fun things to do in Tucson

For the sun-seekers and summer lovers, Arizona’s second-largest city sells itself as a vacation spot as formidable as any — with 350 days of beautiful sunshine every year, there’s no shortage of things to do in Tucson under the glorious Arizonian sky.

While often overlooked in favor of its bigger brother, Phoenix, the state’s southernmost major city (tucked away a short drive from the Mexican border) is teeming with activities for history buffs, culture vultures, foodies, and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Kickstart your trip with hikes through the famous cacti landscapes, then unwind with a sunset picnic atop Sentinel Peak Park. Go tailgating at a University of Arizona football game; take the family to a waterpark; stuff your face on a food tour of the best Mexican fare this side of the border, and then wash it all down with a pub crawl!

Throw in art galleries, Japanese gardens, beautiful resorts (with infinity pools to boot), and an atmosphere that never feels crowded (except during the rodeo festival), and it’s easy to see why Tucson is a year-round vacation favorite.

So what are you waiting for?

1 – Check out the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson

Stretching across 98 acres of pristine desert landscape, this is one attraction you won’t want to miss!

Everything you could want in a Sonora Desert adventure is offered by the mostly-outdoors Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: a sprawling AZA-accredited zoo, extensive botanical gardens, two diverse art galleries, and a natural history museum that’s a regular hit for kids and adults alike.

While wandering around the area, keep your eyes peeled for the local residents (wolves, foxes, and coyotes), and consider paying a few extra bucks for the intimate stingray feeding activity!

2 – Chill with giraffes at Reid Park Zoo

Reid Park Zoo in Tucson

Ideal for families, this hidden gem of a zoo is nestled in the heart of Tucson and welcomes some 500,000 visitors every year. It’s the perfect location to soak in the warm desert weather while getting to know the friendly and furry local wildlife.

From elephants to iguanas and everything in between, the inner-city attraction is home to more than 500 animals, with regular special events, educational workshops, and birthday parties to boot.

3 – Unleash the inner Maverick at the Pima Air & Space Museum

Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson

The Pima Air & Space Museum is a stunning sight to see, with more than 400 aircraft on display across 80 acres of air-conditioned hangars.

In addition to a large selection of educational artifacts and interactive displays about all things flights (international and interstellar), you’ll get to stroll through three whole hangars filled with planes (including WWII fighters) as part of what is one of the world’s largest aircraft collections.

4 – Relax and unwind at the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area

As any previous Tucson visitor will attest, the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, which is one of the state’s most beautiful natural areas, is packed with gorgeous scenery in every direction.

Whether you’re hiking, riding, or simply enjoying a picnic in the open air, you’ll see steep rock cliffs, unusual desert vegetation, and riparian corridors.

If you’re lucky, you might even glimpse rare animals like the Gila monster, Gambel Quail or Gopher Snake!

5 – Spend the day at the Old Tombstone Western Theme Park

Old Tombstone Western Theme Park, Tucson

Conjuring up images of the lawless Wild West, a visit to Old Tombstone is like a step back in time — with a Mexican style cantina, Chuckwagon restaurant, a Shoot’n Gallery, gold-panning station, mini-golf, and many other exciting activities. Younger of age and younger at heart regularly regard this place as one of the most enjoyable things to do in Tuscon.

Capping off the entertainment, the park also hosts award-winning comedy routines and stunt shows featuring their National Champion Gunfight Team, the Tombstone Cowboys.

6 – Mosey on through Trail Dust Town

Trail Dust Town, Tucson

An old-school town rich with its own long history, Trail Dust Town is a must-see on any drive through the Tucson area.

Be sure not to miss out on one of the stunt-heavy Pistoleros Wild West Show, and make sure to take a ride on the nostalgic CP Huntington Railroad. Throw in plenty of food and shopping options along the way and it sells itself as a perfect, charming, Old West pit-stop!

7 – Take a hike in Coronado National Forest

Coronado National Forest, Tucson

Just a cruisey 45-minute drive from downtown Tucson (through impressive desert landscapes), the Coronado National Forest — one of America’s largest national forests — invites hikers and nature lovers alike to soak in breathtaking nature views along with its multitude of trails.

The forest itself covers nearly 2 million acres of southeastern Arizona — and if you’re trying to tick off as many states as possible, even parts of southwestern New Mexico. As for hiking, there’s everything from flat trails that are perfect for beginners to advanced, multi-day treks that require camping out.

