Are you planning a trip to Tucson, Arizona? With its sunny weather, stunning desert landscape, rich cultural history, and vibrant local scene, Tucson is a must-visit destination for travelers of all kinds. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a culture buff, a foodie, or a shopaholic, there’s something for everyone in Tucson. In this travel guide, we’ll introduce you to the top 20 can’t-miss tourist destinations in Tucson, from natural wonders like Saguaro National Park and Mount Lemmon to cultural landmarks like Mission San Xavier del Bac and the Tucson Museum of Art. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to explore the best of Tucson.
1. Saguaro National Park
If you’re a nature lover visiting Arizona, Saguaro National Park is a must-visit destination. Located just outside of Tucson, this park boasts one of the most iconic sights of the American West: the saguaro cactus. With its towering spires and graceful arms, the saguaro is an enduring symbol of the Southwest, and Saguaro National Park offers a unique opportunity to experience this natural wonder up close.
Saguaro National Park is divided into two districts, each with its own entrance and visitor center. The address and phone number for each district are as follows:
- Saguaro National Park West: 2700 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson, AZ 85743; (520)733-5153 – Website
- Saguaro National Park East: 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail, Tucson, AZ 85730; (520)733-5158 – Website
Both districts of Saguaro National Park are located just a short drive from Tucson. Saguaro National Park West is about 14 miles west of downtown Tucson, while Saguaro National Park East is about 10 miles east of downtown Tucson. Visitors can access the park by car via the main roads leading to each district.
What to See and Do:
At Saguaro National Park, visitors can explore the park’s network of hiking trails, which range from easy nature walks to challenging treks through the desert wilderness. Along the way, keep an eye out for the park’s namesake saguaro cacti, which can reach heights of up to 50 feet and live for over 150 years.
In addition to hiking, Saguaro National Park offers a range of other outdoor activities, including camping, picnicking, and stargazing. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, from desert tortoises and rattlesnakes to coyotes and javelinas.
For those looking to learn more about the park’s natural and cultural history, both districts offer visitor centers with exhibits, educational programs, and ranger-led tours. And don’t miss the opportunity to catch a stunning sunset over the saguaro-studded landscape – it’s a sight you won’t soon forget.
Saguaro National Park is a true natural wonder, and a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the American Southwest. With its towering cacti, rugged terrain, and endless opportunities for adventure, it’s no wonder that visitors return to this park again and again. So why not plan your own trip to Saguaro National Park and experience this Arizona gem for yourself?
2. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Discover the Wonders of the Desert at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
If you’re looking for an immersive experience of the desert ecosystems of Arizona, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a must-visit destination. Located just outside Tucson, this museum is a world-renowned institution that combines a zoo, botanical garden, natural history museum, and art gallery into one immersive experience.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is located about 14 miles west of downtown Tucson, just off Kinney Road. Visitors can access the museum by car via the main roads leading to the area.
What to See and Do:
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum offers visitors an opportunity to explore the unique flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert, one of the most biodiverse desert regions in the world. The museum features over 230 animal species, including mountain lions, coyotes, javelinas, and more. Visitors can also explore the botanical garden, which showcases the diverse plant life of the region, from cacti and succulents to wildflowers and trees.
In addition to its living exhibits, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum also features a natural history museum, which showcases the geology, ecology, and cultural history of the Sonoran Desert. Visitors can also browse the museum’s art gallery, which features works inspired by the beauty and complexity of the desert landscape.
Throughout the year, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum hosts a range of events and activities, from guided nature walks and birdwatching tours to cultural festivals and live music performances. There’s always something new to discover at this vibrant institution.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a true treasure of the American Southwest, offering visitors a chance to explore and appreciate the diverse and beautiful ecosystems of the region. So why not plan your own trip to this one-of-a-kind museum and experience the wonder of the desert for yourself?
3. Mission San Xavier del Bac
Discover the Rich History and Culture of Mission San Xavier del Bac
Located just south of Tucson, Arizona, Mission San Xavier del Bac is a stunningly beautiful and historic Catholic mission that dates back to the 18th century. Known as the “White Dove of the Desert,” this mission is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the rich history and culture of the American Southwest.
