Where to stay in Tucson for first time: 3 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Tucson as a first-timer can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Tucson for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Tucson for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map. I’ll also share where I stayed in Tucson and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Before going into the main topic, let’s look at some highlights of Tucson:

Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona after Phoenix. It is located in the Sonoran Desert, surrounded by five mountain ranges, including  the Tucson Mountains and Santa Catalina Mountains.

The city has a hot desert climate with very hot summers and mild winters. It’s known for its abundant sunshine and low humidity.

Tucson has a diverse population with a rich cultural heritage influenced by Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo-American cultures. The city has a vibrant arts and music scene.

The University of Arizona, a prominent public research university, is located in Tucson. The university is known for its strong programs in astronomy, architecture, and various scientific fields.

Tucson offers several attractions, including the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park, Old Tucson Studios, and the Pima Air & Space Museum. The city is also a hub for astronomy enthusiasts, given its designation as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy and its observatories.

Tucson is recognized as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, highlighting its rich food culture. The city boasts a variety of delicious Mexican and Sonoran cuisine, and it has a vibrant culinary scene with many local restaurants and food festivals.

The surrounding natural landscape provides opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and bird watching. Saguaro National Park, in particular, is famous for its giant saguaro cacti.

Is Tucson safe to visit?

Tucson, is generally considered a safe city to visit. There’s homeless people around in certain areas, but they are not a big safety concern. It’s always recommended  to be aware of your surroundings, avoid walking alone at night, and take common-sense measures to protect yourself and your belongings.

Where to stay in Tucson for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Tucson for first-timers and tourists are Downtown Tucson, Catalina Foothills, and Oro Valley. These areas offer a variety of accommodations and are good locations to explore the city and its attractions.

Downtown Tucson is the city’s cultural and historic heart, offering a vibrant atmosphere with restaurants, shops, galleries, and entertainment options. You’ll be close to attractions like the Tucson Museum of Art, the historic El Presidio neighborhood, and the lively nightlife on Fourth Avenue.

The Catalina Foothills provide a more upscale and residential experience. It’s nestled against the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains, offering stunning views and outdoor activities. You’ll find upscale resorts, golf courses, and high-end shopping at places like La Encantada.

Oro Valley is a suburban area located north of Tucson, known for its family-friendly neighborhoods, golf courses, and proximity to the beautiful Catalina State Park. It offers a more relaxed atmosphere while still providing access to amenities.

During my trip to Tucson, I stayed at the Doubletree By Hilton. It was a great mid-range hotel, located within a short walk from the Tucson convention center, close to everything. Easy access to free streetcars to get to other parts of downtown and the university. My room was clean and well appointed.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Tucson for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Tucson first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Tucson first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Tucson, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Tucson have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

3 Safe areas to stay in Tucson for first-timers and tourists:

1. Downtown Tucson

Downtown Tucson is an excellent base if you’re looking for a dynamic urban experience with easy access to cultural attractions, dining, and entertainment. This area is home to various cultural attractions, including the Tucson Museum of Art, the historic Fox Theatre, and the Children’s Museum Tucson.

The area features historic buildings, including the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson, which offers a glimpse into Tucson’s history.

Fourth Avenue, located just west of downtown, is a popular destination for nightlife, eclectic shops, and unique dining experiences. You’ll find a variety of bars, clubs, and live music venues.

Downtown Tucson has a diverse culinary scene, ranging from trendy restaurants to local cafes and food trucks. The area is known for its Southwestern and Mexican cuisine.

Downtown Tucson is relatively walkable, making it easy to explore the streets, visit shops, and enjoy outdoor spaces.

Best places to stay in Downtown Tucson for first-timers:

Mid-range ($$): Doubletree By Hilton Tucson Downtown, 4-star hotel centrally located in Downtown Tucson, close to everything, including Museum of Art, City Hall and Pima County Public Library. It has a fitness center, private parking, a 24-hour front desk, and an outdoor pool.

