Things To Do Tucson
Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona with a population of over 520,000. The city sits in Pima County and is widely known in the modern era for being home to the University of Arizona which resides in Downtown Tucson. The city is commonly referred to as “The Old Pueblo” due to its deep Spanish roots dating back to the 1770’s. Tucson AZ is one of the top 50 largest cities in the United States coming in at number 33 overall.
A city of this size with a world class college certainly has many different activities to choose from. As a local you might be so busy with work that you forget all the things the city has to offer. We will review with you all of the top attractions that are worth visiting while you live in Tucson Arizona.
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Outdoor Adventures at Mount Lemmon
This top attraction is located about one hour away from nearby Tucson making it the perfect summer destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Mount Lemmon is the highest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains with an elevation over 9,000 feet. We will discuss the many options this lovely outdoor gem has to offer you.
Hiking Trail Attractions in Tucson
Arizona offers a vast array of over 2,000 hiking trails. There seems to be an option for just about every hiker out there from the novice first timer to the experienced backpacker. Perhaps scaling the side of a mountain or hiking rim to rim are not your cup of tea. Don’t worry Tucson, Arizona offers many flatland hiking trails that provide a scenic view and breathe of fresh air. The top hiking trails that Mount Lemmon has to offer include:
- Bug Spring Trail
- Sunset Trail
- Meadow Trail
- Green Mountain Trail
Photo credit: https://www.alltrails.com/us/arizona/tucson
If you are not an avid outdoorsmen there are plenty of other moderate to easy trails. Tucson is known as having some of the best hiking in the United States.
Camping & Lodging Tucson Area
Similar to it’s hiking trails Tucson also offers multiple camping and lodging experiences. If you prefer to be one with nature while camping then there are many tent camping options for you. Most people are not that in tune with the wild and might prefer a clamping experience. There are many wood cabin experiences all over Tucson. Just check out AirBnB and select the cabin that suits your budget and lodging experience preferences.
Scenic Drive Tucson, AZ
Hiking and camping is not for everyone. Don’t forget about the many scenic drives Tucson has to offer including the unforgettable Mount Lemmon Scenic drive. If you have already completed the Mount Lemmon Scenic then there are many more left all around Tucson. Head out for a day drive around the Sonoran Desert, Sabino Canyon or the Saguaro National Park. These are all great family friendly options for those with small children or people looking to spend quality time with elders that can’t get around as easily.
Museum of Art in Tucson
The Arizona Museum of Art is located in the Presidio District of Downtown Tucson and was founded in 1924. Since its inception it has been an art education institution and one of the top attractions in Tucson and the best Museum in western United States. The Arizona Museum of Art has so many visitors each year that is attracts international and traveling exhibits. The museum does not focus on one specific type of art. Instead they have art that touches many cultures including Latin American, Asian, Western and Native American, contemporary and even modern art.
Location: 140 N Main Avenue, Tucson, AZ
Reid Park Zoo
The Reid Park Zoo is the largest zoo in the Tucson, Arizona area. It was founded in 1967 as a city owned and operated but non-profit. It sits on 24 acres in Reid Park and has over 500 animals that visitors can come and see. The price is very reasonable for families starting at $6.50 for children under the age of 14. If you have not been to this zoo in a few years it might be time to return. In 2017 legislation was passed for a 10 year expansion and improvement project. This will mean larger spaces for animals and the guests. Check it out!
Location: 3400 E Zoo Court, Tucson, AZ
Animals at Reid Park Zoo
The zoo in Tucson has all of household favorites that any child would want to see. From bears, elephants, lions, jaguars, zebras, giraffes and monkeys they literally have it all at the Reid Park Zoo. The best part about this Tucson zoo besides its low prices is that conservation is their main goal and top priority. It is in their mission to do as much as possible to support wild life by doing things such as recycling and saving and reclaiming water.
Sabino Canyon is a beloved recreational area that many local Tucson residents take advantage of for walking, hiking and biking. Not only do local Tucson residents flock here, but so do people from all over Arizona. The Sabino Canyon is located in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, AZ.
The canyon is an incredible experience and offers spectacular hikes and views of waterfalls. The top recreational areas in the Sabino Canyon include:
- Bear Canyon Trail
- Sabino Creek
If you are into mountain biking then this area of Tucson is a must see attraction. Make sure you bring all your gear including a helmet. The terrain out here is nothing to mess with!
Mission San Xavier Del
The Mission of San Xavier Del Bac has such historical ties to the city of Tucson. This is an old Spanish Catholic mission that was built on Tohono O’odham which is an Indian Reservation. This is often referred to as the Dove of the Desert by historical scholars and locals alike.
