Around Benson

Tucson may have Old Tucson Studios, but Benson has Mescal (tel. 520/883-0100). This Western-town movie set is operated by Old Tucson Studios and has been used for years in the making of Westerns, as well as TV shows and commercials. Hour-long walking tours of Mescal are offered and provide a feel for the many movies that have been shot here. While Old Tucson Studios feels like an amusement park, this place seems like an old ghost town. For fans of old Westerns, this is a must. Tours are available on Saturday between 10am and 2pm, and cost $9 per person. Roughly 35 miles east of Tucson, take Exit 297 off I-10, then head north for 3 miles on Mescal Road. When the pavement ends, head west for 1/2 mile on the dirt road to the town, which is visible on the hill ahead.

While Kartchner Caverns is the main draw in the Benson area, you may also want to visit the remarkable Singing Wind Bookshop (tel. 520/586-2425), on a ranch down a dirt road north of town. The store has been in business more than 30 years and started out with just a couple of shelves of books. Now the inventory is well into the thousands, with an emphasis on the Southwest, natural sciences, and children's literature. To get here, take exit 304 from I-10 in Benson. Drive north 2 1/4 miles and take a right (east) at the sign that says SINGING WIND ROAD. Drive to the end, opening and closing the gate. The store is open daily from 9am to 5pm.

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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.