Although I've lived in Arizona my whole life, I'd never been to Tucson before until now. Believe it or not, Tucson is much different from many of the cities in the Valley. Its downtown scene is small but busy, with countless hip restaurants and storefronts.

Not only does it have a great downtown, but it is also surrounded by mountains with great trails to hike, bike, and explore. With a strong presence of artists and entrepreneurs, Tucson is a small city with big ideas. 

The University of Arizona is right in on all the action, with its own distinct college town right next to the main drag of downtown Tucson. With a beautiful campus that sees an average 286 sunny days per year, it's no surprise that the many students here are active and outside most days of the year. 

With all these opportunities to be outside, UA students need places to fuel up for all these activities. I had the pleasure of trying just a few of these places while I toured the University of Arizona, and here are a few of the highlights.

Breakfast: Prep and Pastry

Hannah Bernier

Widely regarded as one of the best breakfast and brunch spots in Tucson, Prep and Pastry is the place to be on a weekend morning. Filled with delicious-looking donuts and breakfast fare, I wanted to order everything on the menu.

They're famous for their wild and inventive French toast and daily donuts, but offer both sweet and savory breakfasts that will please anyone. Prep and Pastry is worth the trek from the U of A campus to enjoy a fancy brunch with friends and family. 

Lunch: Maynard's Market and Kitchen

chicken, tacos, meat, lettuce, bread, kebab, burrito, beef, vegetable
Hannah Bernier

Located in downtown Tucson, this bright and open market is the perfect place to enjoy lunch with a great view of the mountains. With many healthy options from morning until night, almost any time is a good time to pop in for a treat. 

If you're looking for something a little more fancy, Maynard's also has a full-blown restaurant operating for dinner and brunch, so there's no excuse to not check this place out. This cheerful market is a wonderful spot to enjoy the pleasant weather in Tucson.

Dinner: The Coronet

shrimp, seafood
Hannah Bernier

The Coronet is a European-inspired café with a quaint atmosphere, friendly staff, and delicious food. With a commitment to sustainable meat and seasonal menus, this place looks good, feels good, and tastes good. It's apparent that every dish is lovingly prepared and carefully thought out.

If you're looking for a nice evening with the sounds of downtown Tucson and some relaxing jazz, the Coronet is the place to be. It'll make you feel like you're in an old-time movie, eating the best dishes that money can buy. 

Dessert: The Screamery

ice, ice cream, cream
Hannah Bernier

For a little dessert to top off your visit to Tucson, pop on in to The Screamery, an ice cream place known for its adventurous and clever flavors. The Screamery makes unique flavors like peach pie the old-fashioned way with natural ingredients. Supporting this local Tucson institution is no hard task, rather a delicious and refreshing treat. 

These are just a few of many delicious and exciting restaurants thriving in Tucson. I had no idea that so much was happening in this city in Southern Arizona. The large amount of highly-rated restaurants made each meal a difficult but exciting decision.

The University of Arizona impressed and surprised me as well with its beautiful campus, interesting programs, and closeness to both desert and urban areas. So if you like warm weather and a balance between nature and city life, The University of Arizona is a college worth checking out.