Here are our recommendations for the best Things To Do In Tucson, plus a very brief history & links to the best Tucson Dining & Annual Events.
In addition to the Main Menu above, you can use the Metropolitan Tucson Hot Spots Map below to navigate to places of interest around the City. Just place your cursor over any hot spot. An Options Balloon will pop up. Click on the option of your choice.
Metropolitan Tucson has about a million residents, but the population increases dramatically between December and March when Snow Birds fly south to enjoy our pleasant winter. Tucson loves Snow Birds. We have a thriving tourist industry and some of the finest resorts & golf courses on Planet Earth. Read More
Starr Pass Golf Course
Things To Do
There is so much to do in Tucson. Here are some of the best.
Concerts. Enjoy a concert at one of our Indian casinos south of the City or Downtown at any of our three historic venues: Rialto Theater, Fox Theater, and Hotel Congress.
Tucson's Fox Theater: beautifully restored to its 1930's grandeur.
Mt. Lemmon & Sky Center. Take the scenic drive to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Hike during the day and spend an evening at Sky Center observing the universe as few have ever seen it. In the winter, you can ski at Ski Valley.
Tucson Museum of Miniatures
Museums. Enjoy our many fine museums: Museum of Miniatures; Tucson Museum of Art & Historic Block; Franklin Automobile Museum; Pima Air & Space Museum; and Arizona Historical Society's 3 museums: University on 2nd St, Downtown on Scott, and Fort Lowell on Craycroft.
History Tour. Take the self-guided walking tour of Historic Downtown Tucson. Click HERE to download map.
Bicycling. Tucson is a friendly bicycling city with bike lanes on many major thoroughfares. Take our bike paths along the Santa Cruz & Rillito Rivers. The road over scenic Gates Pass is very popular with bicyclists. However, it has no bike lane and is VERY narrow. Click HERE for some Tucson Bicycle Routes. For information about The LOOP, an extensive network of bicycle paths around Tucson, click HERE.
Bear Canyon Trail: Seven Falls
Hiking. Tucson has hundreds of hiking trails, many of them overlooking the City. Our 4 favorites are (1) Sabino Canyon; (2) Bear Canyon Trail to Seven Falls; (3) Kings Canyon (watch for petroglyphs); and Yetman Trail in Tucson Mountain Park.
Gardens. We have two excellent botanical gardens: Tohono Chul Park on Ina just west of Oracle; and Tucson Botanical Gardens on Alvernon just south of Grant. Both have art galleries, live performances, and special events.
"Tucson" (Too´ sahn) is an English name derived from the Spanish name of the local Indian village, Tuk- sahn, which came from the Tohono O'odham name Chook'-sahn, meaning "(at the) base of the black (hill)". Tucson is sometimes referred to as "The Old Pueblo" because of our Spanish & Mexican heritage.
Archeologists have found substantial evidence that the Tucson area, particularly along the Santa Cruz River, has experienced human habitation for the past 12,000 years: first Paleo-Indians; then the Ho-ho-kam' (300-1400 CE); then the Tohono O'odham; then the Spanish. Father Kino established the magnificent Mission San Xavier del Bac just south of Downtown in 1692.
What is now Southern Arizona was once New Spain. When Mexico won its independence from Spain, Southern Arizona became the northern portion of Sonora, Mexico. Then, in 1854, the United States purchased this region from Mexico in what became known as the Gadsden Purchase.
For a brief period in 1861-62, Tucson was the western capitol of the Confederacy. Between 1867 and 1877, Tucson was the capitol of Arizona Territory. In 1880, the Southern Pacific Railroad steamed into this dusty little pueblo and changed everything.
Monsoon Sky. Photo by John Edwards.
Most places have 4 seasons. We have five: winter, fall, and spring, plus a dry and a wet summer season. Daytime temperature highs range from the 60's in winter to 100+ in the summers. Typically, nighttime temperatures are about 30 degrees less than daytime highs. Spring & fall temperatures range from perfect to glorious.
Our wet summer is called Monsoon Season: July - September. Monsoon clouds can drop 3 inches of rain in 30 minutes; making a lot of roads impassable and our usually dry stream & river beds rushing torrents.
We mention the weather because when considering Things To Do, one should take it into consideration. For example, any outdoor activity, such as hiking, is best enjoyed in the more temperate months. Hiking in 105 degree summer heat is not recommended and that goes double for hiking near a stream or river bed in Monsoon Season.
Neighbor Roy & I attended an artists’ reception at the Tucson Museum of Art recently. Here are two items I would like to share with you. First, the current exhibits, taken as a whole, may be the finest our Art Museum has ever offered. These are on display through June … Continue reading
Tucson Desert Art Museum, which includes Four Corners Gallery, tells the extraordinary history of the Desert Southwest through the eyes and talent of its finest artists and artisans, including Maynard Dixon, Thomas Moran, & Albert Bierstadt, to name just a few. When I went to photograph some of the exhibits, … Continue reading
When our 4 grandchildren were young, my job as Grandpa was weekly field trips. I would scout out venues that were educational, but also interesting to young people. We ranged all over Southern California taking in the zoos, railroad parks, natural history museums, including the La Brea Tar Pits, historic … Continue reading
Tubac, The Missions, The Titan Missile Museum, The Mineral Discovery Museum and more! There are two historically important missions south of Tucson just off I-19: Missions San Xavier del Bac and Tumacácori. (pron: san ha’-vee-air and too-ma-ca’-cor-ee) “Bac” was the Papago Indian name for the site. The Papago Indians are … Continue reading
The drive from Tucson (elevation 2500 feet) to the top of Mt. Lemmon (elevation 9,200 feet) is a fine day trip, particularly in the warmer months.The 25-mile road to the top is windy and picturesque. There are numerous pullouts. The one at Windy Point offers a panoramic view of the … Continue reading
There is a relatively new set of in-depth tours at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum that will delight anyone who wants a closer look at the critters at the museum. If you have been visiting the Desert Museum for years, this is your opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the Museum.
There I was, in this quaint little bakery on North Oracle, munching on an open-face turkey sandwich on French bread with a side of potato salad – all gluten-free – and enjoying the meal immensely. This was unexpected. Like most people who have tried gluten-free bread and other gluten-free foods, my limited experience was that […]
There are many reasons to love Tucson Botanical Gardens. First, of course, are the many different types of gardens. Second, every spring they have a “Weird Plant Sale” where you can purchase living conversation pieces. Third, TBG is a peaceful place in the midst of a bustling urban environment. Fourth, they have concerts & art shows. Fifth, you can rent the facilities and have a magnificent party there, be it for a wedding, reunion, or whatever special occasion. Go to our Tucson Botanical Gardens to discover reasons #6, #7, & #8.