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14 Places to Visit in Tucson

places to visit in tucson
Written by Edith & Juan

With an average of 286 sunny days, Tucson is a perfect getaway for those seeking a stay in a desert surrounded by beautiful mountains and gorgeous sunsets.  A visit to the Old Pueblo will likely involve hiking, eating, and poolside lounging. This city is quite nice all year long because the weather is amazing for those who prefer to stay warm.  But if a little heat scares you, skip the summer as the heat rises over 105 F.

Though Tucson feels more like a big town rather than a city, it still offers some fun things to do for those visiting.    With its chill vibe and friendly people, you are sure to enjoy this beautiful desert.  Here are 14 places to visit in Tucson if you’re considering a visit to this lovely town.

Places to Visit in Tucson, Arizona

1. Colossal Caves

Sitting just a few minutes outside the city, Colossal Caves is a fun getaway that allows you to explore the underground world.  With a guided tour, you will have access to stalagmite & stalactite, the possibility of seeing bats, and the excitement of walking and crawling through a cave.

Colossal Caves Tucson

2. Old Tucson Studios

Old Tucson takes you back in time  to the wild, wild, west as you step into a location where many movies have been filmed.  Here you will find entertainment such as comedy and stunts, history presentations, musicals, and old west shows.  This places is perfect for a fun date and also fun for families.

3. Mount Lemmon

Tucson can be grueling hot almost all year long.  It’s no wonder Tucsonians go up to the Santa Catalina Mountains to cool down while enjoying the city views from Mount Lemmon. Over winter, be ready to run into all of Tucson when it snows as this is probably one of the most exciting events that happens in a small city like Tucson.

Mount Lemon

4. Madera Canyon

Like Mount Lemmon, Madera Canyon serves as a perfect escape for those seeking to cool off.  Although less crowded because most prefer Mount Lemmon, it’s still beautiful and a great getaway from the heat. Madera Canyon sits at the south end of Tucson while Mount Lemmon sits in the North.

Madera Canyon

5. San Xavier del Bac

So much history lies behind this beautiful structure.  This national historic landmark is designed to perfection inside and out.  The church was founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692 and is the oldest intact structure in Arizona.  On some days, it’s beauty can be magnified if you catch the perfect cloudy weather over it mixed with the perfect sunset.

6. Sabino Canyon, Seven Falls

Known for its hikes, Sabino Canyon is the best place for those who like to get an outdoor workout.  Sabino Canyon can be hiked throughout the year but caution is needed in the summer as heat and dehydration can be serious.  I did this hike with a friend once during the summer, but we made sure to bring tons of water and to rest under the shade every time we needed it.  The best trail leads to Seven Falls where you can enjoy a dip in the water after a hot hike.  Just hope that the waterfalls actually have water!

Sabino Canyon Seven Falls

7. The Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum

Unlike most museums, this one is almost completely outdoors and is very similar to a zoo.  However, most zoos have the common lions, bears, tigers and wild animals.  The Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum has snakes, insects, eagles, mountain lions, hummingbirds and all those interesting animals you find in the desert.  Aside from animals, you will enjoy a botanical garden, an art gallery, an aquarium, a natural history museum, and you will get a true desert experience.

Arizona Desert Museum

8. Reid Park Zoo

Tucson is small, therefore options of places to visit are limited.  But in the middle of the city, you will find Reid Park Zoo, a favorite among locals because of its location and because an animal experience is always fun.  Plus, the zoo offers some shade for cooling off, a community pool is next door, and Reid Park is just a 1 minute walk away.

Reid Park Zoo

9. Downtown Tucson

Not quite as big as other downtowns, but Tucson’s downtown offers quite a few things to do.  To start off, the nightlife in downtown Tucson is wonderful.  With many fun bars and unique family owned restaurants and lounges, you will surely find a good place to spend your weekend.  The fun extends to 4th Ave which sits near The University of Arizona where most college students hang out.  If you prefer a different scene, you can visit during the day where you can walk around to see street art, visit galleries, stop at some unique shops, and find some great food.

Downtown Tucson

10. Visit the University of Arizona

Most Tucson citizen’s lives revolve around The University of Arizona.  If you do not see at least one person in a collegiate shirt, than you are not in Tucson.  That said, a visit to the University should be something that’s done while visiting the city. It offers museums, food, sports, and family events throughout campus all year.

11. Pima Air & Space Museum

Riding a plane could be something you love or possibly hate like no other.  Luckily, at the Pima Air & Space Museum both parties can be happy.  If you already love planes, the museum will give you an up close and personal experience.  If you hate them, fear not as these planes are not moving.  Sitting inside the Davis Monthan Air Force Base you will find many different planes that were once in use.  For an even better experience, visit the Air Show in the spring where you will get to watch aircraft flying over you while doing some cool tricks. (Unless you hate planes that is.)

Air & Space Museum

12. Tombstone Getaway

If Old Tucson caught your attention, you’ll also want to visit Tombstone about an hour away.  This place will also take you back in time. The difference here is that the town is real and they’re not quite acting.  Tombstone has even been called “the town too tough to die.” That aside, the town offers a wonderful experience where some if it really is acted, such as the fake gun fights on the street.  You will also find yourself immersed in history, see local people dressed as if they’re in the old west, and find gift shops, seamstress, saloons, museums, and much more.

Tombstone

 

13. Biosphere 2

This is probably the only main place in Tucson we have yet to visit.  This research facility owned by the University of Arizona sits just under an hour away.  At Biosphere 2, you will learn about the Earth, living systems, and its place in the universe.

14. Mexican Food Restaurants

Okay, this isn’t a specific place but if there’s something Tucson is known for, is its Mexican cuisine. Becuase of its proximity to Mexico, you will find real authentic tasting Mexican food such as tortillas, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, chiles rellenos, tamales, and menudo.

Some popular places include Cafe Poca Cosa,  Street Tacos, El Charro Cafe, El Minidito (Bill Clinton are here), Guadalajara Grill, and many many more!  You can also find some of the best street vendors like El Nene, the popular Guero Canelo (now also a restaurant) and the best fish tacos with our friend Carlos at Baja Tacos.

Tucson Food

So there it is!  14 great places to visit in Tucson.  They aren’t the only ones around but they sure are the most fun to visit.  Just to mention, this city is one Juan and I love because it’s been our home so our number one recommendations is to definitely try the many delicious restaurants!

About the author

Edith & Juan

From Arizona but temporarily based near California, Edith and her husband Juan created Life Beyond 520 to share inspiration from their local travels and adventures in California and beyond. Edith is the blogger behind these posts, but together they hope to inspire couples and others to get out there and explore new places, including their own city.

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