Aerial view of the houses and facilities from a neighborhood in Tucson with the mountain ranges in the background

8 Best Tucson Neighborhoods for 2023 (By a Local)

As a born-and-raised Tucson local, I’m here to share insight on the 8 best Tucson neighborhoods. 

Learn about each area’s proximity to downtown, local attractions, and median home costs in each neighborhood. I also cover school districts and safety for those interested in moving to the Old Pueblo.  

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

8 Best Neighborhoods in Tucson

Sam Hughes

This historic neighborhood is bursting with charm. Be close to the best bars, restaurants, and entertainment in town.

View of the multiple pathways leading to the classic bungalow apartments in Sam Hughes
Classic bungalows line the streets of this quiet neighborhood (photo: Underawesternsky / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Sam Hughes Website | School Districts: Tucson Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Arizona Inn

It doesn’t get any more charming than the Sam Hughes neighborhood. This historic area is located just east of the University of Arizona. It displays 100-year-old bungalows along with mid-century modern homes. Many old Tucson families have been living here for generations.

This area is packed with personality. Some of the best bars and restaurants in Tucson are within walking distance of this convenient central location. Himmel Park is a great spot to bring pets and kids. Downtown is just a 10-minute drive away.

Sam Hughes is a wonderful neighborhood for any wannabe Tucsonan. It’s perfect for a U of A student, a young professional, a family person, or anything in between. Life in this historic gem is full of excitement in a safe environment. 

Pros of Sam Hughes

  • Close to the University of Arizona
  • Great community events
  • Walking distance to parks and restaurants
  • Diverse families
  • Well-kept streets and homes

Cons of Sam Hughes

  • Expensive housing
  • Historic homes can be outdated

👉 Local Tip: Stay at Arizona Inn, one of the best places to stay in Tucson, when you plan to explore this area.

Catalina Foothills

The most picturesque area of Tucson, set in the foreground of the Santa Catalina Mountains

Outdoor view of a luxury house with swimming pool and hot tub in a desert environment
A typical Catalina Foothills home with mountain views and high square footage

📍 Google Maps | Catalina Foothills Website | School Districts: Catalina Foothills School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa

Catalina Foothills is the prettiest neighborhood in Tucson, in my opinion. There’s nothing but beauty surrounding this area. See the Santa Catalina Mountains looming to the north and sparkling city views to the south. 

Great hiking and biking trails abound in the stunning Sonoran desert of this northern Tucson gem. And if you enjoy store-hopping, La Encantada is one of the best shopping centers in town.

This is a wonderful place to raise a family. The Catalina Foothills school district is highly rated and crime rates are lower than in other parts of town. Many of the homes are large and modern with expansive acreage and breathtaking views. Note that prices are highest in this affluent neighborhood. Young couples, children, retirees, and more can find their place in Catalina Foothills.

📚 Related Reading: Ultimate Arizona Travel Guide

Pros of Catalina Foothills

  • Gorgeous mountain and city views
  • Great school district
  • Wide open spaces
  • Shopping and dining everywhere
  • Resorts nearby

Cons of Catalina Foothills

  • Expensive housing
  • Far from the airport
  • Not walkable (need a car)

Barrio Viejo

The vibrant embodiment of Mexican heritage in Tucson. This colorful historic neighborhood will charm anyone.

A vibrant turquoise exterior and red door of a home in Barrio Viejo with cacti on the ground
The bright-colored houses of the barrio bring vibrance to Tucson (photo: Nagel Photography / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Barrio Viejo Website | School Districts: Tucson Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Doubletree By Hilton Tucson Downtown Convention Center

Spanish for “Old Neighborhood,” this historic area is one of the most vibrant in Tucson – both culturally and aesthetically. Some of the oldest homes and commercial businesses are preserved here. According to the neighborhood’s website, there is no larger collection of 19th-century adobe homes in the entire country.

Barrio Viejo is conveniently situated just south of downtown Tucson right across from the Santa Cruz River off I-10, so it’s close to the action in town. You can get around the city quickly from here. Art galleries, coffee shops, grocery stores, and historical monuments abound.

The Hispanic influence in Barrio Viejo gives this area an abundance of character. Enjoy lively music, delicious food, and beautiful artwork along Cushing Street. If you appreciate art and architecture, you’ll love the look of this historic Tucson neighborhood.

Pros of Barrio Viejo

  • Close to downtown Tucson, I-10, and the Tucson Convention Center
  • Vibrant culture
  • Walking distance to bars and restaurants
  • Affordable housing
  • Lots of community events

Cons of Barrio Viejo

  • Less safe
  • Crowded area

Civano

A sustainable community in East Tucson near Saguaro National Park and the gorgeous Rincon Mountains.

