Tucson 23

Artwork from last year's Tucson 23 Mexican food festival


The sweltering summer sun is fully in-effect, and even native Tucsonans are starting to feel the heat. When finding fun and adventure during the midday blaze becomes a no-go, a little creativity is needed to keep the calendar exciting. Look no further than these five options across the Tucson region.

1. Brew at the Zoo 2017: Held this Saturday, June 17 from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., few events elicit as much excitement as the Reid Park Zoo’s yearly fundraiser, held in conjunction with Craft Tucson to support the Zoo Project Fund. The event will host a variety of local Tucson and Arizona breweries, including Borderlands Brewing Company, Catalina Brewing Company, The Grand Canyon Brewing Company, Ten Fifty-Five Brewing Company, Public Brewhouse and more. The festival includes live musical performances, games, prizes and more.

Menu includes:

  • Event Gardens: Honey Beer Brats served with House Made Chips; Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs served with Cucumber & Red Onion Quinoa
  • Tanzania: Bourbon Candied Bacon Mac-n-Cheese; Vegetarian Mac-n-Cheese; Wild Wings (Garlic Parmesan, SW Spicy, & Classic)
  • Lion Alcove: Nachos with Beer Infused Cheese (may add Barbecue Pork for additional price); Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich serve with House Made Chips
  • Cafe: Pretzel Cart (outside), Artisan Personal Pizzas, Beer Battered & Deep Fried Bonanza (Mushrooms, Zucchini, Onion Rings, Spicy Pickles, Mozzarella Sticks)

Tickets for the 21-and-older event are $45 per-person ($40 with zoo membership), and $20 for a designated driver (includes souvenir cup for soda fountain and $8 food voucher). The event is also partnering with UBER to provide a discount using the code BREWZOOTUS17 for a free first ride up to $15. The zoo is located at 3400 Zoo Court.

2. Drive-in movies at the driving range: Hosted at the Oro Valley Community at Recreation Center, the Drive-in movies on the driving range series gives families an opportunity to get together with the community and enjoy a film on the green. Held the third Saturday of every month, all movies are either G- or PG-rated, and featured on a giant. Inflatable screen, and shown free of charge.

This week will be a showing of last year’s stop-motion animated masterpiece “Kubo and the Two Strings.” The film is an epic adventure set in a fantastical Japan. Kubo is voiced by Art Parkinson of "Game of Thrones") and makes a living telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Akihiro (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kameyo (Academy Award nominee Brenda Vaccaro).

From Rotten Tomatoes: His relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known. With the help of his shamisen - a magical musical instrument - Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King (Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara), to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny.

The Oro Valley community Center is located at 10555 N. La Cañada Drive, and the movie begins at 7:15 p.m.

3. The Tucson 23: A Mexican Food Festival: Celebrating the 23 best miles of Mexican food to be found anywhere north of the border, The Tucson 23 brings together eateries from the City of South Tucson, downtown and lower midtown to celebrate the culinary Mecca that is Tucson’s Mexican food scene.

The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance partners with title sponsor Visit Tucson and the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa to put on the event, which will feature weekend stay-cation packages, food demos and education, live music and more.

Other activities include Dia de los Muertos face painting by Ruth Spies and Etienne Boeuf, an interactive art project which all event attendees can participate in (Decorate the Giant 23), photo fun booth with special themed props, live artist demonstrations and original artwork for sale, and a featured raffle baskets with travel packages, culinary tours, staycations, restaurant gift cards and more. 

The Tucson 23 will also feature traditional mariachi from Mariachi Mexteca and Ballet Folklorico La Paloma, a non-profit organization dedicated to perpetuating the native folk dances of Mexico.

Participating restaurants include El Cisne Cocina da Mexico, Elvira’s, Reforma Cocina, Rigo’s Restaurant, El Merendero, Churros el Rey and more. Libation participants will include ​Roger Clyne's Mexican Moonshine, Barrio Brewing, Borderlands Brewing Company and more.

The event is this Saturday, June 17 at 6 p.m. at the JW Marriot Starr Pass Resort & Spa (3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd.) Tickets cost $49 each and are expected to sell out  - click here for more information.   

4. Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life: This reoccurring exhibition at the Tucson Botanical Gardens (2150 N. Alvernon Way) was originally scheduled to end in May, though it will now remain open until the end of August.

The exhibit is courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden’s, and examines Kahlo’s work, life and influence through the plants and nature surrounding her. Tucson Botanical Gardens was selected as the only institution to receive the exhibition designed by one of the world’s premier botanical gardens.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is the recreation of the gardens Kahlo maintained in her home in Mexico City: La Casa Azul.  Included in the installation is the Meso-American-inspired pyramid that Diego Rivera built in the central courtyard of Casa Azul.  Also included is a poetry walk, Mexican plant tour, “Frida for Children” and “The Two Fridas” portrait. During Frida Fridays, the gardens remain open to host the exhibit in the evening light.  More information, including amdmission prices, is available online here.

5. $5 Sunday Family Fun Days at the Oro Valley Aquatic Centers: Held every week all summer long, each pass covering up to six individuals runs from noon until 4 p.m. and only costs $5. The facility includes a water slide, a splash pad for children and other family-friendly amenities. The aquatic center is located just east of Canyon del Oro High School within the James D. Kriegh Park site,  23 W. Calle Concordia. More information available here.

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