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5 things to know about driving in Tucson

Posted on February 13, 2013

Chances are, when you visit Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa, you’ll be renting a car or obtaining other transportation to make your way around Tucson. Like most cities, Tucson has its own traffic quirks. Unless you live here or visit regularly, you might not know these things, so we thought we’d clue you in on five things that will help you navigate our streets.

Tucson airport transport: Tucson International Airport has undergone an expansion in recent years, including the location of the rental car agencies. There are eight rental car agencies at TIA (Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty). They’re all located in the building next to the airport. Westward Look is about a half-hour’s drive from the airport. Westward Look is also proud to partner with Catalina Transportation, Integrity and AZ Stagecoach to provide our guests convenient and comfortable scheduled transportation. For extra special occasions, our staff is happy to arrange town car and limousine service from our preferred vendors. More information is available on our Airport Transportation page.

Where to park in Tucson: Westward Look has plenty of parking spaces with complimentary valet service. Most places in Tucson have lots of parking. Three city-owned parking garages have been built in downtown Tucson in the last few years with more than 3,000 covered spaces and nearly 1,000 on surface lots – in addition to many private lots. There are also more than 1,000 metered spaces on the streets for 50 cents an hour (nights and weekends free!).

The many sides of Tucson: You’ll hear people say that something is “midtown,” “east side,” “northwest,” etc., which might be confusing to the casual visitor. There aren’t any official boundaries, but in general, the most common local boundaries are:

  • Midtown: 22nd Street north to Grant Road, from Campbell Avenue east to Kolb Road.
  • North side: Grant Road north to River, from Oracle Road east to Swan.
  • Northwest side: Everything north of River and west of Oracle, including Marana and Oro Valley.
  • East side: Everything east of Kolb Road.
  • Far east side: Everything east of Houghton Road.
  • South side: Everything south of 22nd Street, from Mission Road to Alvernon Way.
  • West side: Everything west of Interstate 10.

Tucson under construction: There are two major roadway construction projects, to be aware of as you’re driving around in the next few months.

  • Modern streetcar projectFrom the University of Arizona through the downtown area into the west side, the city is constructing a 3.9-mile sleek, modern streetcar route. It’s expected to be finished in late 2013. Sometimes, the traffic annoyance is merely one lane that is shut down. Other times, whole streets are blocked off to install the tracks. To check on updates and whether your route is affected, go to www.tucsonstreetcar.info.
  • Grant Road wideningSince Tucson doesn’t have a crosstown freeway, Grant Road is the major east-west thoroughfare on the north side. The city is widening Grant from Oracle to Swan roads. The Grant/Oracle area is scheduled to be finished this spring, with construction creeping eastward. Sometimes, there’s no avoiding this project, so you might want to add some extra drive-time, especially if you’re traveling on Grant this year.

Fun stuff to do in Tucson: OK, now for some fun! Here are some areas that you might not know about, but if you’ve got time to spare and want to go where the locals go, try:

  • Antique AlleyIf you want to go antiquing – including architectural artifacts, pawn shops and consignments – head down to Fort Lowell Road, starting around Country Club and going eastward to Dodge.
  • Great shopping Between the University of Arizona and downtown is Tucson’s beloved Fourth Avenue. Twice a year, the merchants association blocks off traffic for a street fair (March 22-24 and December 7-9 this year). Every other day, you’ll find an array of eclectic shops, bars, restaurants and live music as well as terrific people-watching!
  • Nightlife If you’re looking for an area where you can sample Tucson’s nightlife, you’ll want to head downtown. Whether you just want to chill with a mug of microbrewed beer, dine on gourmet food, see a play or kick up your heels, there’s probably a venue to your liking. Keep this website in mind: www.downtowntucson.org/visit/nightlife.

Of course, the friendly staff at Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa will be glad to give you directions (and traffic updates) to help you get around. Just call (800) 722-2500.