things to do in Tucson things to do in Tucson

Prime Tucson Activities: 14 Intriguing Highlights

One of the second largest and very popular cities in Arizona, Tucson is widely loved by all Americans as well as tourists from all over the world. The city is sunny and lively all throughout the year making it one of the favorable and favorite vacation destinations. With a more than 500,000 population, there are numerous fun things to do in Tucson.

1. Top Things to do in Tucson

The vibe and environment of this bright and glorious city welcome a lot of tourists and are loved by all. Tucson houses beautiful Japanese gardens, art galleries, cultural sites, the stunning Sonoran Desert, cozy resorts, and fantastic restaurants.

Here goes a list of 14 interesting things to do in Tucson from my own experience and insight. I am sure you are going to fall in love with the amazing city of Tucson just as I did.

1.1. Discover Tucson’s Wildlife at Sonoran Desert Museum

One of the best things to do in Tucson is to visit the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and definitely one of the top attractions in this city. The adventurous desert landscape covers a big area and houses a natural history museum, botanical gardens, two art galleries, an aquarium, and a zoo.

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Courtesy: Sonoran Desert Museum

The region is home to more than 200 species of animals including foxes, coyotes, and bobcats, and more than 1000 species of plants including desert marigolds. The museum holds different exhibitions yearly to honor the flora and fauna sustaining there.

1.2. Take a Trip to Saguaro National Park

Taking a trip to Saguaro National Park is one of the best things to do in Tucson as this park is only a 30-minute drive from Tucson and is also considered one of the most phenomenal parks in Arizona. If you are a nature lover, this park is the perfect spot to watch some beautiful mountain ranges of Mt. Tucson and Mt. Rincon.

In addition, you can also see a part of Sonora Desert and you can plan a hike and choose any of the amazing hiking trails including the Hugh Norris Trail and Bajada loop drive. During the hike, you get to witness the native cactus that grow in that region and other outstanding views.

1.3. Tour the Pima Air and Space Museum

Take a tour of the Pima Air Space Museum, one of the largest aerospace museums on earth that are not funded by the government. The museum displays more than 400 aircraft and gives knowledge and education about space travel and aviation; thus making it one of the adventurous things to do in Tucson.

Pima Air & Space Museum | Tucson | Arizona

You get an insight into the history of the country’s Air Force and exhibit iconic planes including the presidential plane of John F Kennedy, WW2 fighters, The Space Race, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Submarine Hunting, and the list goes on.

1.4. Hike Santa Catalina Mountains

The Santa Catalina Mountains is a distinguished mountain range in Tucson and is located in Coronado National Forest. 

The stunning views and the lookout tower are worth the hike. Another spotlight of this area is the Sabino Canyon Recreation area and the hiking trail will give you some of the stunning sceneries of forests, canyons, and the Arizona desert.

1.5. Cave Tour at Colossal Cave Mountain Park

One of the adventurous things to do in Tucson is to go underground in Colossal Cave Mountain Park. This dry cavern embellished with calcite crystals was once used as a temporary shelter by the Hohokam tribe. Later, it also became a go-to hiding spot for train robbers.

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Courtesy: Colossal Cave Mountain Park

Now this mountain park offers numerous adventurous activities including horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, cave tours, picnicking, and camping. The park also has statues, two museums, and a gift shop selling souvenirs and t-shirts.

1.6. Explore the Reid Park Zoo

Covering an area of 24 acres, Reid Park Zoo is a must-visit with your kids and is one of the most exciting things to do in Tucson. This zoo holds more than 500 species of animals including non-native animals like jaguars and rhinos.

Enjoy a ride on the zoo train or ride the carousel; everything is so much fun at this large zoo. Giraffes, elephants, lions, bears, giant tortoises, and iguanas are some of the popular animals to spot at the zoo.

1.7. Take a Stroll at Yume Japanese Gardens

If you want a peaceful escape from all the hustle and bustle, visiting the Yume Japanese Gardens is one of the must things to do in Tucson. The garden shares the rich Japanese culture and is surrounded by pretty waterfalls, bamboo shoots, a gravel garden, a Zen garden, and koi ponds.

