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Doug Quarles’ mural depicting an 1880s prospector

New Around Town: Benson

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: Adventures Issue: August 2017
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From its early days as a railway shipping point in the 1880s to its modern status as a “highway city” southeast of Tucson aiming to draw more tourists, Benson has had quite a ride. Three new developments are making Arizona travelers take note.

Benson History Murals
Artist Doug Quarles has been busy painting murals all over town. Quarles, who owns Quarles Art Gallery (quarlesart.com) in Benson with his wife and fellow artist Sharon, was commissioned by the Benson Clean and Beautiful Committee to paint scenes depicting Benson’s history – spoiler alert: trains and mining are frequent themes – on blank walls around town. More than 20 have been completed. “Doug always hides something in his paintings that people have to look at for a while to find,” says tourism official Bob Nilson.
196 E. Fourth St., 520-686-2752, bensonvisitorcenter.com/murals

Camping Cabins at Kartchner Caverns
USA Today has been giving Kartchner a lot of love. In 2016, it won “Best Cave in the USA” in a readers’ poll. This year, the daily paper crowned it “Best Arizona Attraction.” We love the site’s four new cabins, part of Arizona State Parks’ Camping Cabins program, designed to attract less outdoorsy types to spend a night or two at state parks. Each cabin has two rooms and sleeps up to six people. Reservations are $94 per night, plus a $5 reservation fee.
2980 S. Hwy. 90, 520-586-2283, azstateparks.com/kartchner

Mi Casa
At five years old, this Mexican restaurante is stretching the term “new” a bit. But in a town like Benson, where the local bookstore (The Singing Wind Bookshop) is 35 years old and the local museum (the excellent Amerind Foundation – amerind.org) is 80 years old, Mi Casa is still a bebé. The tricolor enchilada plate is a work of art, and the chimichangas are flaky and full of juicy steak or chicken (or veggies – Mi Casa has a number of great options for veg heads).
723 W. Fourth St., 520-245-0343, facebook.com/Mi-Casa-Restaurant