Spending some time exploring Arizona? Be sure to leave time to explore all the best things to do in Tucson, Arizona. As the second largest city in Arizona and a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, Tucson is full of possibilities for travelers.
Whether you’re wanting to learn more about animals at Reid Park Zoo, hike up a storm at Saguaro National Park, or refresh yourself with a pint or two at Barrio Brewing Co., Tucson offers plenty of tourist attractions to suit all ages.
Not sure what to do when you’re in Tucson? Fill up your itinerary with the complete guide to the best places to visit in Tucson, AZ!
Must-see places to visit in Tucson, AZ
Reid Park Zoo
Looking to take a walk on the wild side on your next trip to Tucson? Round up the entire family and take a trip to the exciting and vibrant Reid Park Zoo.
Filled with over 500 species of animals, including sloths, giraffes, and hippos, Reid Park Zoo is a great excursion for visitors of all ages. Wander the 24-acre park, ride on the vintage-style carousel, or get up close and personal with some of your favorite animals.
Special ticket prices include going behind the scenes to feed some of the park’s most popular residents, such as the huge (but friendly) giraffes. Give your kiddos memories that they’ll never forget, all while tiring them out walking around the zoo.
Pima Air & Space Museum
Love all things aviation? Well then, you’re in for a treat at the Pima Air & Space Museum, one of the world’s largest aerospace museums.
Covering a whopping 80 acres of land outside of Tucson, Pima Air & Space Museum is a great place to spend the entire day. This unique niche museum offers over 800 exciting exhibits spanning the entire history of air and space travel.
Whether you’re an aviation aficionado or a complete novice, the Pima Air & Space Museum is designed to educate, entertain and inspire and is bound to have something to pique your interest.
Tucson Botanical Gardens
Want to feel like you’re in a lush, green oasis without ever having to leave the center of Tucson? Grab your family and friends and spend a day relaxing at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.
This 5.5-acre patch of paradise provides a haven for fans of all things floral. With 17 different themed gardens to explore, a visit to Tucson Botanical Gardens can feel like you’re walking from one continent to the next, all in a few short steps.
Traveling with kiddos in tow? Get them inspired and learning in the specially created Children’s Garden. Full of interesting knowledge, interactive exhibits, and bright colors, it’s a natural wonderland.
Trail Dust Town
Looking to head back in time to the days of the Wild West? Round up your little gang of bandits and mosey on over to Trail Dust Town.
With saloon bars, restaurants, and shops, this western-themed complex is the perfect family-friendly spot. Spend the entire day at Trail Dust Town, riding around town on the miniature train, and exploring the grounds.
Want to add some adrenaline to your day trip to Trail Dust Town? Raise that heart rate with a visit to the town’s exhilarating stunt shows. Watch the pros flip, fall and fight—just don’t try any of it at home!
Saguaro National Park
Who doesn’t love the giant cacti? Not us! Enjoy the grand biodiversity of the Saguaro National Park. Visiting this blissful national park, you’ll even see the world’s largest cactus!
One of the most popular day trips from Tucson, Saguaro National Park is located in the Sonoran Desert and wraps all around the city. It’s a great spot for hiking, enjoying nature, or just taking in scenic, panoramic views. Bring your hiking boots and a ton of water, and get back to nature.
Don’t forget to grab yourself a souvenir from the Saguaro National Park’s gift shop on the way back to the city; it’s in the same building as the visitor center.
Sabino Canyon Recreation Area
Want to get some fresh desert air into your lungs? Put your cardio training to the test with a visit to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.
Home to some amazing hikes and beautiful vistas, the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is a mini-gorge that’s been well-preserved, with trails of varying difficulty and length. With over 30 miles of hikes to enjoy, even the most enthusiastic outdoorsy type will be spoiled for choice here!
Not into hiking? Jump on the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area tram or shuttle, where you can appreciate the expansive landscape, or hop on and off at your leisure.
Children’s Museum Tucson
Visiting Tucson with young kids and needing a tourist attraction that’s going to keep them entertained? The Children’s Museum Tucson is going to tick all your boxes—and more!
Filled with interactive exhibits designed for kids of all ages, the Children’s Museum Tucson has a dedicated focus on hands-on learning. From art and design to music and nature, this museum covers a variety of different areas and themes. Try them all and find your kid’s next passion!
Traveling to Tucson in the summer? The Children’s Museum Tucson offers exciting and refreshing outdoor, water-based activities on Wednesdays. Cool off, chill out, and get your little ones inspired; it’s a win-win-win!
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Looking for a niche museum that truly has it all? With a zoo, botanical garden, aquarium, natural history museum, and art gallery to explore, you could spend days at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is dedicated to celebrating and educating visitors about the local desert landscape and the history behind it. It covers close to 100 acres of land and has been running since 1952.
Get up close and personal with desert wildlife, learn about the hydration habits of the local desert flora, or peruse the art that has been inspired by the area. It’s truly a varied and unmissable Tucson attraction!
Catalina State Park
Want the best that the desert and mountains have to offer, all in one convenient state park? Grab your hiking boots or bike and slide over to Catalina State Park.
Located at the back of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Catalina State Park offers plenty of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, allowing you to experience this outstanding landscape in your own way. Enjoy the wide open spaces, catch your breath on the steep inclines, and reward yourself with jaw-dropping views.
Traveling with a furry friend? You can bring them along to Catalina State Park as long as you keep them on a leash and stay on the trails.
Looking to get lost in one of the world’s best botanical gardens? As heralded by Travel + Leisure, Tohono Chul botanical gardens can’t be missed if you love anything horticulture related.
