Take a day off of work to explore Sabino Canyon, just a touch north of Tucson in the Santa Catalina Natural Area. Why the personal day? Weekends from May to August see a crush of bathing suit-clad visitors packing into the pool-filled ravine. But on weekdays, it’s easy to enjoy sunny solitude. You’ll find boulders (perfect for sunning) strewn across the landscape—the rocks were scattered by a 19th-century earthquake—and iconic saguaro cacti mingled with hardy oak trees.
Ride the shuttle ($8 each way) from the visitor center on Sabino Cayon Road to the trailhead of the 4.1-mile, one-way Sabino Canyon Trail. You’ll ascend more than 1,200 feet to views of distinctive rock formations like the Eye of the Needle and Thimble Peak lording above the trail. At the end of the path lies Hutch’s Pool, a year-round waterhole where you can take a plunge from an overhanging rock into 15-foot-deep water.