Thanks to the extreme elevation and habitat variations, the diversity of plants (including yucca trees, cholla cacti, and prickly pear cacti) and wildlife is far greater than most other forests, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled!

8 – Go on a bike tour

bike tours in Tucson

Sick of walking around town? Why not cycle around the sights instead?

There are plenty of bike tours you can join in Tuscon, whether it’s a relaxing ride through downtown to check out some great street art and murals or an informative tour about Tucson’s history.

Still can’t decide where to start? The mural tours will take you through some 35 amazing murals painted dotted around the city, while history cycles explore decades-old architecture and longstanding landmarks. Or, for all the foodies out there, there’s even a taco-themed tour!

Either way, the rides will be sure to take your breath away as much as those lung-bursting hills!

9 – Marvel at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Tucson Botanical Gardens, Arizona

Boasting the impressive accolade of being named one of North America’s top 10 botanical gardens in 2017, the lush and peaceful Tucson Botanical Gardens is regularly regarded as one of the best things to do in Tucson proper.

Featuring almost 20 specialty gardens, you’ll get to wander through the enchanting Barrio Gardens, unwind in the Zen Garden, and learn more about the local flora at the Cactus & Succulent garden — each is expertly landscaped and features unusual rocks from the Harrison Yocum collection to add a little extra desert flair.

10 – Trek across the Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park, Tucson

If you have a car, there’s no excuse not to take a trip out here — even if it’s only to appreciate the enormous and iconic Saguaro cactus!

From the city of Tuscon itself, the national park is just a 20- or 30-minute drive away — and what you get in return for that short time is arguably one of the most impressive parks in all Arizona!

Comprising two districts, the beautiful slice of Mother Nature is divided into the Rincon Mountain District, east of Tucson and the Tucson Mountain District on the western side.

Whether they’re in search of a hiking trail, a campground, ancient petroglyphs of the Hohokam people or just a chance to appreciate the views, visitors are seldom left disappointed.

11 – Wander through the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum

Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, Tucson

After a unique day out with the kids? Make sure to bring them down to enjoy some of Southern Arizona’s history at this fascinating museum where they can play conductor all day long!

Offering great opportunities for families and anyone else who wants an insightful afternoon, the museum is home to all kinds of railroad memorabilia — from old locomotives and railway cars to depot models and plenty more.

The staff is always friendly, and the best part? It’s totally free!

12 – Visit the San Xavier del Bac Mission

San Xavier del Bac Mission, Tucson

There’s more to the history of Tucson than just transportation, and if you want to delve deeper into its past then this is the place for you!

San Xavier del Bac Mission was founded in 1692 by Father Eusebio Kino and has since become famous for its brilliant white adobe facade as a stunning example of Spanish colonial architecture.

Beautiful inside and out, you’ll be in awe at the colorful frescoes, sculptures, and detailed carvings within.

13 – Take the kids to Funtasticks Family Fun Park

Funtasticks Family Fun Park, Tucson

Just a mile or so from the center of Tucson, Funtasticks is an all-American-style fun park and carnival mashed into one!

Offering 5 main attractions to thrill and excite the whole family,  you’ll want to spend at least a few hours here!

Kick-off the day with some laser tag, play a round of mini-golf, drift around corners on the go-karts, or take a spin in the bumper boats!

Then, if you need a break from the more physical activities of the park there’s plenty of arcade games and food stands around to keep everyone satisfied until dinner time.

14 – Tour the Titan Missile Museum

Titan Missile Museum, Tucson

A remnant of Cold War America, the Titan Missile Museum is a must for the history buffs; throughout its exhibitions, you’ll find a deeper understanding of the tensions between the Soviets and the U.S. during the Cold War, and see up-close a range of missiles and war-era relics.

The main event, however, is the Titan II ICBM missile itself — a truly enormous, intimidating (deactivated) piece of machinery that really puts things into perspective.

15 – Take a drive up the Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway

Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway, Tucson

Fancy a road trip? If you’re looking for unforgettable views, be sure to take a drive up the Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway.

Stretching for 28 miles up the face of Mt. Lemmon, this tourist-trodden route dishes up splendid views in every direction, with the surrounding Catalina Mountains providing the perfect backdrop.

Just 15 miles northeast of Tucson, it’s an easy half-day trip out of the city to take in some serious mountain views.