Commonly known as one of Tucson’s best-kept secrets, Tohono Chul covers almost 50 acres of Sonoran Desert landscapes. Wander around and appreciate the native flora and fauna. Learn more about the area at the Tohono Chul cultural museum.
All that desert wandering got you feeling hungry? Satisfy your hunger cravings at the Tohono Chul bistro restaurant, specializing in hyper-local ingredients and flavors. It doesn’t get fresher than this!
International Wildlife Museum
Want to add a quirky, if not a little bit morbid, museum to your Tucson itinerary? Fill up your quota of whimsy with a visit to the International Wildlife Museum. Be warned: This is unlike any other zoo you’re likely to visit!
The International Wildlife Museum features over 400 taxidermied animals. Located in a building that was modeled after an old-style fort, the museum educates visitors about different species, ecosystems, and natural phenomena.
Spend an hour or two wandering around the various exhibits. Or, if you’re visiting Tucson during Halloween, add an extra layer of spooky onto your already fairly creepy visit.
Tucson Mountain Park
Looking for the ultimate outdoor experience while you’re in Tucson? Bring the whole family or your friends, pack up the car, and journey to Tucson Mountain Park.
A natural haven for all kinds of outdoor pursuits, Tucson Mountain Park offers miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as shooting and archery ranges. Pretend that you’re in the Wild West on the ranges, or take in the spectacular desert scenery as you roam the trails.
Is one day of exploration not enough for you? Make a weekend of it and check into one of the many campgrounds across the park.
Mission San Xavier del Bac
Consider yourself a bit of an architecture buff? Maybe you love visiting historic churches? Whatever the reason, you should add Mission San Xavier del Bac to your Tucson itinerary.
Located just 10 miles from Tucson, Mission San Xavier del Bac is a historic mission and a superb example of Spanish Colonial architecture. Founded in 1692 and completed in 1797, Mission San Xavier del Bac is the oldest church in Arizona and a significant historic site.
Whether you’re religious, into design, or are interested in the history of the Tucson area, Mission San Xavier del Bac—nicknamed “The White Dove of the Desert”—is a must-visit.
Arizona State Museum
Interested in the history and culture of the wider Tucson area? Get educated and inspired at the Arizona State Museum, located on the University of Arizona campus.
Opened in 1893, the Arizona State Museum is the oldest anthropological museum in the area. Wander around the small museum and discover exhibits detailing the arts, tradition, and culture of the Southwestern region over the years.
It’s worth noting that this museum isn’t open on Sundays or Mondays; be sure to tailor your visit around this.
If you’re traveling during summer, the Arizona State Museum also tends to waive its standard entrance fee in favor of a “pay what you can” rate.
Agua Caliente Regional Park
It’s not common to experience natural pools in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. But you can experience just that at the Agua Caliente Regional Park!
This oasis in the hot sands surrounding Tucson translates as “hot water” in Spanish; if you’re looking for a cool, refreshing dip, think again. Instead, you can relax and recharge in the outstanding natural hot springs that bubble up around you.
Walk around the 101-acre country park, then strip off and soothe those aching muscles in the warming waters, surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery that you’ll never forget.
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
Looking to take in and be inspired by some local artwork? Get your fill of culture with a visit to DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun.
Dedicated to the works of Ted DeGrazia, the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is spread across 10 acres of land, built as a retreat by the artist himself. The art gallery features oil paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and watercolors; get inspired by the myriad of mediums.
Wander the grounds to marvel at the very landscapes that DeGrazia was inspired by and return to the artworks to appreciate them in a whole new light. It’s an immersive art gallery experience that’s second to none. It’s truly a transformative way to understand the artistic process.
Barrio Brewing Co.
Wow, spending time in the desert sure can build up a thirst! After you’ve sensibly hydrated yourself with water, double down on hydration with a visit to Barrio Brewing Co.
This iconic, employee-owned craft brewery is a staple of the popular Tucson gastronomy scene. With plenty of fresh brews on taps as well as bar food staples like wings and salsa, Barrio Brewing Co. is always a good time.
When it was opened back in 1991, Barrio Brewing Co. was Tucson’s first full-mash brewery; there’s some real brewing history in these hallowed halls.
Ponder the brewery’s legacy as you sip another pint of Citrazona IPA, Mocha Java Stout, or Barrio Rojo, just three of the 12 house beers on tap at any given time. Drink up and relax—you’re on vacation, after all!
Recommended places to stay in Tucson
For most travelers, the top choices for where to stay in Tucson are in & around its downtown core. The area is home to most of the city’s top-rated hotels, with plenty of accommodations options to suit all budgets and travel styles.
Located in the heart of downtown, the Hampton Inn offers great value, no-frills accommodations in a laid-back setting. Relax in the comfortable rooms, featuring en-suite bathrooms and mini-fridges. After a day of sightseeing, cool down in the rooftop pool and sip cocktails on the hotel’s patio. Start the morning with a free breakfast.
Spread across a pair of historic homes on a side street, the El Amador offers a quiet and luxurious escape from the bustle of downtown. The inn features well-appointed rooms, charming guests with antique furnishings, spacious living spaces, and private terraces. Start the day with a delicious breakfast in the courtyard and end the evening in front of a roaring fire in the calming garden.
Add a 5-star experience to your Tucson vacation with a stay in this blissful luxury hotel. The rooms are sophisticated and delicately adorned with period furnishings and luxurious amenities. Fuel up with a hearty breakfast before hitting the streets of Tucson for a day of sightseeing.
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