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18 Best Things to Do in Marana, Arizona by VacationIdea

Marana is a small town in Arizona, northwest of Tucson, in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, surrounded by high mountains and deep canyons, with rich plant and animal life. Marana has a large number of world-class golf courses. The surrounding desert is a fascinating place to explore on horseback, in a helicopter, on a bike, or on foot along one of many well-maintained trails.

1. Ritz-Carlton Golf Course - 15000 North Secret Springs Drive Marana, AZ 85658, Phone: 520-572-3000

Ritz-Carlton Golf Course on Dove Mountain in the heart of the Sonoran Desert is a world-class golf resort with a 27-hole golf course designed by legendary golf champion Jack Nicklaus. As is his signature design, Nicklaus took advantage of the scenic desert setting and integrated variety, strategy, and fair shot, creating a golf course with a distinct character and unique challenges. The luxury golf course, which is located at an elevation that ranges from 2,300 to 3,200 feet, is equally enjoyable and challenging. The golf resort includes a pro shop offering the finest equipment, accessories, and apparel. It also has large tour-quality practice areas and a classy clubhouse.

2. Gallery Golf Club - 14000 N Dove Mountain Blvd, Marana, AZ 85658, Phone: 520-744-2555

The Gallery Golf Club, located at Dove Mountain near Marana, Arizona, northwest of Tucson, is ranked the top golf course in Southern Arizona and is one of the Top 100 Modern Courses in the country. Its two 18-hole courses are located at an average elevation of 2,875 feet above sea level. The Gallery Golf Club’s 36 holes are spread between the steep canyons of the Tortolita Mountains and the spectacular landscape of the Sonoran Desert. Open in 2003, the Gallery Golf Club is best known for having the longest par five in North America and a ninth hole at a length of 725 yards.

3. Wild Burro Trail - 14810 North Secret Springs Drive, Marana, AZ 85658

Running through Tortolita Park, the Wild Burro Trail is a 7.1-mile fairly difficult loop trail near Marana, Arizona, with the trailhead near the Ritz-Carlton in Dove Mountain and an elevation gain of 1,486 feet. The trail is known as the gateway to the Tortolita Mountains. The first half of the trail is graded dirt, coming in and out of a wash, and it gets rougher as you get closer to an old stone ruin, which once housed cattle ranchers; it becomes really steep after that. Some strenuous climbing will bring you to the top, which offers nice canyon views. The trail then goes down into a sandy basin and a shaded area with a massive cottonwood tree. After the tree, the trail turns to red dirt until you reach a gate and the end of the trail, which is the beginning of the Wild Mustang Trail.

4. Way Out West Ranch - 38612 S Mule Deer Rd, Marana, AZ 85658, Phone: 520-488-1050

Way Out West Ranch offers visitors a great opportunity to explore the Sonoran Desert on horseback, with experienced guides and on well-trained, well-mannered horses. There are more than 2 miles of incredibly scenic desert riding trails. The ranch offers also riding lessons for those who have never ridden or would like to refresh their skills, as well as off-trail adventures on horseback for those who need some extra thrills. The rides range from short, 1.5-hour trips perfect for beginners, to longer trips – from 2 hours to a whole day –for experienced riders who prefer more time in the saddle. There are also 2-hour Moonlight Trail Rides. All horses at the ranch have been rescued from unfortunate situations such as kill pens.

5. Catalina Brewing Company - 120, 2280, 6918 N Camino Martin, Tucson, AZ 85741, Phone: 520-329-3622

Catalina Brewing Company is a tiny but very active craft brewery located about 20 mins from Marana and is known for making and distributing a fairly large range of excellent craft beers made from local ingredients. Their beers range from a very popular and unique mesquite agave beer to a beer infused with prickly pear called La Rosa de Catalina. The brewery is strongly linked to the biking lifestyle, which inspires many of the names of their beers. The brewery is also located just next to the CDO Sonoran desert biking trail. Their tap room is a popular neighborhood gathering spot, with quirky biking-related decor and a map of Tucson biking trails on the wall. As their moto says “we bike and we brew.” Food is provided by visiting food trucks, especially on game nights and evenings with live music. The brewery plans on moving to Marana when their new brewery is finished.

6. The Highlands at Dove Mountain Golf Course - 4949 W Heritage Club Blvd, Marana, AZ 85658, Phone: 520-579-9574

The Highlands at Dove Mountain is a championship 18-hole golf course that opened in 1997 and was designed by the famous golf course architect, Arthur Hills. With the scenic background of the Tortolita Mountains, the hilly terrain, and gleaming lakes, this golf course has a unique character and provides a diverse and pleasant playing environment with spectacular vistas from every hole. The first nine holes play through the flats with subtle undulation and are fun and unforgettable. The back nine holes offer a challenging change of pace, with hilly terrain, a view of the mountains, and clear lakes. The course offers opportunities to test the skills of all golfers regardless of their experience.

