Share Your Insider Tips to Win a National Prize Pack!

National Car Rental reached out to get my help collecting ideas for a new service they’ll be providing for so-called “Underrated, Over-Traveled” cities. The goal is helping business travelers find things to do when on the road in an unfamiliar city that maybe doesn’t get the publicity it deserves — something I think we’ve all struggled with regardless of why we travel. (Ideas for a layover during my next mileage run? I’m all ears!)

NATIONAL_LOGO_GR

They gave me a list of potential cities, and I selected Tucson, Arizona, because it’s one of the stops on this year’s Star MegaDO 5. All responses will be collected and incorporated into the local Tucson National Foursquare location profile so you can find them the next time you’re in town.

Your ideas can include anything, but here are some examples:

  • Dining
  • Sports and activities
  • Bars and nightlife
  • Outdoors attractions, parks, and public facilities
  • Arts, films, and live theater
  • Historical and famous landmarks

Share your suggestions in the comments below or on Twitter for why Tucson is an awesome destination and deserves to get a little more credit. If you send a tweet, please remember to direct it to me (@HackMyTrip) and to use the hashtag #NationalUOT so we can find it. I will be selecting the five BEST tips and those individuals will receive a prize pack from National that includes:

  • $50 American Express gift card
  • National Extreme Sport Duffel
  • National Ultimate Privacy Luggage Tag
  • National 14 oz Striped Coffee Tumbler

National Underrated Over-Traveled Winner

I will also be adding a $10 Starbucks gift card for every winner to make sure you have something to put in that coffee mug! If you have several suggestions, you may enter as many times as you like between now and 11:59 PM (Pacific Time) on Thursday, July 11. Winners will be announced on July 12, and each winner will receive only one prize.

This contest is sponsored by National Car Rental, which provided compensation for my help organizing the contest.

Scott created Travel Codex after learning how to travel better on a budget during grad school. He now flies over 150,000 miles every year.
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  • http://www.michaelwtravels.com/ Michael W Travels

    I’d probably check out the Museum of Pharmacy to see some of the odd items on display.

  • Mike

    Weak prizes.

  • doshivk@gmail.com

    We love flying and so why not check out the Prima Air and Space Museum!

  • Mark R.

    Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, where we saw a father try to explain to his two young children what the kit foxes were doing (procreating – it was hilarious watching the father handle this one!). Also, Old Tuscon.

  • MarcMon

    Go to Bison Witches! It has some great healthy food (a nice change of pace for the business traveler) and also a nice bar/back patio to sit back and relax

  • Joseph Mansour

    Go to sabino canyon!

  • Tom

    Summerhaven at the top of Mt Lemon, also Boneyard next to Pima Air & Space.

  • Jeff

    Loft Cinema! If you need to beat the heat in an old look Tucson setting of the 50’s theater with good food/drinks, and great mix of movies. Run as a non-for-profit and with many volunteers assisting the production, it truly is a great escape from the heat The old world theater is something I never experiences growing up and truly and impressed and lucky to be apart of.

  • SC

    The night observing program at Kitt Peak National Observatory is fantastic! Dress warmly though.

  • phil gold

    aside from being in middle of the country, some what, so its easy access for everyone, and great weather that time of year, you need to check out the “Carnival of Illusion”. I went two months ago when passing through and I loved it!
    I also recommend Windmill hotel. Its a quiet little place, so no BIG reward programs, but its cute and worked for me many times.
    Thanks!

  • bill twombly

    I suggest the Titan Missle Museum about 20 miles south of Tucson. Where else can you enter an underground missle silo with a decommissioned Titan missle with a 9 megaton warhead, and sit in the command launch capsule with your hand on the launch key!

    Watching Dr. Stangelove before: priceless.

  • Marc W, JFK

    The Pima Air & Space Museum is truly unique and a must for all travel/airplane enthusiasts! The entire museum is dedicated to the history of flight and houses one of the largest aircraft collections in the world, including World War II combat gliders, experimental aircraft, a B-17 “Flying Fortress” and many other military and commercial aircraft. There are a significant amount of aircraft outside representing a lot of different eras of aviation.

    There is a tram that can take you around or a shuttle to tour the grounds. This is a great way to see much of the museum without doing a ton of walking in the hot Tuscon heat.

    There is also 1+ hour bus tour of “The Boneyard,” where over 3800 military aircraft sit for storage, refurbishment, and parts. The docents are extremely knowledgeable and friendly on these tours.

    Don’t pass up this great opportunity to see this fascinating museum!

  • georockc

    Nice drive out to Saguaro National Park. Great chance to stretch the legs and see the desert.

  • peter5

    OK Corral!

  • JD

    Carneval of Illusions

  • Justin Does…

    I recommend the Old Tucson Studios where more than 300 films and television shows were filmed since 1939 (Rio Bravo, Gunsmoke, and The Three Amgios to name a few).

