Unique Shopping Experiences in Tucson and Vicinity
Ms. Karen has an aversion to malls and strip shopping centers. However, if she must shop, she prefers to shop locally and make it an experience. So here is her list of out-of-the-way spots offering unique gifts, shopping, and adventures along the way.
Tucson Tamale Company – Buy a dozen and freeze or send them as a gift. Tucson Tamale Company will ship.
The Museum Store at Tohono Chul – Unique gifts for your kitchen and more. Greenhouse at Tohono Chul – Open year-round the greenhouse at Tohono Chul has close to a hundred species for sale that are available nowhere else! And at reasonable prices! Especially if you are a member.
There are plenty of museum stores and galleries with that special gift; DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, Tucson Museum of Art downtown and Tucson Desert Art Museum on Tanque Verde at Sabino Canyon Road. All are worthwhile. Click here to continue this article.
Native Seeds – If you are in the Tucson area, pay a visit to our one-of-a-kind retail store. Centrally located on Campbell Avenue just south of Ft. Lowell Road, besides Seeds, the NS/S shop offers a variety of Southwestern foods, including native chile powders, savory mole sauces, locally grown beans, and much more.
Old Town Artisans – Ok, most locals have heard of this place. Yet, it’s still one of our favorites. Have you been there lately? Particularly around the holidays when you can find unique gifts for anyone without the crowds and the usual boring mall stuff. Have lunch or a cocktail at La Cocina Cantina. It will take the stress out of holiday shopping.
The Lost Barrio – South of Broadway on Park. Imports from Mexico and other countries as well as wonderful unique furniture, tiles, cabinets, and hardware. We like Petroglyphs.
Casas Adobes has several specialty stores, a new Artist’s Guild with reasonable pricing.
North of Tucson in Oro Valley off Vistoso Village Dr. is the Western National Parks Association Store, which carries a large variety of American Indian arts and crafts as well as books, garden stuff, specialty foods and kitchen supplies. It helps the Parks, and it is TAX FREE!
Tucson also has several Farmers Markets that offer unique shopping experiences. How about the Desert Museum for books, jewelry, pottery? Go for the day, get some holiday shopping out of the way.
South of Tucson
Take a day trip down the I-19 to the Santa Cruz Spice Company. Worth the drive just for the scents. Located just south of Mission Tumacacori. Stop in at Tumacacori National Historical Park. They have books and other interesting things and your purchases help support the preservation of these wonderful old ruins. Southern Arizona history & culture at their finest.
Green Valley Pecan Store has pecan pies, large and small, pecans coated in brittle, cinnamon, you name it. Gift baskets shipped out from the store. What could be easier or more local? Who needs Harry and what’s his name?
Tubac comes to mind. This quaint old village has about 100 shops, galleries and restaurants. Don’t miss the exhibits and gift store at Tubac Center of the Arts. Just north of Tubac proper is the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa that has two shops to please you. While there, enjoy a spa treatment & buy someone a gift certificate.
If you happen to pass through Arivaca 23 miles east of Tubac, stop into the Arts Guild for worthwhile textiles and tie-dye clothing. Take a walk through the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Bring your spotting scope or camera with a long lens. If you are patient, you will see a lot of amazing birds and other native critters here.
Near Sierra Vista
Birders will find a wide assortment of books and bird paraphernalia at the San Pedro House just east of Sierra Vista. If you are a member, you can schedule and appointment this year, otherwise they are closed to visitors. Or visit Ramsey Canyon Preserve book store a little south of Sierra Vista. Take a hike up this beautiful canyon. Leave a donation.
The near-ghost town of Pearce on Ghost Town Trail has three unique shops. Marcia’s Garden features hand-made, natural goat milk soaps & lotions from her little herd of Nubian Dairy Goats. And yes, Marcia does the milking herself. Patty’s Old Pearce Pottery Shop sells … well, unique pottery and other interesting items. Prickly Pear Emporium offers gifts, souvenirs, and collectibles. Typically, these little shops are open on weekends. Call ahead. Don’t miss the historic Pearce Cemetery. On the way from Tucson via I-10, you can also enjoy the Amerind, Golden Rule Vineyards, and Triangle T Guest Ranch at scenic Texas Canyon. Triangle T’s saloon serves the public on Saturdays. The picnic are at the Amerind is on our list of the Best Picnic Areas in Southern Arizona.
We do not know if the Singing Winds Bookstore outside of Benson is still open but last we heard it was open by appointment only. To make an appointment, call the shop 520-586-2425 and leave a message.
Tombstone actually has some really good buys despite their tourist trap reputation. Arlene’s and Shady Ladies Closet are particularly recommended. Go for the day. Dine at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, the best Cowboy Bar in America.
And if you are WAY out east in Duncan, stop into the Visitors Center for a great buy on a variety of good smelling soap and oils. And don’t miss Germaine’s at the east end of town.
As of 2019, we have been here for 15 years and found a lot of interesting places. However, we are sure there are many other, out-of-the-way places that offer unique gifts. Let us know what you find of interest. You can contact us here.
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