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Things to do in Tucson

Our most recommended things to do in Tucson

Tucson: Botanical Gardens Holiday Lights Festival Ticket

1. Tucson: Botanical Gardens Holiday Lights Festival Ticket

Take a stroll through a glittering wonderland of more than a million lights, custom-built installations, and pieces created by local artisans at this year’s LightsUp! A Festival of Illumination. Be dazzled by a 50-foot light tunnel, dancing cypress trees, and the golden world of luminarias. Experience the warm glow of 3,000 luminarias, or paper lanterns, which create a magical display that is a beloved 30-year-old tradition in Tucson. Enter six distinct and thematically connected areas that will captivate your imagination with their own unique color palettes.  Designed by nationally-renowned public garden landscape architect Tres Fromme, the Botanical Gardens Holiday Lights show is a carefully curated and artfully sequenced series of illuminated experiences that transform the gardens. 

Tucson: Hot Air Balloon Ride with Champagne and Breakfast

2. Tucson: Hot Air Balloon Ride with Champagne and Breakfast

Enjoy a morning among the clouds on a shared 45-60-minute hot air balloon flight. After your hot air balloon flight, relax with a post-flight champagne toast and balloonist's ceremony. Fill up on a continental breakfast, and take home commemorative flight certificates. Soar thousands of feet in the air for an overview of the valley. Skim over the trees and cacti. Learn about the history, flora, fauna, and landmarks of the land from your pilot. After your hot air balloon flight, relax with champagne at a traditional balloonist's ceremony. To conclude your hot air balloon ride, you'll be inducted into the ballooning society and awarded the Certificate d’Ascension En Machine Aerostatique, a memento of your journey.

Box Canyon and Pinal Mountains Half-Day ATV Tour

3. Box Canyon and Pinal Mountains Half-Day ATV Tour

Explore the extreme northeast corner of Florence, Arizona on board a thrilling Terrain Vehicle (ATV). Located halfway between Tucson and Phoenix, the Box Canyon and Pinal Mountains make for an ideal day out from both cities. The dirt trail that will set your blood racing is about 30 miles long, and you will have 3.25 hours to play. Once your guide has equipped you with safety equipment and received a short training, head off along dirt trails that twist, turn, and bump up and down the Pinal Mountains. Climb up and over the front range of the mountains. At the same time, your guide points out Indian petroglyphs left behind by the ancient Native Americans.  Another point of interest is an old adobe building that served as a way station for the Butterfield Overland Stage Coach Company during the 1860s. For a short time, it also serviced the Pony Express on what was known as the "Butterfield Route." The real highlight of the tour is Box Canyon. You'll be in the canyon for about 6 miles. Get set for the drama of the middle 3 miles, a slot canyon with walls only about 10-20 feet apart and 900 feet high on both sides!

Tucson: Botanical Gardens Admission Ticket

4. Tucson: Botanical Gardens Admission Ticket

Founded in 1964, the Tucson Botanical Gardens is a historic property in mid-town Tucson located on the site of the Porter property. The Canadian Garden Council named it one of the “Top 10 North American Gardens Worth Traveling For.” Distinctive features include mature trees, expertly cultivated foliage, specialty gardens, and a magical butterfly exhibit that’s home to over 400 butterflies from 11 countries. The tropical butterfly exhibit features hundreds of butterflies and beautiful blooming orchids. Keep your eyes peeled for hummingbirds, cardinals, quail, butterflies, olive trees, dwarf citrus trees, bearded iris, wildflowers, and cacti. There’s also art exhibits and galleries and the chance to have breakfast or lunch in an outdoor setting.

