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Tucson, Arizona

Home to the University of Arizona and a large hippy population, Tucson is happening! 4th Avenue is a hangout with lots of cool shops, cafes and clubs. The street occasionally gets transformed into a huge Art Festival. There’s usually some good music around town, plus the nice climate and cheap smoke keeps everybody groovin’! That’s why some call it “TooStoned”.

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18 Responses to Tucson, Arizona

  • Ok, I was born in Tucson. I am an old hippy and I want to let you know that Tucson is not what it used to be as for as having a “large hippy community.” The hippy community here has really gotten quite small, mostly yuppies and hicks. 4th Ave. is not what it used to be either. Although there is still is the Food Coop and a few cool shops; but because of the 4th ave Street Merchants Association, 4th ave has turned rather yuppie. Even the hippie shops have turned “trendy” like Hippie Gypsy (and expensive too!). Maybe I’m just jaded and remember the old days when shops on the 4th were selling “shrooms” in their display windows and had smoke-ins in the park…those were the days. The 4th ave street fair has become a total sell out to Corporate America. It’s big and crowded. The 4th Ave Street Merchants stopped alot of the true hippy street peddlers & musicians from participating…a real bummer. I guess it’s ok if you never have experienced the “Fair”, but once is enough. Now don’t get me wrong there are still some cool people here, but their few and far between. The music scene has gone down also. However, if you like good blues and folk there’s a small but strong following here for that. The smoke is still cheap so that’s a plus. So Tucson is ok to visit for a few days, I guess. Try to find somewhere else to live though if you are looking for a true “Hippy Haven.”

  • I agree with Greenwolf. I spent from Spring of 1971 to Spring of 1987 in Tucson (with a year off in 1975 to live in Edmonton, Alberta) and found that as the years progressed, the “HIP” people moved away, or became more mainstream. The 4th Ave. street festival WAS cool, but as Greenwolf said, it’s become just another commercial medium for hawking cheesy products. The street life is not what it used to be, and all the good musicians leave because there is little support for the arts, especially the hip type. The economy has been faltering there for at least 10-15 years, and there seems to be no actual identity to the place. Two of my three daughters still live there, but neither of them can offer a reasonable explanation as to “why”!

  • I agree with the last post…I lived in Tucson for 6 months….left because I couldn’t stand living in a town void of hippies. Mt. Lemmon is cool, and very chill, but other than that, not much to say about it’s being a hippie haven. 4th street by the way was from what I remember, was extreamly unsafe, never felt comfortable there because the population seemed full of crack addicts and homeless kids desperate for whatever they could get, however they could get it.

  • 4th avenue is crawling with cops and undercovers… do be careful. the population has become much more urban-skater/punk/raver/hip-hop/gothie-kid than peace-loving hippy… but it is the tucson counterculture center nonetheless. on a trip to fourth avenue, expect to be hit up for crank/crack at least once or twice… usually the street-dealers are looking to rip off the naive or they are working cops; this is not the place to score drugs.

    do check out Tucson Thrift Shop (near the end of the street), this place is *excellent*. 🙂

  • The others are right! I remember that one of the few places where Hippies back through the 70s had their own place to offer a glimpse of the fruits of the counter-culture was on 4th ave., usually in the fall. Blankets on the street were their display cases, or a table set up on or off the curb. Beads, leather, necklaces, incense, pipes, etc. were most of what I recall being sold by long haired guys and gals who wore some of the most colorful and exotic clothing this side of Istanbul. There were drummers on congas and a few guitar players scattered around, some playing for baksheesh, others just for the obvious pleasure of playing out on the street. This usually took only a street or so to occupy with room for everyone to stretch out. Has it changed? Now it is several very crowded streets with a huge assortment of artsy-craftsy mass produced crap with the flavor of the street given over to professional touring vendors, fake indian-inspired homogenized do-dads and synthetic music (although I do enjoy the beer vendors). The human river that flows through it is a carney’s dream, but I cannot help but truly yearn for the scarf covered young girl dancing barefoot over a worn blanket covered with beautiful hand-made leather and bead necklaces, twirling to the beat of someone beating out a rhythm on an old bongo. I bought a necklace from her because I felt I was buying her carefree spirit. I’ve since lost the necklace, but I still have her spirit which is why I’m writing this. Wherever she is, Peace!

  • Tucson is totally hippie. Less so than it used to be, but still it is a great place for kids to go and chill.

  • I lived in Tucson for 10yrs. I spent many weekends browsing 4th avenue shops. It is not dramatically hippy or filled with skaters/punks etc…and don’t agree with the “it’s not safe” comments or any of the other dramatically negative comments. There is one smoke “head” shop…..and yes houses 2-3 given hippies in front but all the other shops are various vintage clothing, artsy, a great health food store and not too mention well priced restaurants. I’ve never felt unsafe and when it seemed that the drug problem was getting out of hand the city upped the police presence. In all my 10yrs I was approached once by a drug dealer who politely dispersed when I said I wasn’t interested. Also since I had two of my friends kids in the car at the time I followed up by walking down a block and informing a police officer. I have visited Haight/Ash and find that place disgusting…4th avenue is arty and one of the best places to chill/hang out on a Sat. day or night. If you’re looking for somewhere more “hippie” or dirty and unsafe….move to SF.

  • Hey “non-hippy”, maybe you should just change your name to NARC!!

  • TA DA!! IT’S MUNKY!!! I imagine someone who knows me from the ave will eventually come across this. I happen to be one of the kids from the ave for those of you who don’t know. And if you didn’t care to know, well guess what, I told you anyway. dun dun DUN!! Free the herb folks, free the herb.

