Cradled by five mountain ranges and otherworldly desert flora, Tucson is fabled for its setting among dramatic natural beauty. Besides this, the city is characterised by its Spanish architecture, lashings of sunshine and its unique culture that brings together Southern charm and Latin spirit.

But this Arizona jewel of a city contains a variety of neighborhoods, so knowing where to stay in Tucson can be overwhelming.

Therefore, our expert travel writers have compiled this Tucson neighborhood guide. We have broken down the 5 best places to stay in Tucson to help you find the perfect place to stay, whether you’re seeking culture, nightlife or the great outdoors.

So, let’s get started with the best neighborhoods to stay in Tucson!

Where to Stay in Tucson

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are the best places to stay in Tucson.

Best Airbnb in Tucson: The Blue Door Abode

This quirky little home is cutely decorated and equipped with all the amenities you will need to prepare your own meals, but we love the private patio! It’s the perfect nook to retreat to after a day taking in the city sights and one of the best Airbnbs in Tucson.

It’s conveniently walking distance to nearby breweries, too.

Best Affordable Hotel in Tucson: Best Western Royal Inn & Suites

This 3-star hotel in Tucson has simple, pleasant bedrooms with private bathrooms. The complex has a lovely outdoor swimming pool (heated, for the benefit of winter travelers!) and a Jacuzzi.

There’s also a beauty centre, a tour desk and a shuttle to bring guests from the airport. The rate includes breakfast.

Best Mid-Range Hotel in Tucson: Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Tucson City Center AZ

In the perfect location for guests looking where to stay in Tucson for one night, this hotel has all the top attractions on your doorstep. Guests can relax in the outdoor pool, Jacuzzi or hotel library between hitting the sights.

Breakfast is included and the hotel has great facilities for families.

There are some epic VRBOs in Tucson worth checking out, too!

Tucson Neighborhood Guide

shutterstock - tucson - downtown


Downtown Tucson is a generously sized area which is broken down into several smaller barrios. At the core of Downtown runs Congress Street, a historic thoroughfare where old and new collide.

wikicommons - tucson - barrio santa rosa

Barrio Santa Rosa

The small Barrio Santa Rosa is situated south of Downtown, with a towering mountain to its west and a huge park to its south.

wikicommons - tucson - fourth avenue

Fourth Avenue

The Fourth Avenue neighborhood is one of the most historic parts of the wider Downtown Area, but easily one of the most boisterous. It proclaims itself as funky, weird, artsy, crazy and colorful.

tucson - el presido

El Presido

El Presido is a compact neighborhood in the northwest of the bustling Downtown district. This historic corner was established back in 1775 as a Spanish military fort, and to this day attracts the tourists hungry for heritage, culture and some truly tempting Mexican fare.

tucson - oro valley

Oro Valley

Oro Valley is a suburb of Tucson located a 30-minute drive north of Downtown. Meaning ‘gold’ in Spanish, the district attracted prospectors in the late 19th century.

Tucson is situated in Pima County, in the state of Arizona. It rests on a plain in the Sonoran Desert, in the clutches of five mountain ranges. You have the Santa Catalina and the Tortolita Mountains to the north, the Santa Rita Mountains to the south, the Rincon Mountains to the east, and the Tucson Mountains to the west.

An hour’s drive south brings you to the Mexican border, which might explain the abundance of delicious Mexican eateries in town! Meanwhile, driving around 90 minutes northwest brings you to Phoenix.

Tuscon is the second-largest city in Arizona. The city is broken down into a series of small neighborhoods, many of which are known as barrios. The six Downtown neighborhoods are walkable and connected by the Sun Link Streetcar.

First of all, with the lion share of Tucson’s must-see attractions, Downtown is the best neighborhood to stay in Tucson your first time.

Travelers looking to save some pennies on their accommodation can check out Barrio Santa Rosa, our pick for where to stay in Tucson on a budget.