Mission San Xavier del Bac is located about 9 miles south of downtown Tucson, just off I-19. Visitors can access the mission by car via the main roads leading to the area.
What to See and Do:
Mission San Xavier del Bac is a stunning example of Spanish colonial architecture, with its white stucco walls and ornate carvings and sculptures. The mission was founded in 1692 by the Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino and has since become one of the most important cultural and religious landmarks in the American Southwest.
Visitors to Mission San Xavier del Bac can explore the mission’s interior, which is adorned with beautiful frescoes, sculptures, and paintings. The mission also features a small museum, which showcases the history and cultural significance of the mission and the surrounding area.
Throughout the year, Mission San Xavier del Bac hosts a range of events and activities, from religious services and cultural celebrations to guided tours and lectures. Visitors can also enjoy the mission’s beautiful outdoor spaces, including its courtyard and gardens.
Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or religion, Mission San Xavier del Bac is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Tucson or the surrounding area. So why not plan your own trip to this iconic mission and experience the beauty and richness of the American Southwest for yourself?
4. Old Tucson
Step Back in Time at Old Tucson: A Historic Western Town and Movie Set
Located just west of Tucson, Arizona, Old Tucson is a unique and iconic destination that offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the history and culture of the American West. Founded in 1939 as a movie set, this historic western town has since become a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world.
Old Tucson is located about 13 miles west of downtown Tucson, just off I-10. Visitors can access the attraction by car via the main roads leading to the area.
What to See and Do:
Old Tucson is a living museum that offers visitors a chance to experience life in the Old West. The town features a range of historic buildings, including a saloon, a sheriff’s office, a blacksmith shop, and a church, among others. Visitors can explore the town on their own or take a guided tour to learn more about the history and culture of the area.
In addition to its historic buildings, Old Tucson is also a popular movie set and has been featured in a number of Hollywood films and TV shows over the years, including “Little House on the Prairie,” “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” and “Three Amigos,” among others. Visitors can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the movie sets and learn more about the film industry in the American West.
Throughout the year, Old Tucson hosts a range of events and activities, from gunfight reenactments and stunt shows to live music performances and craft fairs. Visitors can also enjoy a range of dining and shopping options, including a souvenir shop and a candy store.
Whether you’re a history buff, a film fan, or simply looking for a unique and entertaining day out, Old Tucson is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Tucson or the surrounding area. So why not plan your own trip to this iconic western town and experience the charm and history of the American West for yourself?
5. Pima Air & Space Museum
Explore the History of Flight at Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson
If you’re fascinated by aviation and space exploration, you won’t want to miss the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. This fascinating museum is dedicated to preserving the history of flight and showcasing the technological advancements that have taken us from the earliest days of flight to the exploration of space.
Pima Air and Space Museum is located just south of Tucson International Airport. Visitors can access the museum by car via I-10 or by taking one of the many shuttle services that run from downtown Tucson.
What to See and Do:
Pima Air and Space Museum boasts one of the largest collections of historic aircraft in the world, with over 350 planes and helicopters on display, including military, commercial, and experimental aircraft. Some of the most famous aircraft on display include a B-29 Superfortress, a SR-71 Blackbird, and a space shuttle mockup.
Visitors can take self-guided tours of the museum or join a guided tour led by a knowledgeable docent. The museum also offers a range of interactive exhibits and displays that allow visitors to experience what it’s like to fly a plane or pilot a spacecraft.
In addition to its extensive collection of aircraft, Pima Air and Space Museum is home to a number of other exhibits that explore the history of aviation and space exploration, including a display of space suits worn by astronauts and a collection of engines and propellers.
Throughout the year, Pima Air and Space Museum hosts a range of events and activities, including aircraft restoration projects, behind-the-scenes tours, and lectures by experts in the field of aviation and space exploration.
Whether you’re a history buff, a science geek, or simply looking for a fun and educational day out, Pima Air and Space Museum is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Tucson or the surrounding area. So why not plan your own trip to this fascinating museum and explore the history of flight for yourself?
