Tucson Bike Tour: An Historic Tour of Downtown Tucson

On my very first day in Tucson, I joined Tucson Bike Tours for a historic bike tour of downtown Tucson.  I joined the 9am tour, hoping to beat the heat of the day (no such luck in this October heat wave, but we had a nice breeze!) After finding the location near 4th Street, I met the owner, Jimmy, and his neighbor who was joining us for the tour. Like me, Jimmy is a Midwest native, and after just a few years in Tucson, he has amassed an impressive knowledge of the area! I tend to ask a ton of questions, especially since I was brand new the area, and Jimmy was quick to answer all of them.

Tucson Bike Tour

Bike Tour Orientation

At the office, we were assigned bikes and given a safety briefing, as well as an overview of the bikes we were riding. Tucson Bike Tours has fixed-gear Euro-style bikes with rear-coaster brakes. Remember those? They take some getting used to again! The bikes are equipped with a handlebar bag to hold anything you want to bring along, such as a camera or keys. Helmets are provided, as well as insulated water bottles that fit right in the cage of the bike frame. Bonus points for reusable bottles! I cringe on most tours when the disposable plastic water bottles are passed out. (Note: you don’t get to keep the bottle, they are washed and reused for the next tour)

Biking in Tucson

Downtown Tucson is super flat, so fixed gear bikes work perfectly for riding around town. There is a great culture of cycling here, and you’ll find bikes to be very common on all of the city streets. As such, the drivers seem used to bikes (hear that, Chicago?) and everyone has enough space to travel comfortably. There are designated bike paths or bike lanes, and the tour also includes some quieter neighborhoods where we had the wide streets to ourselves.

Tucson Neighborhood Tour

The tour begins downtown at the Tucson Bike Tours office and the first stop is the Ironhorse District and the Rattlesnake Bridge. I’m embarrassed to say that I never knew Ironhorse was the term Native Americans used for the railroad. Duh! The Rattlesnake Bridge is super cool although it wasn’t until I saw the photo that I got the full effect of the open mouth and eyes!

Tucson Bike TourRattlesnake Bridge

From here, we zoomed back downtown for more historical stops, including the Congress Hotel and the Southern Pacific Station. Jimmy gave us a chance to look inside the famous Congress Hotel while he stayed outside with the bikes. We then headed into the Presidio and Barrio Viejo areas, which feature colorful adobe homes and a glimpse of Tucson’s multi-cultural history.

Tucson Street ArtTucson Bike Tour

The next neighborhood we visit is Dunbar Spring, which was described as Tucson’s first African-American neighborhood which is now a vibrant, diverse neighborhood full of interesting street art like this mural depicting the All Souls procession, a Tucson event inspired by Dia de los Muertos.

Our final stop on the Tucson tour is the University of Arizona. Again, I’m a bit ashamed to admit how little I knew about Tucson before, including the fact that it’s a major college town! Over 40,000 students attend the U of A, and I’ve already met several people who came to Tucson for college and never left! The campus is right downtown and we arrived just as classes were letting out, so the streets and sidewalks were crowded for a few minutes as students rushed to their next class. We got a nice view of the campus, as well as a peek inside the Tree Ring Building, which houses the cross-section of a 1700 year old Sequoia tree. After the campus, we returned back to the 4th St offices.

Ready to Book a Tucson Tour?

Tucson Bike Tours offers guided tours five times a day and also offers rentals if you want to explore on your own. The guided tour covers about 10 miles over 2 hours. The pace is super relaxed with plenty of stops along the way! This was the perfect Tucson tour for getting to know a bit of history as well as the layout of the city. After your tour, you’ll get an email recap covering all the spots of the day, which is great for memory-challenged travelers like me!

Looking for a fun way to @visittucsonaz How about a bike tour with Tucson Bike Tours! Click To Tweet

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Bike Tour of TucsonI was a guest of Tucson Bike Tours. These are solely my personal opinions and I was not financially compensated for this post.

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11 thoughts on “Tucson Bike Tour: An Historic Tour of Downtown Tucson

  1. Tucson is one of the best places to bike in the US. There are just so many amazing things to see there. It is honestly one of my favorite cities, and I think this is something that I would definitely love to do there.

  2. I have never been to Tucson but we might be in the area next year and this sounds like a fun activity. I hear you about the rear coaster braking: i discovered it in the Netherlands and it is a lot less instinctive than it may seem!!

  3. I come from a town that was built around making biking easier. Unfortunately it is also very easy to drive around, so most people do that. Of course, my home town is not particularly interesting either, so I highly doubt weather anyone would want to tour it. This seems like an excellent way of seeing a place that is just a bit too big to walk around!

  4. I love exploring cities by bike now. Gives you an up close and personal view of the city without having to hike everywhere and allows you to catch cool highlights in case you want to come back. Glad to see that Tucson is bike friendly since many cities in the US arent. Love all the street art like in Barrio Viejo

  5. I have never been to Tucson but would surely love to see it some day. Your pictures are really amazing. I have done multiple cycle tours in India and i love seeing the city on a bicycle.

  6. Bike tours seem like so much fun…you’re on your own, yet you’re with the group 🙂 The vibrance of the Dunbar Spring nieghbourhood, and specially its street art is striking. 10 miles sounds like a quite an exhaustive tour.

  7. I’ve never been to Tucson, I just tried cycling in Italy, which is a really bike-friendly country. Seems like Tucson is great basing on your blog tho! Would love to try it there.

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