Budget ($): The Downtown Clifton Hotel, great 3-star hotel located in a nice location, close to  Tucson Museum of Art, Rialto Theatre and Tucson City Hall. Easy access to a lot of great shops and bars. It has free parking, which is a bonus for those who drive. 

Budget ($): Hampton Inn Tucson Downtown, Az, great 3-star hotel in central Tucson, near restaurants, shops and the metro. It features an Outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour front desk, onsite parking, and fabulous breakfast.

Budget ($): El Amador Downtown Luxury Inn, 3-star good value for money holiday home on South 4th Avenue in the heart of Tucson, within walking distance to everything downtown Tucson. It has free parking, and some rooms with a well-fitted kitchen.

Mid-range ($$): Graduate Tucson, popular 4-star hotel located on East 2nd Street, next to U of Arizona and a huge variety of restaurants.  It has an amazing rooftop bar and pool, comfortable rooms, and free bikes. The rooftop has beautiful views especially for sunset.


2. Catalina Foothills

The Catalina Foothills is a great base in Tucson if you’re looking for a more serene and upscale desert experience with access to outdoor activities. It is a scenic area located in the northern part of Tucson.

The Catalina Foothills offer breathtaking views of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The desert landscape and proximity to the mountains create a picturesque setting, especially during sunrise and sunset.

 The area provides easy access to outdoor activities, including hiking and biking trails in places like Sabino Canyon and Catalina State Park. The Catalina Foothills are also home to several golf courses.

La Encantada, an upscale shopping and dining destination in the Catalina Foothills, offers boutique shops, gourmet restaurants, and a luxurious atmosphere.

Consideration: The Catalina Foothills are situated farther from the downtown core, and Having a car is necessary.

Best places to stay in Tucson in Catalina Foothills:

Mid-range ($$): Embassy Suites Tucson – Paloma Village, 4-star accommodation situated in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, easy access to bars/restaurants around the Encantada. It has beautiful views, free parking, an outdoor pool, family rooms and fabulous breakfast.

Mid-range ($$): Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa, 4-star hotel located at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, featuring an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, and a business center. You can enjoy activities nearby such as golf, horseback riding and hiking.

Mid-range ($$): The Lodge at Ventana Canyon, 4-star hotel located close to  Sabino Canyon and Ventana Canyon Trailhead. It has 2 swimming pools, a fitness center, free parking, and family rooms.

Mid-range ($$): Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, 4-star beautiful resort located in an upmarket area, near Sabino Canyon, offering on-site dining, an outdoor pool, and a spa.

Budget ($): Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, 3-star accommodation with a beautiful landscape, and stunning mountain views. It has an outdoor swimming pool, free parking, and a 24-hour front desk.

Budged ($): Hampton Inn & Suites Tucson Mall, 3-star hotel, has excellent views of the Catalina Foothills, offering free parking, a pool, and comfortable family rooms.


3. Oro Valley

Oro Valley is a great choice for those seeking a quieter suburban experience with easy access to outdoor activities. This area offers picturesque views of the Santa Catalina Mountains and the surrounding desert landscape. The area is characterized by its natural beauty, providing a tranquil and scenic environment.

Best places to stay in Tucson in Oro Valley:

Budget ($): 3 Palms Tucson North Foothills, popular 3-star hotel located close to Oro Valley and Catalina foothills, walkable to several restaurants. Good  base for visiting Saguaro National Park. 

Budget ($): Fairfield Inn & Suites Tucson North/Oro Valley, 3-star hotel situated off of Highway 77, featuring spacious studios and daily buffet breakfast.

Budget ($): Holiday Inn Express & Suites Oro Valley-Tucson North, an IHG Hotel, 3-star accommodation located in a quiet area, back a bit from busy Oracle Road.


In conclusion, Downtown Tucson, Catalina Foothills, and  Oro Valley are the best places to stay in Tucson for first-timers and tourists. These are generally safe areas that provide a variety of accommodations to book your stay.

You can continue reading about other cities in Arizona in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Tucson. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

Leave a Comment