This museum of pint-sized pieces showcases more than 275 miniature houses, room boxes, and other collectibles that are organized into three categories: Enchanted Realm, History and Antiques Gallery, and Exploring the World. Leave the girth of planet Earth and enter the whimsical fantasyland of a tiny-sized Enchanted Realm. Interactive exhibits allow you to search for an elusive fairy within the goblets of a sentient tree showpiece or unearth scattered woodland creatures, snow villages, fairy castles, and witch compounds. Teleport through the blue, arched rotunda to the History and Antiques Gallery, which chronicles the significance of miniature relics throughout history and displays one of the oldest mini houses in the United States, dating back to 1775. Travel the floor as a nephilim Magellan in the Exploring the World section, which surveys the cultural value of miniatures from other countries.
Nearly a half century ago, horticulturist Harrison G. Yocum opened his backyard to the public, displaying a bounteous collection of cacti and palms. After a few relocations, expansions, and the establishment of a nonprofit charter, Tucson Botanical Gardens now spreads 17 distinct plots across more than 5 acres. A delicate rumble hearkens the arrival of the Garden Railway miniature train, which winds through gardens uniquely dedicated to birds, butterflies, wildflowers, and traditional Native American crops. Admission—which is free for garden members and children younger than 3—grants passage to five different tours, and groups of 10 or more can arrange self-guided or docent-led tours at a discounted rate. If visitors awaken their appetites by savoring aromas from the onsite herb garden or by staring at clouds shaped like canned goods, they can dig in at the Gardens' Café, where sun spills through a slatted gazebo onto iron tables loaded with roast-beef baguettes and mexican tortilla soup.
Built by George Phar Legler to bring happiness and relaxation to adults and children alike, Valley of the Moon is a historic fantasy site featuring whimsical structures, creatures, and nature areas. Guests can take free fairy tours, visit the bunny theater, or explore areas such as the enchanted garden and gnome city. Storyteller guides offer fun and fantastical narratives to bring visits to life, all part of Legler's original vision to bring more happiness, peace, and gnomes'-rights awareness into the world.
High above the Sonoran desert, on the Tohono O'odham Reservation, the Kitt Peak National Observatory keeps track of the night sky with the world's largest collection of independent telescopes. Throughout the day, guides lead tours of three of the behemoths, including the world's largest solar telescope and a historic gazing dome built in 1973 to broadcast the moon explorers’ games of golf. On those chilly desert evenings, visitors can take part in the nightly observing program and view distant planets and far-off galaxies through 20- and 16-inch telescopes. Reservations are recommended; the program is quite popular and stars tend to shyly hide behind comets around large groups.
Located on the University of Arizona’s campus, the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium opens the eyes of all ages to the scientific wonders of our planet, solar system, and universe. The center houses a mineral collection that dates back to 1892, and now holds more than 26,000 specimens including meteorites and minerals from Arizona, Mexico, and elsewhere in the world. They also feature exhibits such as an exploration of Arizona’s Sky Islands—mountains that rise above the desert basins and shelter myriad plants, birds, and animals. Other exhibits include Mars: Up Close and Personal, which features a scale model of the red planet’s surface.