Tucson, AZ is a city that offers a unique blend of culture, history, and outdoor adventure. Whether you’re a local looking for some new things to do or a first-time visitor to the area, Tucson has plenty of top-rated attractions to keep you entertained. From exploring the city’s rich history at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to hiking the beautiful trails of Sabino Canyon, Tucson has something for everyone. You can also take a trip back in time by visiting the iconic Mission San Xavier del Bac or experience the vibrant arts scene at the Tucson Museum of Art. With so many top-rated attractions and things to do in Tucson, it’s no wonder why this city is a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. So, pack your bags, put on your hiking boots, and get ready to explore Tucson’s unique charm and beauty.
1. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned museum located in Tucson, Arizona, USA, that is dedicated to showcasing the unique flora, fauna, and geology of the Sonoran Desert. It is a combination of a zoo, botanical garden, and natural history museum that features over 230 animal species and 1,200 types of plants, many of which are native to the Sonoran Desert region. The museum’s exhibits are designed to provide visitors with an immersive experience of the desert environment and its inhabitants, and include live animal presentations, interpretive displays, and guided nature walks. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is considered one of the top attractions in the Southwest United States and is a popular destination for nature lovers and families.
2. Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway
The Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway is a scenic drive located near Tucson, Arizona, USA, that offers visitors stunning views of the surrounding Sonoran Desert landscape. The byway begins in the small town of Oracle and winds its way up the Santa Catalina Mountains to the summit of Mt. Lemmon, which has an elevation of 9,159 feet (2,792 meters). Along the way, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the desert floor, as well as pine forests, rocky cliffs, and other natural wonders. There are several pullouts and picnic areas along the route, as well as hiking trails, campgrounds, and other recreational opportunities. The Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, particularly during the summer months when temperatures on the mountain are cooler than in the surrounding desert.
3. Sabino Canyon
Sabino Canyon is a natural wonder located in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona, USA. It is a picturesque canyon that features a stream running through it, surrounded by stunning rock formations, lush vegetation, and diverse wildlife. Visitors to Sabino Canyon can take a tram ride up the canyon to enjoy the breathtaking views and learn about the canyon’s history and ecology through a narrated tour. There are also several hiking trails available for visitors who prefer to explore the canyon on foot. These trails range in difficulty from easy to strenuous, and offer a variety of scenic vistas and opportunities to see the canyon’s unique flora and fauna up close. Sabino Canyon is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, photographers, and nature lovers, and offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
4. Pima Air and Space Museum
The Pima Air and Space Museum is a world-renowned museum located in Tucson, Arizona, USA, that is dedicated to the history of aviation and space exploration. It is one of the largest air and space museums in the world, featuring over 350 aircraft and spacecraft, including vintage planes, military aircraft, and even a retired space shuttle. The museum’s collection includes rare and unique aircraft from throughout the history of aviation, including military planes from World War II and the Vietnam War, as well as experimental and prototype aircraft. Visitors to the museum can explore exhibits, take guided tours, and even view restoration work being done on vintage planes. The Pima Air and Space Museum is a popular destination for aviation enthusiasts, history buffs, and families, and offers a fascinating look into the technology and innovation that has shaped the modern world.
5. Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is a protected area located in southern Arizona, USA, that is home to one of the most iconic symbols of the American West: the saguaro cactus. The park is divided into two sections, the Tucson Mountain District to the west and the Rincon Mountain District to the east, and encompasses a total of over 91,000 acres (36,826 hectares). Visitors to Saguaro National Park can explore the park’s diverse ecosystem, which includes desert flora and fauna, unique geological formations, and stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The park offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, birdwatching, and stargazing, and hosts a number of educational programs and events throughout the year. Saguaro National Park is a must-see destination for anyone interested in the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of the American Southwest.
6. San Xavier del Bac Mission
The San Xavier del Bac Mission, also known as the White Dove of the Desert, is a historic Catholic mission located on the Tohono O’odham Nation reservation near Tucson, Arizona, USA. The mission was founded in 1692 by the Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Kino and is one of the oldest intact European structures in the American Southwest. The mission’s impressive architecture features a unique blend of Spanish Colonial and Native American styles, and the interior is adorned with stunning frescoes, sculptures, and other religious artwork. Visitors to the mission can take guided tours, attend mass, and learn about the history and culture of the Tohono O’odham people. The San Xavier del Bac Mission is a significant cultural and religious site in the Southwest and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.
7. Tohono Chul
Tohono Chul is a botanical garden and nature preserve located in Tucson, Arizona, USA. The name “Tohono Chul” means “desert corner” in the language of the Tohono O’odham people, who are the traditional inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert region. The garden covers 49 acres (20 hectares) and features a variety of desert-adapted plant species, as well as wildlife such as birds, butterflies, and reptiles. Visitors to Tohono Chul can explore the gardens on self-guided tours or attend guided tours led by trained docents. The garden also features art galleries, a gift shop, and a café, and hosts a variety of cultural events and educational programs throughout the year. Tohono Chul is a beautiful and tranquil destination that offers visitors a unique glimpse into the natural and cultural history of the Sonoran Desert.
8. Catalina State Park
Catalina State Park is a state park located in Oro Valley, Arizona, USA, at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The park covers over 5,500 acres (2,226 hectares) and features stunning desert landscapes, unique geological formations, and diverse flora and fauna. Visitors to Catalina State Park can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and camping. The park offers several well-maintained trails, including the popular Romero Canyon Trail, which leads hikers to a scenic waterfall. Catalina State Park also hosts a number of educational programs and events, including guided nature walks and stargazing events. The park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, and offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
9. Old Tucson
Old Tucson is a western-themed attraction located in Tucson, Arizona, USA, that celebrates the history and culture of the American West. The attraction is designed to look like an old western town and features a variety of entertainment and attractions, including live gunfights, stunt shows, and western-themed rides. Visitors to Old Tucson can also explore a number of historical exhibits, including a movie museum that highlights the park’s history as a filming location for many famous western movies and TV shows. The park also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including live music concerts, holiday celebrations, and festivals. Old Tucson is a popular destination for families and tourists, and offers a fun and immersive experience of the Wild West.
