Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona. With 350 days of sunshine, this city is a giant outdoor playground year-round. This wild and vibrant city offers rich culture, gorgeous scenery, and great adventure. Whether you are looking to take your family into the great outdoors for some fresh air or looking for some educational fun, Tucson has it all!
Here are a few of the top activities to do while in Tucson, Arizona:
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
- Saguaro National Park
- Pima Air and Space Museum
- Tucson Botanical Gardens
- The Gaslight Theater
- The Mini Time Machine Museum
- Trail Dust Town
- The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum
1. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
No visit to Tucson is complete without a trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. 85% of the museum is outdoors, allowing you and your family to walk along the designated paths to experience the wildlife of Arizona firsthand.
You can take guided tours or go through the exhibits at your own pace. With 98 acres of zoo, aquarium, gardens, and a natural history museum, there is no shortage of what you can do while visiting. There’s even a Packrat Playhouse for your kiddos to explore- and to get their wiggles out.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is open daily from 8 am to 2 pm (June to September), and 9 am to 4 pm October through May.
2. Saguaro National Park
You might not know this, but Tucson is home to the largest cacti in the nation! You can find those cacti right here in the Saguaro National Park. This national park is the icon of the southwest.
You can choose to travel any trails by yourself or take advantage of the many guided walks and hikes. With over 150 miles of designated pathways, there is no shortage of sights for you to see. Before heading out to the trails, you can also check out the visitor’s center to get all the information you could need.
The park is open to vehicles only from sunrise to sunset, but you can walk or bike into the park at any time. Admission depends on your method of entry, costing around $25 per car or $15 per person.
3. Pima Air and Space Museum
This aviation museum is a must for all aircraft buffs. The Pima Air and Space Museum is one of the largest aerospace museums in the world that a government does not fund. With 80 acres of indoor and outdoor exhibits, you can check out various vehicles, including jets, helicopters, presidential planes, medical transports, and more.
This aerospace museum is open daily. Their summer hours (June to September) of operation run from 9 am to 3 pm, but they stop accepting admission by 1:30. Regular hours (October through May) run from 9 am to 5 pm, stopping entry by 3 pm.
4. Tucson Botanical Gardens
Five and a half acres with 17 uniquely themed gardens make up this great family outing. These well-developed gardens are bustling with life. Check out the Children’s Discovery Garden to learn about the life stages of a plant or watch a miniature train wind its way through the Thornville Garden Railway.
Gorgeous flowers and beautiful butterflies line the pathways of this botanical garden. If you are visiting Tucson in the springtime, check out this place to see many plants in full bloom!
Admission is $15 for adults, and entry for kids (3-17) is only $8. The gardens are open daily from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm. There’s also a great place to grab a bite to eat on the campus called Edna’s Cafe!
5. The Gaslight Theater
If you’re looking for a good time full of laughter and good food, check out The Gaslight Theater. This theater hosts a bevy of funny, family-friendly musical melodramas to invoke the good ole days of entertainment. You can sit back, forget your troubles and tap your foot along!
The Gaslight Theater not only delivers you a good show but also dinner! This whimsical dinner theater boasts of having great food and mounds of free popcorn. Expect to be fully enveloped and singing along during the show due to the electric, energetic atmosphere!
There are six nighttime shows a week and a concert every Monday. Reservations are required since seats tend to sell out fast, so plan ahead if you don’t want to miss this fun dinner theater.
6. The Mini Time Machine Museum
For lovers of all things tiny, this museum is a must. In this museum, you can explore over 500 miniature renditions of historical and fantastical settings with antique and common dollhouses and room boxes.
The exhibits are ultra-detailed, bringing you right into the scene. Your jaw is bound to drop as you take in the art of these miniature worlds. It’s also an excellent place to take the kiddos since many exhibits are eye-level for younger audiences.
The Mini Time Machine Museum is open from 9 am to 4 pm on Tuesday through Sunday.
7. Trail Dust Town
People worldwide flock to Trail Dust Town to immerse themselves in the old west history and fun. Their popular wild west show is full of stunts, gunfights, and slap-stick comedy that does not disappoint.
On top of checking out the great Pinnacle Peak Pistoleros Wild West Show, guests can also explore the town for free or check out the carousel, train ride, and wagon-themed Ferris wheel.
If you are looking for an inexpensive evening of fun, history, and shopping, you do not want to miss Trail Dust Town.
8. The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum
This historical museum explores the impact of the locomotive industry and railroad on Tucson. There’s even a celebrity train on display- the Steam Locomotive #1673 from Oklahoma in 1955.
Explore both indoor and outdoor exhibits at this former Southern Pacific Depot. Immerse yourself in history and let your little one’s imaginations go wild as they pretend to be a conductor for a day!
The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. But the best part of it all? Admission is completely free.