Guide to Tucson


The Western Museums Association’s 2024 Annual Meeting will be held on September 25-28, in Tucson, Arizona. With the theme of BALANCE, WMA 2024 will explore ideas of sustainability at both an individual and institutional level, be an opportunity for attendees to participate in a unique slate of educational programming, connect with colleagues, and explore ideas that will help define the future of museums and BALANCE the wellbeing individuals, organizations, and the diverse communities they serve.

To help you and other attendees plan for your time in Tucson and to get the most out of this unique, vibrant, and culture-rich city, we put together this City Guide full of practical information.



About Tucson • Geography + Climate • Signature Events • Arts + Culture

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The area now known as Tucson, Arizona has a long and rich history dating back to visits by the Paleo-Indians over 12,000 years ago followed by Hohokam Indians communities living here for 4,000 years before the Spanish missionaries and soldiers arrived in the late 1600s. The word Tucson is dervied from the Spanish name "Tucsón" which itself originates from the O'odham word "Cuk Șon" and translates to “(be) black, (be) dark.” This term has more popularly been interpreted to mean “at the base of the black hill," referencing the iconic Sentinel Peak. Even more recent names for Tucson are "The Old Pueblo" and "America's biggest small town."


Today, situated 108 miles southeast of Phoenix, and just 11 miles north of the United States-Mexico border, Tucson is the cultural hub of the Sonoran Desert and is considered one of the brightest cities in the United States where the sun shines 350 days of the year. The city has numerous historical neighborhoods each referencing a diverse cultural heritage such as El Presidio, Tucson's oldest neighborhood in downtown/central Tucson. Moving to the East, you'll find treasures such as the Saguaro National Park East and to the West Saguaro National Park West and Old Tucson Studios, the set of many famous Western films. In Northern Tucson you'll find the headquarters of the 2024 Annual Meeting, the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.


Inventor of: The Chimichanga            International acclaim: 1st UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in the U.S.






The greater Tucson area, on an alluvial plain in the Sonoran Desert, sits along the Santa Cruz and Rillito Rivers, sandwiched between five mountain ranges: the Santa Catalina Mountains, the Tortolita Mountains, the Santa Rita Mountains, the Rincon Mountains, and the Tucson Mountains. Tucson has a hot desert climate with two main seasons, a hot summer and mild winter. Known as having "a dry heat" the average temperature for the year is 83º, with the warmest month being June and July and the coolest being January. During late September, the month of the Annual Meeting, the temperature is an average high of 92º and an average low of 67º.


Although warmer weather is scheduled for the Annual Meeting, the conference halls can be rather chilly. We recommend layering up, bringing a jacket for the indoors and the Evening Events outside.




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For over 50 years Tucson has been home to the annual Tucson Gem & Mineral show, the largest, oldest, and most prestigious gem and mineral shows in the world. In addition to the showcase, since 2009 the University of Arizona has hosted the annual Tucson Festival of Books attracting more that 400 authors and 80,000 attendees.


Tucson grew out of opportunities and oppositions of the Old West. Today, the cross-cultural heritage of the city invites a range of cultural traditions, events, and fairs. One of Tucson's largest festivals, also called the All Souls Procession has been held every November since 1990. Modeled after the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), the weekend-long fesitval combines many cultural traditions and involves a parade with floats and performances. In addition to the parade, every October Tucson is home to the folklife festival, Tucson Meet Yourself. For one weekend, over 30 different ethnicities celebrate their culture through food, artwork, and performaces such as dances, singing, and music



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At the Annual Meeting, you’ll encounter remarkable cultural institutions, historical Spanish colonial architecture, and a variety of entertainment. This year’s Opening Evening Event will feature a tour of the Tohono Chul botanical garden and gallery to begin our time in Tucson, emersed in the enchanting Sonoran Desert.

Discover the magical world of over 500 antique miniatures houses and roomboxes at The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniaturesa truly, one-of-a-kind collection - or travel through time, history, culture, and art at the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block. If you are one for history, be sure to visit the Arizona History Museum and learn about some of histories iconic people such as Geronimo, Wyatt Earp, Emperor and Empress Maximillian and Crlota of Mexico.

