Sports-Themed Suites Close to University and Downtown
The lobby at Varsity Clubs of America – Tucson leaves no doubt as to its hotel's theme—the walls are covered with sport scenes. Above the front desk, former University of Arizona star Steve Kerr glances down court, and a gymnast readies herself for a cartwheel on the balance beam. With the University of Arizona campus 2 miles away, the hotel caters to those visiting town for Pac-12 basketball games held at the nearby McKale Center. If tickets are sold out, the hotel's bleacher-style seating area, painted in Wildcat red and blue, faces a 103-inch plasma-screen television tuned to the game.
Outside, a swimming pool framed by Mexican palm trees shimmers in the desert sun. Beyond the hotel's red, Spanish-tile roofs, the Catalina Mountains loom above Saguaro National Park. For families visiting the university or for those exploring the American Southwest, this all-suite hotel provides comfortable, spacious digs close to downtown Tucson. “We have regulars who come back every year," says proprietor Amanda Leighton. "We have people who come from around the world just to stay at this resort. This is like their second home.”
The lobby's athletic theme extends to the one-bedroom suites, where simple contemporary furniture mixes with large canvas paintings of Arizona sports stars. A pillow-top king bed makes a cozy spot for watching games on the plasma TV. Another TV in the living room allows larger groups unfettered views of the action. Kitchenettes with a full-size fridge, a stovetop, a microwave, and utensils come in handy for crafting a nacho platter shaped like John Madden. The bathroom's whirlpool tub offers post-game relaxation.
Tucson, Arizona: Lively Arts Scene Surrounded by Desert Beauty
Located about two hours south of Phoenix and about one hour north of the Mexican border, Tucson is flanked to the east and west by Saguaro National Park. Here, 165 miles of gorgeous desert trails spread throughout the landscape, dotted with giant saguaro cacti, horned owls, and Olympic-size swimming-pool mirages.
The University of Arizona campus encompasses several picturesque parks and museums, including the Center for Creative Photography, a world-class archive preserving the work of eminent 20th-century artists Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and more. Art galleries, cafés, and taquerias line the Spanish-colonial streets of the El Presidio historic district. The district's crown jewel is the Tucson Museum of Art, where upcoming exhibits include a show on Henri Matisse's works on paper.