Archive for the 'Things to do' Category

A tour you’ve never had before: Tin Town

Wait until you see Tin Town. Piled high with collections—old mining implements, Arizona memorabilia and Wild West flotsam—Tin Town has been described by one Arizona blogger as “the mining museum you never heard of”.

Thousands of intriguing gee gaws in odd juxtapositions are stacked to the ceiling and hung from every surface, and hulking retired mining tools, rail ore cars, freaky sculptures and circus artifacts line the property outside the pink walls.

Once the H&W Market in the Pie Allen Neighborhood, the Tin Town owners developed it as their their home in the early 80s. It soon morphed into a museum and received the Historical Society’s “Restoration and Creative Adaptive Reuse Award”.

States their official description, “Tin Town is an expression of the owner’s lighthearted yet respectful thought of the lost ingenuity of the craftsmanship of the tools and machinery of the old west.”

Featured on HGTV’s Extreme Homes, the Discovery Channel’s Weird Homes, and in Arizona Illustrated, Tin Town is also home to a saloon, a little church, a circus wagon, vintage spartan trailer, mine, print shop, the “house of joy”, and an authentic Yuma Prison Jail Cell.

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Kitt Peak

At Alumafiesta you’ll have the opportunity to visit fascinating Kitt Peak National Observatory, the site of the largest collection of telescopes in the world.

We’ll take the fifty mile drive (not to worry, the road is paved) to the highest point in the Quinlan Mountains: the top of Kitt Peak, 6,875 feet above the Sonoran desert. The 12 mile stretch to the observatory will bring us through some lovely scenery and provide spectacular views of the desert below.

At the summit we’ll take a walking tour of the amazing telescopes, including the McMath-Pierce solar telescope—with a lens diameter of nearly six feet, it’s the largest solar instrument in the world. Used to safely study sunspots, the McMath-Pierce scope is built into a tower nearly 100 feet high with a 200-foot shaft that slants down and into the mountain, where observations take place in an underground tunnel. Unlike other solar telescopes, it can even be used to view stars in the night sky and other phenomenon in our solar system.

At the observatory there are 23 additional optical telescopes (and a couple of radio scopes, including a brand new one installed this month), all used by eight different astronomical research institutions.

Bring lunch, and a sweater (or two); Arizona mountain temperatures can drop 20 degrees from the warmth of the desert floor. It may be windy as well, but you’ll be able to duck into the visitor’s center to explore the exhibits and take a respite from the weather.

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Arizona Inn

Plan to join a wonderful offsite tour to the historic Arizona Inn while at Alumafiesta.

The Inn—a  boutique luxury resort hotel—was constructed in 1930 and stands surrounded by 14 acres of serene lawns and gardens in the heart of Tucson on Elm Street.

Built by Isabella Greenway, Arizona’s first Congresswoman (and lifelong friend of Eleanor Roosevelt), the Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remains owned and operated by the founding family. It “continues to fulfill its original mission as a sophisticated desert retreat” for visitors to Tucson.

The Inn was also built to employ disabled World War I veterans who once worked in “The Arizona Hut”,  a cabinet and furniture shop at that location. After the stock market crash of 1929, the Hut fell on hard times and generous Ms. Greenway began construction of the Inn to support the employees. Antique furniture items from the original Hut days are restored in the still-working onsite shop, and returned to use throughout the Inn.

Described as a “family country estate”, the award winning casita-style hotel appears in nearly every Arizona travel guide and the grounds are famous for the beautiful old trees, flower beds, and cacti gardens. Hotel guests enjoy afternoon tea, civilized clay tennis courts, “sunning terraces”, croquet, and a genteel wood-beamed library. The Main Dining Room—awarded  AAA Four Diamond status—has a cathedral ceiling, fireplace, and a courtyard.

The $40 fee to tour the Arizona Inn includes an elegant lunch.

Download the Inn History Book for more.

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Airstream seminars at Alumafiesta

Whether you’re a newbie or an expert, you’ll learn new tips, tricks and procedures during the informative and fun Airstream seminars that are on the program nearly every day at Alumafiesta!

The Lazydays team will teach trailer basics, personal safety, and the best tactics for buying, selling, and trading in your Airstream, as well as host a service seminar that offers tech tips and a Q&A opportunity with their Airstream service center. Lazydays will also bring a significant display of new model Airstreams to tour.

Try to stump the chumps during the orientation session! Write your questions about ANYTHING related to Airstreaming and hosts Rich and Brett will answer them from the stage. It’s laugh-out-loud fun (and “last year we had some challenging questions,” they admit).

Are you ready to remodel your Airstream? Don’t miss the “Glam Interiors” session. You’ll be wowed by the most amazing interior makeovers ever reviewed in Airstream Life magazine.

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Picacho Peak Challenge

Bring your hiking boots to Alumafiesta and join your fellow fit Airstreamers for a four mile trek up Picacho Peak.

You know the one—it’s that prominent rock you see from Interstate 10, jutting up from the Arizona desert. The 1500 ft. peak is visible from downtown Tucson, 50 miles away.