Fourth Avenue gets our support for where to stay in Tucson for nightlife due to its pubs, bars and eateries.

With its historic streets and quirky attractions, we think El Presido is the coolest place to stay in Tucson.

This Arizona city has plenty to occupy kids. With all the outstanding nature trails, Oro Valley is our top pick for where to stay in Tucson for families.

What is the One Item Every Traveller NEEDS???

There is one item every traveller NEEDS. Some travellers don’t even know they need it, but those travellers need it more than anyone.

What is this forgotten essential of the backpacker-life? SPOILERS! Guess you’ll just have to click the button to find out. 😉

Find Out What It Is!

5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Tucson

Let’s take a look at the 5 best neighborhoods to stay in Tucson. They’re each a little different, depending on the type of experience you’re after.

#1 Downtown – Where to Stay in Tucson the First Time

Downtown Tucson is a generously sized area which is broken down into several smaller barrios. At the core of Downtown runs Congress Street, a historic thoroughfare where old and new collide.

Skyscrapers totter over colorful sidewalks and ancient landmarks.

shutterstock - tucson - downtown

The Downtown neighborhood is heaving with heritage sites, galleries, restaurants, breweries and theatres. With so much going on in this hip neck of the woods, it has to be the first choice for where to stay in Tucson for your first time!

Best Airbnb in Downtown: Light Filled Retreat in heart of Downtown Tucson

This cozy guest suite is drenched with natural light and is tastefully designed. Special touches include the espresso machine, clawfoot bathtub and an outdoor fireplace.

The bright, main living space overlooks a garden with fruit trees, vegetable bed and chicken coop – the perfect spot to soak up some bucolic vibes!

Best Affordable Hotel in Downtown: The Downtown Clifton Hotel

This stylish little hotel features beautifully designed rooms with exposed brick and wooden beams, with rustic and comfortable furnishings. There is a BBQ area and picnic area for guests to enjoy and it’s walking distance to nearby attractions.

The staff are available 24/7 and can help you plan your stay.

Best Hotel in Downtown: Blenman House Inn

This immaculate, 5-star hotel is right in the centre of Downtown Tucson and comes with an incredible sun terrace and outdoor pool. Rooms are ornately decorated with period furnishings and splendid private bathrooms, you’ll feel like aristocracy but the prices are decent.

Breakfast is included in the rate.

Things to See and Do in Downtown:

– Wander the historic Armory Park

– Admire the St Augustine Cathedral Church, the oldest in the city and a stunning piece of architecture

– Light a candle and discover the eerie story behind the El Tiradito Wishing Shrine

– Do something a little unusual with your evening and watch the magician at the Carnival of Illusion

– Catch a show at one of the many performing arts venues, check out Tucson Music Hall or Borderlands Theatre

– Visit the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum housed in a former train depot, with a locomotive from 1900

– Drink alongside locals at the Thunder Canyon Brewery

– Let the kids run riot at the Children’s Museum

– Peruse the three blocks that form San Antonio Barrio, where you can find antiques, furniture and art

– Browse modern masterpieces at the Museum of Contemporary Art

– Journey through photography from the 19th century to today at the Etherton Gallery

Is This the Best Travel Pack EVER???

We’ve tested countless packs over the years, and now we’ve found our absolute favourite: the nomad-approved Nomatic Travel Bag.

Want more deetz on why we love it so damn much? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

Learn More Now!

#2 Barrio Santa Rosa – Where to Stay in Tucson on a Budget

The small Barrio Santa Rosa is situated south of Downtown, with a towering mountain to its west and a huge park to its south.

Barrio Santa Rosa is close to the Tucson Convention Center and has a cluster of hotel options providing you with where to stay in Tucson on a budget. You can save a lot of money by staying in Barrio Santa Rosa and hopping on the public bus service to explore Downtown.

wikicommons - tucson - barrio santa rosa
Photo: Jon Roanhaus (WikiCommons)

In the area surrounding the neighborhood you’ll find an abundance of natural sights to behold and explore.