6. Sabino Canyon Recreation Area
Discover the Beauty of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area in Tucson
Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Sabino Canyon Recreation Area offers visitors a breathtaking escape into nature. This beautiful area, located just outside of Tucson, Arizona, is home to a variety of outdoor activities and natural wonders, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the region.
Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is located in the Coronado National Forest, just a short drive from Tucson. Visitors can access the area by car via Sabino Canyon Road, or by taking the Sabino Canyon Shuttle, which runs regularly from several locations in Tucson.
What to See and Do:
One of the main attractions of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is the stunning natural beauty of the area itself. Visitors can explore the canyon’s rugged terrain on foot via a network of hiking trails, or by taking a guided tram tour that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and canyons.
In addition to hiking and sightseeing, Sabino Canyon Recreation Area offers a range of other outdoor activities, including picnicking, birdwatching, and swimming in the canyon’s refreshing pools.
The area is also home to a number of unique plant and animal species, including desert bighorn sheep, Gila monsters, and a variety of cacti and other desert plants.
Throughout the year, Sabino Canyon Recreation Area hosts a range of events and activities, including guided nature walks, educational programs, and star-gazing events.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day out in nature, or a challenging hike through rugged terrain, Sabino Canyon Recreation Area has something to offer visitors of all ages and abilities. So why not plan your own trip to this beautiful destination and discover the natural wonders of Tucson’s backyard for yourself?
7. Downtown Tucson
Explore the Heart of Tucson: Downtown Tucson
Nestled in the heart of Southern Arizona, Downtown Tucson offers visitors a rich blend of culture, history, and modern amenities. With its vibrant mix of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions, this lively district is the perfect place to explore Tucson’s unique character and charm.
Downtown Tucson Partnership, 100 N. Stone Ave. Suite 101, Tucson, AZ 85701 Phone Number: (520)268-9030
Downtown Tucson is easily accessible by car, with ample parking available throughout the district. Visitors can also access the area via public transportation, including the Sun Link streetcar and several bus lines.
What to See and Do:
Downtown Tucson is home to a range of attractions and activities, from historic landmarks and museums to lively nightlife and shopping. Some must-see destinations include:
- Historic Fourth Avenue: This popular street is lined with eclectic shops, restaurants, and galleries, making it the perfect place to explore Tucson’s unique arts and culture scene.
- Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block: This museum features a collection of art and artifacts from the Southwest, as well as a series of historic homes that offer a glimpse into Tucson’s rich cultural heritage.
- Fox Tucson Theatre: This beautifully restored theater offers a range of live performances and events throughout the year, including concerts, plays, and classic films.
- Mercado San Agustin: This vibrant market offers a range of local goods, including fresh produce, artisanal crafts, and delicious food from some of Tucson’s top chefs.
- El Tiradito Shrine: This historic shrine, located in the heart of Downtown Tucson, is said to be the only Catholic shrine in the country dedicated to a sinner. Visitors can light a candle and make a wish at this unique and sacred site.
In addition to these attractions, Downtown Tucson also hosts a range of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Tucson Meet Yourself festival, which celebrates the city’s diverse cultural heritage, and the All Souls Procession, a colorful and festive celebration of life and death.
Whether you’re looking to explore Tucson’s rich history and culture, or simply enjoy the lively atmosphere and eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, Downtown Tucson has something to offer visitors of all ages and interests. So why not plan your own trip to this vibrant district and discover the heart and soul of Tucson for yourself?
8. Reid Park Zoo
Reid Park Zoo: A Wild Adventure in the Heart of Tucson
Located in the heart of Tucson, Reid Park Zoo is a must-visit destination for animal lovers of all ages. With over 500 animals representing more than 100 species from around the world, this 24-acre zoo is a fun and educational experience for the whole family.
Animals from Across the Globe
At Reid Park Zoo, visitors can see animals from across the globe, including African lions, Malayan tigers, Asian elephants, and many more. The zoo is home to a variety of primates, such as gibbons and lemurs, as well as reptiles like giant tortoises and Komodo dragons. Visitors can also get up close and personal with domestic animals at the Farm area, which features goats, sheep, pigs, and other barnyard favorites.
