Downtown Tucson, always a hot spot for culture and nightlife, including restaurants, museums, breweries and performing arts, has undergone impressive changes in the past few years.

“Millions of dollars of private investment went into the downtown area spawned by the Sun Link streetcar, resulting in a downtown that still holds its historic character but also offers a great deal of excitement,” said Dan Gibson, director of communications for Visit Tucson.

 “There’s something about the feel of downtown that’s fun and unforgettable that attendees want to experience,” Gibson added. “We see planners including downtown dine-arounds, late-night events, cooking classes, tours and more in their schedules.”

Some downtown dining and nightlife highlights include the demonstration kitchen and cooking school at The Carriage House, owned and operated by James Beard Award-winning chef Janos Wilder. Popular restaurant HUB recently opened a private dining space, and the forthcoming City Park mixed-use development, slated to open next year, will offer dining, entertainment and a 2,600-square-foot deck for outdoor events.

Also in the works, at press time the AC Hotel Tucson Downtown was scheduled to open in September, followed by Cobra Arcade Bar, which is on track to open later this year. 

Tucson is eager to show itself off to visitors, meetings attendees especially, and downtown reflects that, according to Gibson. Eight out of 10 planners who participate in a site visit in Tucson end up booking a meeting in this picturesque Southwest community, he said. 

Part of that is spurred by Tucson’s many attractions, including the Tucson Botanical Gardens, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Kartchner Caverns State Park and Kitt Peak National Observatory. Also, according to Gibson, the character of the destination’s resorts contributes greatly to that high percentage.

“Our properties reflect the beauty and spirit of the Sonoran Desert,” he said. “You’ll recognize the brands associated with our resorts, and they all have special touches that make them uniquely Tucson.” 

Following are resorts that feature comfortable guest accommodations and attractive meeting/event spaces, as well as those “special touches” that will impress attendees.

JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa 

The setting of JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa, surrounded by mountain ranges and towering Saguaro cactus, inspires both outdoor recreational pursuits and a wellness menu indigenous to the region.

 “We offer an extensive selection of mindful meeting amenities to groups because we believe it reduces stress, creates a more productive meetings environment and allows those attendees to maintain their daily exercise or meditation rituals,” said Director of Sales and Marketing Dan Carraher. “Our location is so pristine it creates a sense of peace and relaxation for all of our guests.”