1. City of Wellness

By Romi Carrell Wittman

With its optimal climate, natural landscapes, and pioneer spirit, Tucson has emerged as an epicenter of health and wellness, capturing the attention of the world. 

For more than a century, people have flocked to Tucson seeking respite from illness and an opportunity to lead a balanced lifestyle. With a dry climate and more than 300-plus days of sunshine each year, Tucson was originally a destination for asthma and tuberculosis patients. Today, visitors travel from far and wide to experience Tucson’s premium amenities and renew their minds, bodies, and spirits in the desert. 

Let’s start with the spas. World-class resort spa Canyon Ranch put Tucson on the wellness map, founded here by the late-Mel Zuckerman and his wife, Enid, and now a renowned global brand. Zuckerman, who passed away last year, was a visionary for healthy living who made the Canyon Ranch name tops in the world spa industry. His generosity also helped launch the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. 

Joining Canyon Ranch is Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa, which has become a beloved celebrity destination for its innovative wellness programs at its sprawling northwest Tucson grounds. It has even partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to create events that fuse mindfulness and mental health. Anchored by these, the city boasts numerous spas at resorts, including Omni Tucson National Resort, Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa, Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort and more.

The spas are perfectly rooted in a city with miles of hiking, walking and biking trails. Add in Tucson’s status as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, and you have a top pick for travelers looking to rest, recharge and reboot. 

Most recently, Tucson captured attention as the new home of the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard-educated physician, prolific author of numerous books on wellness and literally the pioneering face of integrative medicine after years of global research, has always felt Tucson was a fitting home. “I consider Tucson the Wellness Capital of America,” Weil said. His $15 million gift to UArizona paved the way for this groundbreaking center.

The center, which opens its new headquarters here this spring, will be a world leader in training physicians and allied health professionals in healing-oriented medicine. The center’s three buildings will form the Mind-Body-Spirit of the organization and help to further cement Tucson’s reputation as a City of Wellness. 

Weil and his team also recently opened True Food Kitchen at La Encantada in the Catalina Foothills. The restaurant, which opened in November 2023, boasts a menu that is intentionally sourced from responsible and sustainable growers, farmers, and producers. 

 “We have always been looking to expand in our home state of Arizona, and Tucson is the perfect next move for our brand,” said John Williams, True Food Kitchen CEO. “Our Tucson location is very special for many reasons – mainly that it is in the hometown of our founder, Dr. Andrew Weil. We currently have a selection of menu offerings that are only available in Tucson.”

Tucson is also home to the No. 1 bike race in the nation, El Tour de Tucson, and amenities like The Loop, a top-ranked 130+ mile path that circles the city and has added to Tucson’s acclaim as a pedestrian, bike-friendly, and fitness-oriented ecosystem. 

From cycling to movement, Tucson is the international headquarters for Fletcher Pilates, a method honed by the late Ron Fletcher, a longtime student of creators Joseph and Clara Pilates. At its location at River and Campbell roads, Fletcher Pilates is both a school and a studio that teach a method that remains one of the only directly linked to the Pilates creators.

It’s no wonder that the region is also home to many innovative nonprofits focused on health. Therapeutic Riding of Tucson, for example, uses equine therapy to help heal adults, children and veterans and improve their physical, mental and emotional well-being. Integrative Touch for Kids aims to enhance the wellbeing and healing of families and children with developmental disabilities, cancers, genetic conditions and more through its different programs and new healing center. 

The Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce has even collaborated with a wellness app to promote wellness throughout the community. Created by Holisticly.co, the app assists people in making healthy choices when it comes to eating, exercising, and daily life. “It was developed locally by people who ran Canyon Ranch, so they very much know a thing or two about wellness,” said Michael Guymon, president and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber. 

As more and more people turn to whole-body wellness and holistic healing, Tucson rises as a model city primed to lead health and wellness into the future.


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