16 – Take the youngsters to the Children’s Museum

Children's Museum, Tucson

Known as Southern Arizona’s most interactive museum for children, Tucson’s Children’s Museum offers hours of fun and education for kiddos of all ages (including kids at heart, of course).

A great spot to let the youngsters run rampant for an hour or two, they’ll get to embark on a fun, play-based, hands-on learning experience that includes everything from imaginative play, to science experiments and art activities.

With a cafe on site for the parents to hang out at, it’s one of the best things to do in Tucson for visiting families.

17 – Put your brains to the test in an escape room!

escape rooms in Tucson

Any budding detectives out there? If you love to flex your mind muscles and figure out tricky puzzles, Tucson offers several amazing different escape rooms you can choose from — each with its own themed storyline, set of puzzles and challenges.

The good news is they’re all within city limits. The bad? You may be tempted to try them ALL!

To give you a taste, Mystery Escape Room, Fox in a Box and Ace of Escape are just three of the many escape room options available around town.

18 – Hike through Tucson Mountain Park

Tucson Mountain Park, Arizona

With endless plains of untouched nature, if you love to hike and you love the beauty of the desert, then Tucson Mountain Park is for you. Stretching across 20,000 acres of a captivating desert natural preserve, there are plenty of trails of all difficulties to choose from, offering hours of beautiful scenic hiking.

After tackling one of the trails, make sure to stop at Gates Pass on the way back, a popular scenic drive with lookouts perfect for a romantic sunset viewing.

19 – Play a round of golf

golf in Tucson

Arizona might be red across most of its surface, but its fairways and golf courses are as green as any in the southwest.

If golfing is your thing, there are plenty of renowned golf courses to choose from in and around Tucson during your stay — the Lodge at Ventana Canyon, the Starr Pass Golf Club, and the Sewailo Golf club are each highly spoken of.

Don’t have your own clubs? No problem — many of the courses also offer equipment rental and pro shops.

20 – Run around town in a scavenger hunt!

scavenger games in Tucson

Fed up with slow-paced walking tours? Can’t stand sitting on a tourist bus? Then step right up for one of Tucson’s very own scavenger hunts, a creative way to explore the city with friends and family and uncover all the hidden gems and best-kept secrets!

Led from your phone, you’ll be cracking clues, completing challenges, and solving puzzles as you go — it’s a fun way to get your heart pounding without having to break too much of a sweat.

21 – Lean about conservation at the International Wildlife Museum

International Wildlife Museum, Tucson

An interactive wildlife museum for all ages, the International Wildlife Museum is an educational and hands-on spot dedicated to teaching about — and appreciating — the amazing wildlife around the world.

Through a range of interactive exhibits, visitors can learn about the role of wildlife management in conservation efforts, get to know over 400 kinds of animals (insects, mammals, and birds from across the globe), and enjoy the museum’s wide variety of fun, family-friendly activities.

22 – Admire the collection at the Tucson Museum Of Art

Museum of Fine Arts, Tucson
Nuestro Futuro mural (fragment) by Jimenez at Museum of Fine Arts in Tucson

One for the culture vultures, why not take an hour or two to soak in what’s considered to be one of the premier displays of fine art and art education in the area?

With a legacy dating back almost 100 years (found in 1924), the downtown museum boasts thought-provoking exhibitions ranging from modern and contemporary art to Native American art, with collections on the American West, Latin America and Asia.

23 – Step inside a fairytale at Valley of the Moon

Valley of the Moon, Tucson

A whimsical outdoor theater production that regularly leaves kids grinning from ear to ear, Valley of the Moon is a live children’s show that mixes drama, dance and music to bring Tucson’s history alive. But it’s also so much more with nearly 100 years of tradition up its sleeve.

The venue is typically open on the first Saturday and third Sunday (for historic tours specifically) of each month. However, the calendar is always changing with no shortage of fun-filled activities — magic shows, movie nights, and meet-and-greets with costumed characters, to name a few.

24 – Cheer on at the Arizona Stadium

Arizona Stadium, Tucson

Home of the locally adored Arizona Wildcats college team, the 64,000-seat stadium is where you’ll find the biggest, loudest, and most enthusiastic football fans in all of Tucson (and arguably beyond).

Whether you’re cheering on the home or away team (if it’s the latter, you’d probably want to do so quietly), it’s a great way to spend an afternoon immersed in local culture — and did someone say tailgating?

