Nogales is a city divided by the US-México border, which runs through the middle of town on what was International Street. This portion of the city is in South Central Arizona; see Nogales (Sonora) for the portion in Sonora, Mexico.
The origin of the name Nogales is Spanish and derives from the word walnut, since walnut trees used to grow here. International Street, which separates Arizona and México, was once a wide main street much like any other. This changed on August 27, 1918 when American authorities opened fire on a Mexican civilian attempting to return to Sonora, igniting an international gun battle (the Battle of Ambos Nogales) which raged for days and ended with the construction of the first permanent border fence right down the centre of the village. The honorific "Heroica Nogales" was conferred on the Mexican portion of the community in recognition of this history.
The city is now one of the most important border crossings between Mexico and the USA by all measures.
- 1 Nogales-SCC Chamber of Commerce Visitor & Tourism Center, 123 W Kino Park (off of N Grand Ave by the Kino statue), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9AM-5PM.
Take Interstate 19 (I-19) south until the valley becomes narrow. Here you will find the narrowest point, where Nogales is located.
The historic core of downtown Nogales is most easily seen on foot, particularly if you want to cross the border. To go further afield, you'll need a car.
By rental carEdit
- 1 Pimeria Alta Historical Society and Museum, 136 N Grand Ave, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. T-Su 11AM-4PM. This museum is housed in the former City Hall, built in 1914 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Rotating displays focus on the history of the region, and include artifacts as well as documents and photographs. Free, but donations appreciated.
- 2 Santa Cruz County Courthouse, 21 E Court St (corner of Morley Ave). Sat 10AM-3PM. On the National Register of Historic Places, the courthouse was built in 1904 from stone quarried in Nogales itself. The building now houses the Nogales branch of Cochise College as well as the Arizona Ranger Museum, which displays artifacts from the Territorial Arizona Rangers and the modern Arizona Rangers. Free.
- 3 Morley Avenue (a couple blocks north of the border). A historic row of shops in buildings dating from the early 1900s. Many stores, including Kory's Company, Cinderella, and Bracker's Department Store are still run by the descendents of the original merchants.
- Charles Mingus Jazz Festival, ☏ . April. Held annually in April in commemoration of Nogales-born Charles Mingus, the two-day festival features regional jazz, food, and entertainment.
- Fiestas de Mayo. 5 May. This annual celebration includes live music, art, entertainment, and Mexican food.
- Day of the Dead Tour. 2 November, 11AM-3PM. In observance of the Mexican holiday Día de Muertos, the Pimeria Alta Historical Society conducts tours of the historic Nogales Cemetery. Tickets are available in October at the Pimeria Alta Museum (see listing above), as well as at the start of the tour. $15.
- 1 Festival Fiestas Patrias, 1905 N Apache Blvd (Nogales High School Auditorium), ☏ . Mid-September. An annual event celebrating Mexican Independence Day, with an evening of traditional mariachi music and folklorico dancers. Free.
For souvenirs most visitors like to walk across the border and explore Nogales, Sonora.
- 1 El Zarape, 964 N Grand Ave (across from Denny's), ☏ . Breakfast and lunch. Homemade Mexican food. On Wednesdays they have a chicken mole special.
- 2 Cocina La Ley, 226 W 3rd St (next to an automotive shop), ☏ . Very popular with locals for Mexican seafood. Especially good are their shrimp tacos and seafood soup.
- 3 Las Vigas Steak Ranch, 180 W Loma St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. T-Su, Fr lunch buffet 11AM-5PM, Su breakfast buffet 8AM-12PM. Authentic Mexican food, with great machacas and carnitas.
- 4 Nickel's Diner, 1060 Yavapai Dr #1, Rio Rico (Rio Rico Shopping Center), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 6AM-2PM, Sa 7AM-2PM, Su 9AM-1PM. Very popular, with free wi-fi too.
- 5 Nonna Vivi Pizzeria, 1060 Yavapai Dr #5, Rio Rico, ☏ . T-S 12PM-9:30PM. Traditional wood-fired grilled pizza.
Finitos is a very famous local drink of the shaved ice type. It is not the same shaved ice that one typically finds at a ballgame; this one is extremely unique. It is definitely a city favorite and known by all who live in and around Nogales for its high quality. In addition, it comes in a large range of flavors to meet any personal preference. Don't hesitate to try this local treat.
- 1 Candlewood Suites Nogales, 875 N Frank Reed Rd, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. Designed primarily for business travelers. Free breakfast and wi-fi, gym and laundry facilities. $73+/night.
- 2 [dead link] Esplendor Resort at Rio Rico, 1069 Camino Caralampi, Rio Rico, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Pets accepted. $85+/night.
- 3 Frida's Inn, 570 N Morley Ave, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. Operated in a historic home, with wi-fi, laundry facilities, and multilingual staff. Bookings can be made online via expedia.com or venere.com.
- 4 Hacienda Corona de Guevavi, 348 N River Rd, HC2 Box 96, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A historic bed and breakfast which once hosted John Wayne, with murals by Mexican bullfighter-turned-painter Salvador Corona. $200-$239/night.
- 5 Holiday Inn Express Nogales, 850 W Shell Rd, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. Free breakfast and wi-fi, no smoking. $81+/night.
- 3 Consulate-General of El Salvador, 840 North Grand Ave, ☏ .
- 4 Consulate-General of Mexico, 135 W Cardwell St, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Nogales International. Also available in print.
America's appetite for various contraband street drugs has ensured a steady stream of US dollars and US weapons southward to dangerous organised gangs on the Mexican side at all major crossings, in return for drugs which transit Mexico on their way north.
This has created dangers for travellers continuing westward into Mexico from the Nogales area; see the current travel warning issued by the US State Department. If you intend to cross at Nogales, it may be best to stay on the main toll road (México 15), travel by day and avoid display of jewels or valuables in order to keep a low profile.