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Tucson is the county seat of Pima County and comprises roughly half of the county's population, which is extremely diverse as a result of its American Indian, Spanish, European and Mexican heritage. Like many areas of the American Southwest, the territory that includes Tucson changed hands between the countries of Mexico and the United States until officially becoming part of the United States as part of the Gadsden Purchase in 1853. The natural geography of Tucson and its surrounding areas is as diverse as its cultural heritage. It includes five minor mountain ranges, the Sonoran desert, the Coronado National Forest, and the Santa Cruz River, which still flows during the rainy season but is dry the rest of the year. The city itself is home to five regions, each possessing unique notoriety. The Downtown and Central Tucson areas are full of historic neighborhoods and buildings, such as the Hotel Congress and the Fox Theater. This is also the home of the University of Arizona. Southern Tucson has a strong Mexican-American influence, Western Tucson is recognized for its natural attributes, and Northern and Eastern Tucson are rapidly developing areas with plenty of upscale shopping and dining.
Whether you love the great outdoors or thrive in an urban setting, the Tucson area abounds with activities. Hikers and cyclists will feel right at home in the mountains or on the city's urban pathways. The more adventurous outdoors-man might enjoy doing a little bit of rock climbing. Science nuts might want to check out one of the area's many observatories or Arizona University's ecological engineering marvel, the Biosphere 2. "Old Pueblo" is also home to several museums, galleries, and festivals that allow visitors to get a feel for Tucson's culture and history.
Mexican and Southwestern cooking permeates the food scene in Tucson but is by no means your only choice. The city has become a major culinary hub with distinguished chefs serving up contemporary and classic cuisine. If classic Americana is what you are looking for, you will still find that here along with Asian and European flavors.
Vying for the accolades of the University of Arizona's student population keeps the coffee brewers of the city at the top of their game. Many coffee shops serve food and keep long hours to accommodate the college crowd. Cafés in Tucson are unique entities that appeal to a a variety of clientele. The search for the one that best appeals to your tastes may yield more than one result.
Night owls can find laid back spots or raucous parties. The city's Latin influence can be seen around town in music and dancing at restaurants and nightclubs. In addition to a bevvy of night spots catering to the college crowd, Tucson is also home to several gay-friendly bars and clubs. Local watering holes compete for the dollars of the local college crowd by offering a bevvy of entertainment options.
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