Historic Southwestern Lodge on 5 Landscaped Acres
The historic Lodge on the Desert has been through many incarnations since it was built in 1931. Starting out as a family home, the lodge was converted to an inn and later used as a World War II military barracks. Back when soldiers called the lodge home, it had no air conditioning or refrigeration to offer escape from the Tucson heat—cooling stucco walls and an outdoor swimming pool were the only respite. Today, the 5-acre property in midtown Tucson has been redesigned and expanded to include 103 guest rooms—complete with air conditioning—but has remained true to its Southwestern roots. Paths wander through lush gardens with palms and native cacti, and Southwestern artwork can be found throughout the grounds, lobby, and common areas.
Tucson native and reigning Iron Chef Tucson Ryan Clark is at the helm of the lodge’s in-house restaurant, where he uses locally sourced ingredients to create New American dishes such as steamed red-corn tamales and pork chops with Peppadew peppers. Floor-to-ceiling windows grace the restaurant’s intimate space, and you can take a prickly-pear mojito out onto the secluded outdoor patio to sip as the sun sets.
The lodge has a brand-new outdoor pool with a trickling fountain to lounge beside during the day. Grab a book to read or recite loudly to a stranger from the well-stocked library near the lobby. Guest rooms boast exposed beams over adobe walls and views of the mountains or the lodge gardens below.
Tucson, Arizona: Southwestern History and Culture amid the Cacti
Tucson—or the Old Pueblo—is a bastion of southwestern history and rich culture surrounded by mountains and desert. Over the years, it has absorbed elements from European, Native American, Mexican, and Asian cultural influences. Today, this unique blend is especially evident in the downtown restaurant scene, where you can get authentic chilies rellenos, delicately prepared sushi, and upscale bistro fare with fine wines from nearby vintners.
Those willing to make the short trip outside of downtown can soak up the area's natural beauty at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a combined botanical garden and zoo located about 18 miles west of the hotel. There, mountain lions, gila monsters, and more than 1,200 kinds of plants live amid 21 acres of desert scenery.
Mission San Xavier del Bac, the "White Dove of the Desert," is one of the oldest intact European structures in Arizona. The sprawling white adobe church, located about 10 miles south of downtown, was built in the 1700s. It's a striking example of the area's Spanish colonial architecture, with interiors lined with frescoes and fine sculpture.