Best Airbnb in Barrio Santa Rosa: George Martin’s House ~ 1880s barrio viejo adobe

This is one of a handful of traditional, Sonoran row houses arranged around a central, treed courtyard. The private living space is filled with a mix of mid-century modern and traditional furnishings all carefully curated to create a serene and restful retreat.

Stylish, unique and extremely comfortable, with a top-rated host!

Best Affordable Hotel in Barrio Santa Rosa: Quality Inn Tucson

This comfortable hotel in Barrio Santa Rosa includes a satisfying daily breakfast. There are several connecting rooms which are ideal for traveling families.

Rooms come equipped with a fridge, kettle, flatscreen TV and free Wi-Fi. It’s simple, clean, and the guest rooms are spacious. Room rates are very budget-friendly!

Best Hotel in Barrio Santa Rosa: Super 8 by Wyndham Tucson Downtown Convention Center

This contemporary hotel boasts huge rooms which are kitted out with handy amenities including a microwave, fridge, kettle, desk and Queen or King sized beds. Rooms are suitable for all kinds of travelers, including families.

There is an outdoor swimming pool with a sun deck to soak up the Arizona rays!

Things to See and Do in Barrio Santa Rosa:

– Visit the contemporary, vibrantly colored glassworks at the Philabaum Glass Gallery

– Sample what’s on tap at the Barrio Brewing Co.

– Explore the Sentinel Peak Park and clamber to the summit of the iconic ‘A’ Mountain for a terrific birdseye view of the city

– Get a taste of the Sonoran Desert with a venture to Tumamoc Hill – a huge ecological reservation

– Find out what quirky expo in on at the 22 Street Show or Tucson Convention Center

– Experiment with Ethiopian cuisine at Cafe Desta

– Head to Santa River Cruz Park and follow the river as far south as you fancy, ideal for a long walk or a cycle!

– Tuck into succulent waffles and all-day American breakfasts at the Waffle House

#3 Fourth Avenue – Best Area to Stay in Tucson for Nightlife

The Fourth Avenue neighborhood is one of the most historic parts of the wider Downtown Area, but easily one of the most boisterous. It proclaims itself as funky, weird, artsy, crazy and colorful.

We can’t disagree, this is one of the best places to stay in Tucson for getting down with hipster culture and the modern Tusconans!

wikicommons - tucson - fourth avenue
Photo: Michael Barera (WikiCommons)

The historic Fourth Avenue bustles with eclectic bars and experimental eateries, making this our top recommendation for where to stay in Tucson for nightlife. Due to this, the area is popular with students from the nearby University of Arizona.

Best Airbnb in Fourth Avenue: Old West Saloon in Tin Town

In case you missed it, the ‘tiny house’ trend has well and truly gripped travelers around the world, and here’s your chance to try it. This awesome Fourth Avenue accommodation is one of the coolest places to stay in Tucson, probably the whole state!

Be sure to take a tour of the attached Tin Town Museum.

Best Affordable Hotel in Fourth Avenue: Hotel Congress Tucson

This hotel has a fascinating past – it once provided lodging to legendary bank robber and FBI’s most wanted, John Dillinger, before he was apprehended. Surely this makes it one of the coolest places to stay in Tucson!

Besides this, the hotel is marvellously located, perfectly appointed and equipped with all necessary amenities.

Best Hotel in Fourth Avenue: The Big Blue House Inn Boutique Hotel

This 3-star hotel in Fourth Avenue has a range of suites available, offering guests privacy and space. It’s also extremely well placed for those seeking local nightlife.

By day, take advantage of the hotel’s bicycle hire service and explore the nearby delights! The room rate includes a terrific fresh breakfast.

