Photograph courtesy George H.H. Huey/Photoshelter
Boosters have forever promoted Tucson as “the Old Pueblo.” As anachronistic as that moniker may be for the million-plus metropolitan area, a vintage Southwest does survive within this modern Sunbelt city. Built for Santa Monica cosmetics queen Merle Norman, El Rancho Merlita is a 1950s-era hacienda with western art, stone fireplaces, and ponderosa pine details. It’s an easy drive to the city’s eastern edge and the maze of trails in the Cactus Forest of Saguaro National Park, and 15 minutes to the north of the inn, you can hike to the waterfalls of Sabino Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. The Catalinas transfixed another Californian, artist Maynard Dixon, who moved to Tucson in 1939; Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery features a museum dedicated to Dixon’s works plus galleries with Native American crafts. To get another taste of an earlier Tucson, walk through a desert garden to the Grill at Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort for Sunday brunch with views of the Catalinas.