Tucson: Flandrau Science Center Entry Ticket

5. Tucson: Flandrau Science Center Entry Ticket

Learn about the world and the sky with admission to the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium. Enjoy a variety of exhibits that explore sharks, space, and fossils, and stay after dark to see Jupiter through a telescope. At the heart of the University of Arizona campus, enter Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium. After showing your ticket, head in to explore the universe, from earth to space. Get your young children excited about science with interactive elements, games, and activities. Older children and adults alike can learn about bugs, sharks, black holes, and space. Consider adding as a full-dome planetarium experience while you're there. Metalheads can pop into the Planetarium for a laser show featuring music by Pink Floyd and Metallica. Sroll through the many exhibits. Learn about the importance of bugs for the environment, discover the largest scale model of the surface of Mars, and see ancient fossils. Throughout the year, changing exhibits focus on biology, energy, and optics and weave in ground-breaking UA research, revealing the world of science careers for budding scientists. After dark, meet with a volunteer astronomer at the Flandrau Observatory. Peer through a 16-inch telescope to see Saturn's rings, the cloud belts of Jupiter, and the Andromeda galaxy.

Tucson: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Admission Ticket

6. Tucson: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Admission Ticket

Experience the magic of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum with this attraction ticket. Traverse two miles of walking paths across 21 acres of desert landscape and uncover the diverse flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert region. Exchange your voucher for a ticket in the fast-tracked Pre-Purchased Tickets line and begin your journey through the animal and plant life which abounds in the Sonoran Desert. Take a stroll through over 55,000 species of plants. Admire wildlife such as coyotes, javelinas, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep in naturalistic habitats. Bird lovers delight in visiting the Museum's two aviaries, one which is solely dedicated to hummingbirds. Learn about how the museum has worked to protect the natural systems of the Sonoran Desert Region. Find out about its mission to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the Sonoran Desert.

Tucson: Southern Arizona Attractions Discount Pass

7. Tucson: Southern Arizona Attractions Discount Pass

Discover Southern Arizona's top attractions and save over $500 at over 90 different locations. Visit as many attractions as you like during normal operating hours until your time runs out. The clock starts when you use your card at the first attraction. Have your pass instantly delivered to your phone via text or email and start using it immediately without wasting your phone's storage on app downloads. Save the pass to your phone's home screen for easy one-tap access. Some of the attractions included: • Arizona Zipline Adventures • Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley • Golf N' Stuff • Musselman Honda Circuit • Pima County Fair • Reid Park Zoo • Southern Arizona Heritage & Visitor Center • Tombstone’s Boot Hill • Tucson Sugar Skulls (Spring) • Center For Creative Photography • DeGrazia Gallery In The Sun Museum • Helen S. Schaefer Poetry Center • Madaras Gallery • Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson • Sonoran Glass School • The Mini Time Machine Museum Of Miniatures • Tubac Center Of The Arts • Tucson Desert Art Museum • Tucson Improv Movement • Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block • Ajo District Chamber and Visitor Center • Amerind Museum • Arizona History Museum • Arizona State Museum • Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum • Bisbee Tourism Center • Cocoraque Ranch and Pavillion • Discover Bisbee • Discover Marana Visitor Center • Mission San Xavier Del Bac • Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center • O.K. Corral® Famous Gunfight Site • Pima Air & Space Museum • Presidio San AgustÍn Del Tucson Museum • Southern Arizona Transportation Museum • Titan Missile Museum • Tombstone Epitaph Newspaper & Museum • Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum • University Libraries • Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum • Campus Arboretum • Colossal Cave Mountain Park • Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill • Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce • Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber Of Commerce • International Wildlife Museum • National Parks Store • Oracle State Park • Patagonia Lake State Park • Picacho Peak State Park • Sabino Canyon Crawler • Saguaro National Park East and West • Tohono Chul • Tubac Presidio State Historic Park • Tucson Botanical Gardens • Tumacácori National Historical Park • La Encantada Shopping Center • Main Gate Square • University of Arizona Book Stores - Student Union • Biosphere 2 • History of Pharmacy Museum • Space Imagery Center, GoodEnough Silver Mine and Trolley (Tombstone) • Wyatt Earp Oriental Saloon • TopGolf, Arizona Opera • Arizona Theatre Company • Fox Tucson Theatre • Old Tucson’s Yuletide Holiday • Old Tucson (Jan 2023, Mescal Movie Set, Historic Canoa Ranch, Mini-Time Machine of Miniatures, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tohono Chul, Mission San Xavie Del Bac and many, many more)

