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Best Things To Do In Tucson, AZ: Explore It Inside and Out - Updated 2020

things to do in tuscon
Haley
Haley
Updated

When you think of visiting Arizona, most people think of the Grand Canyon as the main attraction. While the Grand Canyon truly is grand and definitely worth a visit, Arizona, specifically Tucson has so much more to offer. Both indoors and out, Tucson has a variety of attractions that are great for individuals, spending time with the family, and experiencing with friends. From observatories to art studios to museums, Tucson will keep you entertained and immersed in the culture from the beginning of your visit to the end.

1. The Kitt Peak National Observatory

The Observatory

To get things started, visit the Kitt Peak National Observatory, home to the largest collection of optical and radio telescopes in the world. Since 1964, the Kitt Peak Visitor Center has catered to all, holding a variety of programs for young and old, alike. During the day, you can visit the museum to learn more about the equipment and experiments conducted at the observatory. At night, see the constellations in person by viewing them through a telescope—you can even reserve your own telescope! Multiple services are available, including daytime and evening programs, VIP Tours and programs for schools and youth groups, making Kitt Peak National observatory fun and accessible for the whole family.

Kitt Peak National Observatory

Price: from 9.75 USD for adults (Prices vary on tour type and age)

Opening Hours: Visitor Center is open from 9 am to 3:45 pm for daytime visitors and tours.

Contact: +1 (520) 318 8000

Website: Kitt Peak National Observatory

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2. Brush & Bottle

Ladies... Awesome paintings

Posted by Brush N Bottle on Saturday, 14 January 2017

If you’re looking to create your own art, but don’t have an artistic bone in your body, Brush & Bottle has the answer. At Brush & Bottle, you can get together with your friends—or make new ones—while relaxing as you paint your own masterpiece. Guests are encouraged to bring a favorite bottle of wine, beer, and appetizers to be enjoyed while painting, making the whole atmosphere more fun and welcoming. All the painting supplies and art instructions are provided with the cover charge, guaranteeing you a great time.

Brush & Bottle

Address: 1785 E Prince Rd, Tucson, AZ 85719

Price: from 35 USD

Opening Hours: Saturday: 6 pm to 9 pm. Sunday: 12:30pm to 2:30pm, 5 pm to 8 pm. Monday & Tuesday: Closed. Wednesday: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Thursday: Closed. Friday: 6pm to 9 pm.

Duration: around 3 hours required.

Contact: +1 (520) 881 0655

Website: Brush & Bottle

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3. Arizona Theatre Company

The Theatre

Want to be entertained rather than entertain yourself? Catch a show at the Arizona Theatre Company. This theatre is not only known as the professional resident theatre of Arizona but also as a national model for professional performing arts institutions because of their management and production of full performance seasons in both Tucson and Phoenix. But that’s not the only reason you should stop by - the Arizona Theatre Company performs quality off-Broadway productions and concerts year-round, at prices that are intentionally kept low so every individual has the opportunity to attend. That’s right - ATC is a non-profit theatre, and intends to stay that way. So even if your budget is tiny for your trip to Tucson, you can still enjoy a show.

Arizona Theatre Company

Address: Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701

Contact: +1 (520) 622 2823

Website: Arizona Theatre Company

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4. Philabaum Glass Gallery and Studio

'North Carolina Perspectives' opens tonight, featuring glass art from 5 incredible North Carolina artists. Join us for the opening reception from 4 - 6.

Posted by Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio on Saturday, 4 February 2017

A strong member of the art scene of downtown Tucson, Pilabaum Glass Gallery and Studio is an excellent destination for those in love with the complex craft. Mainly featuring the art of namesake Tom Philabaum, the gallery also houses other artists’ designs, like Mark Abildgaard, Lucio Bubacco, Patricia Carberry, Elaine Forbes, Shane Fero, and many more. While at the studio, you can watch the glassblowing process, an experience that will leave you amazed at the beauty that comes from seemingly nothing. In the gallery, you can view and buy art from the artists, giving you the perfect souvenir for back home.

Philabaum Glass Gallery and Studio

Address: 711 S 6th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701

Opening Hours: Regular Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 10 am to 5 pm. Summer Hours: 11 am to 4 pm.

