Children & Family Museums
As schools wind down and the summer warms up, parents will be looking for cool things to do with their children. Here is a short list. This article is part of a series of lists of worthwhile museums in Southern Arizona. You will find the first in this list “History Museums” here.
04/27/2023 Please NOTE: Please see the individual websites for up-to-date, dates and times and up-to-date requirements for entry.
This museum was created by founders, Patricia and Walter Arnell. When Pat was a young girl she was given her first miniatures, a set of dollhouse furniture. Years late, when she and Walter moved to Tucson in 1979, Pat began to collect miniatures seriously. As their collection grew, they looked for a way to share it with more people, and develop a place that would be enchanting, magical and provide a rich sensory experience.
The concept of “the mini time machine” came about from the idea that a visitor would be seemingly transported to different eras by the stories and history of the pieces in the collection.
4455 E. Camp Lowell Drive
Tucson, AZ 85712
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday: 9am–4pm
Closed Mondays and major holidays
This museum showcases over 400 species of insects, mammals and birds from around the world. Dioramas show wild animals in their natural habitat. They have videos, interactive computers, and hands-on exhibits that promote appreciation of wildlife and the need for conservation.
4800 W Gates Pass Road
Tucson, AZ 85745
HOURS: Monday – Friday: 9:00am to 5:00pm
Saturday – Sunday: 9:00am to 6:00pm
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Located at 200 S. Sixth Ave. in Downtown Tucson, this is the flagship location in the historic Carnegie Library. CMT has 17,000 square feet space with 11 indoor exhibits and party rooms. It also includes a beautiful outdoor courtyard with an additional three exhibits and lots of space for kids to play. The exhibits and programs are geared toward kids up to 10 years old.
Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 9 am to 4 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm
Closed: Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Children’s Museum Oro Valley
This auxiliary museum opened in 2015 in Oro Valley just north of Tucson. It recently moved to Tohono Chul Park. CMOV is specifically for kids up to 5 years old, with the goal of ensuring young visitors are school-ready. The smaller space is packed with great exhibits that give young visitors the opportunity to discover, imagine and play!
7366 N Paseo Del Norte, in Tohono Chul Park
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 9 am to 1 pm
Closed: Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
The Desert Museum is not your typical museum. It is a combination of a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, mineral collection, and aquarium.
It is ranked on TripAdvisor.com as one of the Top 10 Museums in the country and the #1 Tucson attraction. Unlike most museums, about 85% of the experience is outdoors! This museum includes: 21 interpreted acres with two miles of walking paths through various desert habitats, 242 animal species, plants from 1,200 botanical groups— 56,000 individual specimens, and one of the world’s most comprehensive regional mineral collections. There are plenty of air conditioned exhibits to escape from the heat.
2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson AZ 85743
Hours: Sunday – Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturdays – 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
The Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the largest aviation and space museums in the world.
It includes over 350 historical aircraft ranging from a Wright Flyer to an Air Force One. It covers over 80 acres. Since its beginnings in 1976, the museum has grown considerably and today encompasses six indoor exhibit hangars, three, of which are dedicated to WWII including the 390th Memorial Museum, home of the Flying Fortress.
Docent-led walking tours and museum ground Tram Tours are offered daily. The museum is the exclusive operator of bus tours of the 2,600-acre “Aircraft Boneyard”, the U.S. military and government aircraft storage facility. 10-business day advanced reservations are required for the Boneyard Tour offered Monday-Friday, not including Federal Holidays.
6000 E Valencia Rd, Tucson AZ 85756
Open 7 Days a Week
Hours: Daily, 9am to 5pm
Last admission is at 3 pm
Closed Thanksgiving & Christmas days.
What a perfect place to take older kids after they have graduated from the Children’s Museum.
Travel back in time and discover the secrets of Ancient Earth! Flandrau’s new Puzzling the Past exhibits highlight fossils, minerals, and meteorites to tell the story of our planet’s geologic history, from the dawn of life to the rise and fall of the dinosaurs!
Scientists have put together the puzzle of Ancient Earth by studying rocks and fossils to understand how minerals formed and life evolved over vast spans of time – the Geologic Time Scale. Explore their 24-foot long Geologic Timeline, and learn about Earth’s dynamic and tumultuous past as life emerged in the oceans, changed our atmosphere, and transformed our rocks. And don’t miss the giant life-size replica Tyrannosaurus rex skull, the most famous of dinosaurs!
Did you know that dinosaurs once roamed Arizona? In their Fossil Corner exhibit you’ll see dinosaur bones found near Tucson. You’ll see amazing fossils of ancient creatures, and you’ll travel back in time gazing at their “Paleo Reef” display that shows what life in the oceans looked like millions of years ago.
1601 E University Blvd. Tucson, AZ 85721
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 9am to 5pm
Friday: 9am to 10pm
Saturday: 10am to 10pm
Sunday: 12pm to 5pm
Closed Labor, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Days.
See our article on this surprisingly fascinating place. Fun for the kids too. Winter hours for Tours are Wednesday – Sunday. Summer Tours are Saturday only. The Discovery Center is open Wednesdays – Saturdays. Check the website for exact days and times.
+1 (520) 625-8233
1421 West Pima Mine Road
Sahuarita, Arizona 85629
This train museum is for all train enthusiasts young or old. They are open on Sundays to the public from 1 to 4pm and offer several meets throughout the year.
3975 N. Miller Ave.
Newly revamped with a grant for materials, a lot of volunteer work has gone into this museum. It is less of a jumble of things and more of a museum. Take a docent tour, you. will be rewarded.
4823 S. 6th Avenue, Tucson, AZ. Google Map
N.E. corner of 6th Ave. & Irvington Road.
(ADA accessible parking & restroom facilities)
Hours: 9:30am – 3:30pm, Thursday-Saturday
Closed: Sunday-Wednesday, and Holidays
The Southern Arizona Railroad coming to Tucson is what sparked the growth of Tucson. Before 1880 Tucson was a backwater town with only about 5000 people living here. At this museum you can learn what the railroad did for Tucson.
Open Tuesday – Sunday – Admission is free.
414 N Toole Ave
The O.K. Corral is world-famous. And you and your children can enjoy a reenactment of the Gunfight that made this Corral famous, here is Tombstone, Arizona. Along with a reenactment, you can see a diorama of the event and go next door to the Historama and watch a video describing the events surrounding this
If you would like to suggest another Museum venue for Families, please contact us here.