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Nine Things to do in Tucson Arizona

Location: Tucson Arizona

We spent two fabulous weeks exploring and getting to know the high desert area of Tucson Arizona. It was unexpected. I loved pretty much everything about it and I will definitely come back next winter. In fact, I really think I could spend several months a year in this lovely town, surrounded by nature. Here are the things I loved the most, the nine things to do in Tucson Arizona.

Organ Pipe Cactus

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park

You must spend time in this remarkable place. It is not the biggest national park, or the most diverse, but it is indeed a gem. Saguaro National Park offers hikes for people of all capacities from nature walks (wheelchair accessible) to multi-day excursions. We enjoyed all of the hikes we did, short and long, and especially the unique desert plants. Saguaro National Park.

Sabino Canyon National Forest

Sabino Canyon
Sabino Canyon

This is where we enjoyed my favorite hike during our visit, called Phone Line Trail. We hiked more than nine miles on this trail, that cuts across the side of a mountain with spectacular views. But you don’t need to be able to hike that distance to enjoy Sabino Canyon. A National Forest Service tram provides transportation into the canyon. You can walk a portion of the canyon, and then catch the tram at your leisure. Sabino Canyon.

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

I always love learning about the local flora and fauna and the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is one of the finest of this kind of museum I have ever seen. Acres of desert flora are marked with interpretive and interactive signage. Indoor exhibits of reptiles, birds, and a replica of an underground cave give visitors a up close look at desert life. The museum also is home to a mountain lion, bear, wolves and javelina. Don’t miss this wonderful place. Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Tucson Botanical Garden

Tucson Botanical Gardens
Tucson Botanical Gardens

This historic site was once home to the Porter Family, a leading Tucson family in the landscaping business. The property has been home to the Tucson Botanical Garden since 1974. Beautiful gardens offer a wonderful look at desert plants from aloe to cactus including an herb garden, butterfly garden and pollinator garden. Definitely worth a visit. Tucson Botanical Garden

The Barrio Viejo

Barrio Viejo
Barrio Viejo

This historic neighborhood was once home to to Tucson’s working class, immigrants from Mexico, Central America, Africa, Asia and Europe. The adobe homes were built in the 1800’s as Tucson grew in agriculture and as a crossroads in the Southwest.

Unfortunately many of the old buildings were bulldozed during Tucson’s “revitalization” period when the new convention center was built. Today, the remaining homes are becoming popular to purchase and restore and a walk through these neighborhoods offers a peek into Tucson’s history as well as a colorful opportunity for photographers. Barrio Viejo.

The Tucson Museum of Art

Tucson Museum of Art
Tucson Museum of Art

As we were walking around Tucson we noticed the Tucson Museum of Art was offering a special exhibit of the works of the Wyeth Family. My husband and I both love the work of Andrew Wyeth so we thought we should check it out. The beautiful museum is right in the center of Tucson in a newish building that is attached to one of the most historic homes of Tucson.

The $12 entrance fees seemed very reasonable and we not only enjoyed the Wyeth Family exhibit, but wandered through all the permanent exhibits of the museum. Well worth a couple of hours when visiting Tucson. Tucson Museum of Art

San Xavier del Bac Mission

San Xavier del Bac Mission
San Xavier del Bac Mission

A truly unexpected beauty of a mission rises up out of the desert like a white beacon about ten miles outside of Tucson. This National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Construction of the current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797.  Entrance is free and it is definitely worth checking it out. Very beautiful. San Xavier del Bac Mission.

Walking Tour Historic Tucson – Presido Trail

From the original Presidio in historic Tucson you can easily walk in any direction to multiple buildings and sites of historic significance. Throughout this walk you will also find numerous historic markers interpreting the unique and interesting history of Tucson. Tucson is home to several sites on the National Historic Register. It’s an easy walk (flat) for just about anyone and worth an hour or more depending on your interest. Presidio Walking Trail

Historic Congress Hotel
Historic Tain Depot

Mount Lemmon

Mount Lemmon
Mount Lemmon

On one of the colder days during our visit we drove up Mount Lemmon all the way to where the road ends. This drive offers spectacular views as well as some hiking options. Worth a half a day to see how the landscape changes from saguaro to pines. Beautiful. Mount Lemmon

Thanks Tucson

There you go, nine things to do in Tucson Arizona. Throughout the area there are several places designed to show visitors what the old west was like, but they aren’t authentic and I usually shy away from such things. But if you are interested to learn more about the wider variety of things to see and do in this remarkable region of Arizona at Visit Tucson. There are certainly more than nine things to do in Tucson Arizona…but this will give you a start.

We will definitely be back. Thanks Tucson. We loved you.

Want to take a day trip south? Read our post Tubac, Bisbee, Tombstone Day Trip from Tucson Arizona.

Next week we will post about our favorite food in Tucson.

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13 Comments

  • Reply Wendy Lee

    I’ve only been to Tucson for business, so never got the chance to explore it properly. Your trip sounds amazing and now I want to go back!

    April 9, 2021 at 6:56 am
    • Reply Laureen

      thanks Wendy. I am definitely going back!!

      April 9, 2021 at 2:13 pm
  • Reply Larch Gauld

    I really must get to America one day! There is so much to see and do. I love the colourful buildings in contrast to the desert around it.

    April 9, 2021 at 2:32 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      It’s a big amazing place. We’d love to have you visit the USA!

      April 10, 2021 at 3:56 pm
  • Reply Alma

    Amazing America! Sounds like great fun to hike and explore. Need to add this to my bucket list.

    April 10, 2021 at 4:33 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Please do and visit soon!

      April 10, 2021 at 3:55 pm
  • Reply Sinjana

    Looks like a perfect combination of man-made and natural beauties. Look forward to visiting Tuscon.

    April 10, 2021 at 5:44 am
    • Reply Laureen

      You would love it!

      April 10, 2021 at 3:55 pm
  • Reply Linda (LD Holland)

    We visited Tucson at the end of a long road trip so did take some down time on our visit. We saw a few things but left many things for a return trip. We some outdoor things – Saguaro NP and Mt Lemmon. But missed many of the great indoor attractions and historical spots. And it would be lovely to see the Botanical Garden in bloom. All good reasons to go back.

    April 10, 2021 at 2:48 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      There is a lot to do. I hope to go back too!

      April 10, 2021 at 3:55 pm
  • Reply Alison

    This sounds wonderful – so much to see and do. I’d be out hiking for sure, but the museum sounds great, and that mission church is beautiful!

    April 12, 2021 at 11:51 am
  • Reply Sarah

    I’ve been to Tucson several times and love visiting the Saguaros and Mt Lemmon. The Arizona-Sonora Desert museum was also amazing. Haven’t been able to see the Presido Trail or San Xavier, but it’s now on my list for next time!!

    July 16, 2021 at 11:05 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      We loved it and hope to go back next year.

      July 17, 2021 at 7:28 am

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