Things to See and Do in Fourth Avenue:

– Check out some performance at the Rogue Theatre

– Take a wander along the Arroyo Chico river

– Unleash your inner big kid at the largest pinball arcade in Arizona! D&D Pinball has pinballs from the past five decades

– Sip a tropical cocktail by the pool at Hut tiki bar

– Treat yourself to a scoop or two at Desert Dream Ice Cream

– Explore the best of Southwestern artefacts at the Arizona State Museum

– Unwind with craft beer and live music at the stylish Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar

– Get a photo of the rattlesnake-design bridge in the Iron Horse Park

– See a burlesque show at the Surly Wench Pub

– Relive your student days at the Buffet Bar & Crockpot dive bar

– Get some sustainable retail therapy at Pop Cycle, where everything is made from recycled goods

– Soak up the mellow vibes at REVEL wine bar or get energised at the Playground Bar and Lounge

The Future of the SIM Card is HERE!

A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!

An eSIM works just like an app: you buy it, you download it, and BOOM! You’re connected. It’s just that easy.

Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and ditch the plastic.

Buy an eSIM!

#4 El Presido – Coolest Place to Stay in Tucson

El Presido is a compact neighborhood in the northwest of the bustling Downtown district. This historic corner was established back in 1775 as a Spanish military fort, and to this day attracts the tourists hungry for heritage, culture and some truly tempting Mexican fare.

Nestled just out of the core of Downtown, El Presido enjoys a calmer pace of life. These ancient streets boast some fascinating museums, top-class eateries and quirky boutiques.

tucson - el presido

It’s definitely the coolest place to stay in Tucson, if you’re looking to catch some sights but also kick back and relax.

Best Airbnb in El Presido: Historic Craftsman in Downtown/El Presidio

This neat little bungalow in one of Tucson’s best neighborhoods fits up to 4 guests and has recently been refurbished. Consequently, you’ve got a new kitchen, immaculate bathroom, cozy lounge with an open fireplace and an incredible garden oasis to relax in.

It’s ideal walking distance to Downtown and nearby restaurants.

Best Affordable Hotel in El Presido: Days Inn by Wyndham Tucson City Center

With an outdoor swimming pool, free bicycles for guests and a free breakfast – this hotel is easily one of the best places to stay in Tucson for added value! Besides that, it’s located in the trendy El Presido, it’s perfectly poised for sightseeing and rooms are smartly equipped with all the traveler essentials.

Best Hotel in El Presido – Hotel Tucson City Center

This El Presido hotel certainly doesn’t scrimp on space – the rooms are huge and there is a colossal swimming pool that would delight even an Olympian. Lined by palms and other foliage, be sure to dedicate a few hours to soaking up the sun between checking out the nearby sites.

Things to See and Do in El Presido:

– Dine at the nation’s oldest Mexican restaurant, the award-winning family ran El Charro Cafe

– Relax in the among the rose gardens and sculptures of El Presido Plaza

– Take a riverside stroll along the Santa Cruz River

– Check out what’s on at the Fox Tucson Theatre

– Rummage around for old books and retro vinyls at Old Paint Records

– Catch live music, feast on global fare and nab a happy hour deal at La Cochina

– Tick off the Old Prima County Courthouse and the Tucson City Hall

– Browse Latin American folk art at the Tucson Museum of Art

– Delve deep into the city’s past at the Presido San Agustin del Tucson Museum

– Treat yourself to locally produced arts and crafts in the boutiques at Old Town Artisans

– Follow the 2.5 mile Turquoise Trail, which begins in El Presido and loops you through the historic landmarks of Downtown Tucson

#5 Oro Valley – Best Neighborhood in Tucson for Families

Oro Valley is a suburb of Tucson located a 30-minute drive north of Downtown. Meaning ‘gold’ in Spanish, the district attracted prospectors in the late 19th century.

Nowadays, this desert community is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The nearby mountains, hills and canyons are home to lush nature trails with rewarding views of the scenery.

tucson - oro valley

With all the fresh air, excellent gastropubs and child-friendly attractions, Oro Valley is our top pick for where to stay in Tucson for families. It’s one of the best areas to stay in Tucson for dipping into the urban attractions and gulping in the expanse of nature around the city.

