If you're looking for the nearest GAP, look elsewhere.

If you're looking for something actually from Tucson, then we've got a few suggestions:

Tohono Chul Gift Shops

7366 N. Paseo del Norte. Phone: 297-3169

Besides being a nice place to go for lunch and a stroll, Tohono Chul also has a couple of gift shops that carry items that are really from the Old Pueblo. For starters, at the main gift shop (attached to the Tea Room) you can find, not only your obligatory T-shirts, but some nice pottery made right here in Tucson. A little further on, you can stop in the greenhouse for a cactus or succulent to remind you of the magic of the desert. I'm sure that the docents will provide tips on how to care for it. Of course, you can find Tohono Chul at the corner of Ina Road and Paseo del Norte (just west of Oracle).

The Book Stop

2504 N. Campbell Ave. Phone: 326-6661

Well, we can all visit a Barnes & Noble, or a Borders book store pretty much anywhere, and they have their places, but nothing quite compares to a good used book store. The Book Stop is what a used book store should be, crowded floor to ceiling (pretty much) with books, and nobody bothers you if you're just browsing. You can even bring in the ice cream cone that you picked up right next door at the Santa Barbara Ice Creamery. To find the Book Stop, just position yourself on Campbell Ave, two blocks north of Grant. A nice place to stop in the evening, or if it's raining (yes, that does happen here in Tucson – sometimes).

Plants for the Southwest

50 E. Blacklidge Dr. Phone: 628-8773

You've decided that a cactus is what's in order, so head on over to Plants for the Southwest. A little difficult for a visitor to find, but worth the trip: it's on Blacklidge just east of Stone Ave. (Blacklidge is one block south of Ft. Lowell Rd). We think that this is one of the best cactus nurseries in town, and the owners are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

B&B Cactus Farm

11550 E. Speedway Blvd. Phone: 721-4687

B&B Cactus garden

Part of the B&B Cactus Garden

If you didn't find what you were after at the Plants for the Southwest, or maybe you happen to be on the far east side, then check out the B&B Cactus Farm for that southwestern plant. They have a great selection of large plants, and a couple of gardens showing off the landscape uses of cacti. They'll also ship, in case you don't want to get perforated on your trip home. Now I know there are other nurseries in town, some of them quite good, I'm sure. But B&B and Plants for the Southwest are the two (besides Tohono Chul greenhouse) that we shop regularly, and can recommend without hesitation.

And if you're tired of shopping at chains and just want to support having the variety of independent stores (it's either that, or the banilty of Wal-Mart) consider these establishments. You'll be glad you did.

Plaza Liquors

2642 N. Campbell Ave. Phone: 327-0452

The Plaza is a bit more than stopping in at one of the national chains, but stop in anyway. The selection of beer is excellent (100's) and most, if not all, are available as singles. That way if you don't like it, you've only wasted money on one. Let's see a national grocery chain do that!