9 Things to Love About Marana Part One

So we had to stop the list somewhere. But we’ll be back with more. Here are nine of our highly selective favorite things about Marana right now.

1) Local Microbreweries off the I-10

There are now four places to drink dozens of locally-produced craft beers, with a fifth coming in September. Catalina Brewing Co. is a microbrewery that emphasizes wild desert and seasonal ingredients and delicately balanced flavors. The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain serves locally-crafted beer on tap in its gastropub and haute cuisine restaurants and gastropub bar. Dove Mountain Brewing Co. offers gastropub food and about a dozen locally-crafted beers on tap. Growlers Taphouse, is the newest spot mixing locally-crafted beers, food, music, and screens. In September 2017, Button Brew House, the second microbrewery in Marana, opens its first location to the public, right across the parking lot from Catalina Brewing Co. Now Loop bike-riding enthusiasts have two options in one area and can hit the Marana Beer Biking Trail during the intense El Tour de Tucson training season.


2) Super Star Chef

You wouldn’t guess his super star culinary status from his quiet demeanor, but the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain Executive Chef David Serus is one of only 77 chefs in the United States with the title Maîtres Cuisiniers de France (Master of French Cuisine). A native of Lyon, France, Chef Serus came to the Ritz after an international search. In 2017, he earned a very rare Forbes Four-Star rating for his main restaurant at The Ritz, CORE Kitchen. His dishes are impeccably prepared with seasonal and wild desert ingredients to deliver unique natural flavor best described as Sonoran haute cuisine.


3) Best Shopping. Period.

The Tucson Premium Outlets at Marana Center is the only premium outlet mall in Southern Arizona. You can find Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Coach, Le Creuset, Saks Off 5th and 64 more incredible brands at discounted prices. From the diehard shop-a-holic to the guerilla shopper who needs one specific item, the Premium Outlets have something for every shopping style, age, family member, and seasonal need.


4) Secret Hollywood Movie Filming History

George Clooney filmed his directorial debut movie in Marana. And he was far from the first to use Marana’s scenery as a dramatic filming back drop. Portions of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2001) were filmed at the White Stallion Ranch, Lazy K Bar Ranch, and Sanctuary Cove in Marana. The White Stallion Ranch, Oasis at Wildhorse Ranch (now a wedding venue), and Mira Vista Resort (historically: Saguaro Vista Ranch) have hosted movie stars filming in Southern Arizona, starting in the 1930s.


5) One-of-a-kind Cold Snacks

La Garrafa Artisan Ice Cream & Snacks is the only artisan-style nieve de garrafa (a favorite style of ice cream in Mexico) in Southern Arizona with flavors like mazapan (peanut cookie candy), corn, and tamarind. And then there’s the Screamery, made with ingredients like Marana honey and grass-fed milk they pasteurize themselves. Ever taste food in the U.S. that reminds you of food in France? Oh, yes, it’s that good. Cayton’s at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, has a legendary milkshake menu with, and without, alcohol. Savaya Coffee Market has fair trade organic brewed iced-coffee and whole beans. You can get biodynamic coffee beans and exotic rare Geisha coffee beans from Panama.


6) The Temple of Alternative Shopping

Not into “shopping” but love to find one-of-a-kind things? Shhh, don’t tell anyone: Marana has a Bookmans on Ina Road at Thornydale Road (yes, it’s actually within the Town of Marana, we checked). They call it NW Tucson Bookmans. Those in the know can rightfully call it call it “SE Marana Bookmans.” Bookmans, as you can imagine from the name, has a huge assortment of used books in a variety of genres, and vastly more. From video games, to jewelry, accessories, music and movies, to musical instruments, to collectables, Bookmans probably has just what you are looking for, and probably a handful of things you didn’t even know you needed. If you have even more specialized needs, Marana also has a Guitar Center.


7) It’s Really Wild Here

You can visit 13 different state and five different national parks/historical sites within a two-hour drive and end up at El Rio Preserve, a lake in the middle of Marana where you can watch 100 different bird species, immerse yourself in wild desert, ancient cultural lands, breathtaking vistas, and open sky, all just outside of town. 


8) Marana is for Paleo Dudes and Dudettes

Marana is not just home to four vintage dude ranches, it also has Li’l Abner’s Steakhouse, the area’s oldest cowboy steakhouse. ‘Lil Abners is authentic as it gets, once serving as the home for the area cowboys and vaqueros to show off their skills, while whetting their whistles, and eating a steak. It is one of the only steakhouses in Arizona that cooks your meat on an outdoor, mesquite-fired grill, proper paleo style (in the ancient, not dietary, sense of the word).


9) Wickedly Good Attraction Coming Soon

Want modern entertainment with a side of lounging? Topgolf is opening in Marana by year’s end. Imagine something kind of like upscale bowling (but a golf range instead) with a gastropub bar in a better version of your friends’ outdoor patio living room party. The entertainment complex can amuse golfers, the golf-curious, and provide an elaborate social atmosphere for those who have never picked up the sticks. 

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