Tucson is somewhat unique for a large city because it has very few suburbs but is more a conglomorate of different neighborhoods scattered throughout the city.  The city core is a small downtown area surrounded by several historic neighborhoods.  These include Armory Park, (the first neighborhood to be listed in the National Registry of Historic Neighborhoods) West University, Iron Horse, Barrio Anita, and Barrio Viejo.  Downtown is about 1/2 mile from the University of Arizona,  and 1/4 mile from the Tucson Convention Center.

In July 2014, the Modern Streetcar opened, linking the University of Arizona, funky bohemian 4th Ave, the Downtown Entertainment area, and Community Center.  It then runs another mile West under the freeway to the Mercado San Agustin and the El Rio neighborhood, an historic Hispanic neighboorhood with muraled buildings which is largely undeveloped, so it has a lot of parking.  The Mercado has several highly-regarded restaurants - both casual and white-tablecloth, as well, as a Mexican bakery, cheese shop and other merchants.   For those wanting a vacation from driving, this downtown area has a very high walkability score, and many bike paths, as well as the streetcar.  More than 40 restaurants cluster in this eclectic and foodie area, offering any price range and type of food imaginable.  Tucson's diverse roots create unparalleled people watching as UA students, hipsters, buskers, active retirees, spiritual seekers, and artists all mingle in Tucson's laid back, tolerant style. There are also several bars, museums, and theaters.

From this center, Tucson sprawls all directions, constrained by the ring of mountains surrounding it on all sides. Outside the core there is virtually no mass transportation other than mostly unused public bus routes.  You are reliant upon cars to get to the multitude of spas and desert attractions on Tucson's edges.

The north side is mostly upscale and is referred to as The Catalina Foothills.  This is where you'll find the most expensive houses, upscale shopping, and many foodie dining options scattered in small malls.  

The northwest side of Tucson is actually one of the emerging suburbs: Marana. Here is a growing family friendly area with lots of huge new houses with community swimming pools. Other suburbs include Sahuarita to the south and Vail to the southea.  Dirctly East of UA is the historic Sam Hughes neighboorhood, composed mainly of older houses and also is on the National Register of Historic Places.