  • I guess like, the whole hippie thing just has to “happen,” but it’s sad that it’s not happening here. Tucson can be a very slackful place with the mountains and desert and trails.

    I do sometimes wonder how sometimes when I feel kinda alone, sitting in my house, how many other people like me are at home, in their houses as well.

    The world is not a groovy place as a whole; Tucson should be. Tucson could be.

  • Iggy,
    In a way you’re right about the ‘Hippie’ thing just ‘Happening’. One of the more beautiful allures of the lifestyles that Hippies enjoy is the freedom of non-conformity or self-expression. Bohemians, Beatniks and Hippies are people who seek out their own course through the world and literally experimented with all that it has to offer. Their rejection of mental and physical limitations allow them to really get outside the box of conventional practices which in many people has unleashed whole new progressive genres of art, music, poetry, food, travel, philosophy, politics, conservation…well, you get the picture. One of the key (and fun) traits of proponents of such a lifestyle is being able to unabashedly seek what use to be labled as ‘Doing Your Thing”. You may have to go through a lot of ‘things’, but what you end up with is usually a wonderful journey of self discovery and in the end a better love and understanding of you. Hippies take their self discoveries around their neighborhoods and around the world. Sometimes other cultures and other lands provide the ultimate environment for their fulfillment. I’ve met many people on the world’s roads who were in love with the simple concept of enjoying the essence of just being, no matter where it was. The beauty of the Hippie experience is it allows for discovering and enjoying all avenues of self. Stop being Iggy Petulante and choose instead to be Iggy Kinetic. It’s a beautiful world, my friend. Absolutely beautiful. Go out into it and savor it. Peace!

  • I am going on my fifth month in Tucson and can’t wait to leave. The town it totally out of control with meth labs, illegal immigrants and other creeps.

    The apartment complexes are a base of operations for illegal ”entrants” and meth labs.

    There were times that I lost my voice from the meth fumes and had to leave my apartment from the meth lab in my building.

    Forget about any tolerance from the hoards of snowbirds that invade Tucson from October to late March and who make it very difficult to find a cheap apartment. The cheap apartments are pure crap and festering with illegal activities and psycho managers. There will also be an ample supply of Mexican gangs to make your stay unpleasant.

    The “so called” hippie crowd is busy selling phony medical devices, work at home scams and any other scams to part you from your money.

    This is a town of have nots and homeless that have gravitated here as the living is cheap. The worst areas of the city are south of Broadway, where I have been accosted by homeless women in mall parking lots at least once a week. They claim that they and their husband either came here for a job or need to go somewhere to get a job.

  • I moved to Tucson in Oct.2006.
    Being an old hipppy of 47 i find it to be very awesome here.There is soo much more than 4th st. to feel one with yourself and nature.Instead of sitting on your ass in a hase take it to the mountains and trails and canyons.Theres so much peaceful,trippy privacy there.
    People make there own messes.I enjoy walking around the city just enjoy
    and stay out of trouble. There are crack heads everywhere in this country.Just keep it real and walk away when your done.You know??
    Peace to all.

  • I was in Tucson from late ’69 to the end of 71. It was a place that was in transition. I spent alot of time at a place called Awareness House (not the one on campus) this one was east of the city, out in the desert then. We enjoyed the culture at the time spending alot of time at Bear Wallow and downdown in the park. I guess, like everything else, change happens: location, outlook, minds (or lack of) and dreams. We dreamed alot, problem was reality always wanted to jump up and bite us.
    Still, those were great times and amazing people.

  • Tucson is growing fast and also has about 35,000 students living there….many of which come from CA because they couldn’t get into a school in their own state, which is why some refer to UA as UC-Tucson, but if you ignore all of them the city’s pretty chill. Downtown is historic and cool and 4th Ave is definitely full of culture, good food, and cool people. I’ve never been asked for or offered drugs there and I go probably once a week atleast. You’ll see all kinds of people, and most likely have fun and find something cool to buy or eat or get pierced or tattooed. I can’t recall seeing any undercover or in uniform cops except at night when the 4th Ave bars swarm with college kids. Go during the 4th Ave street fair and enjoy the chill side of Tucson.

  • This page is ugly

  • lived in the Tucson Desert (Bopp off San Joaquin) 1992 until 1996. Moved back to Tucson, and been in town since 1998. I miss the old Tucson too, like before they moved the Greyhound Bus Station way down Broadway to Congress. The 4th Ave Merchants association (damn yellow jackets)…well anyway, things changed.
    I lived behind Toxic Ranch in that little brick house in the fall of 2001. After the fall of 2001, things were still cool, Grandpa Woodstock was being tolerated…but everything was changing everywhere. Spent 2002 to 2003 back at Pima, busy with classes
    My how time flies….
    ….Last time I was down at Catalina Park a couple of months ago, like March 2010, the regulars were selling pot (you know who you are,) and the circle was getting too big for me. So I left. TPD no fun to me.
    beware of Indian with tatooted neck, one, upon further examination, has a neck which has been slit. He speak with forked tounge.

  • You’re not going to find many places more chillin than Tucson my friends. I had the pleasure of living there from 02-05. I lived all over the world and have never found a place where I felt more at ease. I found the people on 4th ave to be very cool. I am back home in Canada now, but I find myself daydreaming of some of the good times I had on 4th ave just talking to strangers in the nice sunny weather. Good times! I hope to someday go back to hang out at that park. 

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