Scenic places in Oro Valley, Arizona

There are 5 gorgeous mountain ranges in the Tucson area, with the Catalinas being the most dramatic and awe-inspiring. It’s no surprise that the area has become popular with nature lovers, hikers, and photographers. If you appreciate the unusual beauty of the desert, there is no better place to explore. Oro Valley is a beautiful suburb located just 20 minutes north of Tucson. The area is surrounded by the beautiful Santa Catalina mountain range, and thus, the background is stunning for any type of recreational activity.

Spotlighted below are 5 beautiful recreational areas in Oro Valley. Also, there are many great hikes throughout Tucson. Check out my full guide to the most spectacular places in Tucson.

1. Catalina State Park

Tall Saguaro cactus and beautiful mountain scenery at Catalina State Park in Oro Valley, Arizona

With the incredible Catalina mountains comprising the backdrop of almost every single hike, there is no bad trail to be found at Catalina State Park. Whether you are new to hiking or an expert, you will find a great trail here to suit your ability. The 2 mile Canyon Loop is a great starting point. Along with stunning mountain vistas, you will be able to enjoy up close views of the enchanting Saguaro cactus. No where else in the world can you see this exotic plant besides the Sonoran Desert. Do take the opportunity while you are in the Tucson area to explore the exotic beauty of the desert in person.

2. Canada del Oro riverfront path

Great mountain views along the Canada del Oro Riverfront Path in Oro Valley, Arizona

A paved bike trail is a wonderful way to get out there and enjoy some exercise in a fun and scenic way. There are a number of great bike trails throughout the Tucson area with the most scenic located in Oro Valley. The Canada del Oro Riverfront path is flat and fast and scenic for the entirety of its’ 10 mile course. With beautiful mountain views, green golf courses, and interesting desert vegetation along the way, there is never a dull moment. If you really want to take your workout up a notch, you have the option to connect to the Santa Cruz River trail.

3. Linda Vista Trail

A gorgeous desert sunset along the Linda Vista trail in Tucson, Arizona

This wonderful short trail is the perfect option if you are limited on time. The full loop trail is just over 2 miles, however, it is incredibly scenic. Highlights along the Linda Vista include: breathtaking mountain views, a nice diverse variety of cacti, and many opportunities to see wildlife in their natural environment. I have seen a bobcat on several occasions. Also note that this is a fabulous birdwatching and sunset destination! Bonus – after your hike there are a number of local restaurants to check out.

4. Honeybee Canyon trail

Picturesque overlook on the Honeybee Canyon trail in Oro Valley, Arizona

This is another great short hike in the Oro Valley area. While the Honeybee trail is a bit harder than Linda Vista, it’s also more scenic. If you consider yourself a regular gym goer, do take the time out to complete this moderately challenging but extremely picturesque hike. This trail receives little traffic on weekday mornings and offers uninterrupted views of the mountains via a super scenic lookout. Highlights include seasonal wildflowers and petroglyphs. On one negative note, it’s poorly marked and there is a bit of sand to trek through.

5. Canada del Oro Riverfront Park

Canada del Oro Riverfront path in Oro Valley, Arizona

This spacious park is amongst the best in the entire Tucson metro area. Whether you are looking to play tennis, take a jog, ride a bike, play basketball or softball, or picnic, Canada del Oro Riverfront park offers a picturesque setting for doing so. Highlights include a 1 mile walking path, lighted tennis and basketball courts, horseshoe pits, and an amphitheater. The mountain views are gorgeous here – such a pretty backdrop for any type of activity. Be aware that various wildlife frequent the area including javelina, coyotes, and rattlesnakes.

Best Dining, Shopping, & Lodging in Oro Valley

Best coffee shop: Savaya, a wonderful local roaster that sources only the best organic and fair trade beans. Samples of several roasts available daily. Bonus: A beautiful patio facing the mountains.

Pretty mountain views via the patio at Savaya Coffee in Oro Valley, Arizona
The most scenic setting for a cup of coffee

Where to eat: There are a few great local restaurants or regional chains in the area. Also, a few of the big chains offer nice patios facing the mountains (i.e. Chipolte and Panera Bread). Kneaders and Baggins’ are both great local sandwich/soup shops. Also if you are heading out early in the morning, consider brunch at First Watch. The food is healthy and delicious and the covered outdoor patio looks out at the mountains.

Pretty mountain view at First Watch in Tucson, Arizona
First Watch – a gorgeous breakfast destination!

Where to stay: There are many luxury resorts in the area including Hilton El Conquistador, Loews Ventana Canyon, Omni Tucson, and La Posada. If you are seeking something a bit more budget friendly, check out 3 Palms. This affordable property features an outdoor pool, hot tub, and a comp. breakfast.

Outdoor patio at Canyon Cafe at Loews Ventana Canyon resort in Tucson, Arizona
The beautiful pool area at Loews

Best shopping: The Happy Saguaro. Shop for authentic Southwestern decor. Lots of lovely pottery pieces.

Unique Southwestern gifts in Tubac, Arizona
One of many gorgeous pottery pieces

Recommended Tucson attractions: Saguaro National Park, The Mini Time Museum of Miniatures, The Fox Theater, Sabino Canyon, Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway, Pima Air and Space Museum.

Picturesque nature trail at Saguaro National Park in Southern Arizona
Saguaro National Park – a great intro to the desert