There are dozens of fun things to do in Tucson with kids. And most are not very expensive.
For a list of things to do in Tucson on a more general or adult level begin by seeing our Things to do in Tucson page.
Visit our Calendar Page and search for “Kids” under FIND EVENTS for specific events for kids in your area.
For a list of Family Things to do when it’s HOT, visit here.
We also have a list of Summer Classes in Tucson for Kids here (Updated for 2023).
Check out our FREE Things to do with Kids this Summer here. At the bottom of the article, under the headline “More Things to do with Kids” are several articles written about activities that kids might enjoy.
Since they were young, our four grandchildren have been visiting us here in Tucson twice a year (Spring or Summer and always Christmas) for a week or two at a time. They are, in descending order of age: Jessie, Colby, Jon & Morgan.
I can’t tell you specifically what fun things you can do with your kids. Depends on age, ability, and interests. But I can tell you what our grandchildren enjoyed over the years.
I asked them what they enjoyed most. Here is their list of favorites. This website has VIDEOS related to almost all of them.
Tucson with Kids When They are Young
If you only did one thing while in Tucson with your kids, this would be it. Strange plants and stranger critters. Young children have a fascination for the strange, the dangerous, and the mysterious. Thus, they were particularly intrigued by rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas, and other creepy crawlies.
They also enjoyed the program called “Live & On The Loose” where they got up close and personal with unique and deadly creatures, such as the Gila Monster and Mexican Beaded Lizard. The staff is particularly good at explaining each animal’s unique characteristics and what to do should they get bit by one.
A new exhibit for smaller kids (2018) is the PackRat Playhouse. In the summer, relax in air-conditioned comfort, with a cool drink from the café while your child explores the world from the eyes of a small critter.
Two other perennial hits at the Desert Museum: (1) the dark, mysterious cave with meandering crawl holes and many underground exhibits, including exotic, stunningly beautiful Arizona minerals; and (2) the Raptor Free Flight Program, where they stood in awe as hawks, falcons, and owls swooped untethered right above their heads. Amazing! (They don’t fly in the summer months.)
Learn more about the Desert Museum from our videos here then visit the Desert Museum website.
The Mini-Time Machine: Museum of Miniatures
Most people think of miniatures as quaint dollhouses or tea sets for little girls. The Mini-Time Machine: Museum of Miniatures is a WHOLE lot more. The excellent exhibits are fine art, exquisite craftsmanship, architecture, mechanical engineering, and history combined with magic and wonder.
This museum is not only for young children, but also for their parents and grandparents as well. We have visited the “Mini” with our grandchildren and their great-grandfather. All were captivated by the fascinating displays and the stories behind them. As you move from one display to the next, you “travel” to distant lands and bygone eras. The miniature museum is a world-class museum.
The “Mini” has classes and workshops. It’s a great place to visit in the summer because it’s indoors and air-conditioned. There are events for children as well, such as: Kids Create, and Tiny Tales for Tots. Highly recommended! Watch our mini video here or visit The Mini-Time Machine: Museum of Miniatures.
We generally take the tram to the end (Stop #9), walk down to Stop #7, then make our way to the creek where the kids can play in the stream and pools of water. No matter the season, hiking Sabino Creek and Bear Canyon to Seven Falls is delightful. Sometimes we take a picnic lunch. Great fun! Watch our video on Sabino Canyon and then visit the Official Sabino Canyon Website. Note: the tram, now called a shuttle, isn’t expensive, but they only accept cash. In 2021 most of the shuttles were replaced by quiet, electric open-air vehicles.
WARNING: In the summer, watch the weather, do not hike to the falls if there is ANY chance of rain on Mount Lemmon.
On the weekends and major holidays, Tombstone Vigilantes, Tombstone Forward and other groups recreate the Old West in the historic district, complete with 1880s fashion shows, desperado hangings, and loud, raucous gunfights. Great fun!
The kids particularly enjoyed riding in the stagecoach, lunch at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon and exploring the Old Courthouse – a fine museum that offers a realistic picture of historic Tombstone. For those planning a visit to Tombstone for the first time, we always recommend stopping by the Courthouse first for a bit of real history. And the kids always enjoy the Shootout at the OK Corral!
Rocks & Ropes
Here they learned the techniques of safe rock climbing before they set out to conquer a hoodoo on the road to Mt. Lemmon. Generally, an hour of climbing walls was all it took to wear them out. But they loved it and always want to go back. The staff at Rocks & Ropes is very good about safety and each child is given thorough instructions before being allowed more than 5 feet off the ground. Rocks & Ropes hosts outings to cliffs such as Mt. Lemmon as well.
