More Things To Do With Kids begins where our last article, “Things to do with Kids in Tucson“, ends. Since writing our original article we have found many more things to do with young children in and around Tucson. Moreover, new kid-friendly attractions have since opened.
Most of the adventures on this list we have reviewed and have included the links to these stories. Many places on this new list are further afield from Tucson proper, and you will need to plan the whole day. For instance:
is way out in Oracle, but well worth the hour drive north of Tucson and expense. Here are five zip lines ranging in length from 400 to 1500 feet. It takes a couple of hours to complete the full course. AZ Zipline also has a very nice deck for a picnic. You can purchase food there or bring your own picnic basket. They are open 7AM to 2PM Tuesdays through Sundays, weather permitting. For safety, the zip lines do have weight limitations. Zippers must be between 50 and 250 pounds. General tickets are $79 per person and RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED. They do offer group rates and other discounts.
More fun than a barrel of goats, ostriches and conures. This ranch, located on the west side of I-10 just south of Picacho Peak, raises big birds for food, feather, and leather. We were pleasantly surprised at how much there is to see & do here. Definitely a good place to bring your kids or grandkids. Plan on spending several hours especially if you wish to ride the Monster Truck.
Picnics & Camping
How about a good old-fashioned picnic at the Amerind Museum among the boulders of Texas Canyon?
The picnic area is an easy walk to one of the world’s premier collections of Native American artifacts and the adjacent art gallery. Texas Canyon is about an hour’s drive east of Tucson on I-10. Take exit 318. If you go on a Saturday you may be able to enjoy dining in the Rock Saloon at Triangle T Guest Ranch adjacent to the Amerind, the only day of the week that it is open to the public.
Carr Canyon in the summer is a great place to beat the heat. At 7,200′ elevation, Reef Townsite Campground is about half way to the top of Carr Peak. The rest of the way you will need to hike. At the campsite, you will find a short trail to the old mining operation and a pleasant, wooded campground with 14 spaces. Restrooms are available, but bring your own drinking water. At this campground you will likely find yourself quietly alone.
Carr Canyon road is about 8 miles south of Sierra Vista on State Highway 92. On the way up, do stop at the Carr House for a useful orientation about this area. The road up is mostly unpaved, but usually, you will not need a four-wheel drive vehicle except in inclimate weather.
Another pleasant day with the kiddos is a picnic in Catalina State Park, and a short annotated hike to the Hohokam and Romero Ranch Ruins. Romero Pools are a short but steep hike from the Park (5.9 miles round trip). Water at the Pools runs seasonally. Be careful in the Monsoon season.
Catalina State Park is just south of Tangerine Road on Hwy. 77 (Oracle Road). The Visitor Center is open daily from 8 am to 5 am. Here you can purchase entrance and camping fees.
The Fishing Is Good … usually! But Don’t Forget Your Fishing License.
Go Fish – There are plenty of Southern Arizona lakes where you can fish, most of which are stocked by Arizona Game and Fish. In Tucson, you can bring your beginner to Silverbell Lake in Columbus Park. From April – October you can fish atop Mt. Graham. Riggs Flat Campground is really nice. Patagonia Lake or Parker Canyon Lake are less than 2 hours from Tucson. Rose Canyon Lake Campground on the way up Mt. Lemmon, is only an hour or so from Downtown Tucson, but it fills up fast.
Mt. Graham – At over 10,000′ above sea level you can fish, camp, and hike in a forest above the desert. Because the campgrounds on Mt. Graham are about a 3 hour drive from Tucson, they are not nearly as crowded as those on Mt. Lemmon.
Mt. Graham is closed from November 15 through April 15 due to the possibility of snow. We especially liked two campgrounds: Soldiers and Riggs Flat. First come, first served. Go early. The road up is extremely narrow and windy in places. As is the case throughout Coronado National Forest, a fishing license is required.
Tombstone. The Legend Lives On!
Tombstone can be especially entertaining when they host one of their many annual events. We have particularly enjoyed their annual Helldorado Days (October) as well as the annual Tombstone Historic Home Tour (December).
In the historic district, we recommend Big Nose Kate’s Saloon for meals and libations. Best Cowboy Bar In America. Here you can belly-up to the same bar that served the Earp brothers, Doc Holliday, Johnny Ringo and the Clantons and McLaury’s (Cowboys). Not recommended for young children on Friday and Saturday nights.
Where To Stay In Tombstone?
If you are going to stay overnight in Tombstone, we recommend Tombstone Monument Guest Ranch. The Ranch is about 3 miles beyond the historic district, but you won’t mind. It’s that good.
Attractions In Tucson
Gaslight Theatre – Magical, musical fun. Enjoy a musical venue, usually a wacky spoof or wicked farce, and almost always accompanied with music. Seriously fun. Order pizza and other menu items with your show. Enjoy. IF you subscribe to their newsletter you will receive email 2 for 1 specials. Adjacent to the theater is Little Anthony’s, a 1950’s diner for those of you who are old enough to remember the 50’s. Life was simpler back then. Or so it seemed.
We understand that Gaslight has acquired the old Great American Playhouse in Oro Valley, but we have not been to a performance there yet.
Trail Dust Town – Open daily from 5pm – 9pm with additional entertainment on weekends, this is on the east side of Tucson and has stunt shows, amusements, train and Ferris wheel rides for the youngsters. Here too you will find Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse. Certainly not the best steak in town, but great fun. Pinnacle Peak is owned by the same folks that own El Corral on River Road. Same so-so meats, similar cowboy experience. Both are extremely popular with visitors. We don’t know many locals who dine at either unless they are taking out-of-town guests. However, Dakota Cafe’ in Trail Dust Town is excellent.
Caverns, Caves, & Mines
Kartchner Caverns or Colossal Cave Mountain Park – Caverns are cool, literally, and there are plenty of unique tours. Kartchner is one of the most popular cave tours in America. It’s a live cave. Colossal is a dormant cave, meaning it is dry and no longer growing, but there are still great tours, including a Latter Tour.
Possibilities We Have Not Yet Experienced.
Disruptive Paintball in Marana off Tangerine is popular, according to the number of Groupons recently sold. Unfortunately, the paintballers have taken their adventures to Sasco Smelter, the smelter used in the Old Silverbell Mining days.
We are still waiting for that balloon ride.
If you have not read our first List of Things to do with Kids in Tucson click here.