25 Best Things To Do In Tucson, AZ: Explore It Inside and Out

things to do in tuscon

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. Check out our list of the best things to do in Tucson, Arizona.

1. Reid Park Zoo

Aldabra tortoise at Reid Park Zoo
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Misha Stepanov used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Reid Park Zoo is an interesting place to visit for all types of travelers. Whether you are traveling solo or with your partner, this place is perfect to get away from it all. The zoo has something different to offer every day which keeps everything exciting. As in all zoos, the main attraction here is the animals which come in a wide variety. This place is located in the heart of Tucson and serves as an oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle.

Reid Park Zoo

Address: 3400 E Zoo Ct, Tucson, AZ 85716, United States

Website: Reid Park Zoo

Opening hours: 9am - 4pm (daily)

2. Tucson Museum Of Art

Tucson Museum of Art
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Michael Barera used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Tucson Museum of Art is an interesting destination because it presents art pieces and artifacts in a unique way that will attract all guests from all over. The items are placed in adobe houses where each one has a different theme. The items on display are pre-Colombian and Latin American folk art pieces. The museum also features contemporary and modern art exhibits that make you appreciate the place more. All the items distributed and found in the five adobe homes allow you to get a glimpse of Tucson’s’ way of living in the past.

Tucson Museum Of Art

Address: 140 N Main Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701, United States

Website: Tucson Museum Of Art

Opening hours: Thu - Sun: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon, Tue & Wed)

3. Arizona State Museum

Arizona State Museum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Michael Barera used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Arizona State Museum is located on the premises of the University of Arizona and pays homage to the region’s native traditions and culture. The museum offers several activities to entice visitors and learn more about the state’s history. This includes guided tours, personal and digital sessions, masterclasses, travel opportunities, and of course, walking around while admiring the items on exhibit. There is also a research library in case you need some information about things. This museum was founded in 1893 and is considered the biggest and oldest anthropological research museum in the Southwest region. It boasts exhibits with items that date back 13,000 years ago.

Arizona State Museum

Address: 1013 E University Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85721, United States

Website: Arizona State Museum

4. The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is all about tiny versions of antiques and contemporary items fully exhibited in an interactive and educational manner. The permanent exhibits are popular choices so it’s no wonder why people come here and participate in this lovely experience. The museum also holds several exhibits on a temporary basis. Most of these are aimed at how artists use miniature objects to relay their thoughts to the beholder. If you are into it, you can participate in activities where you can learn how to create miniature objects. Whether you are traveling solo or with someone, this museum is a nice place to visit during your vacation.

The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

Address: 4455 E Camp Lowell Dr, Tucson, AZ 85712, United States

Website: The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 9am - 4pm (closed on Mon)

5. Tucson Botanical Gardens

Tucson Botanical Gardens
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Stickpen used under CC0

Tucson Botanical Gardens covers a total of 5 acres (2 hectares) of land while implementing educational and fun activities for children. If you are young at heart or someone traveling with kids, this place will delight you and your children because it incorporates 12 open gardens that you can visit and have fun in. A collection from Harrison Yocum that includes various minerals and rocks are quite an attraction. You will find these sprinkled all over the gardens while some are incorporated in the exhibits. The café is the perfect place to have some healthy options and cold drinks, while the gift shop has the best souvenirs you can buy.

Tucson Botanical Gardens

Address: 2150 N Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85712, United States

Website: Tucson Botanical Gardens

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 8:30am - 4:30pm; Fri - Sun: 8:30am - 4:30pm, 5:30pm - 8:30pm

6. Tucson Mall

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Tucson Mall on Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Housing over 170 stores, dining outlets, and more, Tucson Mall is considered to be the largest shopping facility found in the Old Pueblo. Four of the top department stores in the country anchor this mall, such as Dillard’s, Forever 21, J. C. Penney, and Macy’s. If you are looking for something homegrown then head over to Tubac Olive Oil Company for some of the best locally pressed olive oil and food items. You will never run out of dining options in this sprawling mall where the choices include Olive Garden, Red Robin, Shane’s Rib Shack, Mimi’s Café, Cheesecake Factory, and California Pizza Kitchen.

Tucson Mall

Address: 4500 N Oracle Rd, Tucson, AZ 85705, United States

Website: Tucson Mall

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 11am - 7pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 8pm; Sun: 12pm - 6pm

7. Three-hour urban adventure quest (from USD 44.0)

things to do in tuscon | three-hour urban adventure quest

This is going to be so much fun because this is a scavenger hunt. The whole Old Pueblo becomes your game board where a scavenger hunt and sightseeing are rolled into one. Armed with any smartphone in hand, you and your gang will travel to tourist destinations all over the city while looking for clues that will help you complete and solve challenges. As you do, you will learn things about Tucson’s history and culture. This tour takes you to churches, heritage hotels, historic theaters, beautiful parks, and the historic district of El Presidio.

