Things For Sitters To Know About Tucson, Arizona

We moved to Tucson 11 years ago after one too many gloomy winters in the Pacific Northwest. The desert is a fascinating place to live and visit. If Tucson is on your list of “places I want to sit” here are some tips I hope you’ll find useful.

For about six months the weather here is almost perfect. Endless sunny days and cool nights. Even when it’s 95F outside, find a shady place and it can feel like heaven. This is roughly October through April.

As for those other six months…it’s not so perfect. Temps regularly top 100F starting in May and can stay there through September. You’ll be fine running errands and such, but if you want to spend serious time outside, like hiking, make sure you’re done by 9 am at the latest. A sit with a pool is a definite bonus this time of year.

TIP ONE: Does the sit have air conditioning? As strange as it may sound, not everyone who lives in the desert has air conditioning. They may have evaporative cooling. It cools by pumping moist air into the house. It doesn’t work as well as regular air conditioning and it feels kind of muggy. There’s a reason we call them swamp coolers.

TIP TWO: The best things to do here are outside. We have a few museums and shopping malls, but if you’re relying on them for entertainment you’ll get bored fast. We do have hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, and golf courses. Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is a must-see. But be prepared. Bring twice as much water as you think you’ll need plus sunscreen, good walking or hiking shoes, and a hat. Even in the cool winter months, you can dehydrate or get sunburned quickly.

Stay here long enough and you’re sure to see bobcats, coyotes, and maybe even a mountain lion. The wildlife here go about as if they own the place and merely tolerate us humans.

This is a point of pride for many locals. We love being able to look out our window and see a bobcat lounging in the yard, or hearing the coyotes howl at night.

We also have critters here that don’t exist in most other places in the US. Strange pig-like animals called javelinas. Colorful reptiles known as gila monsters (the most venomous reptile in North America). If you’re really lucky you may see coatimundi or ring-tailed cats.

TIP THREE: Never leave pets outside by themselves. It’s way too easy for a coyote or wild cat to turn Fido into an appetizer. Does the house have high walls around the yard? That won’t keep out the predators. They can easily leap or scale those obstacles.

TIP FOUR: Keep your dogs leashed on walks. You know to avoid javelinas, gila monsters, and rattlesnakes. But your dog may not. A close encounter with any of these is a good way to end up in the ER (for you and your pet).

Sometimes family and friends will ask me to check out vacation rentals for them. The photos of the inside of the home look wonderful. But when I visit the neighborhood it’s often a dump. People may be mad at me for saying this, but a lot of Tucson looks run down.

TIP FIVE: There are some outstanding parts of town, but before agreeing to a sit my advice is to do a Google drive through the neighborhood.

TIP SIX: Areas like Sam Hughes or the Foothills are generally nice. Oro Valley is a nearby town with lots of good homes as is Vail. But they’re further away from downtown and Vail feels particularly isolated. Marana is usually an okay spot, too. Further south, Green Valley caters to retired persons and Tubac is a funky artist town.

Was this helpful? Let me know and I may add expand on what I wrote. Happy Travels!


Thank-you for taking the time to write and and share this. It is absolutely very useful and will be super helpful for members considering sits in the area.

Being on vacation and “living” temporarily in a location can often be very different experiences and so having a destination explained from the perspective of a local is invaluable for sitters. For instance I had never heard of “swamp coolers” :grin:

Would love to hear more about the funkiness of nearby Tubac - do you have any pix to share?

Maybe you’ll have inspired a whole series of “Things for sitters to know about…”

Have a lovely day in Tucson and Happy 4th July :tada:


@denniscnewman - what an interesting post! I like posts like these - honest and informative - even though, at this point, we have no plans to visit Tucson. But it’s like you’ve provided a short 5-minute trip, because I had to go and Google javelinas and gilas!

Hi @denniscnewman I just had to discover the Javelina … thank you for introducing us!!

@denniscnewman My very first sit in 2014 was in Phoenix. In walking the neighbourhood in a high-end gated community a man passed by and warned us there were javelinas up ahead. Puzzled, we asked him to repeat what he’d said. We then explained that we weren’t local and so he took time to explain. We quickly turned and went back home. :scream:

Your post on Tucson had me scrolling back through my sits in that area. I remember also learning the meaning of pack rat, only ever knowing it previously relating to describing a person. In Sabino Canyon I couldn’t resist buying a puppet of the none-breathing kind as a souvenir.

I will add that Tucson Botanical Gardens were ones that I really enjoyed.

My sit in Green Valley was enhanced by having a community of neighbours in a cul-de-sac who socialized weekly. It included a party held by a neighbour who was the head pastry chef at a high-end hotel. The desserts were amazing. :yum: The top chocolate layer here was all edible and was for his mum, seen peeking through the stand layers.

Our homeowners in Green Valley moved to Tubac and continue to regularly have THS sitters. I have visited there for a day.

Thanks for my walk down memory lane. :heart_eyes:


Thank you, this was a really interesting read. I think Even though I have no plans to visit Tucson in the near future, what a useful resource this would be for someone who does.

I had heard the expression “swamp cooler” but had no idea what it really meant. Definitely useful knowledge for anyone visiting the area.

Like others, I’ve googled javelinas and gila monsters. Javelinas sound similar to the wild boar we have in parts of the UK. Definitely not an animal you’d want your pets getting too close to as they will defend themselves against what they see as a threat. Gila monsters look fascinating and quite striking, but again, best observed from a distance!

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@snowbird, what a great add-on to this story! Looks like you had a great neighborhood and great neighbors when you were there! We all should be so lucky!