Interactive Exhibits and Attractions
In addition to its wide range of animals, Reid Park Zoo offers a number of interactive exhibits and attractions. Visitors can feed the giraffes at the Giraffe Encounter, or watch the elephants at play in their expansive habitat. The zoo’s Conservation Learning Center provides opportunities to learn about wildlife conservation efforts and how to make a positive impact on the environment.
For younger visitors, the zoo offers a playground, splash pad, and a train ride through the zoo. And for those who want a truly unique experience, Reid Park Zoo also offers behind-the-scenes tours that provide an up-close look at the animals and their habitats.
Plan Your Visit
Reid Park Zoo is located at 3400 E Zoo Ct, Tucson, AZ 85716. The zoo is open every day except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, and hours vary by season. Admission fees are $10.50 for adults, $8.50 for seniors, and $6.50 for children aged 2-14. Children under 2 are admitted for free.
For more information or to plan your visit, visit Reid Park Zoo’s website at reidparkzoo.org or call them at (520)791-3204.
9. 4th Avenue Shopping District
The 4th Avenue Shopping District is a vibrant and eclectic shopping area in Tucson, Arizona. Known for its unique shops, delicious restaurants, and lively entertainment venues, 4th Avenue is a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike.
Located just a few blocks west of the University of Arizona, 4th Avenue is easily accessible from downtown Tucson and other nearby neighborhoods. Visitors can park in one of the many nearby garages or metered street spots and stroll down the avenue, taking in the sights and sounds of this bustling area.
One of the main draws of 4th Avenue is the variety of shops it offers. From vintage clothing stores to artisanal crafts shops to tattoo parlors, there’s something for everyone here. You can find everything from funky jewelry to locally-made pottery to rare vinyl records.
Foodies will also love the dining options on 4th Avenue. There are plenty of restaurants serving up everything from classic Mexican cuisine to vegan fare to gourmet burgers. The district is also home to several coffee shops and bakeries, perfect for a mid-day pick-me-up.
In addition to shopping and dining, the 4th Avenue Shopping District is also known for its lively entertainment scene. Many of the bars and venues along the avenue host live music shows, comedy nights, and other events throughout the year. On the weekends, visitors can often find street performers and vendors selling handmade goods.
If you’re looking for a unique and fun shopping experience in Tucson, be sure to check out the 4th Avenue Shopping District. With its diverse mix of shops, restaurants, and entertainment, it’s sure to be a highlight of your trip.
10. Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway
Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway: A Stunning Drive Through the Santa Catalina Mountains
If you’re looking for a breathtaking drive through the mountains, the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway is a must-visit destination. The drive offers some of the most spectacular views of the Santa Catalina Mountains and Tucson, Arizona. The byway spans 27 miles and climbs over 6,000 feet in elevation, providing an incredible journey through a variety of ecosystems and landscapes.
The Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway starts at the edge of Tucson and follows the Catalina Highway up to the summit of Mount Lemmon. Along the way, visitors can experience the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, lush forests, and cool mountain air. The drive takes about an hour each way, but plan for extra time to stop at scenic overlooks and hiking trails.
One of the most popular stops on the byway is the SkyCenter Observatory, where visitors can take guided tours and stargaze at night. The Mount Lemmon Ski Valley is another popular destination, offering skiing and snowboarding in the winter and scenic lift rides in the summer. Hiking trails, camping sites, and picnic areas are also available along the byway.
Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway Catalina Highway Tucson, AZ 85749
Phone Number: (520)576-1400 – Mt Lemmon Ski Valley Website
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway is a must-see destination in Tucson. So pack a picnic, grab your camera, and enjoy the stunning views along the way!
11. Catalina State Park
Catalina State Park: A Natural Haven in the Heart of Arizona
Located in Oro Valley, Arizona, Catalina State Park is a natural haven in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Covering over 5,500 acres at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, this state park is a popular destination for hiking, camping, and outdoor recreation.
