With us making several trips a year during the heat of the summer and cold of the winter, we have become experts at entertaining the kids during our trips. With our well know expertise we have been asked by several friends making the journey to the “Old Pueblo” for kid-friendly activities. With that being said, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite things to do while in Tucson, Arizona.
1. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Highly regarded by many and listed as one of TripAdvisor top attractions, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a zoo, aquarium, botanical garden and natural history museum all rolled into one. It features two miles of walking trails, shows, animals of the area and exhibits the natural history of the Sonoran Desert.
2. Pima Air & Space Museum
Home to nearly 300 aircrafts, the Pima Air & Space Museum features a multitude of aircraft spread out over its 80 acres of land. Sure to please kids and parents alike, some of the planes are restored and shown inside hangers, while others are part of the Air Force’s 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (A.K.A. the bone yard for retired planes). While the bone yard can get VERY hot during the summer they do feature bus tours several times during the day, Monday to Friday. But wandering and walking under these giants of the sky is part of the fun!
3. Biosphere 2
Located north of Tucson, Biosphere 2 is a research center that was built as an Earth systems science research facility. It was used to learn about earth and it’s ecosystem. Since the last, “locked in” experiment in 1994, it has been providing tours for curious individuals ever since. Just think of it as a human size terrarium. It is impressive to say the least.
4. Children’s Museum Tucson
In downtown Tucson, located inside of Carnegie’s Library buildings, hides a hidden jewel of the city. The Children’s Museum Tucson features hands on displays and exhibits promoting creativity and imagination. It’s a great place to get out of the cold, monsoonal rain, or heat. The museum features emergency vehicles, a vacuum display, play restaurant and grocery store.
5. Reid Park Zoo
Next to the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!), Reid Park Zoo is a small family-friendly spot. While visiting the menagerie of animals, the kids can play with hands-on interactive displays that help keep the little ones busy.
6. Tucson Botanical Gardens (Butterfly Magic: Oct-May)
Featured on the grounds of Porter’s homestead, this five and a half-acre garden features rotating exhibits and low water gardening ideas. If you’re in town from October to May, stop by the different species of butterflies on display. It’s one of the best butterfly houses in the country.
7. Sabino Canyon
This desert oasis just outside of town requires a small fee, but the views and beauty are worth the price. If you don’t want to walk, don’t fret, the park runs a tram that heads to the top of Sabino Canyon. Some parts of the year there is even water in the arroyo that runs along the road. Bring a stroller if your little ones can’t walk for long distances.
8. Toy Train Museum
Off the beaten path is the Gadsden Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum. Open on the second and fourth Sundays of the month (plus a few random days in between), if you’re in town it’s worth the trip! A large warehouse full of different sized toy trains running through scale towns. Outside there is even a large riding train and a full sized caboose to explore.
9. Southern Arizona Transportation Museum
In old downtown Tucson adjacent to the Santa Fe Train Station, this small museum features the history of trains in the city. But the coolest part is outside. A real locomotive is open for kids to climb aboard and ring the bell.
10. San Xavier del Bac Mission
Located just 10 miles south of Tucson, this mission was founded in the early 1690s. It has been completely destroyed once, abandon for 30 years, and fallen under the Acidosis of three countries (Spain, Mexico and the United States). The interior is amazing. Ornate woodcarvings, gold leafing, painted frescoes and Moorish style architecture all found in the middle of the desert. The mission is open to the public but is also an active church, so check for service times prior to visiting.
Tucson Day Trips
If time permits, consider taking a day trip to the historic western town, Tombstone.
What is your favorite kid-friendly activity in Tucson? We love to connect with others, so feel free to leave us a comment! (Note: Above pictures were taken over several trips. )