7. Ritz-Carlton Spa - 15000 North Secret Springs Drive, Marana, AZ 85658, Phone: 520-572-3000

Located in Marana in the heart of the magnificent Sonoran Desert, Ritz-Carlton Spa is one of the few unique Arizona spas that turn to ancient healing rituals to slow down the pace and constant rush of the modern world. It is a world of comfort and tranquility within the ancient environment of Dove Mountain and the Sonoran Desert, a peaceful, soothing haven with incredible attention to detail. The Ritz-Carlton Spa at Dove Mountain invites its clients to indulge in the healing touch of professional therapists and watch the distractions and worries of life melt away. The spa offers a range of eco-holistic therapies that are based upon the balancing elements of nature and Sonoran Desert traditions. While the spa offers a full range of services, the most popular are the Gemstone Healing Massage and the Gemstone Radiance Journey.

8. Disruptive Paintball Inc - 1683 W Grant Rd #102, Tucson, AZ 85745, Phone: 520-293-5850

Disruptive Paintball is a family-owned entertainment venue that offers a fun and safe outdoor activity for individuals and families. Established in 2003, Disruptive Paintball has six battlefields where teams of players can splatter paint at each other across 18 acres of dry Sonoran desert landscape. Players slink between the shrubs and sparse desert trees and hide behind giant wooden spools and up in watchtowers, picking off opponents who are belly crawling up the sandy mounds. Players can also hide inside an old dilapidated helicopter and makeshift forts. They can also challenge their reflexes and aim at the small speedball court equipped with big inflatable obstacles. The center's diverse arenas are suitable for any age and skill level and it is not uncommon to see 7-year-old girls and boys fighting their grandparents. Disruptive Paintball also hosts airsoft nights, a slightly different game that uses soft pellets in place of paintballs.

9. Volare Helicopters - 11700 W Avra Valley Rd, Marana, AZ 85653, Phone: 520-917-0337

Volare Helicopters provides a unique way to see the majestic Sonoran Desert and the surrounding mountains from the comfort and safety of their helicopters. Besides sightseeing tours, they also offer flight training and aerial photography. Their tours will take you to see Saguaro National Park, Mount Lemmon, Picacho Peak, and downtown Tucson. Their flight training in the unique and challenging environment of the Sonoran Desert offers their students the rare opportunity to acquire high density altitude flying experience. The courses range from beginner to certified flight instructor and can be completed in only 10 months, allowing graduates to enter the industry as qualified professional pilots.

10. HMS Bikes - 8225 N Courtney Page Way, Marana, AZ 85743, Phone: 520-989-0196

The best people to take care of your bike are those who are bikers themselves. HMS Bikes is a family-owned full-service bike shop in Marana, Arizona, close to the areas where they like to bike: Dove Mountain, Picture Rocks, Gladden Farms, and Continental Ranch. Whether they are biking beginners or experienced road runners, all their clients feel comfortable in the fun and friendly atmosphere of their shop without feeling intimidated by all the technical jargon. HMS Bikes also sell a full line of town, road, and mountain bikes from reputable brands such as Bianchi and Orbea. They also carry parts and accessories as well as biking clothing and nutritional supplements.

11. El Rio Preserve - 10190 N Coachline Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85743

A 104-acre pocket of land in the upper Tucson Mountains, the El Rio Preserve has a long history of diverse use and today functions as a basin to collect run-off from the surrounding mountains and overflow from the Santa Cruz River. It is also a popular playground for disc golfers and has a lush riparian habitat with about 200 species of migratory and nesting birds. The interesting geological composition of the area, with granite and gneiss rocks mixed with younger volcanic rocks, produce fascinating bright red hues. East of the preserve is a flood plain of the lower Santa Cruz River, which at times becomes seriously turbulent after heavy rains. The town of Marana, together with Pima County and the Marana Parks and Recreation Department, has detailed plans for further development of this important area, which will include the El Rio Recreation Area, a new disc golf course, a shared use path, and a pollinator garden by the loop trail.