Activities and Attractions Catalina State Park offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. Some of the most popular things to do include:
- Hiking: With over 24 miles of trails winding through the park, hikers can explore the desert landscape and take in stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
- Camping: Catalina State Park has 120 campsites with amenities such as showers, restrooms, and picnic tables. Campers can choose from sites with electric and water hookups or more primitive sites for tent camping.
- Bird Watching: The park is home to a variety of bird species, including Harris’s hawks, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds. Visitors can also spot other wildlife such as deer, coyotes, and javelinas.
- Horseback Riding: The park has designated trails for horseback riding, offering visitors a unique way to explore the park’s natural beauty.
- Picnicking: There are several picnic areas throughout the park, offering visitors a chance to relax and enjoy a meal in the great outdoors.
Park Facilities In addition to its natural attractions, Catalina State Park has a variety of facilities to make visitors’ stay more comfortable. These include:
- Visitor Center: The visitor center offers information on the park’s history, geology, and ecology. It also has exhibits on the wildlife and plant life found in the park.
- Gift Shop: The gift shop sells a variety of souvenirs, including books, maps, and hiking gear.
- Group Areas: The park has several areas available for group use, including a ramada that can accommodate up to 300 people.
- Restrooms: There are several restrooms throughout the park, including some with showers.
Visiting Catalina State Park Catalina State Park is open year-round, with day use hours from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm. Camping is also available year-round. The park charges a $7 per vehicle day-use fee, or $15 per night for camping.
Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a relaxing picnic, Catalina State Park has something for everyone. So why not plan your visit today and experience the beauty of the Sonoran Desert for yourself?
12. DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun: A Desert Gem in Tucson
Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is a hidden gem in Tucson, Arizona. This unique gallery showcases the artwork of the late Ted DeGrazia, a renowned artist and collector of Native American artifacts. The gallery itself is a work of art, designed and built by DeGrazia himself in the 1950s. It features several adobe buildings, including a chapel, a bell tower, and a museum, all surrounded by beautiful desert landscaping.
One of the main draws of DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is its extensive collection of DeGrazia’s artwork, which includes paintings, sculpture, and ceramics. Visitors can explore the various buildings and rooms of the gallery, each showcasing different periods of DeGrazia’s career. The museum is also home to a large collection of Native American artifacts, including baskets, pottery, and jewelry, many of which were collected by DeGrazia himself.
In addition to the artwork and artifacts, DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun also offers visitors a chance to learn about the history of the gallery and its creator. The onsite museum features exhibits about DeGrazia’s life and career, as well as the construction of the gallery itself. Visitors can also take a self-guided tour of the grounds, which includes a sculpture garden and a maze.
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is open seven days a week, with varying hours depending on the season. Admission is $11 for adults, $8 for seniors and military personnel, and $5 for children aged 4-12. Children under 4 are admitted for free.
Phone number: (520) 299-9191 – Website
If you’re looking for a unique and beautiful attraction to visit in Tucson, don’t miss DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun. Whether you’re an art lover, a history buff, or simply looking for a peaceful and scenic spot to explore, this desert gem is well worth a visit.
13. Tumacacori National Historical Park
Discover the Rich History of Tumacacori National Historical Park
Tumacacori National Historical Park is a hidden gem located in southern Arizona that is filled with rich history and cultural significance. The park is home to three Spanish colonial missions that were built in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and it provides visitors with an opportunity to step back in time and explore the history of the region.
A History of Spanish Colonialism
The park’s missions were built by Spanish Jesuit missionaries who arrived in the region in the late 1600s. The missions were built to convert the indigenous O’odham people to Christianity and to establish Spanish control over the area. Over time, the missions became centers of agriculture, education, and trade.
Today, the park preserves the mission churches of San José de Tumacácori, San Cayetano de Calabazas, and Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi. Visitors can explore the missions and learn about their history through guided tours, exhibits, and interpretive programs.
