If you have an idea to visit Tucson, one of Arizona’s most beautiful destinations, we’ll tell you the most attractive places in Tucson, as well as the most interesting things you can do in there. Tourists usually visit there because of the city’s warm, dry climate. As well as there are many cultural and natural attractions to keep visitors busy. Tucson is home to historical sites, interesting museums, great restaurants, and shopping. If you visit there, you have the opportunity to do some outdoor activities like incredible scenic drives, hiking trails, biking trails, and camping. Then, let’s start our tour of Tucson.
1. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
If you visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, you can have a great experience outing with a natural history museum, botanical garden, and zoo. It is one of the most attractive places in Tucson. You can see some living animals and plants native to the Sonoran Desert. For example, you can see Mexican wolf, razorback sucker, thick-billed parrot, Gila topminnow, Sonora chub, ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, desert pupfish, and bonytail chub. Busy and colorful hummingbirds whizzing about from flower to flower is one of the most amazing views in here.
You can see about 40,000 plants and 1,200 species here as well. The museum hosts some live animal presentations and Raptor Free Flight is popular among them. You will see hawks flying over the audience and you have an opportunity to see birds close up as well. You will find things that you wouldn’t believe exist in a desert area like Tucson. For example, you will see an aquarium with 14 tanks showcasing the aquatic life of the desert, and a stingray touch tank.
- Visit: 2021 North Kinney Road, Tucson, Arizona
- Official website: http://www.desertmuseum.org/
2. Mount Lemmon Byway
Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway is a 27-mile one-way road that attracts most tourists. It starts about 15 miles outside of Tucson. This route allows you to experience a few beautiful views out over the surrounding mountains and valleys in a short period. It’s easy to drive along the road and a few wonderful campgrounds are located along the way. You will find some challenging hikes as well. The route will take you from a desert floor covered with cacti up to tall pine trees, tiny streams, and beautiful lakes. Summerhaven, a tiny town, is located at the top. A stop at the Mount Lemmon Cookie Cabin for one of their famous giant cookies, an ice cream, or a slice of pizza is a ritual for many families and one you might want to experience while in town.
3. Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is one of the most attractive places in Tucson and it offers the experience of the Sonoran Desert, east and west of Tucson. You can see the saguaro cactus, the tallest species in North America, in this park. Also, you can see some other animals that call the desert home like Gila woodpeckers, Gila monsters (lizards), desert tortoises, cactus wrens, and jackrabbits.
Saguaro National Park consists of two sections. They are Saguaro West – Tucson Mountain District and Saguaro East – Rincon Mountain District. You can easily access to the Saguaro East and it has a beautiful, rolling, paved, scenic drive with short hikes. But Saguaro West is a bit farther. It has longer and more spectacular hikes. But you will see scenic views throughout the hike. If you like camping, you can stop by the Gilbert Ray Campground. Your park pass or paid admission is valid for both areas.
- Visit: 3693 South Old Spanish Trail, Tucson, Arizona
- Official website: http://www.nps.gov/sagu/index.htm
4. San Xavier del Bac mission station
San Xavier del Bac mission station is popular as the “White Dove of the Desert”. It is located in the southwest of Tucson. The mission buildings were established by Spanish Jesuits in 1770. It is the ornately decorated church, that displays the Baroque architecture of the colonial period. The Tohono O’odham Indians use this building as a spiritual center. You don’t have to pay to enter the premises. But if you like, you can donate funds for the ongoing restoration. Also, you can walk through the old church and the grounds as you want. The museum shows artifacts and a 20-minute video that highlight the history of the Mission.
- Visit: 1950 West San Xavier Road, Tucson, Arizona
- Official website: http://www.sanxaviermission.org/
5. Tucson Mountain Park
If you like to learn about this fascinating desert landscape, you should visit Tucson Mountain Park. It is one of the most attractive places in Tucson and is home to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The park is located west of Tucson and it covers about 20,000 acres of Sonoran Desert landscape. Many people visit here to enjoy the sunsets and see the museum. The park offers a trail system as well. You can do hiking, biking, and horseback riding. You can easily visit the west section of Saguaro National Park as well. Because it is combined with Tucson Mountain Park. This park is home to Gilbert Ray Campground as well. It is one of the best campgrounds in Tucson.
- Visit: 8451 West McCain Loop, Tucson, Arizona
6. El Presidio
El Presidio Historic District is one of the oldest sites in America. Visitors can see beautifully restored adobe houses and a mix of Spanish-Mexican and Anglo-American architecture. The site was once inhabited by the Hohokam Indians. Later, it became a site of the Spanish military in 1775.