And take a spectacular Pre-Conference tour of Tucson Botanical Gardens, the Arizona History Museum, and a combined art experience at the Center for Creative Photography, the University of Airzona Museum of Art, and the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block. For other Tucson art and cultural experiences, head to Visit Tucson's list of Museums and Art Galleries & Studios.

There are also a wide variety of beautiful murals throughout Tucson! Visit Tucon's list of Public Murals for a list of several famous public artworks such as "Dreamlike Bike Rides" by Joe Pagac, "Surreal Upgrades" by Rock Martinez, and "Expanded Imagination" by Jessica Gonzales, and more. For a self-guided tour of murals in the greater Downtown area, be sure to reference this resource!








Considered one of the most exciting culinary destinations in the U.S., including being home to the oldest Mexican resturant in the country, Tucson's dynamic dining scene represents practically every cuisine category.

Breakfast / Coffee + Tea

Prep & Pastry, Buendia Breakfast & Lunch Cafe, Blue Willow ResturantBarista Del BarrioFlora's MarketExco Roast Co.

Lunch / Dinner / All Day Options

Caruso's Italian Resturant (Italian) Seis Kitchen (Mexican) Tito & Pep (Mesquite/Southwest) Commoner & Co. (Global cuisine) The Monica (American) Time Market (American / Brewery / Coffee)

Vegan / Vegetarian / Gluten Free

La Chaiteria (Vegan) Beaut Burger (Vegan) True Food Kitchen (Health food) Kukai (Japanese) Urban Plates (New American)

Beer / Wine / Cocktails

Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar (Beer / Wine) Arizona Wine Collective (Wine) The Owls Club (Cocktails) Juniper (Gin Bar) Barrio Brewing Co. (Beer) Borderlands Brewing Co. (Beer / Cocktails)

You’ll also find a few dining options and a coffee shop inside the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, and there will be food and beverage provided throughout the Annual Meeting.



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Getting around Tucson is easy with their smart, streamlined transit system that includes shuttles, buses, and a light rail, all of which can be viewed here. For a convenient way to travel around the city, hop on the Tucson Sun Link Streetcar to ride through the University of Arizona campus, the four downtown-area shopping-dining-entertainment districts, the Main Gae Square, the Mercado disrict, and the Congress Street discrtic.

There will also be shuttles available during the Annual Meeting to take attendees back and forth between the hotel to offsite Events and Tours.

If you’re flying into Tucson, there are a few ways to get to the WMA 2024 headquarters hotel, the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. Unfortunately, the hotel does NOT offer airport shuttle service, but there are other options available. If you’re coming from Tucson International Airport (TUS), you can get to WMA headquarters by Taxi, rental car, Lyft or Uber. Click here to view TUS transportation options. If you’re coming from Phoenix Sky Harbor Aiport (PHX) you can get to Tucson by Shuttle, Greyhound Bus, Taxi, Uber, Lyft, or a rental car. Click here to view PHX transportation options.





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Tucson is home to a variety of stunning parks, scenic hiking trails, and lush botanical gardens that offer visitors a chance to engage in outdoor recreational activities and explore the beauty of the Sonoran Desert.


During your time at the conference, find a peaceful moment at one of Tucson's many outdoor activites including visiting a national park or forest such as Saguaro National Park, the Coronado National Forest, or Sabino Canyon.


There are also various gardens and nature walks to enjoy such as the Tucson Botanical Garden or the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Learn more about what Outdoor and Wellness activities Tucson has to offer here







The Loews Ventana Canyon Resort is this year's Annual Meeting headquarters hotel located at 7000 N. Resort Drive, Tucson, Arizona, 85750. With stunning scenic views of the Catalina Moutains, the Ventana Canyon Resort is the perfect place for WMA 2024 attendees to connect, learn, and feel a sense of BALANCE!


At the Hotel, you'll be able to take a break while enjoying the sunshine by the outdoor pool, or get a workout in the fitness center. There are multiple dining options on-site including the Flying V Bar & Grill, The Canyon Club, Vista Barrista, and Bill's Grill. See photos of the Annual Meeting headquarters here.


For more information and to reserve your room, head over to our 2024 Annual Meeting Hotel Reservations page.





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