Lots of people ask me, “Why go downtown?” I know downtown, as I serve as a part-time hearing officer in Small Claims Court for the Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts, now in La Placita on Church Street (and formerly at 32 N. Stone Ave.).
I have worked downtown before, as interim director of the now-defunct Domestic Violence Commission on Pennington Street, as well as for the Tucson Parent.
That newspaper used to be in a small office on Meyer Street just below the Tucson Convention Center, then later was on East 13th Street near Fourth Avenue.
So here are my tips for enjoying downtown Tucson.
First, check out the Joel D. Valdez Main Library at 101 N. Stone Ave.
It has free Internet, lots of books and magazines to borrow, a colorful, imaginative Children’s Room and free validated parking for one hour.
At noon on Thursdays, you can listen to the free Food for Thought lecture series. And you can always just sit outside in the plaza under the “Sonora” sculpture and watch the people walk by.
Next, walk way over to 222 E. Congress St. for a treat at Flanagan’s Celtic Corner. I wrote about that new store in a July blog for the Citizen, but drop by and see their abundant merchandise from Ireland and Scotland. Having traveled to both places, I can attest to the authenticity of these gifts.
Then there’s lunch.
I highly recommend Café 54 at 54 E. Pennington St., a unique business that hires workers recovering from mental illnesses.
The food is fresh and tasty, the art on the wall is local and vibrant, and the whole atmosphere is pleasant. It’s a great place to meet for a business lunch.
Or drop by 110 E. Pennington St. for the new, modern version of Cafe Poca Cosa, a Southwestern gem.
And finally, for a brief rest stop, I suggest the large fountain at El Presidio Park next to City Hall and the lovely domed 1928 Pima County Courthouse designed by architect Roy Place.
Or you can sit on a charming, mosaic-tiled bench in the shaded, smaller Sunset Park just west of City Hall. It’s not a fabulous park, but it certainly has a restful feeling to it.
After Sunset Park, walk over to the Tucson Museum of Art to see local artist David Tineo’s large, colorful mural, then across the street to Old Town Artisans, 201 N. Court Ave., for Southwestern arts and crafts.
You can always grab a bite for dinner in the lovely courtyard at La Cocina (The Kitchen).
Well, that’s my walking tour of downtown Tucson for those who seldom venture downtown.
I also suggest you leave the car at home and take the Sun Tran bus for $1 one way. Call 792-9222 for route information.
At night, there’s always the beautifully renovated Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. (Visit www.foxtucsontheatre.org for a schedule of events and movies.)
Also, Downtown Saturday Night recently has been reinstated. The next one will be this Saturday, starting at 6 p.m. with arts and entertainment on Congress Street, plus a surprise performance at 9:30 p.m.
See you downtown.
Hawaii native Carolyn Classen is a former legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and former practicing attorney who now is a community volunteer and Small Claims Court hearing officer.