Explore the Park’s Natural Beauty
In addition to its rich history, Tumacacori National Historical Park is also home to a diverse array of plant and animal life. The park’s riparian area along the Santa Cruz River is an important habitat for a variety of wildlife, including birds, reptiles, and mammals.
Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape, as well as picnic areas and a visitor center with exhibits and educational materials.
Plan Your Visit
Tumacacori National Historical Park is located at 1891 E Frontage Rd, Tumacacori, AZ 85640. The park is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission fees are $10 per person for visitors aged 16 and older, and children under 16 are admitted for free.
For more information about the park, including upcoming events and educational programs, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/tuma or call them at (520) 398-2341. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or simply looking for a unique day trip destination, Tumacacori National Historical Park is a must-see destination in southern Arizona.
14. Biosphere 2
Biosphere 2: A Fascinating World of Science and Nature
Located in Oracle, Arizona, Biosphere 2 is an innovative research facility that simulates a number of Earth’s ecosystems. The facility is managed by the University of Arizona and is open to the public for tours and educational programs.
Biosphere 2 was originally built in the late 1980s as a self-contained ecosystem, housing several different biomes, including a tropical rainforest, a savannah grassland, and a coral reef. The goal was to study how these ecosystems interact and change over time. In 1991, eight “biospherians” lived inside Biosphere 2 for two years, conducting research and living off of the land.
Today, visitors to Biosphere 2 can take a guided tour of the facility and learn about the ongoing research projects. The tour includes a visit to the biomes, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the laboratories and living quarters used by researchers.
One of the highlights of the tour is the Ocean biome, which houses a 700,000-gallon saltwater tank and a coral reef. Visitors can watch as scientists conduct experiments on the coral and observe the colorful fish that call the reef home.
Another fascinating feature of Biosphere 2 is the Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO), which is a large-scale experiment designed to study how landscapes form and evolve. The LEO is a series of three large hill-like structures, each with a different type of soil and vegetation. Scientists use sensors to measure how water, nutrients, and carbon move through the soil, providing valuable insights into how landscapes change over time.
Biosphere 2 also offers a number of educational programs for students and adults, including overnight stays and summer camps. These programs provide a unique opportunity to learn about science and nature in a hands-on, immersive setting.
If you’re planning a trip to Arizona, be sure to add Biosphere 2 to your itinerary. It’s an unforgettable experience that offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of science and nature.
Phone number: (520)621-4800 – Website
15. Kartchner Caverns State Park
Kartchner Caverns State Park is a natural wonder located in Benson, Arizona, about 50 miles southeast of Tucson. The park is home to an intricate network of underground caves that are home to some of the most unique rock formations in the world. The park was discovered in 1974 by two amateur spelunkers, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts, and was opened to the public in 1999. Since then, it has become one of Arizona’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting visitors from all over the world.
The caverns at Kartchner Caverns State Park are truly a sight to behold. The caves are still active and alive, meaning that they are still growing and changing over time. The park is home to two major caves, known as the Rotunda/Throne Room and the Big Room. Both caves are incredibly spacious, with high ceilings and vast open spaces.
The Rotunda/Throne Room is the smaller of the two caves, but it is no less impressive. The room is filled with a variety of stalactites, stalagmites, and other unique rock formations. One of the highlights of this cave is the “Kubla Khan” formation, which is a massive 58-foot tall column that is over 90,000 years old.
The Big Room is the largest cave in the park, measuring over 357,000 square feet. This room is filled with a variety of unique formations, including the “Kings Palace” and the “Totem Pole.” The cave is also home to one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites, which measures over 21 feet in length.
The Discovery Center
Before visitors are able to enter the caves, they must first pass through the Discovery Center. This state-of-the-art facility is home to a variety of exhibits and displays that educate visitors about the history and geology of the park. One of the highlights of the center is the “Theater in the Round,” which provides visitors with an immersive experience that simulates the sensation of being in the cave.
In addition to exploring the caves, there are a variety of other activities to enjoy at Kartchner Caverns State Park. Visitors can take guided tours of the caves, hike through the park’s scenic trails, and even attend a variety of special events throughout the year.
