Once upon a time, the vibrantly bustling City of Tucson was once a quaint and sleepy desert town. These days, if you reside in the city, you can sometimes forget that there’s a vast desert surrounding you. Whereas many might think the desert is dull, those who appreciate the wild landscape that makes up such a large part of America will find so much to love and things to do in the gorgeous Tucson, Arizona.

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01Visit the Mission of San Xavier del Bac

San Xavier del Bac benedek / Getty Images

The mission of San Xavier del Bac is one of more than 20 Spanish Catholic missions across the deserts of Arizona. Located a mere 10 miles south of downtown Tucson, the church sits on the Tohono O'odham Nation Reservation. It's also one of the most recognizable architectural structures in the area. The church, which is still fully functional and active, was opened in 1797, which makes it the oldest European structure in the state, though the O'odham provided the labor.