We group the Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park-West together because they are close in proximity and personify the desert experience. It will take 2 days at least to experience the desert from this vantage point.
The best way to understand and appreciate our beautiful Sonoran Desert is to visit the Desert Museum. It’s not a museum exactly, but rather more like a combination botanical garden and zoo. Watch any of the videos provided below for a sneak peek at what to expect while visiting. To visit other parks and gardens in our area click here. For more ideas of Things to do with Kids see our article here.

Watch our videos highlighting some of the great things about the Desert Museum.
The Saguaro
The King Snake
The Kestrel
The Harris' Hawk
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Raptor Free Flight Show

The Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum is the first place we recommend newcomers visit and everyone, adults and children alike, loves this truly unique destination. It’s big and mostly outdoors, so wear your hiking shoes.

The Desert Museum has a coffee bar and two good restaurants. The Ironwood Terrace is a self-serve grill with everything from cheeseburgers and pizzas to vegan wraps and salads. Not your ordinary cafeteria

The Ocotillo Café is fine dining, open seasonally. We suggest you make a reservation. Weather permitting, ask to be seated on the patio.

The drive from Tucson over Gates Pass to the Desert Museum is an unsurpassed scenic drive though the Sonoran Desert. Take your camera. Stop for a grand view from the parking area at the top of the pass. Be careful to share the road with our bicyclists.

While you are there:

  • Spend a leisurely day visiting the plant and animal exhibits.
  • Listen and learn from knowledgeable docents.
  • Go to: the “Live and on the Loose” demonstration.
  • Enjoy the Art Gallery. Take a Class.
  • Don’t Miss the Raptor Free Flight Show!
  • Enjoy a good lunch at the cafeteria or Ocotillo Cafe’
  • Take in one of the Behind the Scenes Tours. SPECIAL DEAL for the Summer! Great for kids!

There’s a Bobcat in My Backyard: Living with and Enjoying Urban Wildlife (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Guides)The Desert Museum has written a wonderful little book on living with critters in the desert. Please read it.

SAAA BadgeFor specials on all the attractions in Southern Arizona please visit