If you’re looking for a weekend getaway in the desert, you can’t go wrong with the jewel of Arizona.
Tucson is home to countless spas, luxury resorts, affordable hotels and motels, and it’s a great place to go golfing if you’re so inclined. It is also a must-visit for anyone who wants to try Southwestern cuisine.
Most importantly, you can visit the Sonoran Desert or explore the surrounding mountains. The surreal beauty of Tucson’s landscape will stay with you for a long time.
Here are some of the best attractions Tucson has to offer.
7 Best Things to Do in Tucson
If you’re not sure which attractions to start with, we have a few ideas!
1. Mission San Xavier del Bac
This Catholic Spanish mission was built near the end of the 18th century. It is a place of pilgrimage to this day, seeing over 200,000 visitors every year.
The annual Patronato concert makes the mission a popular Christmas destination. This year, anyone interested can attend the concert virtually.
Due to COVID restrictions, guided tours in San Xavier are canceled for the time being. But all visitors are welcome from 9AM to 4PM each day. You can enjoy the intricate, Moorish-inspired architecture and marvel at the frescoes, paintings, statues, and carvings, which all showcase the hallmarks of traditional Spanish mission culture.
2. Bike Tours
If you’re aiming for an active holiday, why not book a bike tour?
Tucson Bike Tours is a great option for first-time visitors (adults only). They’ll provide you with a bike and helmet, and then you can explore the city at a leisurely pace. Your guide will introduce you to Tucson’s best-known buildings and parks, covering the history of the area. The tour crosses Rattlesnake bridge, and you’ll get a great view of the Santa Cruz River.
3. Pima Air and Space Museum
A must-see for flight enthusiasts and military history buffs, this is one of the biggest non-government-funded space/aviation museums in the world.
You can explore their display of US Air Force aircraft through the years, as well as a lineup of historical aircraft (including a Wright Flyer from the early 20th century). You can see and learn about the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and more.
The museum has big expansion plans: the Tucson Military Vehicle Museum is currently being constructed across 77 acres of land.
4. Tohono Chul Park
A botanical garden and gallery complex for the whole family. Tohono Chul is a great opportunity to explore the flora and fauna of Arizona in a comfortable, safe habitat. You can book a daily tour or simply explore the themed parks spread out across 49 acres.
Kids are especially welcome in the reptile house and the butterfly garden. There is a children’s stream as well, where young ones can try out boating for the first time.
The Tohono Chul Bistro offers delicious seasonal meals, and it’s the perfect ambiance for a family dinner after a long day of fun. Party and wedding bookings are offered here as well.
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The park is also well-loved by the art world. You can enjoy artworks by well-known sculptors, painters, and mixed media creators from Arizona and beyond. The museum is welcoming and accessible to all visitors, and there is plenty of information about the artistic traditions of the region. Some of the exhibits are displayed in the gardens, seamlessly blending art with nature.
5. Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium
Another great option for a family field trip. The Flandrau center is located on the campus of the University of Arizona (home to several museums and all-access educational centers).
Flandrau’s mission is to make learning fun and accessible for all ages, and they do so with plenty of hands-on exhibits, puzzles, and natural science exhibits. But the Science Center’s main jewel is the planetarium theatre, an unforgettable multimedia experience. You and your kids or grandkids can sit back and enjoy the lightshow, learning about astronomy all the while.
6. Colossal Cave Mountain Park
Located only 22 miles outside of Tucson, this ancient karst cave is great for anyone looking for something unique.
You can book a tour and go exploring the cave formations – some tours welcome children too. You can test your agility with underground rock climbing, and learn the basics of spelunking in the Ladder Tour.
The history of Colossal Cave is fascinating: your tour guide will explain how it has been used across the centuries, and you’ll also hear a local legend or two. There’s a cafe and rest area in the park as well.
7. Saguaro National Park
The saguaro cactus is unique to the Sonoran Desert. These cacti are nearly indestructible – some have been around for hundreds of years. Don’t pass through Arizona without seeing them in person.
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The desert is also home to bobcats, cougars, coyotes, javelinas, jackrabbits, turkey vultures, and several species of deer. You may be lucky enough to spot a rare owl while you’re passing through. In addition to the fauna and the odd, imposing desert flora, the Sonoran Desert is known for its volcanic rock formations.
Saguaro National Park is spread across 92,000 acres. It offers hiking trails and drives – such as the Bajada Loop Drive, leading up to centuries-old rock art. If you go out alone or with a small group, you’ll feel like you’re all alone on a beautiful, strange alien planet.
If you’re not sure where to start, we suggest the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Apart from the natural history museum itself, there is a botanical garden, a sprawling zoo, and an aquarium. It’s a great choice for family outings – you and your loved ones will learn everything you need to know about the region.
Tucson is a thriving hub of activity, offering unforgettable sights, tastes, and experiences to all visitors. Don’t miss out on it – book a flight today!