Old Town Artisans, a restored 1850s marketplace is one of the main tourist attractions of this site. It consists of an entire city block of galleries and stores. You can buy art, jewelry, crafts, home decor, and other items from these stores. You can also find Native American wool rugs, pottery, paintings, carvings, metalwork, and photography. El Charo Café is the oldest continuously operating family-owned Mexican restaurant in America. You can stop there for a meal.
- Official website: https://www.visittucson.org/district/presidio
7. Pima Air Museum
The world’s largest privately funded air museum is Pima Air and Space Museum. It is one of the most attractive places in Tucson. The museum has more than 400 aircraft and spacecraft and it consists of some historical aircraft and the most advanced models. You can see a replica of a 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer, John F Kennedy’s presidential plane a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and the Orbis DC 10 Flying Eye Hospital in this museum.
The museum also has over 125,000 flight-related artifacts. A moon rock is also displayed. The site is spread out over 80 acres. If you like you can have a tram tour that is led by knowledgeable guides. You will have to pay an additional charge for it. Because it is not included in the admission fee.
You have the opportunity to take a bus tour to the adjacent “Boneyard” as well. It will take some additional fee. It is the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center. But if you want to visit there, you need to make a request 10 days in advance via the website. If you are planning to visit here in the hotter months, we recommend visiting early in the day. Because the larger planes at the Pima Air and Space Museum are outdoors.
- Visit: 6000 East Valencia Road, Tucson, Arizona
- Official website: http://www.pimaair.org
8. Hiking Trails
The mountains and beautiful landscape of the Sonoran Desert make Tucson make it a great place for hiking. You can find a trail that suits your abilities and likes. If you want to get an aggressive hike to the top of a mountain, you can do it here. As well as, you can also find a simple hike that allows wander through the area and see birds and other wildlife. Seven Falls Trail in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is a popular trail among them. It allows tourists to hike up to a set of natural pools and go for a dip. If you want to a short trail to experience nature, you can go to the Saguaro National Park and join with Valley View Overlook Trail.
9. Catalina State Park
Catalina State Park is located north of Tucson. It is a great place for hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. 10.8-mile Sutherland Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park. Tourists often come here to see wildlife as well. Romero Ruin’s archeological site is another attraction in this area. You can see the remains of a Hohokam Indian village on a walking trail that is less than one mile in total. The village was occupied between AD 500 and AD 1450 and later Francisco Romero used portions of the abandoned village and create a homestead. You can see the remains of several structures, which were built over the old village.
- Visit: 11570 North Oracle Road, Tucson, Arizona
- Official website: http://azstateparks.com/parks/CATA/
10. University of Arizona
You can spend a couple of hours or a couple of days seeing the University of Arizona. It is home to the Arizona State Museum, the Center for Creative Photography, the Campus Arboretum, the University of Arizona Museum of Art, the Mineral Museum, and the Flandrau Science Center. Arizona State Museum is established in 1893. It is the largest and oldest anthropology museum in Southwest America.
You can see many exhibits there. Some of them are a comprehensive Hohokam artifact display, the largest vessel collection of Southwest Indian pottery, hundreds of Mexican folk masks, and one of the top Navajo textile collections. Arizona State Museum is the main attraction of this premises. As well as many visitors com come to the Mineral Museum to see its collection of gems, minerals, and meteorites from America and around the world.
John P. Schaefer and renowned photographer Ansel Adams created the Center for Creative Photography in 1975. It has a collection of thousands of photos that focuses on the history of North American photography.
- Official website: http://www.arizona.edu/
11. St. Augustine Cathedral
The St. Augustine Cathedral is one of the most attractive places in Tucson. It was created in the Mexican Baroque architectural style in 1896. The cathedral was rebuilt in the late 1960s and you can see the façade and towers that remain of the original structure. You can see the intricate coat of arms of Pope Pious XI, on the façade. You can enter the cathedral without paying. If you want you can donate.
- Visit: 192 South Stone Avenue, Tucson, Arizona
- Official website: http://cathedral-staugustine.org/
12. Reid Park Zoo
The Reid Park Zoo is a small zoo with a good collection of exotic animals and it considers one of the most attractive places in Tucson. You can see a variety of animals like elephants, bears, lions, tigers, and giraffes. The zoo is organized into a main loop and three smaller loops, including the Lee H. Brown Family Conservation Learning Center, Tropical Trail, and Adventure Tanzania.
