Not nearly as large and spread out as Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun, Tucson is small enough to be convenient, yet large enough to be sophisticated. The mountains ringing Tucson are bigger and closer to town than those in Phoenix, which gives Tucson a more dramatic skyline, and the desert here is closer and more easily accessed than in Phoenix.
The Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau (MTCVB), 100 S. Church Ave. (at Broadway; tel. 800/638-8350 or 520/624-1817; www.visittucson.org), is an excellent source of information on Tucson and its environs. The visitor center is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 4pm.
Main Arteries & Streets -- Tucson is laid out on a grid that's fairly regular in the downtown areas but becomes less orderly the farther you go from the city center. In the flatlands, major thoroughfares are spaced at 1-mile intervals, with smaller streets filling in the squares created by the major roads. In the foothills, where Tucson's most recent growth has occurred, the grid system breaks down completely because of the hilly terrain.
The main east-west roads are (from south to north) 22nd Street, Broadway Boulevard, Speedway Boulevard, Grant Road (with Tanque Verde Rd. as an extension), and Ina Road/Skyline Drive/Sunrise Road. The main north-south roads are (from west to east) Miracle Mile/Oracle Road, Stone/Sixth Avenue, Campbell Avenue, Country Club Road, Alvernon Road, and Swan Road. I-10 cuts diagonally across the Tucson metropolitan area from northwest to southeast.
In downtown Tucson, Congress Street and Broadway Boulevard are the main east-west streets; Stone Avenue, Sixth Avenue, and Fourth Avenue are the main north-south streets.
Finding an Address -- Because Tucson is laid out on a grid, finding an address is relatively easy. The zero (or starting) point for all Tucson addresses is the corner of Stone Avenue, which runs north and south, and Congress Street, which runs east and west. From this point, streets are designated either north, south, east, or west. Addresses usually, but not always, increase by 100 with each block, so an address of 4321 E. Broadway Blvd. should be 43 blocks east of Stone Avenue. In the downtown area, many of the streets and avenues are numbered, with numbered streets running east and west, and numbered avenues running north and south.
Street Maps -- The best way to find your way around Tucson is to pick up a free map at the visitor center at the airport or at the MTCVB. The maps handed out by car-rental agencies are not very detailed but will do for some purposes. Local gas stations and convenience stores also sell detailed maps.