The views from the trail are spectacular and the area is known for its unique geology and desert flora. The unique shape of the formation has been used as a landmark by Southwest travelers since prehistoric times. The Anza Expedition passed through the Tucson/Casa Grande area in the 1700s, and Picacho Peak is of other historical significance, as well: The Battle of Picacho Pass was fought in 1862, making it the westernmost battle of the Civil War. (Each year Civil War buffs camp at the park with their authentic period gear, and reenact the battle.)

Spectacular Hunter Trail, which leads to the summit, was described by the Phoenix New Times as “a four-mile-round-trip butt-kicker, harkening to the likes of Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak. Steel cables and planks help nervous hikers overcome the steepest parts, and the 360-degree view at the top of the surrounding desert and nearby mountains is well worth the effort.”

You’ll experience the full 1500 feet of elevation gain, so come prepared with water, lunch, sturdy shoes, and gloves. We’ll carpool to Picacho State Park and back, a one-hour drive each way.

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Butterfly Magic!


Walk amongst fluttering tropical butterflies from Asia, Africa, Central and South America in a special exhibit at beautiful Tucson Botanical Gardens during Alumafiesta.

The free-flying butterflies will surround you as you explore the garden’s tropical greenhouse. You’ll also see cute and colorful dart frogs, an exciting new addition to the habitat. (Don’t touch ‘em—they’re called dart frogs for a reason.)

Striving to be acknowledged as the best small public garden in America, the non-profit Tucson Botanical Gardens is “a tranquil oasis in the heart of Tucson”. Five and a half acres incorporate 16 residentially-scaled display gardens with different themes: herbs, shade plants, iris, Zen, wildflowers, cactus, Native American crops, “moonlight”, “backyard birds”, “aloe alley”, and more.

The Thursday morning tour is a short carpool from Alumafiesta. Take a virtual tour of the gardens, and view an informative video interview with one of the Butterfly Magic curators.

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Meet Carlos Lozano

Carlos Lozano

After the open grill on Friday night during Alumafiesta, Carlos Lozano of Vanishing Tucson will present “Tiki Exotica”.

A student of neon illuminated sculpture and a Tucsonan for nearly thirty years, Carlos is an aficionado of vintage mid‑century neon advertising. In his quest to research and document these national treasures—especially the defunct and endangered neon signs of the Southwest—he has driven tens of thousands of miles across the nation photographing vintage roadside neon signs.

Carlos is the founder of, a group website with over one thousand active members dedicated to documenting Tucson’s past with an emphasis on first-hand remembrances of the visual landscape and ordinary, day-to-day life in mid-twentieth century Tucson.

In 2008 he was appointed to the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission, and serves as Chairperson of the subcommittee that researches and encourages the preservation of the vintage signs that contribute to Tucson’s unique character.

Attend Carlos’  visually rich presentation during Alumafiesta and learn how Tucsonans were able to escape to exotic lands and faraway isles without leaving Speedway Boulevard.

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Social media seminar“Social media is transforming the world. It’s also overwhelming it,” says writer/speaker/social media expert Leslie Irish Evans. “Knowing which sites do what can help a lot.”

Don’t miss Leslie’s lively seminar at Alumafiesta on the topic of social networking, “Beyond Facebook: Why Should I Care?”

She’ll help you navigate the overwhelming social media options available, including the most popular (like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and the baffling new outlets (have you heard of Vine?) that seem to emerge every week.  Leslie will offer her power user tips and help you decide “which ones you need, and which you can ignore.”

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The Sonoran Glass School Experience

At Alumafiesta you’ll have the rare opportunity to make your own glass art at a fully equipped glass educational facility.

This activity was a hit last year! Glass art instructors at the Sonoran Glass School will quickly teach you to create a beautiful and useful item of your choosing, to keep as a souvenir of your trip to the Southwest or give as a gift to someone back home.

The cost for your class and takeaway art depends on the item you select to make: a glass ornament ($45), a tumbler ($55), or a bowl ($70).

This outstanding offsite experience will be held on the first day of Alumafiesta (Tuesday, February 4, 2014), so preregistration must take place before you arrive in Tucson!

Make sure to look for the glass school sign-up option on the Alumafiesta online registration form. (If you’re already registered for Alumafiesta, no problem: simply edit your registration information online to add the Sonoran Glass School, or give us a call.)

We’ll take care of scheduling your appointment and notify you the week before with your time between 1:00pm and 4:30pm on February 4th.

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Alex and Charon are confirmed for Tucson!

Charon HenningAlumapalooza attendees will surely (and vividly) remember the “horrible and exciting” performance by  Alexander Kensington and Charon Henning. We’re happy to tell you that the fun and fabulous couple will bring their amazing comedy thrill show to Alumafiesta in February.

Alex has been exhilarating audiences for fifteen years with feats of daring, whip artistry, and hilarious “freakish proclivities”: sword swallowing, fire eating, and demonstrating why he’s called The Human Blockhead.

The extreme stunts endured by charming Charon, The Most Dangerous Beauty Alive, include…well, you have to see them to believe them, as she “reveals the impossible as possible.”  Charon been featured numerous times on the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel and History Channel.

You won’t want to miss Alex and Charon’s shocking (and surprisingly suitable for all ages) show. You’ll laugh. You’ll cheer. You’ll hide your eyes. View a video of their, er, “unusual skills” here.

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