Preseason game dates start as early as late August, with the main reason running through to January. That said, there are typically a few concerts and special events throughout the year to add a fun twist.

25 – Discover the wonders of The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, Tucson
credit to The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

Tucson’s The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is a frosting-coated slice of heaven for those who have an appreciation — or would like to develop one — for the time and skill that goes into creating all kinds of tiny things.

Chock full of magical miniatures throughout the 10,000-square-foot exhibit space, you’ll instantly be transported to different lands and times by the stories told in over 300 displays.

26 – Cuddle a capybara at the Funny Foot Farm and Tucson Petting Zoo

Funny Foot Farm and Tucson Petting Zoo, Arizona

For an hour or two of animal-filled fun, head to this unique petting zoo and farm — where the only thing cuter than the animals is their names.

From llamas and alpacas to capybaras, porcupines, kangaroos, pygmy goats, there are more than enough adorable creatures here for everyone (even those who think they’re not animal people).

Just a 10-minute drive from downtown, it’s an easy escape for families who want to take a break from the busy streets and explore some of Tucson’s best-kept secrets.

27 – Soar over the desert in a hot air balloon

hot air balloon in Tucson

While waking up at 4 in the morning might not sound appealing, once you’re sky-high above the Arizona desert with the sun on your face, you’ll quickly realize it was more than worth it.

Throw in some champagne, cute picnic breakfast and a friendly pilot who’ll be more than happy to share insights into the local culture and history (and hot-tip recommendations), and you’ve got yourself a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

28 – Stroll down the long Rillito River Park

Rillito River Park, Tucson

Stretching approximately 12 miles from east to west along the north and south banks of the Rillito River, this paved, tree-lined path is the perfect place to enjoy a morning jog or an evening stroll.

Giant cacti line the walking and biking paths, a few pieces of art are delightfully scattered along the trail, you’ll get amazing mountain views throughout, and might even meet a rogue coyote or cottontail along the way!

29 – Browse through the Arizona State Museum

Arizona State Museum, Tucson

Housed on the University of Arizona campus, Tucson’s Arizona State Museum is a Smithsonian-affiliated museum that houses well over one million objects, primarily archaeological artifacts from the state’s prehistory through history.

From ancient American Indian pottery and baskets to jewelry boxes, tools, toys, and musical instruments, the collection is large, diverse, and is officially considered the  Southwest’s oldest and largest anthropological research museum.

At just $8 for adults and free for kids under 17, it’s a worthwhile air-conditioned activity to escape the toasty summer sun.

30 – Enjoy the view from Sentinel Peak Park (“A” Mountain)

Sentinel Peak Park, A Mountain, Tucson

Towering 2,900 feet above the Santa Cruz valley, Sentinel Peak dishes up unbeatable 360-degree views of Tucson and the Santa Catalina Mountains beyond.

Dubbed the “A” Mountain (because of the giant A imprinting on its face built by U of A students over 100 years ago), the park presents as an ideal spot for a picnic, romantic sunset viewing, moderate hike among beautiful wildflowers, or just a quick drive up and back down.

31 – Step back in time at the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum

Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum, Arizona

A place that truly feels like you’ve stepped back in time a hundred years into the midst of Tucson’s Rodeo era, the Rodeo Parade Museum exudes an old-world charm like few other Tucson attractions. Thanks to its over 150 horse-drawn vehicles (including Tucson’s first garbage truck and Andrew Carnegie’s own personal buggy), railroad displays, historic pioneer artifacts and meticulously re-created Tucson Main Street circa 1900.

If you’re visiting during Rodeo week in February there’s no better spot to visit.

32 – Hike the short and sweet Linda Vista Trail

Linda Vista Trail, Tucson

Laced with desert flowers, cacti, and other gorgeous flora, the Linda Vista Trail — the perfect combination of peaceful serenity and easy city access — is an easy-to-moderate 2.2-mile loop trail hike that’s well worth checking out for a half-day stroll.

Found within the Pusch Ridge Wilderness Sheep Closure Area (a near 60,000-acre parkland with a ton more trails available, if you’re still thirsty for more adventure), this short trail offers up breathtaking views at every turn: saguaros, granite boulders, mountains, and more.

If you don’t mind walking uphill for a few extra minutes, the views from Pusch Peak are downright breathtaking!

