Freshmen Stephanie Gilboy, left, and Jessie Welter sing along with the loudspeaker system as they get into the spirit in the ZonaZoo section prior to the start of the UA's game against South Carolina State at Arizona Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012.

Welcome to Tucson, Arizona Wildcats! This Sonoran Desert town is hot, quirky, full of culture, food and hidden gems. Here's our list of all the things you should do in your four (or five ... or six) years at the university.

Try them all and you might just never leave.

A graduate locates her loved ones.

On or near campus

1. Actually use the stuff you're paying for

Don't go through college without using resources like the Rec Center or Think Tank

2. Sit with the rest of the Zoo

The wild ZonaZoo energy is something you should experience at least once, especially during a UA football or basketball game. Support the Wildcats or just go to learn all of the weird hand signals they're doing. Actually use your ZonaZoo pass or buy one here.

3. Tailgate with everyone else

Tucson tailgates super hard. There's a bunch of people, lots of food (and booze) and so much school spirit. If you've never done it before, you've gotta at least once. 

Students in the Zona Zoo section cheer before the No. 16 Arizona Wildcats vs. No. 9 UCLA Bruins college football game at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

4. Go watch another sport

Okay, enough about football and basketball for a hot second. UA is more than just those two sports. If you have the time, watch the gymnastics team do flips and other impressive things. 

5. Find Wilbur and Wilma

They're at sporting events, campus events and sometimes just around so find them and take a picture with them.

6. Buy something that isn't a textbook at the UA Bookstore

This bookstore is more than just for textbooks, go in for coffee, makeup (it's actually really nice makeup), UA swag or a book you actually want to spend your money on.

7. Get a milkshake from Steak 'N Shake 

This is the only Steak 'N Shake in Tucson and it's in the best location for hungry college students. 

8. Eat in the Student Union before the lunch rush

Watching everyone else wait in the long line for Chick-Fil-A is oddly entertaining.

9. Watch the campus preachers do their thing

Yes, people come to campus just to yell about religion and it's turned into UA students' favorite past-time.

10. Participate in the "college"-y events

Go to the Homecoming events in the fall and eat funnel cake at Spring Fling in April. 

11. Become familiar with the Arizona Repertory Theatre

Students are building the sets, they're acting/singing, and running the show. Check out what's going on this season.

12. See a show at Centennial Hall

Some pretty big productions make their way to campus. Check out what's in store here.

13. Swim (or at least dip your toes) in the fountain in front of Old Main

The school doesn't encourage this but you have to do it once before graduation — or during grad pics.

14. Hang out on University Boulevard

It's a nice way to get away from campus. Some fun stores and restaurants: Swindlers, Kababeque for tikka masala, and Gentle Ben's for a drink and beer-battered fries.

15. Get a Harry Potter shot at Hotel Congress

You'll want to get a video of the shot and photos of the historic hotel in downtown Tucson. It's perfect for 21st birthdays.

16. Head to the top floor of the Optical Sciences building

It has an amazing view of campus.

17. Find your study spot

For some it's in the Center for Creative Photography and for others it's on the benches by the olive trees.

18. Stay in the main library all night

You won't be the only one. There are so many students cramming for a test or trying to make a deadline.

19. Go to a museum on campus (Arizona State Museum, UA Museum of Art, etc.)

Because you get in free with your CatCard.

20. Hang out with the turtles at the turtle pond

Yes, there are tiny wild turtles living on campus. Find them in the open space across from Caffe Luce along Park Avenue. Go watch them swim around.

21. Keep your bike from getting stolen

This happens more than you might think so make sure you lock up. Avoid this by dropping your bike off at Bike Valet, they'll watch it for free. 

Any other problems with bikes can be solved at the totally rad BICAS

22. Then participate in Tuesday Night Bike Rides

People get together every Tuesday night for a slow ride around Tucson. It's open to everyone, making it the perfect place to meet new people. You meet up around 8 p.m. and it starts by the flag pole in front of Old Main.

23. Let's keep talking about bikes. Go to Cyclovia

Tucson closes some of the streets so that people can bike with ease just for this event. People come out in bikes (tandem or solo), with their kids or grandparents, or dressed up and we all ride together. 

24. Go to Taco Shop at 3 a.m.

Or after you hit the club because there's nothing better than tacos and seeing that person from your biology class. Taco Shop is open all day, every day. 

25. Learn something new about the UA campus

The Visitor Center usually hosts campus tours about the art, the history and the student life. Check them out here.

Experience Tucson

The sun sets over the Saguaro National Park East (Rincon Mountain District) in 2015. Let's see this scene filmed in New Mexico

There's more to Tucson than just the UA. Go out and explore because this little city has so much charm and a lot to offer.

26. Go see a saguaro but don't touch it or high-five it

If you're not from here, you've probably never seen a saguaro in person. You can't miss them, they're the big, green desert giants.

