The state’s oldest town boasts dozens of galleries, a burgeoning culinary scene, and a glorious resort. Nora Burba Trulsson shows us around Tubac.
Real cowboy coffee
Who says there are no second acts in American lives? Tubac is full of them. This scenic town—once a Native American enclave, then Arizona’s first European settlement, now an art colony—has seen many second acts in three centuries. Randy Wade and Karin Rosenquist arrived from Tucson in 2005 to open Tumacookery. The stylish shop has kitchen gadgets aplenty, plus Arizona salsas, stone-ground Mexican chocolate, and blends from Tucson-based Arbuckles’ Coffee, a company that has brought back historic coffees cowboys once savored. Next door, Cooking A–Z offers classes and demos from local chefs and vintners. Sampling is encouraged at Untamed Confections, a caramel and chocolate shop where Linda and Tom Williams handcraft sweets that feature local pecans and honey.
Tumacácori National Historical Park preserves a 1691 mission, complete with towering adobe church walls. Nearby, Tubac Presidio State Historic Park showcases a 1752 Spanish fortress, exhibits on native Tohono O’odham culture, and Tubac’s 1885 one-room schoolhouse. You can hike between the parks on a cottonwood-shaded 4-mile segment of the 1,200-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.
Rhapsody in turquoise
Artists have long loved Tubac’s desert setting, and the founding of the Tubac Center for the Arts sealed the town’s rep as a creative colony. The center still features works by regional artists, and now many galleries line the town’s streets. Tubac Art and Gifts sells Arizona artists’ paintings, ceramics, and jewelry, while Lone Mountain Turquoise Company—a shop founded by third-generation turquoise traders—offers beautiful works by Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi artists and jewelers.
Fabled fruit burros
Opened in the 1940s, Wisdom’s Café is the locals’ go-to for hearty Mexican food. In late 2013, the Wisdoms’ grandson opened Dos, a restaurant where modern meets traditional, with birria street tacos and shredded tamale sliders. At Dos, they serve the Wisdoms’ famed fruit burros—the sugar-dusted, fried, berry-filled tortillas that draw diners from across Arizona. Want to eat clean? Kale-based smoothies and, say, a quinoa and beet salad at The Goods should do the trick. When you’re ready for a drink, head to Flying Leap Vineyards’ new tasting room, a blacksmith shop turned wine bar, and sip an Arizona Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, or Petit Verdot.
Drinks and links
At the end of the day, head to the back patio of the 500-acre Tubac Golf Resort & Spa to enjoy an icy blood-orange margarita and sweeping views—of golf greens, stately cottonwoods, mountains, and grazing cattle. You can treat yourself to a round of golf or to an orange-blossom massage, then doze off by the beehive fireplace in one of the casita-style rooms, dreaming of waking and doing it all again.