Giant Cacti & Spicy Craft Beer in Marana, Arizona
A local destination expert shares all the spicy secrets of Marana, Arizona.
Just outside of Tucson, the town of Marana, Arizona is full of fun surprises. Adjacent to Saguaro National Park and its iconic sea of Saugaro cacti, there's plenty to experience outdoors. The unique local dining, craft beer, and lodging options will make your stay unforgettable. We spoke with Laura Cortelyou to uncover a new side of Marana, and you don't want to miss it.
Which place is right in your backyard but also on your bucket list?
Saguaro National Park is the fourth or fifth most visited National Park in Arizona (depending on the time of year). It has the most spectacular southwest views, wide open spaces, and of course saguaro cacti, which can be more than 50 feet tall. As the largest cacti in the country, they are the icon of the Southwest.
In the summer, saguaros have beautiful white flower blossoms that look like a cross between an orchid and a lotus flower, which eventually turn into bright ruby red fruit. You can also spot the bright yellow palo verde trees and the ironwood trees with pink blossoms in Saguaro National Park. When they're all blooming, it looks like Easter Sunday.
Where would you take a know-it-all local to show them a new side of Marana?
I would take them to Tucson Premium Outlets at Marana Center. It's a beautiful outdoor mall, and many locals have never been to it before. Most of the outdoor areas are in the shade, so it's a nice, cool place to get out and walk around. It's really pretty.
Catalina Brewing features wild Sonoran Desert ingredients in their beer, such as prickly pear cactus fruit, mesquite pods, agave, chiltepin peppers, and Sonora white wheat. Button Brew House has a spectacular chiltepin red ale, which is wonderfully spicy. Both breweries are fun, local places to hang out with outdoor patios.
If you could describe Marana in three words, which would you pick?
Marana is a nature and culture experience. You can easily get out into nature and catch scenic views at Saguaro National Park, the Sonoran Desert, or the Tortolita Mountains. However, you're also never far from culture when you're in Marana. You can go check out Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, a world-class zoo and botanical garden or visit Old Tucson, the famous Western feature film backlot.
Where can visitors stay in Marana?
Every hotel in Marana has reopened, so there a lot of places to choose from. The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is a world-ranked resort and spa, with easy access to the Tortolita Trails. Marana is also famous for the White Stallion Ranch, a one-of-a-kind luxury guest ranch. It's very small-scale, but it has loads of activities.
Mira Vista Resort is another place to check out- it's a luxury vintage 1940s clothing-optional resort. Movie stars used to stay here while filming in the area!
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