What to Do in Tucson

Old Tucson Studios

Old Tucson is an authentic movie studio where hundreds of cowboy flicks and TV shows have been filmed. Ronald Reagan spent time here in 1950 while shooting “The Last Outpost.” Also filmed here were “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Rio Bravo,” “Little House on the Prairie” and “Bonanza.” Entertainment includes top rock and country acts, daily shoot-’em-ups, saloon shows and a host of gift stores.

San Xavier Mission

San Xavier del Bac, Arizona, is a beautifully preserved gem of the late Baroque style of New Spain. Completed in 1797, it stands in the San Xavier District of Tohono O’odham Nation, about twelve miles south of Tucson, Arizona. Alone of the Sonoran Desert missions, San Xavier is still served by Franciscans, and still serves the Native community for which it was built. San Xavier Mission

1950 W. San Xavier Rd. 294-2624

Pima Air & Space Museum

The Pima Air & Space Museum (PASM) One of the finest collections of aircraft in the world, features over 200 aircraft on display and has five large hangars totaling 100,000 square feet of exhibit space. An original WWII barracks contains an extensive model collection, arranged chronologically, which shows virtually all U. S. military aircraft from pre-World War I to the present. The Pima Air & Space Museum is located at 6000 E. Valencia Road and is open every day (except Christmas and Thanksgiving Day) And admission is well under $10. Call for all the details 574-9658

The Air & Space Museum is also primarily a walking experience, but a bus tour is available. Plan to wear comfortable shoes, a hat and sunscreen, or appropriate hot or cold weather dress. Shade benches and restrooms are scattered throughout the grounds. All exhibits may be reached by wheelchair.

Biosphere 2

B2 is a 7,200,000 cubic-foot sealed glass and space-frame structure, comprises elements from Earth (Biosphere 1). Inside the apparatus are seven wilderness ecosystems, including a rain forest and a 900,000 gallon ocean, as well as a human habitat which now houses interactive exhibits. It is now a serious science center under the direction of Columbia University

The Saguaro National Park

The Saguaro National Park is divided into the East and the West Sections. Each features drives and hiking trails through a lush example of the upland region of the Arizona Sonora desert.

Formerly known as the Saguaro National Monument, they were promoted to Park status in October of 1994. The older and larger of the two, the SAGUARO PARK EAST section is located off Old Spanish Trail, 5 miles east of Broadway. There is a small admission fee. Permits for overnight trips may be obtained free of charge at the Visitor Center, open 8-5 daily. The Visitor Center located just inside the monument contains exhibits of desert geology, flora and fauna. Books, trail guides, brochures, maps, and a 12 minute slide program shown every 1/2 hour, as well as ranger-guided walks are available. There is a cactus garden with a variety of labeled plants. 733-5153.

Colossal Cave

Colossal Cave, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, had been used for centuries by prehistoric peoples when it was “discovered” in 1879. Since then it has been the object of interest and attention by people ranging from train robbers to a President of the University of Arizona. The first tours were taken through the unimproved Cave in 1923, tours which involved ropes and lanterns. The cave is called “dry” or “dormant” which means that, due to a lack of water, the formations are not growing right now.

Kitt Peak National Observatory

Kitt Peak National Observatory, part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, supports the most diverse collection of astronomical observatories on Earth for nighttime optical and infrared astronomy and daytime study of the Sun. Founded in 1958, KPNO operates three major nighttime telescopes, shares site responsibilities with the National Solar Observatory and hosts the facilities of consortia which operate 19 optical telescopes and two radio telescopes. Kitt Peak is located 56 miles southwest of Tucson, AZ, and has a Visitor Center open daily to the public.

Tucson Botanical Gardens

Tucked within the heart of the city, Tucson Botanical Gardens is a five-acre collection of 15 specialty gardens including a historical garden, an herb garden, a butterfly garden, a cactus and succulent garden, and much more. Thier collection consists of over 4,200 individual plants. There are Group Tours available as well as Self-guided Tours anytime during public hours.

Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium

Stop by about an hour after sunset to view the heavens through the Flandrau’s 16-inch cassegrain telescope. An expert astronomer/telescope operator is always on hand to direct your attention to planets, galaxies, star clusters, or to answer any questions you may have. Come visit the Flandrau Observatory for an educational evening experience that the whole family can enjoy. Flandrau Science Center’s Observatory is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday evenings (weather permitting).

During the school year, Flandrau provides a comprehensive schedule of special programs and science demonstrations for school classes. Thier school programs have been honored by the Arizona Science Teacher’s Association and the National Science Teacher’s Association.

Also for recorded information about the Flandrau, call 520-621-7827.

Titan Missile Silo Museum

Tucson was once a base for Titan II missiles, operational from 1963 to 1982. All have been deactivated, and all except this one dismantled. Visitors tour the control room and the missile silo. Official Air Force vehicles and helicopter stand as if ready for action. Tour guides begin with an introductory video, then take you tour the entire facility. The Titan Missile Museum is generally open every day, year round. Closed some days during the summer. . Reservations are suggested.

International Wildlife Museum

The International Wildlife Museum features hundreds of examples of wildlife from around the world mounted in dioramas depicting their natural habitats. Many are “touch” exhibits to promote hands-on learning. There are interactive videos and a theatre as well. Mounted exhibits allow you to get much closer than you could at a zoo. They also show some extinct species rarely seen even in museums. A very popular exhibit is the 33 foot high sheep and goat mountain which shows altitude life zones for each species of sheep and goat. International Wildlife Museum is open daily, including most holidays from 9-5. Admission is well under $10 per person, call for all the details. 4800 W. Gates Pass Rd. Take Speedway west from I-10 about 5 miles to get there. 520-629-0100 extension 275.