33 – Go spelunking at Colossal Cave Mountain Park

Colossal Cave Mountain Park, Tucson

A few miles south of Tucson near the community of Vail, Colossal Cave Mountain Park is home to one of the largest dry caverns in North America.

Decorated with countless calcite crystals (aka stalagmites and stalactites), this unique park covers 3.5 miles of mapped tunnels and caves, providing a delightful opportunity for adventure.

With guided tours, spelunking adventures, horseback rides, a gift shop full of t-shirts and souvenirs, picnic areas with grills, bike paths, and hiking trails for all levels of hiker/bicyclist – heck, even a butterfly garden – this is one Tucson attraction not to miss.

34 – Plot a course for the Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane, Tucson

Located just beyond the bank of the Santa Cruz River on West Congress Street, the longstanding Garden of Gethsemane is an enchanting blend of stonework and nature.

Depicting a range of biblical scenes in a rather peaceful setting, the Garden is open to the public from dawn until dusk and is free to visit, so why not quickly check it off the list?

35 – Get behind the wheel at the Franklin Auto Museum

Franklin Auto Museum, Tucson
credit to Franklin Auto Museum

Petrolheads, listen up!

A wonderful little museum showcasing a collection of over 25 antique and classic automobiles from the early 20th century, Franklin Auto Museum is a must for car enthusiasts.

Featuring some rare finds – like a 1905 cross-engine truck and 1910 Model G – this charming little gem offers your brain an escape to another era as you marvel at the vehicles that were cutting-edge technology at one time.

Of the 150,000 Franklins manufactured in the early 1900s, only 3,700 remain, and a large chunk of those are found right here.

36 – Snap a selfie Willard the Dinosaur

Willard the Dinosaur, Tucson

While the Magic Carpet mini-golf building behind him is no longer operational (it’s now an ominous scrapyard), the locally adored dinosaur remains as tall and imposing as ever.

Bright orange with red eyes, the towering dino is a popular and quick stop for kids and families visiting downtown Tucson — even if you’re not with kids in tow, why not snap a selfie with the iconic T-rex?

Directions in Google Maps

37 – Spot the animals at Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Sweetwater Wetlands Park, Tucson

Located on the northwest side of Tucson, Sweetwater Wetlands Park is a fantastic spot to stretch your legs and soak up some beautiful desert scenery.

A popular place for birdwatchers — hundreds of species have been spotted here — this lovely park-cross-water-treatment facility also features educational exhibits, a short and sweet walking loop, and no shortage of friendly wildlife throughout its 60 swampy acres.

38 – Burn some calories on Tumamoc Hill

Tumamoc Hill, Tucson

Tucked away behind “A” Mountain, Tumamoc Hill is a popular exercise spot for locals and tourists alike, offering a rather steep 3.1-mile out-and-back concrete trail lined with beautiful wildflowers and iconic cacti.

If you’re looking for a bit of cardio and some stunning views, head on up!

39 – Enter the Wild West at Old Tucson

Wild West at Old Tucson, Arizona

Part movie studio and part theme park, and entirely fun for the whole family, the Old Tucson Studio has been one of the widely-known things to do in Tucson for years, dishing up Wild West flair, replica saloons, and a handful of rides and experiences for all ages.

Film buffs are delighted to discover that the backdrops have played host to literally hundreds of Western-themed movies and shows over the decades, while nature lovers love the fact that it’s right next to Saguaro National Park, making for the perfect back-to-back itinerary.

40 – Embrace the enchantment of Tohono Chul gardens

Tohono Chul, Tucson

Tohono Chul is a lovely little outdoor oasis widely considered as one of the nation’s most underrated gardens (with awards to prove it) — boasting beautiful desert landscaping, manicured themed gardens and a delightful bistro that serves up delicious cuisine inspired by the Sonoran Desert.

With countless different gardens to explore, including a Moorish garden, meditation garden, hummingbird garden (named after its beautiful residents, of course), children’s garden — as well as regular art exhibitions and cultural events, it’s easy to spend hours here.

41 – Stare into space at the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium

Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, Tucson

A wonderful spot for budding astronauts and bunsen-burner-boys, the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium on the University of Arizona campus is a great way to introduce kids to the wonder of space in a fun, interactive environment.