Aerial view of a Mediterranean house with solar panels and clay tile roofs at Tucson
Solar power is a huge part of what makes Civano sustainable

📍 Google Maps | Civano Website | School Districts: Vail School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Hilton Tucson East

If you don’t mind being far away from the center of town, Civano is one of the best neighborhoods in Tucson to raise a family. This area was originally planned to be Tucson’s “solar community,” a model for sustainable living in the desert. Civano uses solar power and water conservation methods to create minimum environmental impact.

This is a fantastic place to live for outdoorsy types who crave long biking paths and miles of sidewalks. There are also plenty of dirt bike trails to the east in the Rincons. The community garden is popular among foodies. 

Civano is also close to lots of exciting day trips from Tucson, like wine tasting in Sonoita and rock climbing in the Dragoon mountains. It’s also near Saguaro National Park, one of the best places to visit in Arizona

With tree-lined streets and mountain views, couples dream of raising a family in this Tucson neighborhood. But young professionals, singles, and retirees will also thrive here. The diverse community is welcoming to anyone who seeks a sustainable lifestyle on the outskirts of the big city.

Pros of Civano

  • Beautiful nature
  • Sustainable living systems are intact
  • Privacy and space
  • A tight-knit, family-friendly community
  • Close to I-10

Cons of Civano

  • Far from downtown Tucson
  • Pricier housing

Broadmoor-Broadway Village

This central Tucson neighborhood is close to the action yet offers a more suburban feel with tree-lined streets and river wildlife.

A closeup view of a  large wild mammal with boar like features.
The Arroyo Chico River supports desert wildlife like javelinas and roadrunners amid the urban environment

📍 Google Maps | Broadmoor-Broadway Village Website | School Districts: Tucson Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: DoubleTree by Hilton Tucson-Reid Park

Broadmoor-Broadway Village is in the city center, yet its leafy streets are quaint and fairly safe. The Arroyo Chico River runs through the southern side of the neighborhood. It supports desert wildlife and vibrant foliage in the area. There are several parks, coffee shops, and restaurants within walking distance.

The neighborhood boasts ranch-style homes on small lots. Built during the post-war boom in the 1940s, these historic homes are full of charm and personality. Pleasant walking paths take you all around the lots.

One of the best things about Broadmoor-Broadway Village is its proximity to so many things to do in Tucson. The Reid Park Zoo, Tucson Botanical Garden, Park Place Mall, El Con Mall, and downtown are within 10 minutes of this prime location. Shop ‘til you drop on the “Sunshine Mile” district along Broadway Boulevard. This neighborhood is a great place to retire in a quieter spot close to the exciting attractions of Tucson.

Pros of Broadmoor-Broadway Village

  • Close to the zoo and other major attractions
  • Shopping and restaurants nearby
  • Natural landscaping in an urban setting
  • Highly-rated public schools (family-friendly)
  • Affordable housing

Cons of Broadmoor-Broadway Village

  • Some crime
  • Crowded area

Old Fort Lowell

A quieter area to raise a family near the lush Rillito River. This area is both historic and modern with plenty of shopping and restaurants around it.

The author Betty Hurd and her friend wearing roller skates along the road of a neighborhood
My friend Kendra and I love to roller skate along the Rillito River, the northern border of the neighborhood

📍 Google Maps | Old Fort Lowell Website | School Districts: Tucson Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

Located on the east side of town, Old Fort Lowell is a family-friendly neighborhood in a suburban setting. This area is lush with desert foliage and wildlife and is a short drive to Sabino Canyon, home to some of the best hiking in Tucson. 

The Rillito River borders to the north, arguably the best place to go biking and running in town. The schools nearby are highly rated, so the little ones will have great educational options.

The Fort Lowell ruins from the late 1800s are dispersed throughout this area. You’ll also be walking distance from the Synergy Plaza which boasts some of my favorite restaurants like Le Buzz Cafe and Trident Grill. Tucson Botanical Garden is a short drive away. This is one of the best neighborhoods in Tucson to raise a family in a safe, scenic setting.

Pros of Old Fort Lowell

  • Close to running, walking, and biking trails
  • Open spaces and larger homes
  • Shopping and restaurants nearby
  • Affordable housing
  • Highly-rated schools (family-friendly)

Cons of Old Fort Lowell

  • Far from downtown Tucson and the airport
  • Not walkable (need a car)

🐴 Horse Property: Much of this area is horse property, so you can add four-legged family members to your household if that’s your style! 