Contact: +1 (520) 884 7404

Website: Philabaum Glass Gallery and Studio

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5. Colossal Cave Exploration

Trek Inside the Cave

Located 36 minutes outside of Tucson, Colossal Cave Mountain Park is an adventure waiting to be had for any traveler. The cave itself is a beautiful display of nature, delving deep into the earth’s crust, and at first glance, it looks to be a challenge to all but the most skilled cave explorers. In reality, different levels of cave exploration are available, making the cave accessible to almost everyone. Other services at the park include camping and picnicking, horseback riding, and scenic trails great for hikes and bicycling. So even if caves aren’t your thing, Colossal Cave Mountain Park will keep you entertained.

Colossal Cave Exploration

Address: 16721 E. Old Spanish Trail, Vail, AZ 85641

Price: from 16 USD

Opening Hours: 8 am to 5 pm Daily. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Contact: +1 (520) 647 7275

Website: Colossal Cave Exploration

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6. Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding

Wanting to skip the cave and just go horseback riding? At All Around Trail Horses, you can do just that. As the longest running family owned stables in Tucson, Pantano Riding Stables ensures a good time to people of all ages, sizes, and experience levels. Here, you can enjoy a romantic ride or meet up with friends for a trail ride and dinner combination. Hay-rides, dining under the stars, and exploring the Saguaro National Park are also within the realm of possibilities on this fantastic adventure. And don’t fret about distance. They have four different locations in Tucson, meaning you can focus on enjoying the ride.

Horseback Riding at All Around Trail Horses

Address: Spanish Trail Outfitters at Westward Look Resort, 245 E. Ina Road (Ina/Oracle) Tucson, Arizona

Price: from 32 USD

Website: Horseback Riding at All Around Trail Horses

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7. Sabino Canyon

DID YOU KNOW? Sabino Canyon is a part of the Coronado National Forest and began its formation over 12 million years...

Posted by Long Realty Company on Monday, 23 June 2014

Posted by Chuck Jentlie Photography on Tuesday, 24 January 2017

While most people hike through nature to get a feel for the earth, see the trees, and breathe in the fresh air, at Sabino Canyon you can take a tram tour through the wilderness and experience the beauty, while seated, comfortably. This natural desert oasis is located 21 minutes from Tucson and lies in Coronado National Forest. The narrated, educational, 3.8 mile (6.1 kilometer) tour lasts 45-minutes, with trams arriving at the depot around every 30 minutes. Night rides are also available, giving the tour a new perspective as this is most likely when wildlife will make an appearance. Walking tours with different levels of difficulty, and various destinations are also available for you to choose, making your overall experience customizable to you, and one that you’ll never forget.

Sabino Canyon

Price: from 10 USD

Opening Hours: Monday-Friday: 9 am to 4 pm. Weekends & Holidays 9 am to 4:30 pm.

Duration: around 45 minutes required.

Contact: Information: +1 (520) 749-2861. Reservations: +1 (520) 749-2327

Website: Sabino Canyon

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8. Mt. Lemmon Science Tour

The Mt. Lemmon Science Tour

While this tour lacks a physical address, the Mt. Lemmon Science tour is just as educational and interactive as any museum—except this guide lives in your pocket. The Mt. Lemmon Science Tour is an app available for Apple and android that will take you on a trail on the mountain while providing historical and natural information about the area. Presented by the University of Arizona, this self-guided tour also features music from the band Calexico and is narrated by Calexico frontman, Joey Burns.

Mt. Lemmon Science Tour

Address: Mt. Lemmon, Tucson, AZ

Website: Mt. Lemmon Science Tour

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9. Tucson Street Car

Sun Link Street Car
Source: HDR Website

Rather than driving or walking everywhere in Tucson, consider taking the Sun Link Street Car. Both locals and visitors use the streetcar to get from place to place, making the car more than just a tourist attraction, but also a hometown necessity. This service goes from the University of Arizona to Fourth Avenue, Main Gate Square, Downtown Tucson, and the Mercado District–all central Tucson locations. This puts over 150 shops around the car and makes it an ideal asset for those wanting to experience Tucson’s culture to the fullest.

