Set in a picture postcard background of cacti, rolling hills and awe inspiring mountains, Tucson is Arizona’s second largest city and is the epitome of a modern growing metropolis. Despite being very much 21st Century, it succeeds in retaining its desert frontier roots and historical charm. Tucson has a long history of settlement by the ancient Native American’s, European explorers and Anglo frontiersmen and women. Add to this the fusion of American and Mexican cultures, a place where the past meets the present adding to the richness and ambiance of the city.

With a wonderful climate for most of the year, Tucson is the perfect place for soaking up the sun, enjoying year round outdoor activities and absorbing the spellbinding landscapes that will take your breath away. A thriving city for arts, cultural events and festivals, Tucson offers the visitor many opportunities to enjoy performing arts of all descriptions, world class dining whatever your culinary favourites may be, including many regional dishes which are as rich and colourful as the culture and people. Added to this, Tucson is most certainly recognised as being a golfers paradise with world-class courses, country clubs and municipal course that challenge players of all levels, plus a whole host of spa resorts to help you unwind and relax.

Top 12 things to do in Tucson


With the country’s biggest optics program, the #1 space program ranked by the National Science Foundation, and one of the top research institutions in the world at the University of Arizona, Tucson is still a pioneer town, but now they mine cutting-edge knowledge instead of ore. They’re also home to Davis-Monthan Air Force base, and the rows and rows of planes at the adjacent Pima Air & Space Museum offer one of the deepest dives into aerospace history you’ll ever find. Telescopes top the mountains, taking advantage of Tucson’s clean air and clear, dark skies to make them the astronomy capital of the world. What does that mean?

Reserve your spot in the 5-hour SkyNights program at Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter and find out as you see the universe in a way most people never will. Back on Earth, the Titan Missile Museum offers a fascinating look back at the Cold War. And Biosphere 2, which made history as Earth’s first self-contained biome, now invites the public to learn more about its innovative research on climate change and other vital science topics. Tucson also stakes its claim as a mecca for geologists and rock hounds looking for rare gems and minerals.


Take a deep dive into the Sonoran Desert flora and fauna at the famous Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum where you’ll find native animal exhibits in and amongst blooming cactus gardens. Experience the definition of serenity and connect with your inner botanist while walking the lush, beautiful grounds of places like the Tucson Botanical Gardens or Tohono Chul. Explore the family-favorite Reid Park Zoo, not just for the variety of animal species from around the globe but also for the beautifully colorful plant life found throughout each exhibit.


Arizona State Museum offers many opportunities to learn about the ancient and enduring Native cultures of the region through content-rich exhibits, docent tours, digital and in-person programs, master classes, travel tours, and a research library and archives. Amerind Museum is a museum, art gallery, and research center dedicated to archaeology, Native cultures, and Western art. Bring a lunch and enjoy the scenic picnic area and Bird Pond, with spectacular views of Texas Canyon. 

The Arizona History Museum is located near the center of the Tucson Metro area. The museum houses the stories and artifacts of Arizona personalities such as Geronimo and Wyatt Earp, as well as Emperor and Empress Maximilian and Carlota of Mexico. Family-oriented exhibits include a mining tunnel and a hands-on re-creation of 1870s’ Tucson. There is also the Etherton Gallery, Jewish History Museum, and Tucson Presidio Museum all worth your time.


With over 5,500 acres of foothills, canyons, and streams, Catalina State Park has plenty of hiking, biking, and birding trails for you to enjoy. Keep on trekking at Oracle State ParkPatagonia Lake State ParkPicacho Peak State Park, or Roper Lake State Park. The vistas vary, but all offer a wealth of outdoor pursuits for you to enjoy. 



Flandrau Science Centre & Planetarium is Tucson’s destination for adventures in space and science! Located on the University of Arizona campus, Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium inspires visitors of all ages to discover the wonders of science. Explore the solar system and beyond in Flandrau’s state-of-the-art planetarium theater, featuring a full-dome digital projection system that can launch from the Earth and fly to planets, moons, and asteroids. Flandrau also offers fun interactive science exhibits that will engage the whole family. Keep your focus skyward with tours of Kitt Peak National Observatory, Mt. Graham International Observatory, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter and Whipple Observatory.