Featuring exhibits that are perfect for inquisitive minds — like a state-of-the-arm Milky Way dome projection, ancient meteorite collections, and laser-light shows — as well as access to public programs (like planetarium shows) throughout the year, it makes learning about science oh so exciting!

42 – Wind the clock back at the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum

Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum, Tucson
Sign by the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum, a reconstruction of the original fortress built in 1775, the founding structure of what became the city of Tucson.

Located in the heart of downtown Tucson, the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum is a wonderful stop for history buffs and anyone fascinated by Spanish missions.

As a re-creation of the original 18th-century Presidio fort (which became the structure of what we know today as Tucson), the landmark is a window into the lives of early Native Americans in the Santa Cruz Valley, while also being home to a 150-year-old house and a handful of archaeological remains.

43 – Hit the trails at Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park, Tucson

Blanketing the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, this 5,500-acre slice of greenery plays host to over 5,000 enormous Saguaro cacti, hundreds of species of wildlife, and a handful of trails — that are perfect for hiking, cycling, horse riding and snapping a few jealousy-evoking landscape photos.

Located just 30 minutes from downtown Tucson, Catalina State Park is also home to several different campgrounds — each equipped with amenities like picnic tables and fire pits — that welcome both RVs and tents.

44 – See what’s on at the Gaslight Theatre

Gaslight Theatre, Tucson

Holding the coveted title of ‘Tucson’s Best Theater’, Gaslight delivers a rotating roster of plays, concerts, and family-friendly musicals throughout the year, featuring a wide range of genres and styles — from drama to comedy and everything in between.

While the stage might be small, the portions on the dinner plates are not; if you’re looking for an entertaining date night, then look no further than dinner and a show at the Gaslight.

45 – Make a stop at the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun museum

DeGrazia Gallery, Tucson

One of the most unique things to do in Tucson as far as museums are concerned is visiting the DeGrazia Gallery. Spread across a range of buildings in a typical desert landscape, it dives into both the work of late local artist Ted DeGrazia and the role of native culture in the area

Featuring an eclectic collection of visual art created in the mid-to-late 1900s — including paintings, sculptures, photos, lithographs, woodcuts and more — this off-the-beaten-track gallery showcases the beautiful, surrealist style of its namesake while paying homage to decades gone by.

46 – Relax and unwind at a spa

spas in Tucson

Craving a little pampering?

If so, then you’re in luck — Tucson is home to an array of spas that will leave even the most stressed-out city slickers feeling like they’ve just stepped off the plane after a long holiday.

While some offer traditional treatments (like massages and facials), others specialize in alternate therapies like infrared saunas, cryotherapy, and hyperbaric oxygen chambers.

Regardless of what you go for, though, make sure to book online to save up to 50% compared to the walk-in price.

47 – Escape the heat at Madera Canyon

Madera Canyon, Tucson

After a drive for 45 minutes dead south of Tuscon, you’ll find one of the state’s prime camping spots: Madera Canyon.

Thanks to its higher elevation and position in the Santa Rita Mountains, the mercury drops and provides much-appreciated relief from the typically sweltering desert sun.

Far more than just a temperature reprieve, however, the canyon is also famous for its colorful and diverse wildlife, plentiful hiking trails, and peaceful picnic spots.

48 – Conquer the Ventana Canyon Hiking Trail

Ventana Canyon Hiking Trail, Tucson

Located on the northeastern outskirts of the city as part of Coronado National Forest, Ventana Canyon is a nearly-15-mile roundtrip hike that follows a wildflower-lined path to one of Southern Arizona’s most notable landmarks: Window Peak.

While not the easiest hike in the region by any means, the common consensus is that the views from the Window are well worth the effort.

Quick tip: Make sure to pack plenty of water if you’re planning on tackling this one, and keep your eyes peeled for small Gila monsters!

49 – Find paradise in the desert at Agua Caliente Park

Agua Caliente Park, Tucson

Who knew that in the middle of one of the driest places on earth could be found a lush oasis?

Luckily, you don’t have to travel far — just head south for 15 minutes and check out Agua Caliente Park.

Known for its rare geothermally-heated springs, this family-friendly park conjures up images of a watering hole in the desert, with plenty of picnic spots, places to lounge in the shade, accessible walking trails, and no shortage of cheeky turtles and ducks.

50 – Sample the best blends on a wine tour

wine tours and tastings in Tucson

You’re on vacation, after all, so why not kick back and get a little buzzed on a wine tour?

