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Things To Do In Tucson

Despite its growing size, Tucson still embodies its small-town charm. This helps it stand out against metropolitan behemoth Phoenix and ritzy Scottsdale. Deeply rooted in Hispanic heritage, the wide variety of cultural activities in Tucson draw in travelers looking for a change of pace.

Not all of Tucson’s attractions come from beyond the border. This southwestern town is home to the University of Arizona, the first university in the Arizona territory. Between the college atmosphere, its rich history, and natural splendor, this Pima County town is a one-of-a-kind oasis offering many unique things to do.

The clear skies make for a beautiful backdrop as you explore the desert city. The galleries in the Catalina Foothills district offer respite from the more rigorous outdoors activities, as do the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

The best things to do near Tucson include:

  • Learning about the Copper state at the Arizona State Museum
  • Marveling at the stars and planets at the Kitt Peak National Observatory
  • Taking a photo with the giant A on Sentinel Peak
  • Hiking through the Saguaro National Park
  • Exploring the University of Arizona Campus

With so many families and college students residing in Tucson, its only natural that the city is full of affordable activities for everyone. Spend your time in the great outdoors making use of the ample trails, or visit the Center for Creative Photography on the U of A campus.

Other cheap things to do near Tucson include:

  • Learning about the desert landscape at Tohono Chul Park
  • Taking a hike up Tumamoc Hill just west of “A” mountain
  • Spending the day wandering through the Santa Cruz River Park
  • Visiting the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum
  • Hiking the trails at the Tucson Mountain Park

The Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum has it all, including outdoor exhibits, a zoo, and botanical gardens. And the Pima Air & Space Museum has both relics and prototypes of past aircrafts.

For Hollywood buffs, Old Tucson Studios is a former set for TV westerns like “El Dorado” and “Little House on the Prairie.” Today, it’s a family-friendly theme park.

Popular attractions for tourists near Tucson include:

  • Driving out to see the scientific wonder of Biosphere 2
  • Exploring the historic San Xavier del Bac Church
  • Seeing nationally protected saguaro on Cactus Forest Drive
  • Visiting the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block
  • Walking the Turquoise Trail in Downtown Tucson for history

Since the expansion of the University of Arizona, Tucson continues to grow economically. The city relies heavily on “snowbirds,” the annual visitors who migrate south during colder months.

Exciting activities near Tucson include:

  • Grabbing a cup of joe at Crave Coffee Bar
  • Unleashing your inner teenager at the Tucson Mall
  • Getting a quick and clean cut at jcuts
  • Trying some authentic Mexican cuisine at Goyitas
  • Catching the latest blockbuster at Harkins Theatres Tucson Spectrum 18

Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson has it all — live music, food vendors, and the first floor turns into a dance floor when the sun goes down. For a taste of the Tucson nightlife, University of Arizona students will direct you to Fourth Ave., downtown Tucson, or one of the city’s many nearby casinos.

Nighttime activities near Tucson include:

  • Dancing on the rooftop at the Playground Bar & Lounge
  • Trying your luck at winning it big at the Casino del Sol
  • Enjoying the daily happy hour or the late night food at Dante’s Fire
  • Listening to live mariachi at Guadalajara Fiesta Grill
  • Having dinner and drinks at DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails

The Rialto is the biggest concert hall in Tucson and is a frequent stop for major touring artists. And the Tucson Convention Center hosts a wide range of events and festivals. Events are also regularly held at the Pima County fairgrounds on weekends. And on the 2nd Saturday of every month Downtown Tucson holds a street fair and an art walk free to the public.

Other weekend activities near Tucson include:

  • Shopping local at the Heirloom Farmers Market in Rillito Park
  • Watching a performance at the Centennial Hall on the University of Arizona Campus
  • Taking an adventure walk with Wacky Walks
  • Playing a round of golf at Fred Enke Golf Course
  • Betting it big at the Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel

Spend the day out in the desert at the White Stallion Ranch just west of Tucson. Experience a wide range of family-friendly dude ranch activities, including horseback lessons, a petting zoo, and meals.

Some fun things to do with kids near Tucson include:

  • Play with the animals at the Funny Foot Farms
  • Bounce off the walls at the get Air trampoline park
  • Spend the day riding rides at the Funtasticks Family Fun Park
  • Spend the day learning at the Children's Museum Tucson
  • Play a round of putt putt at Golf N’ Stuff

The Sonoran desert is famous for its colorful landscape. With so much natural beauty, its easy to find romantic things to do. Stroll hand in hand and watch the orange-purple sunsets or sit in Reid Park and gaze at the starlit skies.

Other date night ideas near Tucson include:

  • Spending the day touring and sipping wine at Sierra Bonita Vineyards
  • Catching dinner and a movie at RoadHouse Cinemas
  • Watching an Old West-themed performance at Gaslight Theater
  • Laughing together at local and national acts at Laffs Comedy Caffe
  • Renting bikes with tugo bike share for a ride throughout the town

It's common to see large groups meeting for dinner in the historic Fourth Avenue or brunch at the Baja Cafe. Finding group activities is easy in Tucson due to the large college student and family demographic.

Things to do with your friends near Tucson include:

  • Getting together for a Scavenger Hunt with Puzzling Adventures
  • Buying tickets to see the Arizona Wildcats
  • Building some trust with rock climbing at Rocks and Ropes
  • Bowling a perfect game at Tucson Bowl
  • Playing a round of disk golf at Rillito River Park Disc Golf Course

Tucson hosts the annual Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil event every winter. The event brings thousands to town to trade, collect, and hunt. It’s held in a number of different locations, creating outdoor and indoor activities throughout Tucson.

There are several things to do indoors in Tucson:

  • Find your inner balance with yoga at Studio 520
  • Get a mani and pedi at A Lasting Touch salon
  • Sip some wine and learn to paint with Paint Nite
  • Learn the mysteries of science at the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium
  • Relax with a full body therapeutic massage at Zen by Olivia

Nestled near the Saguaro National Park and the Santa Catalinas, Tucson offers plenty of things to do outdoors. And with a history steeped in the earliest years of Spanish exploration of the southwest, there are abundant sightseeing opportunities at each monument and museum.

Other active things to see and do in Tucson include:

  • Riding your bike all around Tucson on the Loop
  • Hiking the Signal Hill Trail to see ancient petroglyphs
  • Visiting the animals at the Reid Park Zoo
  • Exploring the Sabino Canyon located in the Santa Catalina Mountains
  • Admiring the desert landscape up close on the Douglas Spring Trailhead

This desert metropolis is filled with one-of-a-kind attractions. Some of the best things to do in Tucson is to experience local culture and businesses, like the Saguarohenge at Pima Prickly Park and the eegee’s slushies on a warm day.

Other must-see places and activities near Tucson include:

  • Hiking to see the canyon and season waterfall at Seven Falls
  • Checking out the unique architecture at the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Historic District
  • Observing the works of Felix Lucero in the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Traveling north to the luscious ponderosa forests of Mount Lemmon
  • Seeing tiny art at the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures