Tucson, Arizona is just a couple of hours south of Phoenix. A legitimate day trip for people in the Phoenix area, there are unique and wonderful experiences there that you won't find in Phoenix. Here is a list of my favorites.
Before You Plan Your Tucson Outings
Tucson, Arizona is Arizona's second largest city, next to the capital city of Phoenix. Tucson is higher in elevation than Phoenix, so while it is still in the Sonoran Desert, and it certainly gets hot for several months of the year during the summer, it is generally a few degrees cooler than Phoenix.
January - Average temperature 53; Average high temperature 66
February - Average temperature 55; Average high temperature: 69
March - Average temperature 60; Average high temperature 74
April - Average temperature 67; Average high temperature 82
May - Average temperature 76; Average high temperature 92
June - Average temperature 85; Average high temperature 100
July - Average temperature 87; Average high temperature 100
August -... Average temperature 85; Average high temperature 97
September - Average temperature 82; Average high temperature 95
October - Average temperature 71; Average high temperature 85
November - Average temperature 60; Average high temperature 74
December - Average temperature 52; Average high temperature 65
Temperatures are shown in Fahrenheit. Here is how to convert to Celsius.
01 of 12The highly acclaimed Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum deserves all the accolades that it receives. It was probably the most expensive of the attractions that I have visited in Tucson, but it is well worth it. What is it? is it a garden? a zoo? a hiking area? an educational center? The answer is....yes, to all of those. Expect to spend a lot of time here appreciating the balance between the ecological components of the Desert Southwest.
02 of 12In the northeast part of Tucson the Sabina Canyon Recreation Area has beautiful scenery, with steep cliffs rising up from the canyon floor. No priv ate vehicles are allowed in here, but you can hike, walk, jog or take the shuttle bus -- that's what I did. You can also take the shuttle bus up, and then walk back, if you'd like. It's just less than 4 miles each way. This was one of my favorite activities in Tucson!
03 of 12
There are two different sides to Saguaro National Park, and the terrain is different. Both sides have Visitor Centers and loops for scenic drives. Hiking trails abound on both sides. The drive is easier on the east side (Rincon Mountain District), but I prefer the more rugged and natural look of the west side. The west side (Tucson Mountain District) has more saguaros, and is closer to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Old Tucson and the Wildlife Museum.
04 of 12In the southern part of Tucson many people will stop to visit the "White Dove of the Desert." It was originally built when the area was still part of Spain. After Mexico gained its independence in 1821, the Mission became part of Mexico. With the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, the Mission joined the United States.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
05 of 12If you love planes, military and commercial, you'll be in aircraft heaven here. Both indoor and outdoor exhibits. The guided tour in a trolley is the best way to go to see the outdoor exhibits, but you are certainly welcome to walk the expansive grounds.
06 of 12This attraction, near Old Tucson Studios, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, doesn't seem to get much media love, and I had never heard of it when I stopped in for a visit. There are no real animals here, but the kids (and adults) loved getting up close to the lifelike animals, beautifully arranged. It is all indoors, so it's a cool place to go in the summer.
07 of 12I know. There's nothing especially unique about a visit to the zoo, but the little ones need entertainment, too. Not the biggest zoo or the most modern zoo, this one will appeal mostly to the younger kids. It's owned by the City of Tucson and is located right in town.
08 of 12In 1995 most of Old Tucson Studios was destroyed by fire. It reopened in 1997, less as a film backdrop and more as a tourist attraction. Cowboys and little kids will enjoy this western town where many of the old, great western movies were filmed. Guided tours are available and explain the significance of the sets and the buildings. There are shows and other activities, too. In October, it becomes a Halloween-oriented attraction.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
09 of 12
The University of Arizona has a variety of museums right on campus that are open to the public. Most of them offer free admission. The Arizona State Museum is a well-organized "tour" through the history of the state. The Center for Creative Photography is not huge, but includes both permanent and special exhibitions. The Flandrau Science Center has a planetarium and, in the lower level, don't miss the Mineral Museum with a fantastic collection of geological specimens. For sports lovers, the Hall of Champions displays all the accomplishments of UA athletes.
10 of 12Desert garden trails, uniquely Arizona art and gifts. A great spot to slow down and appreciate nature and desert beauty.
11 of 12While this is a little outside of Tucson, it is truly unique. You won't find one of these in Phoenix! The guided tour is mostly lecture in the control room, so young children won't appreciate or understand it.
12 of 12
In the winter, Mt. Lemmon (elevation 9,157 feet at the peak) is a ski area in the Santa Catalina Mountains of the Coronado National Forest. It's a scenic drive with trails for hiking. In the summer, it's a cool retreat from the desert heat.
Temperatures are shown in Fahrenheit. January Average temperature: 53 Average high temperature: 66 Average low temperature: 40 Average rainfall: .94 inches February Average temperature: 55 Average high temperature: 69 Average low temperature: 42 Average rainfall: .86 inches March Average temperature: 60 Average high temperature: 74 Average low temperature: 46 Average rainfall: .73 inches April 67 82 52 .31 Average temperature: 67 Average high temperature: 82 Average low temperature: 52 Average rainfall: .31 inches May Average temperature: 76 Average high temperature: 92 Average low temperature: 61 Average rainfall: .23 inches June Average temperature: 85 Average high temperature: 100 Average low temperature: 69 Average rainfall: .20 inches July Average temperature: 87 Average high temperature: 100 Average low temperature: 74 Average rainfall: 2.25 inches August Average temperature: 85 Average high temperature: 97 Average low temperature: 73 Average rainfall: 2.39 inches September Average temperature: 82 Average high temperature: 95 Average low temperature: 69 Average rainfall: 1.29 inches October Average temperature: 71 Average high temperature: 85 Average low temperature: 57 Average rainfall: .89 inches November Average temperature: 60 Average high temperature: 74 Average low temperature: 46 Average rainfall: .57 December Average temperature: 52 Average high temperature: 65 Average low temperature: 39 Average rainfall: .93 inches