Six Things to Do Around Tucson in April 2015

April is just one of many fantastic months to get outdoors and experience all that Tucson has to offer.  The weather is ideal for running, hiking, biking, and general outdoorsiness.  In fact, April is Bike Fest presented by the Living Streets Alliance, and there are activities and events going on across town throughout the month.  Below you’ll find six of my favorite Tucson events in April, ending with what I consider the highlight of Bike Fest.


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Keep a safe distance behind the person in front of you and hope they encounter the rattlesnakes first, which are known to make appearances at this race.

1. Catalina State Park 5.2 & 10.3 Mile Trail Race

Saturday, April 4th, 2015, 7:30 am @ Catalina State Park

This race features spectacular views and beautiful scenery from start to finish as it weaves through the trails of Catalina State Park in Oro Valley.  Stephen and I ran the 10.3 mile “reverse the course” race in September, and we can attest that it’s no walk in the park.  Be prepared for a couple of short, steep inclines and some long sandy stretches that will give your calves a workout.  The 10.3 mile event requires that you do the 5.2 mile loop twice, which includes both single-track, sometimes rocky, trails and wide, clear paths.  Although it was one of the toughest races we’ve ever done, as well as slowest due to the trail, we’ve been inspired to continue running at Catalina State Park on a regular basis.

You can still register at EveryoneRuns.net: $45 for the 5.2 miler and $55 for the 10.3 miler.


2. Sabino Canyon Sunset Run

Saturday, April 11th, 2015, 5:15 pm @ Sabino Canyon Recreation Area

Sabino Canyon Sunset Run

The Sabino Canyon Sunset Run has been a Tucson event for 33 years, in case you can’t tell by the short shorts and headband in this photo.

Perhaps you’re looking for something in between 5.2 and 10.3 miles, or you prefer to stay on the road.  The Sabino Canyon Sunset Run may be just the thing for you.  This out and back course totaling 7.4 miles begins in the late afternoon to allow for a great view of the sunset on your way down.  And it most certainly is on your way down.  This walking path is famous among Tucsonans for its very steep incline at the top, around mile 3 of the race, guaranteed to provide a great workout for hikers.  Running it is a whole different ballgame.  Luckily, you have 3.7 miles of mostly exhilerating downhill through one of Tucson’s most treasured outdoor locations at sunset to look forward to.

Unfortunately, the 7.4 mile race is already full.  With limited spaces, registration fills up early every year.  You can still register for the 1.5 mile race at www.azroadrunners.org/races/detail/sabino and plan to sign up for the 7.4 miler in February next year.


Pima County Fair

Despite the abundance of nausea-inducing spinning rides, the Pima County Fair was one of my favorite childhood annual events.

3. Pima County Fair

April 16-26, 2015 @ Pima County Fairgrounds

The Pima County Fair is a memorable experience for any kid that grew up in Tucson. Rides, games, deliciously greasy food, live music, and farm animals the likes of which we city folk never see are sure to delight your family.  The fair runs for 11 days, six days longer than the Maricopa County Fair, so there’s plenty of time to get out there.  It’s a bit of a hike, but if you’re coming from Northwest Tucson, taking I-10 East to Houghton will get you there quicker than you’d expect.

 


4. Viva La Local Food Festival

Saturday, April 18th, 2015, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm @ Rillito Park Race Track

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Take advantage of the free “veggie valet” so you can enjoy some local music and brews before hauling your locally grown produce home.

On any given weekend you can find a farmers market in just about every area of the city.  Imagine all of those farmers markets rolled into one, with live music and libations from local wineries and breweries.  Given that the Viva La Local Food Festival was a brand new event last year, I was surprised by its large turnout.  Due to its success, expect an even larger crowd this year.

The festival takes place around a large grassy field, so bring a blanket if you want to enjoy the music and your tasty treats while soaking up some rays near the stage.  There is a large tent with tables and chairs, but it’s a distance from the music and seating may be limited.

The $6 admission fee gets you free parking, free bike valet, and free storage of your veggie purchases while you enjoy the other offerings of this unique and very “Tucson” festival.

 


5. Arizona High School All-State Band, Orchestra & Choir Concert

Saturday, April 18th, 2015, 3:00 pm @ Centennial Hall, University of Arizona

2012 All-State Band @ Centennial Hall, University of Arizona

Okay, so this is not an outdoor event, but if you’re pale like me and Stephen, the other events on this list are enough to leave you red and peeling for weeks. Plus, this event only happens every three years because it’s rotated among the U of A, NAU, and our neighbors to the north which shall not be named.  The Arizona High School All-State Concert is a very inexpensive ($5 at the door) way to experience high quality music, and it’s impressive, beautiful, and stimulating regardless of the ages of the performers.  These groups – band, orchestra, and choir – are auditioned in March and include representatives from high schools all over the state.  You will hear professional level literature performed on one of Tucson’s best stages.

 
 


6. Cyclovía

Sunday, April 19th, 2015, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm @ Armory Park, downtown Tucson

Cyclovía

This edition of Cyclovía features a route through some of the oldest and most well-preserved buildings in Tucson.  Wear sunscreen as that papel picado above the roadway provides about all the shade you’re going to find.

Based on the Spanish word for “cycleway,” this event has its origins in Bogotá, Colombia, where certain main streets are shut off to motorized vehicles every Sunday and public holiday.  If only we were so fortunate to have Cyclovía (pronounced see-clo-VE-uh) occur that often, but it only happens twice per year here in Tucson, and it’s one of my all-time favorite events.

Of the three different routes that I have pedaled, this is my favorite because it’s not an out-and-back.  Starting at Armory Park downtown, this five mile stretch of car-free roads will head south, passing clusters of food trucks, kid-friendly activities presented by local organizations, and live music and dance.  Then it will return to the park on the neighboring street, filled with a whole different array of things to see and do.  Keep your eyes peeled for my favorite activity, what I call the “newspaper throw,” hosted by the Arizona Daily Star, in which you throw a newspaper at a door, attempting to get it into the basket on the ground, all without falling off of your bike.

Cyclovía is a free event, and you don’t have to ride your bike to attend.  There will be plenty of kids and adults walking, running, rollerblading, skateboarding, and riding all kinds of crazy non-motorized things.  If you’re lucky, you might even spot the infamous bike covered in a cow skeleton!


Check back next month for things to see and do in May.  If I missed your favorite April event, leave it in the comments below!

Angela Greynolds, M.Ed.

Angela is a native Tucsonan and has lived, worked, and played in Tanque Verde, central Tucson, the University of Arizona area, Catalina Foothills, the East side, and currently Oro Valley. She is the former Technology Director at St. Michael’s School, a runner, musician, teacher, outdoor enthusiast, vegetarian foodie, Spanish-speaker, world traveler, and lover of all things Tucson.


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