Best Airbnb in Oro Valley – Oro Valley Home with Mountain View and Pool

Moments from the walking track into the Catalina Mountains, this Oro Valley accommodation is made for outdoor enthusiasts and budding hikers. You get your own private guesthouse, and you are welcome to use the family pool in the backyard.

Also, the hot tub is a sight for sore eyes after a day of hiking!

Best Affordable Hotel in Oro Valley – Fairfield Inn & Suites Tucson North/ Oro Valley

In this hotel in Oro Valley, you can marvel at the nearby mountain ranges from your outdoor pool. Studio rooms provide ideal living quarters for families and the hotel has a babysitting service available.

Rooms are well-stocked with all the possible amenities, and you get breakfast included in the rate.

Best Hotel in Oro Valley – El Conquistador Tucson A Hilton Resort

This deluxe vacation resort boasts a stunning pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and impeccable rooms. They have a variety of lodgings available including spacious villas for families in need of extra room.

The grounds are very green and offer plenty of areas to relax and soak up the incredible views of the valley.

Things to See and Do in Oro Valley:

– Take a scenic road trip to Mount Lemmon for awesome views and hiking trails plus a ski resort for winter

– Sample local food and pick up arts and crafts at the Oro Valley Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning

– Hike and bike along the many trails of the sprawling Catalina State Park, you can even opt to camp here for a night

– Visit the Vista Sun Wheel

– Let the kids play at the Children’s Museum

– Dine on local, seasonal dishes at Harvest Restaurant

– Explore the Honey Bee Canyon Park, then challenge yourself with the Will Burro Trail

– Cool down from the heat at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center – awesome for kids!

– Sip a locally brewed beer at Noble Hop and tuck into a gastro meal

– Follow the Pima Canyon trail along the Pima Wash – eyes peeled for rattlesnakes, waterfalls and wildflowers!

FAQ about Finding a Place to Stay in Tucson

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Tucson and where to stay.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Tucson

A banner creative for World Nomads travel insurance

It’s good to get lost sometimes, but it’s also good not to get too lost. There are people that want you home in one piece.

There’s one travel insurance provider The Broke Backpacker trusts for all his wildest shenanigans… World Nomads!

Click the button below to get a quote on your insurance or read our in-depth review of World Nomads’ coverage. And then… let the shenanigans begin. 😉

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Tucson

Tucson is the perfect destination for sunset seekers, nature lovers and culture vultures. You’ve got art and history, cacti and mountains.

And when it comes to satisfying your tummy, you can feast on scandalously authentic Mexican grub and wash it all down with a beer from one of the many Tucson breweries as the sun gleams overhead. We hope our guide has inspired to explore this awesome city!

So, of all the best areas to stay in Tucson that we checked out, we reckon the best neighborhood to stay in Tucson has to be El Presido. You’ve got a bit of everything going on in this historic and utterly charming barrio.

We love the walkability, the leafy gardens, the variety of restaurants and attractions, the peachy nightlife. We think you’ll love it too.

For one of the best places to stay in Tucson, certainly check out the Days Inn by Wyndham Tucson City Center. You get a lot of value for your cash, and it’s right in the beating heart of Tucson.

Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email [email protected] to find out how.

Thanks for reading – that was fun! 😀

We bring you epic FREE content!
Find out how YOU can help support us.

We’re a big site with a big team and this job isn’t always easy. But we do it because we love it – we love providing epic and free content. We love the knowledge that our content keeps you adventuring. We don’t ask for money, but if you’d like to find out how you can help the site in more organic ways, click the button below.
Thank you for your support 🙂

Bye for now, but not forever!

If you want MORE top-tier Broke Backpacker content like this, then sign up for our weekly newsletter below to get the latest and greatest!

    And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!