Tucson Day Trip 1: Mission Tumacácori To Mission San Xavier
Tubac, The Missions, The Titan Missile Museum, The Mineral Discovery Museum and more!
There are two historically important missions south of Tucson just off I-19: Missions San Xavier del Bac and Tumacácori.
(pron: san ha’-vee-air and too-ma-ca’-cor-ee) “Bac” was the Papago Indian name for the site. The Papago Indians are now known as the Tohono O’odham, meaning “Desert People” as opposed to their cousins in the Phoenix area who are now the River People, due to their proximity to the Gila River.
Visiting Mission San Xavier del Bac, Mission Tumacacori National Historic Park and the historic Tubac Presidio in between makes for a fine day trip. And if you have time, the Titan Missile Museum is just a mile or so west of the freeway and an excellent side trip. (See our videos).
All are highly recommended.
Mission San Xavier del Bac is about 15 minutes south of downtown Tucson. It is the finest example of Spanish mission architecture in the United States. It was built in the late 18th century and is today both an important piece of Baja Arizona history and an active Roman Catholic church serving the Tohono O’odham people.
It’s known worldwide as the “White Dove of the Desert” and you will know why as soon as you see it. This mission was lovingly and expertly restored in the 1990s. Knowledgeable docents conduct tours, and we recommend you take one. Take some pictures, visit the little museum, buy a candle, and leave a donation.
Then continue a half hour south to Mission Tumacácori National Historical Park. Unlike its beautifully restored sister to the north, Mission Tumacácori survives in an arrested state of decay. It’s a National Historical Park and sometimes a park ranger is there to give tours. You can also take the short walk down to the Santa Cruz River, the lifeblood of Native American and early Spanish, then Mexican communities in this area. Hike the Anza Trail to Tubac if you wish. It’s 4.5 miles.
In 1775 and 1776, Juan Bautista de Anza led 30 families and a diverse herd of animals 1200 rugged miles to a point on the Pacific Coast where they built the Presidio and Mission that became the village that became the City of San Francisco, California. (Click on Local History or Tumacácori in the Scroll Bar for annual events at the Mission.)
There is no place to dine near Mission San Xavier, but just north of Tumacácori is Wisdom’s Cafe’ (authentic Mexican) which isn’t open Sundays.
There are several restaurants at the Village of Tubac.
More information is available on our Attractions South of Tucson page.
- Whipple Observatory: Looking For Answers In A Vast Universe!
- Where Does The Santa Cruz River Start & End?
- Tumacacori To Tubac: Anza Day 2013
- Tubac Presidio State Historic Park
- Titan II Missile Museum
- Take The Kids: Mineral Discovery Center & Mission Mine Tour
- Stables Ranch Grille at Tubac Golf Resort: A Review!
- Shopping Tubac Az: Favorite Shops and Galleries
- Sharon: “Firefly Should Be Included On The Guide” Really?
- Sally Goes To The Sahuarita Classic Car Show