Tucson: Arizona State Museum Entry Ticket

8. Tucson: Arizona State Museum Entry Ticket

Take your entry ticket and visit the Arizona State Museum. Established in 1893, the museum is the oldest and largest anthropological research facility in the U.S. Southwest, home to the world's most comprehensive collections of Southwest Indigenous pottery and Native North American basketry. During yours visit see the museum's core and temporary exhibits. Learn about thousands of years of fiber-weaving traditions in "Woven Through Time: American Treasures of Native Basketry and Fiber Art." Explore the 2,000 year history of pottery-making in "The Pottery Project." Renowned for its excellence in preserving, interpreting, and sharing the material culture of the U.S. Southwest and northwest Mexico, the museum's extensive collections are among the most significant resources in the world for the study of American Southwest’s 13,000 year human history.

From Phoenix: Tombstone and Bisbee Day Tour

9. From Phoenix: Tombstone and Bisbee Day Tour

Start your tour with a scenic 3-hour drive to the town of Tombstone. Learn about the region from your knowledgeable guide as you relax in a luxury vehicle. Stop to admire beautiful views of Saguaro National Park and snap photos of the largest saguaro cactus field in the Southwest. Once in Tombstone, wander through the old town and check out the main street. After lunch, you’ll see a thrilling 30-minute staged gunfight. After around 2.5 hours exploring Tombstone, continue to the copper mining town of Bisbee. This scenic town is situated in the mountains and was once the largest copper mining community in America. Stroll the street to see restored and historic buildings and preserved copper workshops. Browse the local shops before heading back to your accommodation.

Phoenix & Scottsdale: Saguaro Lake Kayaking Tour

10. Phoenix & Scottsdale: Saguaro Lake Kayaking Tour

Paddle through gorgeous Saguaro Lake on a kayak with this guided desert tour. Enjoy hours on the water with your experienced guide, splashing, relaxing, and viewing unique wildlife. The lake is an indispensable oasis in the vast Sonoran Desert, attracting a multitude of birds and wildlife.   Kayaking in Arizona is a unique experience, which offers you the chance to see desert bighorn sheep and bald eagles. Take time to appreciate the surrounding mountain peaks, giant saguaro cactus, and flora, only found in this distinctive ecosystem. Your guides are always available to teach you the natural history of the area and give you expert paddling instruction. This tour is available for individuals and groups, and is perfect for paddlers of all experience levels.

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What people are saying about Tucson

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 43 reviews

Such a fun & thrilling experience! This was a gift to my sister for her birthday and she loved it. Ray was our guide, he’s fantastic. We had a blast hanging out with him for 3 hours. He made sure we were safe, but having fun and he even brought water and treats for us. Ray stopped and showed us a couple historical landmarks, which was a nice surprise. Make sure you give him and extra big tip if he’s your guide. The best part was going thru the narrow canyon walls and the beautiful views. 10/10 recommend. I will definitely do this again.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a great and extraordinary museum. Usually you stay here for 3-4 hours. It's a great place for families and children. All the animals of the desert can be seen on site. Since 80 percent of the museum is outdoors, it is important to wear a hat, water (can be refilled free of charge at water points in the park) and good sunscreen. Have fun exploring the desert museum.

Brian was our driver/guide. He was on-time, very friendly and knowledgeable and was great with the grandkids. We had a great time ! He taught us a lot of things about desert. We would highly recommend

Our driver/guide was phenomenal. Super respectful, and knowledgeable about the desert. Cactus Jack is the best out there!!!

Our Guide Bill was awesome!!! Very knowledgeable and helpful.