Hidden high in the Rincon Mountains with its endless vistas, rich history, and authentic Wild West vibe, Colossal Cave Mountain Park is a destination for the adventurous at heart. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 2400 acre park and ranch feature guided cave tours, hiking and biking trails, horseriding, petting zoo and butterfly garden.

You can also head underground for a different caving experience at Kartchner Caverns State Park. Kartchner is a rare cavern that offers visitors a look at the entire family of colorful cave formations: stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, cave popcorn, shields, columns, totems, drapery, bacon and the massive 58-foot-tall Kublai Khan column in the Rotunda Room.


Go beyond the beaten path with a family getaway to the Sonoran Desert. The best family holidays become the stuff of legend, morphing into the memories you share for years to come. Whether you have a toddler in tow or are traveling with teenagers, kids and adults alike love exploring the Old Pueblo.

Discover the magical world of miniatures at The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, where visitors are seemingly transported to different lands and times through the stories told by over 300 miniature houses and room boxes, expertly displayed in over 10,000 square-feet of state-of-the-art exhibit space. The Museum’s permanent collection boasts antique dollhouses dating to 1742, contemporary fine-scale miniatures and enchanting collectibles. 

There’s even more fun to be had at Children’s Museum Tucson, Southern Arizona’s interactive museum for children, which provides fun, play-based, hands-on learning experiences for children and their families. Get up close with animals at Reid Park Zoo to chat with monkeys, walk with peacocks, or experience a Giraffe Encounter! Stroll through 24 acres of lush habitats including a flamingo lagoon, South American rainforest, African wild dog territory, two walk-through aviaries, and so much more. You won’t want to miss Expedition Tanzania, a savannah habitat home to an African elephant herd with rambunctious youngsters! And finally, how about a visit to Trail Dust Town and Tucson Wagon and History Museum? 


Mission San Xavier del Bac is acclaimed as the finest example of Spanish Baroque architecture in the USA and is located in the southwest of Tucson on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. An active parish, it has a gift shop, arts and crafts shop and for the first time in its more than 230-year history, free guided tours are now available. The 45-minute tours are led by specially trained, volunteer docents, who explain the Mission’s history and its lavishly decorated interior, the richest and most ornate in the Southwest. 

Further examples of historical architecture can be found at St. Augustine Cathedral, Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, and Tumacácori National Historical Park.


Catalina Highway also known as Mt. Lemmon Highway, is the only paved road that leads to the upper reaches of the Santa Catalina Range to Mt. Lemmon. It is one of the most scenic highways in the southwest and features: breathtaking vistas, amazing rockscapes, cooler mountain forests, deep canyons, and picturesque turnouts. 

Just 30 miles south of Tucson and a 45 minute drive, Madera Canyon feels a world apart. Located on the northwest face of the Santa Rita Mountains in the Coronado National Forest, this mesquite, juniper-oak and pine woodland offers some of the world’s best bird watching, plus ample hiking and picnicking opportunities. Madera Canyon boasts a mostly temperate year-round climate, though it can serve as a snowy escape during the winter months and a reprieve from Tucson’s warm summer days. The canyon’s elevation varies, beginning at 2,700 feet and climbing to almost 9,500 feet, offering more than 20-degree cooler temperatures in the higher elevations.

Discover the awe-inspiring Sabino Canyon, a natural gem, with its enchanting desert landscapes and picturesque vistas, Sabino Canyon provides an unforgettable outdoor experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. From hiking, biking, swimming, and even electric shuttle tours, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Sabino Canyon. 

Other options include Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, Ramsey Canyon and Sweetwater Wetlands Park.


Take a journey through art, history, and culture at the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block. Located in historic downtown, the museum features western, Latin American, and modern and contemporary art exhibitions as well as five historic houses that provide visitors with a unique look into Tucson’s past.

The Center for Creative Photography is the premier research collection of American photographic fine art and archives, promoting creative inquiry, dialogue, and appreciation of photography’s enduring cultural influence. The Center for Creative Photography is a world-renowned leader in preservation, teaching, learning, scholarship, and the appreciation of archival material and works of art by North America’s greatest photographers.

