North Fourth Avenue is where cowboys meet hipsters and vegans pass people downing greasy burgers. A kaleidoscopic collection of eateries and specialty shops draws crowds day and night.

“Fourth Avenue is so remarkable. It’s a passion for me,” said Donna DiFiore, who owns Delectables, 533 N. Fourth. “Everyone has a reason to come to Fourth Avenue.”

DiFiore has worked on the avenue since 1976 and says that she’s seen major changes over the years, but the diversity keeps people coming back.

“Where else can you go in the city and have dinner, go to a theater production, buy a candle, have a cup of coffee, ride on a streetcar and watch people?” she said.

DiFiore also called Fourth the “business incubator of Tucson.” She’s seen businesses grow roots on Fourth before moving elsewhere, or extending their chains.

There are nearly 100 independently owned and operated businesses on North Fourth, including more than 20 restaurants, two ice cream joints and three cafes, according to the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. Seven beauty salons and spas are mixed in with five tattoo parlors.

When the sun goes down, Fourth really comes alive with two hookah lounges and 11 bars offering everything from a quiet corner for intimate cocktails to raucous dance floors. And in the midst of the partying is a large contingent of college kids. Expect their numbers to grow with the launch last weekend of the Sun Link streetcar.

“The more people the better,” said Michelle Haller, who works at How Sweet It Was vintage clothes shop. “It’s just cooler – it’s hipper here, and it’s not necessarily all young kids or just artists who come here. There are plenty of families of all age groups.”

How Sweet It Was, 419 N. Fourth, is among more than 30 shops on the avenue.

“It’s quintessential Tucson,” said Haller. “It’s more artistic. Unconventional. It’s like no where else.”

Jade Nunes is a University of Arizona journalism student apprenticing at the Star.