Learning About Guns
Many an hour was spent shooting tin cans with their BB gun on our property before they were old enough to handle the big guns. I’m not a gun nut. Nor do I support NRA ideology. But I think children should learn gun safety and shooting skills. Thus, I have taken them to Marksman on Prince Road for a five-hour class on firearms and indoor shooting range time with a professional instructor. Pima County offers 3 shooting ranges, two archery ranges and a clay target center.
Off Road Adventures
When we first moved here, we rented ATV’s and the kids rode around for hours. What great fun they had.
You can take your kids on ATV Tours. Apache ATV Tours & Arizona ATV Tours have been recommended to us by several of our guests.
They shall remember it fondly for the rest of their lives. Guaranteed! For off-roading in the Southern Arizona Desert & Mountains, visit the State Park’s Off Highway Vehicle Program page.
Southern Arizona Attractions
Over the years, we took the grandkids to many Southern Arizona attractions. Many, but not all, charge an admission fee, but discounts are available & the 12 and under children get a very reduced rate.
Many of our local attractions are both interesting to children and educational, such as Colossal Cave Mountain Park, or Kartchner Caverns State Park, & the Mineral Discovery Center & Mine Tour. Most are less than an hour drive from Tucson, and many are much closer to the City.
Book Of Fun
The Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance sells its Passport coupon booklet offering 2-for-1 coupons throughout. That gets you more than $500 worth of savings when you visit local attractions. We buy several every year for our guests.
Visit here for more adult or whole family Things to do In Tucson.
Funtasticks Family Fun Park
Funtasticks is on Wetmore just east of the Tucson Mall. It’s a great place for family fun. Rides, miniature golf, picnic area, laser tag, and arcade games.
Tucson’s Children’s Museum
This popular downtown attraction is more a fun learning center than a typical museum. Lots of hands-on activities, such as arts & crafts.
Clever exhibits, most of which are interactive.
Totally appropriate for young children from toddlers to 9 or 10-years-of-age. Read more about the Tucson Children’s Museum here.
There is also a Children’s Museum annex in Oro Valley, now at Tohono Chul Park.
Visit the Reid Park Zoo
One of the most popular things for Kids to do anywhere is to take them to the Zoo. Reid Park Zoo usually has extended nighttime hours on Fridays in the summer. Their learning programs for children fill up fast as well as summer events.
Hands on Learning Programs
- Kids Create Family Fun Program at The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures.
- The Tucson Museum of Art offers Free Classes for Kids as well as sponsoring other events. Summer Programs for Kids ages 5-13 are offered weekly throughout the summer.
- The Romero House may be offering Pottery Classes for youth, especially in the summer.
- Visit the Gadsden-Pacific Toy Train Museum open most every Sunday.
International Wildlife Museum
We had been in Tucson for a decade, and only recently did we venture to the International Wildlife Museum. We had affectionately called it the “Dead Animal Museum” for years, with the knowledge that every animal in this museum was dead and/or stuffed. (Taxidermied). These stuffed animals have been donated for 25 years and some are over 100 years old. Reportedly, one of the animals once belonged to Theodore Roosevelt.
Anyway, We were hot one Sunday, and not willing to venture very far, so VOILA.. There we went.
1. Bring your own food. They have a great lunchroom but no real food to speak of. This is also a great place to celebrate a birthday party.
2. There are live animals there, besides humans. I think they are giant hissing cockroaches.
3. It is VERY cool inside and you can easily spend 2 hours there taking in all the exhibits, which are, by the way, artfully done as well as educational for kids and adults.
4. They also have a small theater that shows wildlife films. Fascinating!
This is really a wonderful museum. Modern; focusing on conservation; well thought out.
To check out our International Wildlife Museum slideshow, CLICK HERE!
Golf N’ Stuff
Golf N’ Stuff is on Tucson’s east side. They have two 18-hole miniature golf courses, bumper boats, arcade, go-karts, batting cages, & laser tag.
And they will help you organize parties of all kinds. Golf N’ Stuff can help make your next party or celebration extra special! Having a birthday? Family reunion? School field trip? School dance? Summer camp outing? Church social? Company team building day? Sports team party? You name it; we can help you celebrate it!
Visit the Golf N Stuff website or Call the Group Sales office at 296-2366 x13 for more info.
Visit Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance and purchase a Book of Fun. This little booklet or Digital App is jam-packed with 2 for one and other discounts to over 100 attractions, many of them for Children.
Browse the excerpts below or click the link above.