Tourist Attractions- Places To Visit In Tucson, Arizona
Tucson is a bustling urban center with a vibrant college town atmosphere. It’s a city brimming with culture and incredible dining. And it’s a year-round outdoor playground, from hiking and mountain biking to golfing and scenic drives.
The University of Arizona is the hub of Tucson’s cultural life and one of its largest employers, resulting in a vibrant downtown that brims with restaurants, bars and shopping. The University is also a good starting point for exploring the surrounding area, with Saguaro National Park and the historic Tombstone offering countless opportunities to hike, run and bike, as well as wildlife viewing and other adventures.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to the west of Tucson is a popular destination for those interested in learning about desert life and the different plants and animals found here. It houses over 200 species of animals and more than 1,000 plant types, and offers plenty of space for hiking and walking around.
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If you’re a hiker, this scenic 3.1-mile out-and-back concrete trail packed with lovely wildflowers and iconic cacti is sure to be a favorite for you. It offers a 700-foot rise in elevation that takes you from the heart of the city to the edge of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and you’ll be treated to gorgeous views along the way.
Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway #1
A trip to Tucson isn’t complete without a stop at Mount Lemmon. This imposing mountain range towers over the city, and it’s often covered in snow at its peak.
The scenic byway climbs from the foothills of Catalina to Summerhaven and offers a change in scenery unlike any other in Tucson. The route winds through all of the altitude stages of the Arizona high desert until it reaches Alpine coolness at the summit.
Along the way, you’ll find a wide variety of attractions and activities. You’ll be able to experience hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, back packing, camping, and more!
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an unforgettable family adventure, you’ll find the perfect activity on Mount Lemmon. If you’re into astronomy, visit the Mount Lemmon Sky Center (Observatory) for an exceptional science program using the Steward Observatory’s 32-inch Schulman telescope!
Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium #2
Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium inspires visitors of all ages with the wonders of science. It showcases fascinating exhibits, is home to one of the world’s best gem and mineral collections, and shows guests how amazing the universe really is with a fulldome planetarium show.
For younger visitors, interactive exhibits feature a variety of subjects from bugs to sharks and black holes. Children are also encouraged to try out a full-dome planetarium experience while older ones may find that the “Fossil Corner” in the back of the mineral museum is especially exciting.
Throughout the year, changing exhibits focus on biology, energy, optics and weave in ground-breaking UA research. The Flandrau Observatory offers evening stargazing with a 16-inch telescope, and planetarium shows reveal the universe’s beauty.
The planetarium’s new state-of-the-art digital projection system can launch you from the Earth to the stars, and music laser shows immerse audiences in light and sound. Check the Flandrau website for the current schedule of shows.
Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures #3
Sprawling over 10,000 square feet, the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is a unique attraction that’s sure to de
light visitors. This fun and educational miniature museum features antique dollhouses dating back to 1742 and contemporary fine-scale miniatures.
The collection is divided into three main galleries: The Enchanted Realm, History Gallery and Exploring the World. Each of these galleries has a selection of dioramas that are both fantastical and fascinating.
In The Enchanted Realm, you can see woodland creatures and fairy castles that are reminiscent of the old fairy tales. This is the most enchanting part of the museum.
There are also historical miniatures in the History Gallery. This area showcases different cultures throughout the 1700s through the mid-1900s.
In Exploring the World, you can view a variety of dioramas that feature diverse locations all over the world. These displays are not only beautiful but they also tell a story.
Mission San Xavier del Bac #4
If you’re looking for a way to take in the sights and sounds of Tucson, Mission San Xavier del Bac is a great place to visit. This landmark church is an ornate masterpiece influenced by Moorish, Byzantine and Mexican architectural styles.
The church is located on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation and is a popular tourist attraction. It’s often called the “white dove of the desert” and is a must-see for anyone who wants to experience a piece of southwestern history.
