While tourist brochures like to tout Tubac as an artists' community, the town is more of a Southwest souvenir mecca. There are a few genuine art galleries here, but you have to look hard amid the many tourist shops to find the real gems.
Some of the better fine art in the area is at the Karin Newby Gallery, Mercado de Baca, 19 Tubac Rd. (tel. 888/398-9662 or 520/398-9662; www.karinnewbygallery.com), which also has a large sculpture garden. For traditional Western art, some by members of the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America, visit Big Horn Galleries, 37 Tubac Rd. (tel. 520/398-9209; www.bighorngalleries.com).
If you want to take the flavor of the area home, stop in at the Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Company, 1868 E. Frontage Rd. (tel. 520/398-2591; www.santacruzchili.com). At this combination store and packing plant near Tumacácori National Historical Park, you'll find all things hot (chilies, hot sauces, salsas) arranged on the shelves of one of the more genuine Tubac-area institutions. There's an amazing assortment of familiar and obscure spices for sale. In back, you can see various herbs being prepared and packaged. The shop is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm and Saturday from 10am to 5pm (until 3pm in summer).
Going Nuts in Sahuarita -- As you drive south from Tucson to Tubac, you pass through the town of Sahuarita, which is home to one of the largest pecan farms in the country. More than 6,000 acres surrounding Sahuarita are planted with pecan trees. At the Pecan Store, 1625 E. Sahuarita Rd., Sahuarita (tel. 800/327-3226 or 520/791-2062; www.pecanstore.com), you can go "nuts" stocking up on everything from fresh pecans to chocolate toffee pecans to mesquite-spiced pecans (my personal favorite). The store is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from 10am to 4pm.