12. Marana Heritage River Park - 12375 N Heritage Park Dr, Marana, AZ 85653, Phone: 520-382-1950

Marana Heritage River Park is a 163-acre area next to Gladden Farms and the Santa Cruz River Linear Trail system. The park is a popular Marana recreation and entertainment space with soccer fields, a performing arts amphitheater, two baseball fields, a multipurpose grassy area for soccer and sports, a wedding venue with a fireplace and a catering area, and the Ramada pool barn for social events. The park also has a playground, a 4,500-square-foot splash pad area with a tractor, a water windmill, and community garden plots where local residents can have the use of 400 square feet of land to grow seasonal plants. The park is intersected by a network of hiking and biking trails.

13. True Love Honey - 17760 W Chinle Pl, Marana, AZ 85653, Phone: 520-461-3632

Just outside of Marana, in the former Holly's Little Farm, is True Love Honey, a honey collecting and processing farm and a store that offers a huge variety of honey, from mesquite to wildflower and desert blends. They also make gallberry, a high-enzyme high-pollen bee product that comes from a specific evergreen shrub and offers proven medicinal properties, particularly against allergies. True Love also produces a cinnamon and raw honey, bee pollen royal jelly, and beeswax. It is a nice place to visit and learn what happens to raw honey as it comes from the bee hive before it is ready to eat. Visitors can enjoy raw honey tastings and learn to distinguish local desert honeys from other single source raw honey varietals, such as cat claw, orange blossom, wildflower, cinnamon, and cayenne honeys.

14. CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar - 15000 North Secret Springs Drive, Marana, AZ 85658, Phone: 520-572-3000

CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar is unique Dove Mountain restaurant and wine bar at the Ritz-Carlton in Marana, Arizona. It offers contemporary American cuisine with Sonoran and regional influences, and the seasonal menu changes every month. The decor is modern and sophisticated, with warm colors that reflect the magnificent hills of the surrounding Sonoran Desert. There is a lovely outdoor lounge area with spectacular views of the giant cacti, the hotel’s own citrus grove, and the distant hills. The dishes are focused on local ingredients, imaginative and beautifully presented, and are complemented by an outstanding wine cellar with more than 2,800 bottles of wine.

15. Cayton's Burger Bistro - 15000 North Secret Springs Drive, Marana, AZ 85658, Phone: 520-572-3000

The elegant, relaxed clubhouse at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain is the perfect setting for a delicious meal with a menu that is dominated by their famous gourmet burgers. Focused on comfort food and popular dishes, the restaurant has a range of signature entrees and a great selection of regional craft beers. The luxurious dining room opens up to a wonderful, spacious patio, which has views that provide a fantastic background for a delightful culinary experience. Cayton’s is open to the general public and is available for private events. Event locations include the Kiva Room, Cayton’s Private Dining Room, and the wine cellar. There is live music every Saturday.

16. Ignite - 15000 North Secret Springs Drive, Marana, AZ 85658, Phone: 520-572-3000

Ignite is a spectacular fire-themed lobby lounge at Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain with opulent furniture indoors by the fireplace and a spacious patio with oversized armchairs around the massive fire pit outside, overlooking the breathtaking panorama of the Wild Burro Canyon. This popular spot offers lunch and dinner and features live music, classic and newly concocted innovative cocktails, a large selection of whiskies from all over the world, and a small but upscale gastro-pub menu. Ignite’s team of mixologists offer daily mixology classes. A sushi bar and sake are available on Fridays and Saturdays, and there is live music on Fridays and Saturdays.

17. Dove M Chinese Bistro - 12090 N Thornydale Rd #112, Marana, AZ 85658, Phone: 520-441-9362

Dove M Bistro is a popular Cantonese restaurant in the Northwest part of Marana, Arizona, with a spacious, comfortable dining room that is free of the usual gaudy Chinese decor. The restaurant has interesting luxurious touches, such as the massive granite counter that separates the open kitchen from the rest of the restaurant. The menu is large and traditional Cantonese, with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients and delicious flavors from traditional, original Chinese spices. The kitchen is stocked every morning with the freshest produce, organic tomatoes, freshwater fish, free-range beef, and farm-fresh eggs. For the best experience, ask for the chef’s daily special.

18. Turquesa Latin Grill - 15000 North Secret Springs Drive, Marana, AZ 85658, Phone: 520-572-3000

Of all six restaurants at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Hotel, Turquesa Latin Grill has by far the best location: It is located on a large stone patio by the hotel’s spectacular swimming pool, surrounded by lush greenery, and shaded by colorful umbrellas. This relaxed eatery is the perfect place for light lunch al fresco, featuring a menu of traditional Latin fare with Tucson influences. Try their delicious swordfish sandwich with avocado, chipotle aioli, and pineapple salsa. Turquesa Latin Grill is also a place to come for their premium tequilas, imaginative hand-crafted margaritas, and innovative cocktails.

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