Giraffe Encounters is the best interactive experience you can have there. They allow you to hand-feed a giraffe. But you have to pay a small amount for it. The train, a wet play area, and changing daily activities are other attractions in this area.
- Visit: 3400 Zoo Court, Tucson, Arizona
- Official website: http://reidparkzoo.org/
13. Colossal Cave Park
Colossal Cave is one of the largest dry caverns in America. This 2,400-acre park is popular among tourists. It offers three different tours and they are Classic, Ladder, and Wild. You can choose one according to your level of adventure and fitness. The park has a museum and a butterfly garden. You can have guided horseback riding, hiking, horse trails, and wagon rides. The park allows visitors to camp but there is no electricity or water on the individual sites.
- Visit: 16721 East Old Spanish Trail, Vail, Arizona
- Official website: https://colossalcave.com/
14. Wildlife Museum
The International Wildlife Museum is one of the most attractive places in Tucson. It features more than 400 species of animals and insects from around the world. The museum is home to rare and over 100 years old preserved specimens as well. You can learn about animal behavior, habitat, and much more things from the Museum. There is a theater and it shows feature-length, animal-themed nature movies. You can watch movies with your paid ticket to the museum and you don’t have to pay any additional fee.
- Visit: 4800 West Gates Pass Road, Tucson, Arizona
- Official website: http://www.thewildlifemuseum.org/
15. Children’s Museum
The museum building was designed by architect Henry Trost in 1901. There are many interactive exhibits are displayed on this premises. They include a variety of topics, from the arts and sciences to nature. There are 13 different permanent exhibits and children can easily find something to entertain themselves. Bodyology, drums, and other instruments in the Music Garden a massive magnetic wall in Gravity are included in this permanent exhibit.
- Visit: 200 South 6th Avenue, Tucson, Arizona
- Official website: http://www.childrensmuseumtucson.org/
Those are the most attractive places in Tucson, Arizona. If you plan to tour to Tucson, don’t forget to visit these places. You will be able to get an amazing experience in Tucson.
Hotels to stay in Tucson
If you visit to Tucson, you can stay in the below highly rated hotels. They are close to the most attractive places in Tucson.
- The JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort Hotel: Located on the eastern side of the city, close to Tucson Mountain Park
- The Loews Ventana Canyon Resort: Located nestled up against the Catalina Mountains, multiple pools, two golf courses
- Hacienda Del Sol: Located on a hillside on the western side of the city, stunning views, lush gardens
- Arizona Inn: Closer to downtown, a convenient location, along with luxury and privacy
- White Stallion Ranch: Outside the city limits, lovely western-themed rooms
- Country Inn & Suites Tucson City Center: A short drive from downtown, complimentary breakfast
- TownePlace Suites Tucson Airport: A short drive from the Pima Air and Space museum, outdoor pools
Downtown Clifton hotel: A restored 1940s-era building, located in an unbeatable location, rooms decorated in unique styles
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Tucson – Reid Park: Located close to downtown near Reid Park and the zoo
Red Roof Inn Tucson North – Marana: About 10 minutes from downtown, very good rooms, exceptional price
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is Tucson, Arizona most famous for?
With the University of Arizona, Fourth Avenue, and busy downtown, the city’s central center is a lively location. From inside, wander in any direction to discover an unending outdoor area. No matter where you are in Tucson, you may enjoy its world-class restaurants and culture.
Is Tucson a wonderful city?
Tucson is a lovely city that is frequently referred to as the “Dirty T” since it is situated in the desert and mostly consists of adobe-style structures. It is considered as one of the best locations to live in Arizona.
What is Tucson’s lowest temperature?
January, when the nightly average temperature in Tucson is 38.9°F, is the coldest month. The average daytime temperature reaches 100.2°F in June, the warmest month.
What time of year is ideal for visiting Tucson?
Tucson is most enjoyable in April through May and in September through October. The weather is lovely during these off-peak times, and hotel rates are affordable. Many northerners in need of a thaw come to the sunny skies and mild temperatures of winter.
Is it safe to live in Tucson?
Like other American cities, Tucson is experiencing a rise in crime. Also, it frequently encounters the issue of minorities and areas of extreme poverty experiencing the biggest rises in crime. Even though the rate of violent crime was 80% higher than the national average in 2021, it increased in 2022.
What professions is Tucson well-known for?
The region’s economy is significantly influenced by the aerospace and defense industry. One of the top 5 locations in the United States for these industries is Tucson. Defense and space-related manufacturing, R&D, industrial technology, assembly, distribution, and warehousing are all included in the aerospace industry.