Overall, Kartchner Caverns State Park is a must-see destination for anyone visiting southern Arizona. The caves are a true natural wonder, and the park’s state-of-the-art facilities make it an accessible and enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages.
16. Tucson Botanical Gardens
Tucson Botanical Gardens is a beautiful oasis in the heart of the city, featuring over 5 acres of stunning gardens and exhibits. With a focus on sustainable gardening practices and native plants, the gardens provide visitors with a serene and educational experience.
Phone number: (520)326-9686 – Website
Upon entering the gardens, visitors are greeted by the Cox Butterfly and Orchid Pavilion, where hundreds of butterflies flutter around the lush greenery. Next, guests can explore the many themed gardens, including the Barrio Garden, Zen Garden, and Wildflower Garden. The Cactus and Succulent Garden is also a must-see, featuring a diverse array of desert flora.
In addition to the gardens, the Tucson Botanical Gardens also hosts a variety of seasonal events and exhibits. The popular Luminaria Nights event, held during the winter holidays, features thousands of luminarias lighting up the gardens at night, creating a magical atmosphere.
Another highlight is the Butterfly Magic exhibit, which is open from October through April and features over 20 species of butterflies in a walk-through enclosure. Visitors can observe the butterflies up close and learn about their life cycle and behavior.
For those looking to take a piece of the gardens home, the Garden Gift Shop offers a wide selection of plants, gardening tools, and souvenirs.
Overall, the Tucson Botanical Gardens is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a peaceful and educational escape in the heart of Tucson.
Hours: The Tucson Botanical Gardens is open daily from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, except on major holidays. Some seasonal events may have different hours of operation.
17. Tohono Chul Park
Tohono Chul Park is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Tucson, Arizona. This 49-acre park is a peaceful oasis that offers visitors a chance to connect with nature and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. From the beautiful gardens to the impressive art exhibits, there is something for everyone at Tohono Chul Park.
The park is divided into two main areas: the gardens and the nature preserve. The gardens are meticulously landscaped and feature a variety of desert plants and flowers, including cacti, agave, and wildflowers. The gardens also boast several water features and walking paths that wind through the various exhibits.
One of the highlights of Tohono Chul Park is the art exhibits. The park is home to a rotating collection of sculptures, paintings, and photographs from local and national artists. Visitors can stroll through the gardens and enjoy the beautiful artwork in a serene setting.
In addition to the gardens and art exhibits, Tohono Chul Park also has a nature preserve. The preserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including javelina, coyotes, and a variety of birds. Visitors can hike the trails and explore the natural beauty of the Sonoran desert.
Tohono Chul Park also offers a variety of programs and events throughout the year, including gardening classes, bird-watching walks, and art workshops. The park is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and admission is $15 for adults and $5 for children.
If you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the city, Tohono Chul Park is the perfect destination. With its beautiful gardens, impressive art exhibits, and serene nature preserve, this park is a must-see attraction in Tucson.
18. Rillito River Park
Rillito River Park: A Hidden Oasis in the Heart of Tucson
Located in the heart of Tucson, Rillito River Park is a hidden oasis that offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park is situated along the Rillito River, a seasonal waterway that flows through the city and is surrounded by lush greenery and towering trees.
The park is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, offering a wide range of activities for all ages. From hiking and biking to picnicking and birdwatching, there is something for everyone at Rillito River Park.
One of the park’s most popular features is the Rillito River Trail, a 12-mile paved trail that runs through the park and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and desert landscape. The trail is a favorite among joggers, cyclists, and rollerbladers, and is a great way to explore the park and get some exercise at the same time.
For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, the park offers a number of picnic areas and shaded spots where visitors can relax and take in the scenery. The park also has several playgrounds and sports fields, making it a great place for families with children.
In addition to its natural beauty, Rillito River Park is home to several cultural and historical landmarks, including the Tucson Rodeo Grounds and the historic Riverwalk Plaza. The park also hosts a number of community events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and outdoor movies.
Visitors to Rillito River Park can also enjoy easy access to some of Tucson’s other top attractions, including the University of Arizona and the Tucson Botanical Gardens, both located just a short drive from the park.