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Courtesy: Yume Japanese Garden

The views of this park are unique and intimate. In addition, the park also has an art gallery and museums which exhibits cute floral arrangements, and Japanese folk artifacts along with workshops and education classes.

1.8. Bike Ride at Downtown Tucson

One of the most touristy things to do in Tucson is going for a relaxing bike ride in downtown Tucson. It is a popular iconic spot and is home to many hidden gems including historical museums, street murals, art and architecture, beautiful cathedrals, and top-class restaurants.

Do not forget to visit the local Saint Philip Farmer’s Market near downtown Tucson, selling fresh fruits, vegetables, and delectable items including hand-roasted coffee, soaps, jams, dry fruits, grass-fed bears, fresh salmon, cheese and so much more.

1.9. Discover the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

This beautiful museum is just a piece of heaven on earth and holds magical cute miniatures of contemporary dolls and antiques. Visiting this extraordinary museum is one of the most exciting things to do in Tucson and you are surely going to love this artistic place. 

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Courtesy: Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

The pieces have been in the museum for generations and are a work of great craftwork and artistry. Every piece tells a story full of history and adventure. Some of the iconic galleries in this museum include History Gallery and The Enchanted Realm.

1.10. Visit the Kennedy Lake

Settles in the J.F Kennedy Park, visiting Kennedy Lake is a great way to get some tranquility. The lake has several water bodies that are home to several fish species including carp, rainbow trout, catfish, sunfish, white amur, and bass, and is one of the fun things to do in Tucson.

The views from the parkland are stunning too and the visitors can have a great relaxing time around the lake. You can also enjoy some boating, and canoeing along with fishing. It is a perfect spot for a good picnic with your family and friends and the best part is that the picnic tables and grills are all provided by the park; definitely one of the best things to do in Tucson.

1.11. Shop Till you Drop at Foothills Mall

Who does not love good shopping? If you are a shopaholic like me, visiting the Foothills Malls is one of the must things to do in Tucson. The mall is located at the Casa Adobes and is a great indoor shopping spot in Tucson. There are more than 90 different openings at the mall; so you are going to have a lot of shopping choices.

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Courtesy: Foothills Mall

In addition, the mall houses many cinema theatres along with 8 restaurants with fine and great dining. No doubt, the mall is a shopping paradise and a go-to place if you are in Tucson.

1.12. Go to Kitt Peak National Observatory

Stargazing at the Kitt Peak National Observatory is one of the exciting things to do in Tucson. This national observatory offers stunning views of the night sky and has a collection of the world’s largest research telescopes. All 27 telescopes are primarily for tourist viewing.

The astronomical observatory is settled at the top of Kitt Peak and there is a choice for a day as well as night tour depending on the interest levels of the visitors. If you are exploring the night sky, make sure to do it with Dark Sky Discovery Program or Nightly Observing Program. 

1.13. Explore the Arizona State Museum

Arizona State Museum is an incredible place to see the rich cultural history and artistry of archaeological artifacts. The museum displays Indian baskets, pottery, tools, musical instruments, toys, and jewelry boxes from ancient America.

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Courtesy: Arizona State Museum

The museum gives free entry to visitors below the age of 17 and charges only 8 Dollars for adults. The museum is well maintained and the pieces are well preserved; it is definitely a great spot for all the history buffs and is one of the fun things to do in Tucson.

1.14. Enjoy a Show at Gaslight Theatre

Gaslight Theatre is a popular musical melodrama theatre and is one of the popular places to visit in Tucson by tourists. The vibe and atmosphere of this theatre is a western setting and arranges musical comedies, sci-fi spoofs and so much more.

The ambiance of the theatre is family-friendly and has gained a lot of reputation throughout the years for its great entertaining shows. You can also nibble on some popcorn and pizza as well as some drinks including beer, wines, and soda, along with a great music show.

2. Takeaway

The city of Tucson has something for everyone be it, adults, teenagers, or kids. There are other great and fun things to do in Tucson as well which include visiting the beautiful Tucson Botanical Garden or just collecting gifts and souvenirs from the very popular Trail Dust Town.

I hope this article has put some light on all the fun things to do in this city if you are planning a vacation. Comment and do let me know what was your best experience in the city of Tucson.

Last Updated on June 11, 2023 by somya909