In 1783, two Franciscan fathers began construction of the mission. They borrowed 7,000 pesos from a Sonoran rancher and hired a local architect to oversee the building process.
They completed the church in 1797 and it remains today as one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in the United States. The building’s interior is adorned with elaborate frescos and statues.
Visitors and pilgrims come from near and far to enjoy the church’s ornate decor and intricate architecture. It’s a beautiful church that’s been carefully preserved, making it a must-see for everyone visiting Southern Arizona.
Pima Air & Space Museum #5
The Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the top family-friendly attractions in Tucson. This unique museum is home to one-of-a-kind, historic aircraft and offers a fascinating glimpse into aviation history.
The main hangars feature airplanes such as an SR-71 Blackbird and a B-52 bomber. There are also many other planes to see inside, so get ready for a fun day of exploration!
Beauty of Flight – located in the museum driveway is a rock, metal, and fiberglass sculpture comprised of 3 models of the Northrop-McDonnell Douglas YF-23, a prototype single-seat twin engine fighter aircraft designed for the U.S. Air Force.
The Pima Air & Space Museum aims to “create unlimited horizons in aerospace education through the preservation and presentation of the history of flight.” It’s home to 80 acres of outdoor aircraft, 6 indoor exhibit hangars and a museum store. The facility is operated by the not-for-profit Arizona Aerospace Foundation, which funds the museum solely through gate admissions, tours and concessions. The museum also houses a restaurant, Flight Grill.
Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block #6
Founded in 1924 in the Presidio district of downtown Tucson, Arizona as the Tucson Fine Arts Association (TFAA), this art museum features modern and contemporary art along with works from Latin America and the American West. It also showcases original and traveling exhibitions.
The museum has an entire city block dedicated to art and a beautiful gallery space that is housed in five historical adobe homes. The galleries are arranged around a soaring center that connects the floors.
This is a museum that has a lot to offer visitors of all ages and backgrounds. Its exhibits are a great way to learn about different cultures and the history of our world.
It is also a good place for families to visit because it is family-friendly. It has many interactive exhibits that are fun for kids of all ages to participate in.
The museum also has five historic homes on site, including La Casa Cordova, which is a classic Sonoran row-house that was built in the 1860s and features a seasonal exhibition called El Nacimiento, which is an elaborate Mexican Nativity scene. It is open November to April.
Saguaro National Park #7
Saguaro National Park is a must-see for those who love the American Southwest. It’s home to the largest cacti in the country, the saguaro, and boasts stunning views of the Sonoran Desert. If you’re planning on visiting the park, consider getting a national park pass. This gives you access to both sides of the park for 7 days from the day you purchase it.
The eastern portion of the park, Rincon Mountain District, has fewer cacti but has a variety of hiking trails and a campsite. It also offers petroglyphs from the ancient Hohokam people.
Hiking is a great way to enjoy the cacti and get some exercise. There are hundreds of miles of trails in the park, ranging from short walks to multi-day backpacking trips.
You can easily spend a whole day exploring the park, and the best time to go is in the winter when it’s cooler and less crowded. Spring is a beautiful time to see the saguaro bloom, but be sure to time it right because each bloom only lasts 24 hours.
FAQs: Tucson, Arizona
What is the Best Month to Visit Tucson?
The shoulder seasons of April to May and September to October offer comfortable weather and reasonable hotel rates.
These periods are also a great time to see Tucson’s iconic attractions, like the Grand Canyon and Saguaro National Park. But avoid visiting in June, July or August, when temperatures can reach into the triple digits.
Is Tucson Arizona Worth Visiting?
Whether you’re visiting for a day or a week, Tucson Arizona has plenty to offer. From mountains, giant Saguaro cacti, Mexican cuisine, art and history, there are plenty of attractions to keep you entertained in this beautiful southwest city.
For a little physical activity and stunning views, try hiking up Tumamoc Hill. There’s a wide path that makes it easy for anyone to get up the steep incline.