It was built in the lates 1700’s and is the oldest european structure in Arizona today. This historical site hosts over 200,ooo visitors each year from all over the United States.
Address: 1950 W San Xavier Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746
Saguaro National Park
When you search Tucson on google images you will most likely find photos of very large cactus. These large cactuses are in the Saguaro National Park. The park is split up into two sides the west side and the east side. Each side is distinct and has its own flavor and worth going to while you are in Tucson.
West Side Saguaro National Park
The west side of the park is lower in elevation and has more cactus and plants. If you are short on time it is recommended that you visit the west side.
East Side Saguaro National Park
The east side is more mountainous and much larger. If you are a hiker or want more space to roam on your trip then you need to go to the east side.
Food in Tucson
Tucson has some of the best eats in the United States thanks to its long and deep cultural roots. Of course its focal point and most common food type is Mexican. The food in Tucson is not limited to just Mexican food. You can find almost any type of food ranging to Chinese, Korean, Italian and Steakhouses.
If you are a local or visiting from our of town we recommend going on a Tucson food tour. On the new tour they will take you around to some of the best and highest rated restaurants in Tucson so that you can sample them.
Our favorite restaurants that have must try food in Tucson include:
- El Charro Cafe
- LaCo Tucson
- Baja Cafe on Broadway
- Prep and Pastry
- Bobo’s Restaurant
There are literally so many great restaurants in Tucson that we could not include them all on this list. There are enough good food places to pick a new place each Friday and Saturday night and have a new place to attend for years to come.
Horseback Riding in Saguaro National Park
If you are not much of a hiker then perhaps you would enjoy a good horseback riding tour. Horseback riding tours are a great way to get outside and see the local scenery with little effort. There are several companies that offer this all over Tucson area. If you want to find the best deals just hop on Groupon and you can also read all the reviews that people left for each tour.
Go to a Local Brewery
The craft brew scene has exploded all over the United States in the last few years. In your backyard in Tucson there are many local breweries that present a great experience. Many of these places offer laid back, cool vibes that makes it easy to relax and meet new people.
The mixed indoor/outdoor experience is perfect for both Summer and Winter. On the weekend many of the popular ones turn into hangout spots for locals including live music. All of their beers are craft brews and made in house on site.
We made a short list for you of the top ones in Tucson:
- Borderlands Brewing Company
- Firetruck Brewing Company
- Pueblo Vida Brewing Company
Check out these places for good local craft beer and enjoy the experience. Maybe you will even meet a new friend or two.
Night Out on 4th Avenue
Spending a night out on 4th street is a right of passage for any local Tucson resident. What is 4th street? The historic fourth avenue in Tucson is described as “The Heartbeat of Tucson”. Whether you are looking for shops, eats, drinks or entertainment this area of Tucson has it all.
Shopping on 4th Avenue
Maybe you are going out with friends soon and need a new outfit to fit the mood. The shops on 4th Avenue is a great spot to look for trendy clothing in Tucson. A popular thrift shop that many of the locals find great deals at is called The Other Side.
Find a Book
If you are getting bored at home quarantining like we are then you should pick up a new book to occupy your time. It is a soothing way to relieve some stress and stimulate your brain. Pick up a book at the local book shop called Antigone Books. Whether you are looking for the newest releases or oldies but goodies this place will be your best friend.
Location: 411 North 4th Avenue, Tucson, AZ
Pick a Record
If you are a music junkie and love going old school and picking up records then you must visit the coolest record store in Tucson called Hurricane Records. This store is owned by a longtime local Tucson musician. They sell records as well as many other items such as speakers, turn tables and more!
Location: 636 N 4th Avenue, Tucson, AZ
Check Out Old Tucson
Old Tucson is West of Downtown Tucson and is home to an old movie studio that was originally built in 1939 by Columbia Pictures for the film Arizona. Since then it has had a long list of academy award winning old western films and shows cast at the Old Tucson studio.
Location: 201 Kinney Road, Tucson, AZ
Take a Tour
The movie studio and surrounding area is open to the public. In 1960 a local Tucson entrepreneur renovated the area to make it into a theme park and one of the cities best attractions. There are rides for kids and families as well as even fake shootouts in the street by actors. The overall theme of Old Tucson is that of a wild wild west film.
In 1995 a devastating fire would rip through Old Tucson causing severe damage. After a long investigation it was determined the fire was started by a serial arsonist. It took over 20 months for Old Tucson to be restored and begin to let visitors back in. This is a special place and a top tourist attraction. However, if you are a local in Tucson it is worth at least one trip to go see what the hype is about.