Unless you plan to stay by the pool or on the golf course, you'll want to rent a car. Luckily, rates are a little lower than rates in Phoenix. As of this writing, Alamo was charging around $250 per week ($325 with taxes and surcharges included) during high season for a compact car with unlimited mileage in Tucson.
The following agencies have offices at or near Tucson International Airport as well as other locations in the area. Because taxes and surcharges add up to around 30% on car rentals at the airport, you may want to consider renting at some other location, where you can avoid paying some of these fees. Among the Tucson car-rental agencies are Advantage (tel. 800/777-5500 or 520/294-4028; www.advantage.com), Alamo (tel. 877/222-9075 or 520/573-4740; www.alamo.com), Avis (tel. 800/331-1212 or 520/294-1494; www.avis.com), Budget (tel. 800/527-0700 or 520/889-8800; www.budget.com), Dollar (tel. 800/800-3665 or 866/434-2226; www.dollar.com), Enterprise (tel. 800/261-7331 or 520/573-5250; www.enterprise.com), Hertz (tel. 800/654-3131 or 520/573-5201; www.hertz.com), National (tel. 877/222-9058 or 520/573-8050; www.nationalcar.com), and Thrifty (tel. 800/847-4389 or 877/283-0898; www.thrifty.com).
Downtown Tucson is still a relatively easy place to find a parking space, and parking fees are low. There are two huge parking lots on the south side of the Tucson Convention Center, a couple of small lots on either side of the Tucson Museum of Art (one at Main Ave. and Paseo Redondo, south of El Presidio Historic District, and one at the corner of Council St. and Court Ave.), and parking garages beneath the main library (101 N. Stone Ave.) and El Presidio Park (on Alameda St.). You'll find plenty of metered parking on the smaller downtown streets. Almost all Tucson hotels and resorts provide free parking.
Lanes on several major avenues in Tucson change direction at rush hour to facilitate traffic flow, so pay attention to signs that tell you the time and direction of traffic.
By Public Transportation
By Bus -- Covering much of the Tucson metropolitan area, Sun Tran (tel. 520/792-9222; www.suntran.com) public buses are $1.25 for adults and students, 40¢ for seniors, and free for children 5 and under. Day passes are available on buses for $3.
Downtown Tucson's Ronstadt Transit Center, 215 E. Congress St., is served by about 30 regular and express bus routes to all parts of Tucson. The bus system does not extend to such tourist attractions as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Old Tucson, Saguaro National Park, or the foothills resorts, and thus is of limited use to visitors.
By Trolley -- Although they don't go very far, the restored electric streetcars of Old Pueblo Trolley (tel. 520/792-1802; www.oldpueblotrolley.org) are a fun way to get from the downtown to the University of Arizona via the Fourth Avenue shopping district. The trolleys operate on Friday from 6 to 10pm, Saturday from noon to midnight, and Sunday from noon to 6pm. The fare is $1.25 for adults and 75¢ for children 6 to 12. The fare on Sunday is only 25¢ for all riders. Friday and Saturday all-day passes are $3 for adults and $2 for children.
If you need a taxi, you'll have to phone for one. Yellow Cab (tel. 520/624-6611; www.yellowcabtucson.com) and Discount Cab (tel. 520/388-9000; www.discountcab.com) provide service throughout the city. The flag-drop rate is between $2.50 and $2.95, and after that it's $1.95 to $2 per mile. Although distances in Tucson are not as great as those in Phoenix, it's still a good 10 or more miles from the foothills resorts to downtown Tucson, so expect to pay at least $15 to $20 for a taxi. Most resorts have shuttle vans or can arrange taxi service to major attractions.
Downtown Tucson is compact and easily explored on foot, and many old streets in the downtown historic neighborhoods are narrow and much easier to appreciate if you leave your car in a parking lot. Also, although several major attractions -- including the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios, Saguaro National Park, and Sabino Canyon -- can be reached only by car, they require quite a bit of walking once you arrive. These attractions often have uneven footing, so be sure to bring a good pair of walking shoes.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.