Tucson offers visitors and residents alike a host of entertaining activities that appeal to both adults and children. Following are the top ten activities to explore in Tucson.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – One of the favorite attractions in Tucson, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is located on 21 pristine acres of desert land that is home to various free-roaming animals and a beautiful botanical garden.
Strike out early for a leisurely stroll along a paved pathway that winds for 2 miles through the desert territory and catch glimpses of such endangered species as the ocelot, Mexican wolf, jaguarondi and thick-billed parrot. Along the way, you’ll see plenty of other creatures like bighorn sheep, coyote (and their roadrunner sidekicks), black bears, river otters, prairie dogs, and more. Then move to the main visitor center which houses interesting exhibits to get a break from the afternoon heat. Be sure to visit the Hummingbird Aviary and the Cactus Garden!
Tucson Botanical Gardens – This Tucson activity is both relaxing and informative. Plenteous pathways wind through the gardens where visitors can behold thriving flora along the way or in various greenhouses, take in the glory of the iris and herb garden, and gaze upon the lush tropic exhibit. Knowledge about plants and insects can be gleaned in special classrooms and a large xeriscaping exhibit explains how to use minimal water to create beautiful desert gardens.
Atturbury Bird and Animal Sanctuary – Another outdoor Tucson attraction where visitors can relax and behold the area’s desert beauty is at the Atturbury Bird and Animal Sanctuary where a mile-long trail loops through a variety of diverse plant and animal wildlife. Besides capturing glimpses of a large selection of bird species like the Inca dove, Harris’ hawk and killdeer, you can also see such desert critters as gila monsters, horned lizards and jackrabbits. A special stop awaits visitors at the Hummingbird and Butterfly Garden.
Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve – Containing one of Arizona’s few remaining patches of old forest, the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve offers visitors a vast selection of scenic views and roaming wildlife. Not only can various birds from over 300 species be spotted, but glimpses can be caught of coyotes, bobcats, rattlesnakes and other Tucson favorites. To glean the best from the Preserve, a Saturday morning guided tour is offered.
Tohono Chul Park – A great location where you can soak in the great outdoors of Tucson is at Tohono Chul Park. This wildlife refuge sits on 48 acres within the city’s metropolitan area serving the purpose of educating its visitors about desert life. Visitors will enjoy demonstrations at the park’s greenhouse, geology wall, and gardens. You can also take a break and explore the park’s museum, tea room and greenhouse shop.
Old Tucson Studios – Take a leap back in time and visit this Tucson favorite, the Old Tucson Studios. Walk among the Old West buildings which saw riveting movie action in flicks such as The Three Amigos, Gunfight at the OK Corral and Tombstone, not to mention numerous pictures featuring John Wayne. Stroll through the board buildings of the Old Tucson Studios surrounded by the breathtaking desert backdrop of the Sonoran Dessert and the Tucson Mountains and enjoy various exhibits, live performances at the Opera House, carnival games, pony rides and tours aboard a western stagecoach.
Trail Dust Town – Another fun movie set to visit in Tucson is the Trail Dust Town which was the backdrop for an unfinished Glenn Ford movie shot in the 1950s. After the movie crew left the area, the buildings remained and the set was converted into a popular Old West attraction. Enjoy such activities as watching Wild West Stunt Shows, riding the CP Huntington Railroad miniature train, touring the Museum of the Horse Soldier, or eating at the Pinnacle Peak steakhouse.
Reid Park Zoo – Adults and kids alike will enjoy a visit to the Reid Park Zoo which sits on 17 acres and includes a wealth of animal favorites such as jaguars, Siberian tigers, elephants, polar bears and more. Be sure to hit the popular South American exhibit and the Aviary bird sanctuary.
Breakers Water Park – This fun water park contains the largest wave pool in Arizona, not to mention 2 tube slides, 5 super slides and a special area for small children where Tucson visitors can find relief from Arizona’s scorching sun. Plenty of cold drinks and food favorites are offered at snack bars throughout the park. Outside food and drinks are not permitted.
Kitt Peak National Observatory Visitor Center – Although located 80 miles west of Tucson, the Kitt Peak National Observatory is a top-of-the-list attraction. The facility, which actually combines two National Optical Astronomy Observatory divisions, is situated on 80 acres of mountaintop that has been leased from the local tribe of Tohono O’odam Indians for over 200 years. Knowledgeable staff lead visitors who are interested in astronomy on amazing daytime and nighttime tours that delve into the mysteries of the universe. Night tours require a reservation.