  • Jason

    You have to go to the original El Charro cafe downtown. Hands down some of the best Mexican food you will ever have. It’s located in a really cool, old home in downtown Tucson. Lots of charm and they even claim to have invented the Chimichanga. Also try El Guero Canelo on Oracle for a traditional Sonoran dog. What’s a Sonoran dog you ask? Hot dog wrapped in bacon, enough said. Enjoy!

  • Elaine

    Well, gotta post it! Don’t go there in the summer! ;)

  • Elaine

    The funny part about this to me is that when I was a kid and my dad an employee of TWA, my mom would peruse the TWA schedule (a booklet, I can see it now in my mind’s eye, that came out perhaps quarterly). She would then hone in on a place like Albuquerque or Tucson, deciding we should go there. Dyed in the wool New Yorkers, we knew less than nothing about such places, and we would tease her no end. She never had a good reason to go besides the flight connections being good ones and we never did go to any of them. She would have celebrated her 90th birthday this month and it is a great pleasure for me to write this comment, remembering the wonderful woman she was, despite this funny oddity.

    However did YOU pick Tucson??!!

  • Alexia

    I am a big fan of astronomy…so I would say the Kitt Peak National Observatory.
    For those who are fascinated by glass blowing, you can also visit the Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio.
    For nature lovers, there are obviously the Sabino Canyon and the Saguaro National Park, as well as the Tohono Chul Park for a relaxing afternoon tea or coffee.

  • Glenn

    A perfect day in Tucson (in the warmer months) would be a beautiful drive up the Catalina Highway to Mt. Lemmon at about 9,000 feet. Experience breathtaking scenery starting out in the desert and working your way up through about 8 different biomes. Once at the mountain top, take in that cool mountain air, stop in the small village of Summerhaven and grab an amazing huge chocolate chip cookie at Cabins and Cookies. If your into hiking, continue past Summerhaven and the road will end shortly after at the trailhead for the Aspen Loop trail. This 4 mile easy to moderate round trip hike is a spring-summer-fall classic in Tucson with great scenery into the Tucson valley and nice shade from the Arizona sun in the Aspen tree field.

    While on the mountain, a great way to to end the day for astronomy fans would be at SkyNights on Mt. Lemmon. Run by the University of Arizona, they have a nightly observing program at the top of Mt. Lemmon. This is very similar to the Kitt Peak program but more closely located to Tucson on Mt. Lemmon.

    Back in the valley, some of my favoriate Mexican restaurants that haven’t already been mentioned are Cafe Poca Cosa and Guadalajara Grill.

  • Kim Z

    While most people don’t think of comedy and Tucson in the same sentence, they do have a comedy club that brings in some national touring comics and even has an open mic night. Check out Laff’s Comedy Caffe.

  • Joe D

    When most people think of Arizona, Phoenix is first place that pops in someone’s mind. Although, Tucson has the same great weather but in a smaller town. One great highlight is the International Wildlife Museum and it only costs $8 to visit.

  • Nige

    Compared with the humid weather here on the East Coast, the dry warmth in Tucson allows one to enjoy a lot of outdoor activities. Outdoor museums (Pima Air & Space, Old Tucson Studios, etc.) are always interesting and in the hotter Summer weather one can head up into the mountains. And, in the winter, one can even ski in the mountains only about 1 1/2 hours drive from Tucson.

    For the evenings, there are many dining options and the downtown theatre has an interesting series of events. For tourists, restaurants like Pinnacle Peak offer a themed dining experience and there are plenty of reasonably priced, high-quality restaurants in the area, with inexpensive options targeted at the University of Arizona students.

  • Nige

    Since there hasn’t been another post in the past few hours, let me add something about the opportunities to travel in Southern Arizona.

    In years past, a trip down to Nogales in Mexico was safe. Plenty of parking on the US side of the border and then easy to walk into Mexico – even a Duty Free Shop to use. Not sure if that is to be recommended today.

    My favorite trip is to Tombstone. A visit to the cemetery at Boothill (free) is a great introduction. The movie about the history of Tombstone is quaint. And the highlight for some will be the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

    For those wanting something a bit cooler, perhaps a trip to Colossal Cave would work.
    All a great reason to rent a National car at TUS (Tucson Airport).

  • Jeanne @ HeelsFirst

    I love Tuscon! Cry Baby Couture is great vintage style shopping (ironically next to an Urban Outfitter chain).

    Pasco’s Kitchen and Lounge has great cocktails, and I love their quinoa super bowl and Albondigas Soup.

    Boca Tacos is off the beaten path but is fantastic. I love their camarones tacos, but the chorizos also good. They have non-traditional tacos (Bacon Wrapped Hotdog?) but I’ve never tried those.

    If you are looking for a fantastic breakfast and great hosts, Paul and Mark at the Catalina Park Inn Bed and Breakfast are amazing.

    There’s the desert museum, and of course, hiking out there too. But stay hydrated! The dry heat is deceiving.

    There’s a turtle pond on University Blvd. and Park. I like watching the turtles try to make a run for it.

