Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Tucson
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum wears a lot of hats; it's a museum, zoo, aquarium and publishing house. Just outside Tucson, the museum is one of the area's most popular attractions. The facility is dedicated to showcasing the flora, fauna, and history of the Sonoran Desert, with more than 230 species of animals and 1,200 kinds of plants spread throughout the 98 acres of the property. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum was founded in 1952, and expanded from its original focus of simply plants and animals native to the region to include an aquarium which opened in 2013. There is a walk-in aviary, a hummingbird aviary, and a desert garden. In addition to the many exhibits, there is a half-mile-long trail that visitors can explore, periodic birds-of-prey demonstrations, and presentations about the area's venomous creatures. There is also an art gallery that showcases local and national artists and a publishing company that produces books and guidebooks for adults and children.
Step back into the gunslingin’ Old West at Old Tucson, a movie studio and theme park located near the Tucson Mountains and Saguaro National Park in Arizona. Visitors to Old Tucson might think, ‘Hey! This place looks familiar!’ And that’s because this ‘town’ has been made famous as the location for more than 300 movies and television shows. From living history presentations to historic tours to shows and special events, Old Tucson really ‘brings it’ with the Western experience.
Whether you’re a fan of drama, comedy, or music, the gunfights and stunt shows based on traditional Western themes will fit the bill. There’s even a can-can musical in the saloon, featuring ‘Lady Vivian and her girls.’ Be sure to watch out for a traveling salesman who might try to pitch you a great deal on snake oil.
A trip to Tucson Old Town Artisans offers a great opportunity to shop for iconic Southwest handcrafts, like Native American and Mexican pottery, jewelry and textiles. This collection of six shops from local artisans occupies a historic complex of authentic adobe buildings from 1850s. Native American handcrafts are the specialty at La Zia, which sells Navajo rugs and Kachina dolls, while Shelago's Artwerks USA has Southwest inspired pieces from a wide range of artists. And The Gypsy’s Emporium is the perfect spot to treasure hunt for vintage, kitschy gifts and souvenirs. Old Town Artisans is home to restaurant La Cocina, where shoppers grab a bite in the shaded outdoor courtyard.