Sun Link Street Car

Contact: +1 (520) 792 9222

Website: Sun Link Street Car

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10. Funtastics Family Park

If you’re looking for a place to take the kids after a week of sightseeing, head to Funtastics Family Park. This multi-attraction park is equipped with mini golf, go-carts, bumper boats, laser tag, and an arcade, sure to wear the kids out before heading back to the hotel. Kiddie Land is also available for the younger members of the family to ensure the trip is nothing but a blast!

Funtastics Family Park

Address: 221 East Wetmore Road, Tucson, Arizona 85705

Price: from 6.49 USD

Contact: +1 (520) 888 GOLF (4653)

Website: Funtastics Family Park

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11. Spanish Architecture

San Xavier mission 20090204
Source: Photo by user Geremia used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

For the history buff or those wanting to get in touch with their Catholic Heritage, visit the San Xavier Mission. A national historic landmark, this church was founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692 as a Catholic mission, but the current building’s construction didn’t begin until 1783. The stunning building that we know today was completed in 1797, with much of the initial structure still intact. The church’s exterior is rendered from two different colors of stone, highlighting the detailed stonework etched on the church’s face. Inside, the church is full of the original statues and mural paintings, despite being the oldest intact example of European architecture in Arizona. Amazingly, the church is still used for regular church services which are open to the public. Whether you choose to visit during mass, or when the church is completely empty, the holy building alone will be enough to make you feel like you’ve been transported back to 18th century Arizona.

San Xavier Mission

Address: Mission San Xavier del Bac,1950 W. San Xavier Road,Tucson, AZ 85746-7409

Opening Hours: Mission church opens 7 am and closes at 5 pm each day

Contact: +1 (520) 294 2624

Website: San Xavier Mission

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12. Pima Air and Space Museum

While you’re traveling, learn about the invention that changed travel forever at the Pima Air & Space Museum. At the Pima Air & Space Museum, you can take in the history of flight while viewing over 300 aircraft—from a Wright Flyer to a 787 Dreamliner. The museum is both indoors and out, with exhibits about commercialized flight, women in flight, WWII, and more in the hangars. Outside, you’ll find over 150 planes, including Boeing jets, two generations of Blue Angels, and aircraft from both sides of the Great Wars. At the museum, you can follow a tour guide or walk around on a self-guided tour, allowing you to learn at your own pace and fully appreciate the miracle of flight.

Pima Air & Space Museum

Address: 6000 E. Valencia Rd. Tucson, Arizona 85756

Price: from 15.50 USD

Opening Hours: Open 9 am to 5 pm daily. Last admittance at 3 pm.

Contact: +1 (520) 574 0462

Website: Pima Air & Space Museum

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13. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

basking in that Arizona sunshine 🌞 📷: @rikkish_photography #owl #desertmuseum

A post shared by Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (@desertmuseum) on Apr 12, 2017 at 11:56am PDT


If you want one place where you can learn a mass amount of information about the Sonora Desert and if you don’t mind a small hike, look no further than the Arizona-Sonora Museum. This museum shows the beauty and history of the desert, with both indoor and outdoor displays of both living and non-living exhibits. Starting indoors, you can view gems and fossils found in the area, and learn about the importance of each. Inside you’ll also find a variety of fish, amphibians, and reptiles, again native to the desert. As you travel outdoors, you can walk through a botanical garden featuring native cacti, or cool down in the butterfly exhibit. You can get up close and personal with birds as they’re kept in a large walk-in enclosure before heading back out into the heat for the final leg of your journey. On the trail, you’ll see animals like javelinas, beavers, otters, and even a bobcat! With about 85 percent of the museum outdoors, it is a completely unique experience you’ll never forget.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Address: 2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson AZ 85743 U.S.A.

Price: from 20.50 USD

Opening Hours: October - February: 8:30 am to 5 pm March - September: 7:30 am to 5 pm. June - August: Sunday - Friday 7:30 am to 5pm. Saturdays - 7:30 am to 10pm.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Contact: +1 (520) 883 2702

Website: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

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Discover Tucson

In the heart of the Sonoran Desert, Tucson is an entertainment and educational hub. For both young and old, adventurous and home-bodied, every traveler can find something to love about this captivating city.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Haley has been writing stories since she was five, but did not decide to be a full-time writer until her college years. She studied English and Biology at Eastern New Mexico University and has...Read more

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