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), Alamo (tel. 877/222-9075 or 520/573-4740), Avis (tel. 800/331-1212 or 520/294-1494), Budget (tel. 800/527-0700 or 520/889-8800), Dollar (tel. 800/800-3665 or 866/434-2226), Enterprise (tel. 800/261-7331 or 520/573-5250), Hertz (tel. 800/654-3131 or 520/573-5201), National (tel. 877/222-9058 or 520/573-8050), and Thrifty (tel. 800/847-4389 or 877/283-0898).
Parking is at a premium in downtown Tucson, and parking tickets at expired meters are a major source of revenue for the city. 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, 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.). Other garages and parking lots are scattered throughout downtown. Outside the crowded downtown area, with the exception of the University, parking is abundant and free. Almost all Tucson hotels and resorts provide free parking
By Public Transportation
By Bus — Covering much of the Tucson metropolitan area, Sun Tran (tel. 520/792-9222) public buses charge $1.75 per ride for adults and students, 75[ce] for seniors, and free for children 5 and under. Day passes are available on buses for $4.
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, or Saguaro National Park.
By Streetcar — Launched in 2014, Tucson’s modern streetcar proved an instant hit, transporting travelers from the Banner University of Arizona Medical Center to the Mercado San Agustín west of downtown, a distance of about 4 miles; it’ll get you close to everywhere you’ll want to travel downtown and in the University area. The streetcar runs every 10–15 minutes on weekdays and every 15–30 minutes on weekends. A day pass costs $4.50, which you can buy online (www.sunlinkstreetcar.com) or at vending machines at streetcar stops. Note that you cannot purchase individual ride tickets on board the streetcar. Your pass will be charged $1.75 for each ride you take.
If you need a taxi, you’ll have to phone for one. Yellow Cab (tel. 520/300-0000) and VIP Taxi (tel. 520/300-3000) provide service throughout the city. The general rate is $5 for the first mile and $2.60 for every mile thereafter; some companies impose minimum fares. 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 $25 or thereabouts for a taxi. Most resorts have shuttle vans or can arrange taxi service to major attractions.
Downtown Tucson is compact and best explored on foot. (Narrow streets in the historic districts make driving a challenge.) Several major attractions—including the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios, Saguaro National Park, and Sabino Canyon—can be reached only by car, but be aware that they require quite a bit of walking once you arrive. 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.