  • thefig

    Comon guys and gals, for a quick lay over go to Lindys Diner on 4th, nothing
    like a food challenge to make the time pass. Lindy’s is smack dab in the
    center of 4th street which is an eclectic street in itself. Ride the old
    time trolley which now takes you not only thru 4th street but will also takes
    you throughout the UofA campus. Go visit the Biosphere2 or The Pima Air
    Museum, both are great.

  • thegrailer

    Food:
    Saga – Mexican/Sushi combo
    Poncho Villa’s Grill – Mexican
    El Torero – Mexican
    El Charro Café – Mexican
    Baggin’s -Sandwiches
    Bob Dobb’s Bar and Grill
    Eegee’s – Lemon Slush
    Jerry Bob’s Restaurant – Breakfast
    No Anchovies – pizza/beer
    Sausage Deli – sandwiches
    Cushing Street Bar and Restaurant – American

    Drink:
    The Buffet [Top Choice in all of TUS]
    Gentle Ben’s Brewing Co.
    Frog and Firkin

    Arts:
    The Loft – Inde movies
    Rialto – live music
    Center for Creative Photography

    To do:
    Pima Air and Space Museum
    Arizona State Museum
    Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum
    Tohono Chul Park- desert landscape, gardens
    Sabino Caynon – Hike, run, tram
    San Xavier Del Bac Mission

    To do on 4th Ave including:
    Mexican crafts
    Native American Jewelry
    Thrift shops
    4th Ave Food [some repeats from above]
    Bison Witches – sandwiches
    Pocho Villa’s Grill – Mexican
    La Indita – Mexican and Native American
    Brooklyn Pizza
    Magpies Pizza

    Casinos:
    Desert Diamond Casino
    Casino Del Sol

    Road trips:
    Tubac – 45 mins south
    Nogales, Mexico – 60 mins south
    Missile silo [Star Trek Generations filmed here] – 50 mins south
    Mount Lemon – 60 mins north
    Puerto Penaso – 4 hours SW. The first beach reachable from TUS

    Thrift shops:
    Shoppers
    Goodwill
    Salvation Army

  • Kim

    Probably one of the most interesting things is the Biosphere 2 at the University of Arizona. The Biosphere has a trail system that highlights various ecosystems like tropical rainforest, savanna, coastal fog desert, and a million-gallon ocean.

    In 1991 eight people were sealed off inside Biosphere 2, a 3+ acre glass enclosure. They were conducting a study to determine if whether a small group of humans could survive in a self-sustaining environment, making it plausible for life on some distant planet in outer space.

    They did manage to make it for two-years, but there was much difficulty and it did not turn out exactly the way it was thought. Although, the first mission was not considered successful by some, the Biosphere is still used today for research.

    The Biosphere would appeal to anyone that enjoys nature, the environmental sciences, engineering, or architecture.

  • D Daniel

    Pima Air Museum – a must for aviation enthusiasts.
    Sonoran Desert Museum (usually open at night this time of year which is a lot of fun)
    Day trip to Bisbee – check out the mining museum (excellent) and go on a mine tour. Lunch at High Desert Market. Go up Hwy 83 that goes through Sonoita – lovely drive.
    Skip Redneck Disney (aka Tombstone).
    Kitt Peak National Observatory.
    Saguaro National Park (the EAST part)
    Biosphere II
    San Xavier Del Bac (The White Dove)
    Titan Missile Silo Museum

    Used to be a trip to Naco was fun but these days it is just sad. It is perfectly safe, my 86 yr gringo father goes there 1-2x a month with his friends to La Roca for lunch. But, many places are out of business so there just isn’t much to see.

    After having lived in the area for many years I’m sad to say most restaurants in Tucson aren’t great – in fact most are pretty terrible. However, Cafe Poca Cosa is usually quite good. The original El Charro is generally good as well. Poco and Mom’s is a little hole in the wall but darn good – excellent breakfasts, or lunch. Some of the little taquerias are good but the larger, fancier “Mexican Restaurants” are mostly targeted at snowbird tourists who think ketchup is spicy and are just bad/bland. Look for the little places and you’ll do better.

    When you fly out – Taco Bron (Terminal A) is one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in an airport (actually good by any standards)… get the chorizo burrito with everything.

  • RaiderHoosier

    Excellent location for golf outing in early Fall; stay at the Lodge at Ventana Canyon, play the 36 holes on-site or one of the other great courses nearby, dinner at McMahon’s steakhouse (get the DelMonico ribeye) then catch a couple of races at the dog track ( just because you’ve probably never seen it)

  • Susan Callahan

    Googling the city name that I’m traveling together with “New York Times Travel) always brings up their “36 hours in” guides. Short, sweet and to the point….they are the perfect reference for a quick trip. The Tucson Guide is excellent!

    http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/travel/03hours.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  • kestie

    If you are headed to TUS, take half a day and visit Madera Canyon, which is about 30-40 minutes south of the airport. You can drive down Old Nogales Road and enjoy mtn views. Info about Madera Canyon at http://www.friendsofmaderacanyon.org/directions_to_madera_canyon.html