10. Reid Park Zoo
The Reid Park Zoo is a zoological park located in Tucson, Arizona, USA, that is home to over 500 animals from around the world. The zoo covers 24 acres (9.7 hectares) and features a variety of animal habitats, including African savannas, South American rainforests, and Asian jungles. Visitors to the zoo can see a variety of animals, including lions, tigers, giraffes, zebras, elephants, and many others. The zoo also offers a range of educational programs and activities, including guided tours, animal encounters, and interactive exhibits. The Reid Park Zoo is committed to conservation and is involved in a number of global conservation efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats. The zoo is a popular destination for families and animal lovers and provides a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages.
11. Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon is a natural wonder located in the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson, Arizona, USA. It is a picturesque canyon that features a stream running through it, surrounded by stunning rock formations, lush vegetation, and diverse wildlife. The canyon is home to over 250 bird species, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers from around the world. Visitors to Madera Canyon can explore the canyon’s diverse ecosystem by hiking on one of its many trails. The trails range from easy to strenuous, and offer a variety of scenic vistas and opportunities to see the canyon’s unique flora and fauna up close. The canyon also offers camping and picnic areas, as well as opportunities for rock climbing and other outdoor activities. Madera Canyon is a serene and beautiful destination that offers visitors a peaceful escape from the bustle of city life.
12. Tucson Botanical Gardens
The Tucson Botanical Gardens is a botanical garden located in Tucson, Arizona, USA. The garden covers 5.5 acres (2.2 hectares) and features a variety of themed gardens, including a cactus and succulent garden, a butterfly garden, a children’s garden, and a herb garden. The gardens also feature a tropical greenhouse, which houses a variety of exotic plants from around the world. Visitors to the Tucson Botanical Gardens can explore the gardens on self-guided tours or attend guided tours led by trained docents. The garden also hosts a variety of events and educational programs throughout the year, including art exhibitions, plant sales, and workshops. The Tucson Botanical Gardens is a beautiful and tranquil destination that offers visitors a unique glimpse into the natural and cultural history of the Sonoran Desert.
13. Gaslight Theatre
The Gaslight Theatre is a theater and dinner venue located in Tucson, Arizona, USA. The theater is designed to look like an old-timey gaslight theater, complete with a vaudeville-style stage and classic comedy and melodrama performances. Visitors to the Gaslight Theatre can enjoy a night of entertainment while dining on classic American cuisine, such as burgers, fries, and milkshakes. The theater features a variety of performances throughout the year, including family-friendly shows, holiday-themed shows, and musical revues. The Gaslight Theatre is a popular destination for families, couples, and groups of friends, and provides a fun and unique entertainment experience for visitors of all ages.
14. DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Museum
The DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Museum is a museum located in Tucson, Arizona, USA, that features the artwork of the famous Arizona artist Ted DeGrazia. The museum is set on 10 acres (4 hectares) of desert landscape, and features several adobe buildings and outdoor courtyards that showcase DeGrazia’s paintings, sculptures, and other artworks. Visitors to the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Museum can explore the museum’s exhibits on self-guided tours, or attend guided tours led by knowledgeable docents. The museum also features a gift shop, which offers a variety of unique souvenirs and artworks for purchase. The DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Museum is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and history buffs, and provides a fascinating glimpse into the life and work of one of Arizona’s most beloved artists.
15. University of Arizona Campus
The University of Arizona Campus is the main campus of the University of Arizona, a public research university located in Tucson, Arizona, USA. The campus covers 380 acres (154 hectares) and features a variety of academic buildings, residence halls, sports facilities, and green spaces. Visitors to the University of Arizona Campus can take self-guided tours of the campus, or attend guided tours led by knowledgeable student ambassadors. The campus is home to several museums and galleries, including the Arizona State Museum and the University of Arizona Museum of Art. It also hosts a variety of cultural events and performances throughout the year, including concerts, plays, and guest lectures. The University of Arizona Campus is a beautiful and historic destination that provides visitors with a glimpse into the academic and cultural life of one of the Southwest’s most prestigious universities.
16. Tucson Mountain Park
Tucson Mountain Park is a protected area located west of Tucson, Arizona, USA, that encompasses over 20,000 acres (8,094 hectares) of stunning desert landscapes, rugged mountains, and diverse flora and fauna. The park features numerous hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks, as well as picnic areas, campgrounds, and scenic drives. Visitors to Tucson Mountain Park can explore the park’s diverse ecosystem, which includes saguaro cacti, desert wildflowers, and a variety of wildlife, such as coyotes, javelinas, and mountain lions. The park is also home to several historic sites, including the ruins of a Hohokam village and a historic cattle ranch. Tucson Mountain Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, and offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
17. Trail Dust Town
Trail Dust Town is a Western-themed shopping and entertainment center located in Tucson, Arizona, USA. The center is designed to look like an old-time Western town, complete with a saloon, a general store, and a sheriff’s office. Visitors to Trail Dust Town can explore the shops and boutiques, which offer a variety of Western-themed merchandise, including clothing, jewelry, and souvenirs. The center also features a miniature train that takes visitors on a tour of the town, as well as a variety of family-friendly attractions, including a Ferris wheel, a carousel, and a vintage arcade. Trail Dust Town is a popular destination for families and tourists, and provides a fun and unique entertainment experience for visitors of all ages.