The Southwest is Bursting with New Attractions

Activities, GTD

From reopenings to new musical performances in 2023, the Southwestern portion of the United States is waiting for you


Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria has announced its schedule of dinner-and-a show musicals for 2023. Kicking off the year is Mame (January 20-February 26), followed by Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville, March 10-April 16.  Next are Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, May 5-June 4; The Wizard of Oz, June 16-July 27; and Disaster!, August 18-September 16. (

The 35th annual Arizona Renaissance Faire & Artisan Marketplace, a medieval outdoor amusement park in Gold Canyon, is set for Saturdays, Sundays and Presidents Day from February 4 to April 2, 2023. The 50-acre site features 16 stages with nonstop entertainment, from music and dance to comedy and acrobatics. Visitors cheer on their favorite knight at jousting tournaments held three times a day. (

After being closed for two years, Old Tucson (formerly Old Tucson Studios) just re-opened its doors to the public with Halloween and Christmas-themed programming.  The Western town’s legacy is rooted in its 1890-themed buildings, which have served as the backdrop for movies such as Three Amigos, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, El Dorado and Tombstone, plus hundreds of commercials, music videos and television shows. While Old Tucson (under a new operator) will continue to woo filmmakers, visitors will get a chance to enjoy a Wild West experience, beginning in January 2023, with a host of characters trained in immersive theater.

After being closed for two years, Old Tucson (formerly Old Tucson Studios) just re-opened its doors to the public with Halloween and Christmas-themed programming.

The Historic Pima County Courthouse in Tucson, built in 1929, has reopened as a visitor attraction after undergoing a $32 million renovation. The project included the addition of the University of Arizona’s Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum, which reinforces the city’s identity as a premier gem destination; the January 8th Memorial, honoring the victims of the mass shooting that occurred at Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ event; and the Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center. The one courtroom kept intact and open to the public is where public enemy No. 1 John Dillinger was sentenced in the 1930s after being caught in Tucson.

New Mexico

The Indian Pubelo Kitchen, inside Albuquerque’s Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, soon will open a teaching kitchen that will offer classes in Indigenous cooking techniques. The restaurant offers wine-pairing dinners, farm-to-fork dining and Feast Day meals. (  

Phase III in construction continues at Albuquerque’s Avanyu Plaza, located across the street from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Owned by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, the business and cultural corridor is being transformed into a vibrant new neighborhood with office tenants, lodging, retail operations and food service.

Kirtland Air Force Base, adjacent to Albuquerque International Sunport, is working on a new, open-to-the-public development called Max Q at Kirtland. The project will transform more than 70 acres of the base outside of the military fence into a multi-use development to include shops, a hotel, restaurants and office space. The initial buildings will be ready for occupancy in 2023.

Albuquerque’s new $12 million West Central Route 66 Visitors Center, set for completion early 2023, includes an outdoor amphitheater, a museum, taproom and banquet facility. Albuquerque is home to the longest urban stretch of Route 66, the iconic “Mother Road” that spanned more than 2,400 miles and eight states during the golden age of automobile travel. (

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum just unveiled a world-class permanent exhibition called Canopy of Colors to honor the city’s iconic October festival. It features immersive experiences, storytelling, a digital timeline, artifacts, stunning visuals and an art installation. (


The Chickasaw Nation recently unveiled plans for a resort-style development to be located adjacent to the newly-opened First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City. Situated along the Oklahoma River near downtown, OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark will be a $300+ million tourist destination with a riverfront hotel, spa, outdoor adventure lagoon, amphitheater, indoor waterpark, restaurants, Native American marketplace and retail outlets. The project is expected to be complete in the late spring of 2024.

At the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, Oklahoma’s most popular cultural attraction, construction is underway for Expedition Africa, the zoo’s largest habitat expansion to date. Located in the heart of the park and slated to open in summer 2023, the 12-acre project will provide guests with more immersive wildlife experiences and larger habitats for animals native to the African continent including giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich, meerkats, African painted dog, cheetah and lemurs. The zoo’s latest arrivals are the Sumatran tiger twins born in July and four lion cubs born in September. (


Through April 16, 2023, Golden Worlds: The Portable Universe of Indigenous Colombia at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston showcases the diversity and brilliance of ancient Colombian cultures. From intricately cast gold pendants and hammered gold masks to ceramic effigies of fantastical creatures and rare textiles, some 400 works span all the major ancient cultures of Colombia. Included are an unprecedented number of gold pieces from the Gold Museum in Bogota. (

Construction will begin soon on a two-story building that will house the National Juneteenth Museum in Fort Worth’s Historic Southside neighborhood.

The exhibition King Tut’s Tomb Discovery Experience at the Houston Museum of Natural Science replicates the sense of wonder and astonishment that British archaeologist Howard Carter first experienced 100 years ago when he found the obscure pharaoh’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. Running through April 18, 2023, the display features recreations of objects, treasures and the equipment found in King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, giving a sense of the area as it first appeared to Carter and his team. The exhibition reveals how Tutankhamun was buried in a series of four gilded wooden shrines that surrounded a stone sarcophagus, which housed three nesting coffins that protected the King’s mummy. Also included are videos about the discovery of the tomb and Tutankhamun’s life, an excavator’s tent with tools and an interactive video game. (

Construction will begin soon on a two-story building that will house the National Juneteenth Museum in Fort Worth’s Historic Southside neighborhood. The impetus behind the $70 million project is Opal Lee, 94, a Fort Worth resident and activist who had long advocated for making Juneteenth a federal holiday. The day had been celebrated in Texas for many years to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Texas slaves learned of their freedom following the Civil War. A grand opening is planned for mid-2025.

Broadway Dallas’ 2023 series of shows at Music Hall at Fair Park and Winspear Opera House starts with Pretty Woman, January 24-February 5. The calendar also lists Moulin Rouge! The Musical, March 15-April 12; Tootsie, April 18-30; To Kill a Mockingbird, May 16-28; Riverdance, June 6-8; and The Book of Mormon, August 1-6. (

By Randy Mink


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