Tucson: 3-Hour Urban Adventure Quest Scavenger Hunt

Duration: 3.0 hour

11 reviews

8. Children's Museum Tucson

Children's Museum Tucson
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Michael Barera used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Children’s Museum Tucson is an interactive facility where kids are provided with fun-filled attractions. You can bring your children here and watch them hang loosely in learning sessions that incorporate games. All activities and attractions in this place are designed for children up to 10 years of age. There are 11 exhibit areas in this 17000 square-foot (1600 square meters) museum. The place also has several party areas and a lovely open courtyard where three more exhibit spots are located. This is a museum where you are guaranteed to make your children very happy during your vacation.

Children's Museum Tucson

Address: 200 S 6th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701, United States

Website: Children’s Museum Tucson

Price: 3 - 9 USD

9. Santa Cruz River Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Santa Cruz River Park is one of the best places to go if you want to put all your worries behind. The park gives you a stunning view of the river it was named after. More importantly, it is a place where you can have fun by simply strolling around its grounds. Marvel at the sight of the beautiful sculptures of famed artist Felix Lucero at the Garden of Gethsemane. People love to play on the disc golf course which is the oldest in Tucson. If you want to shop for the freshest produce and herbs, Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market sets up a store every Thursday of the week. You can also take a stroll at El Paseo de Los Arboles.

Santa Cruz River Park

Address: Santa Cruz River Park, Tucson, AZ 85745, United States

10. Tumamoc Hill

Tumamoc Hill Archeological District
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Marine 69-71 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Tumamoc Hill is a popular tourist destination where you can indulge in hiking up a steep hill and enjoy the view of Tucson from the top. This place is run by University of Arizona and a protected area in the midst of the Sonoran Desert. The paved hiking route is 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) long and rises 800 feet (244 meters) which makes it a steep and long climb that can take the place of your cardio-exercise needs. You might have the chance to see some of the hills’ awesome natural sites. This is also home to Desert Laboratory which is run by the university.

Tumamoc Hill

Address: Tumamoc Hill Rd, Tucson, AZ 85745, United States

Website: Tumamoc Hill

Opening hours: 4am - 10pm (daily)

11. MotoSonora Brewing Co

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

MotoSonora Brewing Co is all about motorsports and beer rolled into one place. The bar is an expansive 17,000 square-foot (1,600-square meter) venue that is divided into three major areas: the beer garden, the tasting room, and the brewery. The beer garden has an off-leash dog area where you can bring your pooch along. This area also has a bocce court for those who are interested in playing. Mexican and European race paraphernalia adds to the aesthetics of the tasting room where you get the chance to taste a standard selection mixed with some of the best tasting seasonal brews all on tap.

MotoSonora Brewing Co.

Address: 1015 S Park Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719, United States

Website: MotoSonora Brewing Co.

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 3pm - 10pm; Fri: 1pm - 10pm; Sat: 11am - 10pm; Sun: 11am - 7pm

12. The Kitt Peak National Observatory

2.3m & 4m telescopes at Kitt Peak3
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Burley Packwood used under CC BY-SA 4.0

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

13. 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

14. Arizona Theatre Company

Temple of Music and Art in Tucson, AZ
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Arizona Theatre C... used under CC BY-SA 4.0

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

15. 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

16. Colossal Cave Exploration

Colossal Cave Park - Entry
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Eegorr used under CC BY 3.0

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

17. Horseback Riding

Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

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

18. 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

19. Mt. Lemmon Science Tour

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

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

20. Tucson Street Car

Tucson May 2019 35 (Sun Link streetcar)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Michael Barera used under CC BY-SA 4.0

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

21. Funtastics Family Park

Bumper cars
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

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

22. Spanish Architecture

San Xavier mission 20090204
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons 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

23. Pima Air and Space Museum

The Boneyard Project - Pima Air & Space Museum (12958866264)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alan Wilson used under CC BY-SA 2.0

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 400 aircrafts—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 around 200 planes, including Boeing jets, an Air Force One, and aircraft from both sides of the Great Wars. At the museum, you can take the tram tour 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: One day ticket: 18.50 USD (Adults age 13+), 15.25 USD (Pima County residents), 15.75 USD (seniors age 65+), 12 USD (juniors ages 5-12), free for children (ages 0-4)

Opening hours: October - May: 9am to 5pm (daily). Last admittance at 3 pm.

Contact: +1 (520) 574 0462

Website: Pima Air & Space Museum

24. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Heloderma suspectum -Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum-8a
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user SearchNet Media used under CC BY 2.0

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

25. Sonoran Desert- Wild Foods and Traditional Skills

There is always something to discover in the Sonoran Desert. You will learn more about the animals that walk around the Sonoran while learning traditional skills that were practiced by Apache Indians. Their skillset includes weaving ropes made from yucca, taking an agave stalk and creating a container out of it, using the friction method in making fire, and many more. As you walk around, you will learn that some of the things you see are edible treats that helped the Apache tribe survive on their journeys through the desert. This tour allows you to bring home some of the edibles and the things you created.

Sonoran Desert- Wild Foods and Traditional Skills

Duration: 4 hours

13 reviews

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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