While unexpected, the Southern Arizona villages of Sonoita, Elgin and Wilcox are considered ideal for growing grapes; thirsty travelers can easily join a tour and learn all about the history of wine-making in this region, and, of course, try a handful of curated blends along the way.

Best of all? On pre-arranged tours, the driver comes included!

51 – Soak in the serenity of the Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson

Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson, Arizona

With koi ponds, peaceful waterfalls, and carefully-placed bamboo shoots, the Yume Japanese Gardens is a meticulous nod to Japanese heritage and acts as a tranquil escape for even the most hectic of days.

Besides the enchanting arrangement of plants, the gardens also offer a museum and art gallery, as well as regular education classes and workshops where you can learn to weave your own beautiful floral arrangements.

52 – Shout “all aboard!” at the Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum

Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum, Tucson

If you (or your kids) have a soft spot for model railways, then this non-for-profit miniature train museum will definitely be up your alley.

A labor of love that has taken years to complete, this miniature railway systems replicate some of America’s most notable landscapes, detailed out the wazoo.

Throw in full-sized carriages where you can eat lunch, a kid-friendly train ride, and a unique gift store, and its personality really starts to shine.

53 – Eat at some of the best restaurants in Tucson

best restaurants in Tucson

You’re on vacation, remember? So what better way to sample the ins and outs of Tucson than by treating yourself to dinner AND dessert at a few of the city’s most beloved restaurants? So, where to start?

For a unique spin on Mexican cuisine with a spicy-rich mole sauce that’s to die for, head to Cafe Poca Cosa. Or, if you’re after something a little more classic American, check out Aqui Con El Nene for a hot dog whose reputation proceeds it.

For something a little more on the gourmet side, Feast in the northeast has a monthly rotating menu that seldom disappoints (if you’re lucky, you might get to try the cheesecake), while Prep and Pastry is the go-to for breakfast and brunch lovers.

Still hungry? The Coronet in the historic Coronado Hotel is all about rustic French cooking, while the colorful Baja Cafe dishes up the authentic southwestern meal you’ve been craving.

54 – Get buzzed with a beer tasting or pub crawl!

beer tastings in Tucson

Speaking of drinks, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t need to eat in order to have a good time, then how about slapping on your drinking shoes and getting ready for an evening pub crawl?

Being that Tucson is home to at least 20 breweries (and counting), it has no shortage of watering holes where you can sample everything from stouts to sours.

While there’s nothing wrong with a dedicated beer tasting, why not let the local experts handle the organizational side of things and join a pub crawl instead? If traveling solo, it makes for a great way to meet fellow thirsty travelers!

Check out the best hotels in Tucson

Whether you’re on the hunt for all-out luxury and 5-star style, bare-bones hostels that serve breakfast in the price tag, or anything in between, the city of Tucson dishes up a plethora of options for every budget — and they’re all found in one convenient place on Booking.com.

If you’re after sophistication, it’s hard to go past the Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort (at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountain Range) or the Miraval Arizona Resort and Spa (with an incredible infinity pool to boot). For all the amenities in convenient locations, the historic Arizona Inn and The Westin La Paloma can’t be overlooked.

For something more mid-tier, La Quinta by Wyndham Tucson – Reid Park is a 3-star option perfect for families, while the charming Hotel Congress dates back over 100 years and sits smack-dab in the middle of downtown.

If you’re after a more budget-friendly option that still delivers in terms of comfort, then check into Hotel Tucson City Center (part of the Ascend Hotel Collection) or University Inn.

No matter which hotel you choose, you can find the best deals on Booking.com. Comparing thousands of online directories at the click of a button, Booking.com presents the best deals for every hotel, saving you up to 40% in the process!

Save yourself the hassle – book an airport transfer

Book an airport transfer in seconds and get to your hotel with ease!

The most convenient way to travel is by using a private airport shuttle service, allowing you the chance to relax en route while the friendly locals take care of all the driving. The price is comparable to a taxi but you don’t need to negotiate with cab drivers or wait in line.

You’re on vacation, after all, so why not kickstart your trip in style with a classy ride from (and back to) the airport is a sleek black sedan or SUV?

That’s a wrap! Thanks for checking out our collection of things to do in Tucson, Arizona! If you have anything you’d like to add to the list, feel free to leave a comment below.

Bon voyage!