Image: Saguaro National Park, near Tucson, Ariz.
Ann Levin  /  AP file
A saguaro cactus is backlit by the morning sun on a trail leading up to Wasson Peak, a popular hiking destination in Saguaro National Park, near Tucson, Ariz.
updated 1/25/2008 3:40:02 PM ET 2008-01-25T20:40:02
CYBERTRIPS

Spend a little time browsing the Internet for travel ideas and you can come up with all sorts of places to go and things to see, even a midwinter rodeo in the scenic Southwest.

The Tucson Rodeo, or La Fiesta de los Vaqueros is a great reason to get away and see what southern Arizona has to offer in the cooler part of the year. Check out the Feb. 16-24 schedule and buy your tickets on line. For background, look under "About Us"; this is the 83rd edition of the event that organizers boast is one of North America's Top 20 professional rodeos. That section also will lead you to the two-hour Tucson Rodeo Parade described as the nation's "largest non-motorized parade," and to descriptions of events from bull riding to women's barrel racing.

Beyond the rodeo grounds, the easy-to-navigate and informative Web site for the local Visitors Bureau will show you other sights to take in while you're in Tucson, where the average February high temperature is 69 degrees. Look under "About Tucson" for weather, history, downtown details and shopping in upscale malls, galleries, the Cat Mountain Station artisans center and shops like Indian Village and Kaibab Courtyard that specialize in native American jewelry, pottery and weavings. Look through the Image Gallery and see why you'll want to take along extra memory cards for your camera; they even provide a guide to "best spots to photograph." Then browse through the collection of day trips that cover everything from history and the Old West to nature and wineries. There's even a day trip planned out around shopping throughout southern Arizona.

You'll need to look through the Visitors Bureau's directory of places to stay. If you have the time and resources, consider one of the area's guest ranches, the sort of places that used to be called dude ranches.

On a limited schedule? Do your exploring in Downtown Tucson where you can soak up some of the local culture, and check out "Things to Do" including dining and shopping. Try their "Links' section for connections to more details.

But you need to expand your horizons. Head out of town toward the west to the Old Tucson Studios built in 1939 as a set for "Arizona," starring William Holden and Jean Arthur. Since then, it's been used for scores of movies and television series. Click on "Film Office" and then "Studio History" to see how many of them you've seen.

On the southern edge of the city, the San Xavier del Bac Mission was constructed by missionaries beginning in 1783.

One of the highlights of Tucson is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum bringing together the plants and animals of the sprawling Sonoran Desert in natural settings. Look under "Visit Us" for details about the history and layout — two miles of paths covering 21 acres — and 360-degree panoramic photos.

The Desert Museum is west of Old Tucson and on the way to Saguaro National Park preserving the giant saguaro cacti and offering miles of hikes in the desert scenery. Slideshow: Valley of the Sun

About 50 miles south of Tucson, the Kitt Peak National Observatory has a visitors' center and museum where you can learn about the mountaintop complex's telescopes and discoveries.

Need any more ideas? Explore the "Family Fun" directory at Discover Southern Arizona for directions to the Tucson Children's Museum. Or look into "Science Centers" to learn about Biosphere 2. And "Nature" will introduce you to state parks, caves, and gardens.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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