27. Take a sunset picture and post it on social media


Nothing better than this. #tucsonsunset #tucsonmonsoon

A post shared by #ThisIsTucson 🌵 (@this_is_tucson) on Jul 10, 2017 at 8:06pm PDT

28. Go to A Mountain to watch the sun set

Because the sunsets are beautiful here (like the one above).

29. Or go to San Xavier Mission

It's pretty amazing and worth the drive off of campus. Check out these other fun things to do around the mission.  

30. Get caught in the rain

Rain only comes a few months a year and it's awesome to jump in the river puddles. Learn more about our monsoon season here.

31. Hike Tumamoc

Get in a good view of Tucson and some extra-burned calories. This will easily become your favorite place, trust us.

32. Use the Sun Link Streetcar at least once

We recommend taking the streetcar to Mercado San Augustin for some tamales and tortillas.

33. Head to Fourth Avenue

There is coffee, bars, shops, good food and art. There's a lot to see and do, so bike, walk or streetcar over and unleash your inner hipster.

There's food, entertainment and lots of shopping. 

35. Continue downtown from Fourth Ave.

There's so much to do downtown — with a different vibe than Fourth Avenue — see a show at the Rialto Theatre and enjoy the nightlife.

36. Meet Tucson at Tucson Meet Yourself

Tucson Meet Yourself returns soon (Oct. 12-14) with more food and fun. Don't miss out.

*Pro tip: The locals call it Tucson Eat Yourself.

37. Walk for a loved one at the All Souls Procession

Paint your face and join the community as they make their way through Tucson remembering all the people lost. The All Souls Procession returns in November. 

38. Watch the stars at Gates Pass

Enjoy the peace and quiet or take someone up for a romantic evening.

39. Go to the Tucson Rodeo

We take the rodeo seriously, so seriously that Tucson schools give younger kids a few days off. You should definitely see it at least once. The rodeo returns next spring.


A meaty smorgasbord at Tacos Apson consists of cheesy caramelos (top left) and various tacos de carne asada, or grilled beef.  

Tucson is recognized for having amazing food. You'll want to eat it all.

40. Get an Eegee

Any local is going to tell you to do this right away. Why? They're amazing and no one else has them. You can also take your eegee's drink to the next level with our simple tricks.

There are two near campus: Speedway Boulevard and Tucson Boulevard, 2510 E. Speedway Blvd. AND one at Grant and Campbell, 2470 N. Campbell Ave.

41. Buy yourself a raspado

Raspados are the snow cone's cool cousin, there's real fruit and ice. Oasis on St. Mary's Road at 1002 W. St Mary’s Rd. and Sonoran Delights at 921 W. Congress St. are great picks.

Before you get fancy, start off with this strawberry raspado at Michoacán Taquería Raspados, 3235 N. Flowing Wells Road. Con lechera y nieve for $6.48. 

42. Try a Sonoran hot dog

It's a hot dog wrapped in bacon with lots of veggies, condiments on a sweet bun. That's all you need to know. We suggest going to La Carreta del Rorro at 6353 N. Camino De La Tierra.

43. Get tacos that aren't from Chipotle

We have "the best 23 miles of Mexican food" and food writer Andi Berlin knows where you should go.

Andi's pick: Taqueria Pico de Gallo, 2618 S. 6th Ave. Check out more of her suggestions here.

44. Take your parents to brunch

5 POINTS. 5 POINTS. 5 POINTS. Go to 5 Points Market and Restaurant at 756 S. Stone Ave.

45. Find a restaurant that speaks to your soul — and stomach

There are so many places to choose from and there is sure to be something that you life. We have Mexican, Vietnamese, Italian, fancy, greasy, fattening, healthy and so much more.

Get out of Tucson

Exploring the historic town of Bisbee is the perfect day trip for any Tucsonan. 

Get your friends together and go on a road trip to see what Arizona has to offer.

46. Cool off on Mt. Lemmon

Watch the saguaros turn into tall pine trees and feel the temperature change. Mt. Lemmon is the best place for a getaway, especially when you're missing snow. It does snow up there. Find ideas for a day trip here

47. See the Grand Canyon

Now you can see one of the greatest sights in the world. The drive to the Grand Canyon is about six hours but it is worth it. Get your friends together and make it a weekend trip. 

48. Go on a ghost tour in Tombstone, Arizona

Yes, Tombstone is haunted. Our pick if you want to get spooked is the Birdcage Theater night tour. There's also lots of other non-haunted things to do in the "town too tough to die." Find some of our recommendations here

49. Eat and shop in Bisbee, Arizona

With food, shopping, and beautiful architecture, this historic mining town is the perfect place for you and your friends to soak up some small town vibes. Here's a guide on how how to best time there. And yes, Bisbee is also haunted.

50. Go to Mexico

Experience another culture and practice your Spanish in Nogales because you're only a couple hours away. Or go through a program

Just don't forget to have fun and enjoy our city. Make these the best years of your life by dancing in the rain, doing something unexpected and learning more about your new home. Bear down!

Note: This story was originally published in August 2016. It has since been updated.