Living Life on the Streetcar Line – A Saturday
February 17, 2015
by Liz Felix
It’s no surprise that Downtown Tucson has changed in last couple of years. New shops and restaurants are springing up, and the new Sun Link modern streetcar has taken off in a tremendous way, fueling tourism into the historic center of the Old Pueblo. One North Fifth, The Herbert, The Flats, and La Entrada are just a few apartment buildings around Downtown, and as Tucson continues to grow, so will the demand for that urban city living experience. Already for many, Downtown Tucson is where they live, where they work, and where they play. Below is just a look into a day of what life is like on the streetcar line.
A Must: Breakfast at Hotel Congress, The First Stop
Whether you’re a native Tucsonan or an out-of-towner, deciding to have breakfast at the Cup Cafe inside Hotel Congress will always be one of the best decisions of your life. The chefs at Cup Cafe are breakfast professionals. Can you say omelet bar? The food is ridiculously good, and the prices aren’t so bad either. If you’re in the mood for the savory or the sweet, Cup Cafe has it all. TheCast Iron Baked Eggs are a favorite menu choice at Cup Cafe, but if you’ve got a hankering for the sugary stuff, go for the Brioche French Toast. You’ll have no regrets.
A Little Bit of Culture: Tucson Museum of Art, Stop 6W – Congress at Granada Ave
You’ve fueled up and you’re ready to seize the day! From Hotel Congress, take a short walk to Congress and 6th Street and hop on the streetcar. Enjoy the ride, but make sure to get off on Congress at Granada Avenue and head over to the Tucson Museum of Art. Just a short 3-minute walk from the stop, the Tucson Museum of Art exhibits a wide array of art. From pre-Columbian Latin American pottery to oil paintings from their Art of the American West Collection, the eyes, mind and soul will certainly have enough to feast on.
The Tucson Museum of Art is located in the historic block that use to be The Presidio of San Augustin del Tucson, which was established in 1775. The area is perfect for exploring if you’re up for some history lessons.
A Whole Lot More Than Just Lunch: San Agustin Mercado, Stop 1 – Cushing Street at Convento
After spending some time soaking in Tucson’s art scene, you’ll probably find yourself famished again. Head back to the Congress at Granada stop and take a ride to the San Agustin Mercado at the west end of the streetcar line. It’s the perfect place to pick up some wine and cheese, or indulge in that afternoon lunch.
Once there, step into the market and you’ll find over ten merchants including a bakery, a coffee bar, restaurants, and even a spa. If you haven’t built up an appetite, check out some of the shops like Mast, a local boutique that specializes in handmade jewelry, home goods and other accessories, or Transit Cycles, which not only sells bicycles but offers repair services for cyclists in need of a quick fix or a cool upgrade.
For those of you looking for some homemade tortillas to take home to accompany tomorrow’s breakfast, you have to stop at La Estrella Bakery. Bringing a little bit of the vibrant Mexican culture from South Tucson to the Downtown area, La Estrella Bakery helps fill that void for abuelita’s favorite cookies like their Cochitos (a molasses based cookie) and the Galleta de Tres Colores, the popular three color cookie that’s goes perfect with a cup of Joe.
Because Shopping Is Good for the Economy: Fed By Threads, Stop 10E – Plaza Centro
You may not think of shopping when it comes to Downtown Tucson, but more and more shops in the area are opening up to offer you more than just food and beer. Fed By Threads joined the Downtown Tucson scene in May 2014, hoping to bring change to the fashion industry by embracing the use of sustainable materials while helping to tackle the issue of hunger in America. With every item sold, Fed By Threads donates $1.20 to Feeding America, an organization that helps provide meals to communities in America facing hunger everyday.
The American-made and environment-friendly apparel shop has a wardrobe collection for both men and women, and even some items for tiny humans. From dresses to home goods, take a moment to browse the store’s fabulous inventory, including their hand woodblocked printed collection. Yes, shopping makes us feel good, but it’s even better when you know it’s also doing some good. Go ahead and treat yo’ self while contributing to a good cause.
Somethin’ for the Kid In You: D&D Pinball, Stop 12 – 4th Ave at 6th/7th St
Sometimes a little bit of old school fun is needed to remind you that life is (or at least was or can be) more than just a hard day’s work. Take the streetcar to stop 12 and head up to D&D Pinball on the corner of 4th Avenue and 7th Street. Trade in your dollar bills for some quarters and watch as your kids (or the kid in you) takes a shot at breaking some high scores on one of the 30 retro pinball machines at D&D.
Back For Dinner: Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery, Stop 9W – Congress at 6th Ave
The sounds of the pinball machines may have disguised the grumbles coming from your stomach, natures way of telling you it’s dinner time. From Stop 12, take the streetcar going west and exit at Stop 9W and take a short walk to one of Tucson’s favorite dinner joints, Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery.
You’re going to want to go straight towards the ice cream station once you begin to read their list of ice cream flavors but, exercise a little restraint since Hub serves tasty classic American fare like chicken pot pie and mac and cheese, which you can upgrade with bacon or lobster. Or both. Because it’s bacon and lobster and you’re only human.
Reward yourself for clearing your plate and choose from a variety of their staple flavors like Bourbon Almond Brittle, Salted Caramel or Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. Don’t be afraid to mix and match if you’re having a hard time choosing just one flavor! You’ve had a long day of fun and the last thing you need are ice cream limitations.
For more information on parking Downtown, click here. Want to track the streetcar? Check out this unofficial Tucson Streetcar Tracker here! (Special thanks to the app’s creator, Dallan Porter for helping me get around Downtown Tucson.)