Mt. Lemmon

Mount Lemmon is a rare jewel in the Arizona desert. Jutting up 9,000 feet above sea level, (Tucson is 2,500) this magnificent mountain peak stands amidst the pale backdrop of the sparse desert sand and cactus. The foothills of the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson begins the hour long journey to the top of the hill known as Mt. Lemmon. As your car crawls, often only 25 miles per hour on a winding two lane road, you are transported into a geological time warp. Mt. Lemmon is a popular getaway for Tucsonans and visitors.

From the base of the mountain range, all the desert plant and wildlife co-exist among the ever creeping metropolitan city limits. Saguaro cactus abounds standing tall against the backdrop of the enormous mountain range.

As you drive up the winding road, now under construction for enlargement, you gain a sense of awe as you watch the desert slowly turn into brush, then into an array of windblown rock formations and finally into the midst of a deep forest of pine and fir. If you visit in the winter, be sure to bring your ski equipment or snow tires.

Arizona Native Plant Society

The Arizona Native Plant Society is a statewide nonprofit organization devoted to Arizona’s native plants. Its purposes are to broaden knowledge and appreciation of plants and habitats native to Arizona to work to protect those native plants and habitats to encourage landscaping with native plants and other noninvasive plants appropriate to Arizona.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

  The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden with collection of flora and fauna from the Sonoran Desert
2021 N. Kinney Road

    The Museum is primarily a walking experience. Plan to wear comfortable shoes, a hat and sunscreen, or appropriate dress for the weather. Drinking fountains, shade ramadas, benches and restrooms are scattered throughout the grounds. Wheelchairs and strollers are available free of charge on a first come first served basis. All exhibits may be reached by wheelchair.

Tohono Chul Park

It is the Southwest’s center where nature, art, and culture connect. Walk down the winding nature trail through the various gardens. Tour the exhibits in a renovated historic home. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or afternoon tea in the Tea Room. Shop in the Greenhouse and Museum Shops. Tohono Chul Park is a Tucson treasure. The Park’s mission is to enrich people’s lives by providing them the opportunity to find peace and inspiration in a place of beauty, to experience the wonders of the Sonoran Desert, and to gain knowledge of the natural and cultural heritage of this region.

Reid Park Zoo

Come visit the Tucson zoo, and have a wild time. Meet the more than 400 animals – rhinos, elephants, anteaters, polar bears, lions, and many more! Adventure in our African, Asian, and South American regions. Explore the Flight Connection, the full-flight, walk through aviary.

Go behind the scenes and discover the inner workings of the zoo. Have a howl at your next birthday party – at the zoo. Spend the day adventuring with your family at one of the many classes, programs, and camps. Adopt an animal. See what’s new at Reid Park Zoo.

Southwestern International Raceway

Named the 1998 Pacific Division Most Improved Track of the year, SIR is host to many race events throughout the year. Many Friday nights present a Test’n Tune / Street Legal Drags. Come out with your Mighty Nissan that you dropped a Turbo into, or your moms Honda Civic with its newly fitted K+N and Apex sticker. Ten bucks to watch, fifteen to race. This is the Import Scene spot to be on a friday night. After gates close, Speedway is where to find many crusin the rest of the night.

NHRA also visits this venue frequently, as does the Super Chevy Show (held on November 15th-17th this year – 2002). [520] 762-9700 for details.

Check out what else Tucson has in way of Sports, Movie Theaters, and Dance Clubs / Bars in our NIGHT LIFE Section. If you dont see the menu to the left,

Colossal Cave Mountain Park
Old Spanish Trial, 22 miles east of Tucson

Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium
Cherry Ave./University Blvd.

Kitt peak National Observatory
56 miles southwest of Tucson

Here’s a site not to miss
if you are into arachnids, arthropods
Sonoran Arthropod Studies Institute

Arizona Native Plant Society
The Arizona Native Plant Society
is a statewide nonprofit organization
devoted to Arizona’s native plants.
Its purposes are to broaden knowledge
and appreciation of plants and habitats
native to Arizona to work to protect
those native plants and habitats
to encourage landscaping with native plants
and other noninvasive plants appropriate to Arizona

Old Tucson Studios
201 S. Kinney Rd.
881-0100, Ext. 1

Reid Park Zoo
22nd St./Lake Shore Dr.

Tohono Chul Park
7366 N. Paseo del Norte

73 miles southeast of Tucson

45 miles south of Tucson

Tumacocori National Historical Park
I-19, 48 miles south of Tucson

Amerind Foundation Museum
Dragoon Rd., Off I-10 at Exit 318

Arizona Historical Society Tucson Museum
949 E. 2nd St.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
2021 N. Kinney Rd.

Arizona State Museum
Park Ave./University Blvd.

Center for Creative Photography
Olive Rd., North of 2nd St.

Tucson Children’s Museum features permanent and changing exhibits designed to get your child in touch with the world around him/her
200 S. 6th Ave.

Tucson Museum of Art
140 N. Main Ave.

For information about museums
in Tucson , try the
Association of Museums

UA Mineral Museum
Flandrau Science Center

UA museum of Art
Speedway Blvd./Park Ave.

Catalina State Park
At the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains

Mount Lemmon (Santa Catalina Mountains)

Pima County Fairgrounds
11300 S. Houghton Rd.

Pima County Parks and Recreation
1204 W. Silverlake Rd.

Sabino Canyon
17 miles east of Tucson, via Tanque Verde Rd.
749-2861 or 749-3223

Saguaro National Park
Old Spanish Trail, 1 mile east of Tucson

Sentinel Peak Park
Off Broadway, West of I-10 or Cuesta

Tucson Mountain Park
8 miles west on Speedway, Kinney Rd.

Tucson Parks and Recreation Department

Tucson Rodeo Grounds
4823 S. 6th Ave.