Tucson has nearly 300 days of sunshine a year, a fascinating Hispanic heritage, and colorful neighborhoods filled with charm. If you're not booking your flights right this second, you should be.

Tucson's almost non-stop warm weather and bucketloads of sunshine make it a very popular place to escape the gloom of winter. But the appeal of this desert town doesn't end with the climate. It's culturally, historically and geographically interesting; it's the second-biggest city in the state of Arizona; and its warm and welcoming locals are experts at making you feel like you're in a much smaller community. And then there's the food. The menus in Tucson feature enough spicy, flavorful Mexican specialties to keep you trying out new things for weeks, while cuisines from other parts of the world are well-represented, too.

There are some pretty big contrasts in Tucson, but they just make the place even more engaging. In the upscale Catalina Foothills area, the elegant places to drink and dine warrant wearing your best outfit. Things are significantly more chilled out, however, in the coffee shops and bars that cluster around the University of Arizona campus.

In the El Presidio Historic District and the Barrio Histórico neighborhoods you'll be in for yet another completely different experience, as you explore charming streets lined with Mexican-style adobe houses.

When you need a serious change of pace, head out into the vast wilderness areas that surround the city, taking to the mountain trails in cactus-spiked protected areas like Saguaro National Park.