Dunbar/Spring

Affordable housing in an up-and-coming area. Dunbar/Spring is expected to expand as downtown Tucson continues to grow.

View of the shops at the corner street with road signs on the lamp posts
The best of downtown is within walking distance of Dunbar/Spring

📍 Google Maps | Dunbar/Spring Website | School Districts: Tucson Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: The Tuxon Hotel

Dunbar/Spring is one of Tucson’s fastest-expanding downtown neighborhoods. Though the homes are nothing fancy, housing is affordable. Plus, the neighborhood has been impressively cleaned up over the past decade.

The Tucson Museum of Art is within walking distance, as well as a myriad of artsy murals and tasty restaurants. It’s also a short drive to Tucson Mountain Park and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Dunbar/Spring is a great area for many young professionals working in the city. It’s also ideal for students attending the University of Arizona or Pima Community College. 

Pros of Dunbar/Spring

  • Affordable housing
  • Close to downtown Tucson and I-10
  • Walking distance to Tucson Museum of Art, restaurants, and bars
  • Cultural diversity
  • Views of the Tucson Mountains

Cons of Dunbar/Spring

  • Some crime
  • Occasionally neglected properties

Armory Park

The culture of Tucson is alive and present in this laidback, artsy area near downtown.

Exterior view of the Pueblo Hotel and Apartments with signages at the corner
Neon signs and charming architecture define Armory Park (photo: PICTOR PICTURES / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Armory Park Website | School Districts: Tucson Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Armory Park Inn

Historic Armory Park is a colorful neighborhood between downtown and South Tucson. The area mostly consists of young families, young professionals, and retirees. The Tucson Children’s Museum is located across from the park, and the best restaurants and bars downtown are within walking distance. Armory Park has a rich history and is a happening place!

Schools in the area are decently rated. Homes are small but more affordable than in less-crowded areas of town. Armory Park is a good area for kids to grow up, although petty crime rates are higher here. University of Arizona students are also prominent in this neighborhood.

Pros of Armory Park

  • Close to downtown and I-10
  • Family-friendly attractions
  • Affordable housing
  • Historic sites nearby

Cons of Armory Park

  • Higher crime rates
  • Some run-down properties

FAQs About Tucson Neighborhoods

What is the best neighborhood to live in Tucson?

The best neighborhood to live in Tucson is Sam Hughes. This is due to its prime location, thoughtful landscaping, excellent schools, and historic charm. Those who prefer more natural land might consider Catalina Foothills the best neighborhood in Tucson.

What is the safest area of Tucson to live?

The safest area of Tucson to live is Catalina Foothills. This area is more spread out and lacks the crowds and crime of densely populated areas closer to downtown.

What are the pros and cons of living in Tucson?

The pros and cons of living in Tucson include weather, housing, nature, and education. The warm weather is fantastic most of the year, save for the hottest summer months. Tucson offers incredible schools, affordable housing, and abundant outdoor activities. The city is surrounded by five mountain ranges. Cons include high crime rates in certain areas and severe heat in the summer.

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I hope this article gives you more clarity on which Tucson neighborhoods best fit your lifestyle. Don’t wait to make your move to the Old Pueblo!

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6 Comments

  1. I understand that it’s not technically Tucson, but Oro Valley out-performs most of the neighborhoods listed here. Beautiful, safe and well-kept neighborhoods, incredible views of Pusch Ridge, back door accessibility to Mt. Lemmon/Catalina State Park, and a thriving business community. What more could you want?

    1. Maybe more diversity? I grew up in Catalina before there was anything at all built past the El Conquistador. I went to CDO when it was the only high school that far north. Oro Valley does not have affordable housing for most. In fact, because of all the transplants during COVID, all the neighborhoods listed have gone up 50%. Great for people coming in who made money seeking their houses elsewhere, but not great for true natives who have been living in the real Tucson. Diane Keaton bought a property in Armory Park right by the barrios and so many elders who own their homes are losing them to property tax hikes. No bueno.

    2. Agree ! I sold my Benz prior to moving to Oro Valley, and discovered I can walk to everything here: Fry’s, Home Depot, Ross , Target, Petsmart, with several good restaurants here; everybody delivers, and there’s the Farmer’s Market on weekends at Steam Punk Ranch. I also walk to my Medical provider, dentist, eyecare provider and dermatologist. Low crime, hiking and cycling trails abound, as do wildlife and bird watching opportunities. Excellent police and Medical facilities close by sealed the deal for me…a Hawaiian transplant who did not know anyone local when I moved to Oro Valley 3 years ago. I found it via demographics. Scored !

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