12 Things to Do in (and Near) Tucson, Arizona


Welcome to Arizona! Tucson, Arizona, is a major metropolitan city set across a sprawling desert with the stunning Catalina mountains as their backdrop.

At first glance, it might seem like any other city, with no shortage of tattoo shops, funky bars, gyms and personal loans in Tucson. But trace the main drag in town, Speedway Boulevard, from end to end and you’ll find so much more than that. From lush desert landscape to a variety of local art and antique shops, it’s hard not to love Tucson.

Here are 12 things to do in Tucson, Arizona.

1. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

This museum houses various flora and fauna that you can find in the Sonoran Desert area. With over 200 animal species and plant varieties exceeding 1,000, you’ll have plenty of historic attractions to explore. 

Some of the exhibits you’ll experience when you visit this tourist attraction setting include raptor flights, an aquarium, a hummingbird aviary, and a botanical garden. The museum also features a Cave and Earth Science Center and an indoor play area where your kids can hang out. 

2. Sabino Canyon

Experience the desert close up by trekking through Sabino Canyon. Walk carefully through the desert landscape, taking in the many varieties of cactuses. The trails go for miles, so be sure to bring water and try not to hike alone.

If you are not into hiking, you can ride atram that stops at nine magnificent points through the canyon. 

What to see and do in Tucson, Arizona

3. Saguaro National Park

Saguaro refers to cactus, and this is an iconic plant in Arizona. You’ll find a national park full of small to large cacti in Tucson. Also, you can take the Hugh Norris Trailhead, Valley View Overlook Trail, or the Signal Hill Picnic area to enjoy the scenic Bajada Loop. The infamous Cactus Forest Drive Loop in the park also presents the Mica View, Desert Ecology, Cactus Forest, and Freeman Homestead Trails. 

4. Arizona Center of Creative Photography

While in Tucson, you might want to check out the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona. The facility features the artistic works of various renowned American and European artists like Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Ansel Adams. 

5. Tucson Mountain Park

The Tucson Mountain Park offers a vista of delight as you can catch the sunset in one of the gorgeous spots. The park covers over 20,000 acres of land, so the wide trails are to your liking. Hiking fanatics will take pleasure in the Gates Pass or go horseback riding here. 

There is also a large picnic area where you can camp and take beautiful pictures capturing the attractive sunset view. You will also find a range where you can take your archery skills, rifle, or pistol shooting. 

6. Tucson Botanical Garden

The Tucson Botanical Garden houses 16 different gardens that provide a complex collection of nature’s finest flora. Here, you’ll find a gallery of various desert plants and other varieties found in the Arizona region. 

7. Colossal Cave

Colossal Cave was a temporary hiding place for the Hohokam people and outlaws back in the day. Today, you’re more likely to come across stalactites and stalagmites hanging from Colossal Cave, giving you a view that’s absolutely breathtaking.

8. Sentinel Peak Park

Climb Sentinel Peak Park to get a clear view of downtown Tucson from “A Mountain”. This iconic hill is embellished with a letter “A” at the top, symbolic of the University of Arizona.

Things to do in Tucson, Arizona

9. Reid Park Zoo

There are plenty of nature-themed points in Tucson as the residents are into conserving and preserving flora and fauna diversity. The Reid Park Zoo is a timeless urban zoo where you’ll find multiple interesting animal species. Catch small, multifaceted birds and distinctive megafauna such as lions and rhinos in the zoo. 

10. San Xavier del Bac

Embark on a pilgrimage just south of Tucson to the San Xavier del Bac Spanish mission. One of the oldest colonial architectural sites in the U.S., this Catholic mission is a major tourist attraction landmark in Arizona. It creates a cloudless atmosphere for the pleasure of the visitors.

11. Kitt’s Observatory

Kitt’s Observatory is a must-visit facility in Tucson dedicated to astronomy and studying the stars. Here, you’ll get to understand how telescopes operate as you see all behind the scenes stuff. What’s more, you can go for a night-time tour to watch the stars and more in the sky. 

12. Eat alllll the Mexican food 

Tucson is famous for Sonoran Mexican food and has it in spades. No trip to Tucson would be complete without trying at least a few Mexican dishes, my favorites being: chile relleno, chicken mole and bean and cheese burritos (with a medium horchata thrown in there too, please).

Have you been to Tucson? What are your favorite things to do in the Old Pueblo?


About Author

Kelly Lewis is the founder of Go! Girl Guides, the Women's Travel Fest and Damesly. She's an optimist, an adventurer, an author and works to help women travel the world.

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