The University of Arizona Museum of Art offers a year-round schedule of exhibitions, programming, and events designed to engage diverse audiences, inspire critical dialogue, and champion art as essential to our lives. The permanent collection includes masterpieces that span eight centuries and innumerable artistic styles. 


Saguaro National Park West (also known as Tucson Mountain Station), located in the Tucson Mountains, and Saguaro National Park East (also known as Rincon Mountain Station), located in the Rincon Mountains, are home to over 2 million saguaros. With over 91,000 acres of land, visitors can experience a beautiful desert oasis filled with saguaros and wildlife.

Exclusive to the Sonoran Desert, the saguaro cactus has long been a symbol of the Old West and Tucson, Arizona. These cacti are tall and tree-like, with branches commonly referred to as arms. Saguaros can grow up to 45 feet tall, weigh 4,800 pounds when fully hydrated and can often live 150 to 200 years.

The Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park ranges from an elevation of 2,180 ft to 4,687 ft and contains 2 biotic communities, desert scrub, and desert grassland. Common wildlife include the coyote, Gambel’s quail, and desert tortoise.

Besides marveling at the wide-open landscape and endless sea of saguaros and other cacti, Saguaro National Park offers beautiful hikes, backcountry camping, petroglyphs up to 1,550 years old, cactus garden walks, and jaw-dropping sunset views.


The Tucson Wagon and History Museum features 150 horse-drawn vehicles from buggies to elaborate coaches, historic artifacts from pioneer days, re-created Tucson Main Street circa 1900.

The mission of Tucson Auto Museum is to showcase the very old (their Model T is over 100 years old!), the iconic, the sporty, the unique and more. You can even go Back to the Future in a shiny, stainless steel DeLorean. They have between 50 and 60 classic, iconic and unique autos inside a 20,000sq ft facility near downtown, plus lots of interesting automobilia like signs and gas pumps from yesteryear. This is a “living” museum; the cars are roadworthy and are taken out to shows regularly. 

The Southern Arizona Transport Museum Steam offers Steam Locomotive #1673 (which starred in “Oklahoma” back in 1955) and both outdoor and indoor exhibits exploring the impact of the railroad on Tucson. There are dozens of historic buses and streetcars in various stages of restoration at the Old Pueblo Trolley’s Transit Museum and a visit to Tucson Historic Train Depot is also worthwhile.

Nestled in midtown Tucson on a historic 1930’s ranch is The Franklin Automobile Museum, a world-class collection of antique Franklin Automobiles. Produced between 1902 and 1934, our air-cooled Franklins represent the triumphs and advancements of a burgeoning new form of transportation. With nearly 30 vehicles for visitors to engage with, they offer a unique and impressive chronology of the company’s products. 

Discover Tucson for yourself

Tucson makes a great choice, whether spending your whole holiday discovering its charms, or simply including a few nights as part of a longer itinerary. Here are a few options to whet your appetite:

STAY & PLAY IN TUCSON – 8 night twin centre
Discover both sides of Tucson on this twin centre holiday, which combines a luxury resort stay with a traditional ranch experience. Firstly explore the city, which is filled with fabulous attractions, museums, culture and great dining. Then head into the amazing outdoors, which offers state parks, caves, mountains and valleys, a plethora of recreational activities from biking to horse riding, and Saguaro National Park which is home to the iconic cactus.
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Calling all cowboy adventurers! Arizona is renowned as the home of the cowboy spirit and offers an authentic experience, in simply breathtaking surroundings. Staying at the award-winning White Stallion Ranch, you’ll enjoy a traditional dude ranch escape whilst benefitting from fine hospitality and having the delights of Tucson right on your doorstep. Venture out to enjoy a selection of state and national parks, great attractions and museums, wonderful dining and shopping.
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ARIZONA HIGHLIGHTS – 14 night fly drive
This two week itinerary allows you to explore many of Arizona’s incredible locations. Your holiday starts with three nights in Tucson, allowing lots of time to explore. Next, your journey takes you for three nights in Scottsdale, before discovering the charms of Sedona, Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. The itinerary ends by crossing the state line into Nevada and taking you to the bright lights and entertainment of Las Vegas.
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Suggested Itineraries

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