Whether you’re a nature lover, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat in the heart of the city, Rillito River Park is the perfect destination. So pack a picnic, grab your bike, and come experience the beauty and tranquility of this hidden gem.
19. Sentinel Peak (A Mountain)
Sentinel Peak, commonly known as “A” Mountain, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Tucson, Arizona. The mountain, which rises to an elevation of 2,897 feet (883 meters), is located just west of downtown Tucson and features a large white “A” on its side, visible from many parts of the city. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Sentinel Peak, its history, and its significance to the Tucson community.
History and Significance
Sentinel Peak has a rich history, dating back thousands of years to the Hohokam people who inhabited the region. The peak was used as a lookout point for centuries, and the Hohokam built a series of trails and stone structures on the mountain. In the 1700s, the Spanish arrived in the area and used the peak as a navigational landmark, as well as a site for communication and signaling.
In 1914, the University of Arizona constructed the large “A” on the peak, which stands for “Arizona.” The tradition of painting the “A” white each year began in 1937 and continues to this day. Today, the “A” is a symbol of pride for the University of Arizona and the Tucson community as a whole.
Things to Do
While Sentinel Peak is primarily a sightseeing destination, visitors can also enjoy hiking trails and picnic areas on the mountain. The hike to the summit is relatively short and easy, taking about 30 minutes to reach the top. The views from the summit are spectacular, offering panoramic vistas of Tucson and the surrounding mountains.
The mountain is also a popular spot for watching the sunset, with its west-facing position providing a perfect view of the colorful sky as the sun sets behind the mountains.
Sentinel Peak, or “A” Mountain, is a beloved landmark in Tucson, Arizona, with a rich history and cultural significance. Visitors can enjoy hiking to the summit, picnicking in the park, and taking in the stunning views of the city and mountains. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, Sentinel Peak is a must-see destination in Tucson.
20. Gaslight Theatre
The Gaslight Theatre: A Night of Entertainment and Laughter
If you’re looking for a fun night out in Tucson, look no further than the Gaslight Theatre. This theater is known for its lively, family-friendly shows that are sure to have you laughing and tapping your toes. With a variety of shows to choose from, there’s something for everyone at the Gaslight Theatre.
The Gaslight Theatre is located at 7010 E. Broadway Boulevard in Tucson, Arizona. The theater is easily accessible from all parts of the city and there is ample parking available on-site. If you have any questions or need assistance, you can call the theater at (520) 886-9428.
One of the highlights of the Gaslight Theatre is the atmosphere. As soon as you step inside, you’ll be transported back in time to the Old West. The theater is decorated with a western theme, complete with saloon doors, cowboy hats, and a wooden stage. The staff is dressed in period costumes and are always happy to greet you with a smile.
But it’s not just the atmosphere that makes the Gaslight Theatre special. The shows are what really make this theater shine. The Gaslight Theatre produces original musical comedies that are written and directed by the theater’s founder and owner, Tony Terry. The shows are always family-friendly and suitable for all ages.
One of the most popular shows at the Gaslight Theatre is “The Lone Stranger.” This show tells the story of a lone cowboy who must save the town from a gang of outlaws. The show is full of laughs, music, and even a little bit of romance. Another fan favorite is “The Phantom of the Opera,” a hilarious spoof of the classic musical.
In addition to the shows, the Gaslight Theatre also offers a full menu of food and drinks. You can enjoy classic theater snacks like popcorn and candy, or choose from a variety of sandwiches and entrees. And of course, there’s a full bar available, with a selection of beer, wine, and cocktails.
Overall, the Gaslight Theatre is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a fun night out in Tucson. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, be sure to check out one of the shows at the Gaslight Theatre. You won’t be disappointed!
From natural wonders like Saguaro National Park and Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway to cultural attractions like Mission San Xavier del Bac and the Tucson Museum of Art, there’s something for everyone in Tucson. Visitors can explore the city’s rich history, enjoy its outdoor activities, and indulge in its vibrant arts and food scenes.