocket competitions.
The thin, twanging guitar notes of songs from the ’40s drift from a jukebox near the pro shop, which furnishes players with gear. Elsewhere, backgammon pieces and dice click against boards sliced by the characteristic triangles, and players hoist glasses of brews and cocktails over plates of sandwiches and fried snacks.