Things to do in Tucson

Logan Wallerstedt, UA Alumni Association photos

In this desert city there are endless opportunities for adventure. From markets to museums you can get a taste of everything all in the heart of Tucson.

It may have been a while since you have visited the Old Pueblo, so here are five experiences you and your family have to try. 


1. Mercado San Agustin    

Shopping at locally owned boutiques, grabbing a bite to eat at the Augustin Kitchen or just a drink to-go at Presta Coffee, you could spend hours at the Mercado San Agustin. The outdoor public market has a Spanish-colonial inspired build, with aesthetically pleasing clean, white walls and a brick courtyard. There are over 10 dinning, drinking and shopping options, along with a fitness studio offering yoga, Pilates and other classes. 

The Mercado is open seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is located at 100 South Avenida del Convento. Every Saturday there is live music in the courtyard from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. On Friday Oct. 26, at 6 p.m., join the Mercado Annex for shopping under the stars with live music, food trucks and drinks at the Westbound Bar.

2. Tumamoc Hill 

Fingers crossed the weather is pleasant during homecoming weekend. Even if it is not, Tumamoc Hill is a must-see attraction while visiting Tucson. The 860-acre ecological reserve is operated by University of Arizona and Pima County. The hiking trail is 1.5 miles each way (3 miles in total) with incredible views of the city. Visitors are encouraged to walk or run the trail and stop to take pictures while doing so. 

Tumamoc Hill is located directly west of downtown Tucson. Parking can be found along the street near St. Mary’s Hospital. It’s recommended visiting hours are anytime between 4 a.m. and 10 p.m. Many visitors recommend hiking the trail for sunrise or sunset. There are no pets or bikes allowed on the hill. Don’t forget water!


3. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum 

Being recently listed as a top-20 museum in the U.S. by Trip Advisor, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum offers 2 miles of walking paths, 230 animal species and 1,200 types of plants. The museum provides an unforgettable experience through a botanical garden, zoo, aquarium, art display and natural history.

The museum is located at 2021 North Kinney Road and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eighty-five percent of the museum is outdoors and it generally takes two hours to see all of the exhibits, so plan accordingly. General admission for adults ages 13-64 is $21.95 and children ages 3-12 is $8.95.

4. Tucson Botanical Garden 

Exploring the beautiful plants and nature of Tucson, the Botanical Garden offers an array of eye-appealing exhibits. Visitors can walk the paths and enjoy the garden through science, art, history and culture. The Botanical Garden strives for visitors to have an educational experience while appreciating its beauty.

The Tucson Botanical Garden will put on a “Feast with the Dearly Departed” event the night of Oct. 27, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event will celebrate Dia de los Muertos and the Mexican-American culture. Visitors can enjoy live music, grab a bite to eat, listen to storytellers and even get their face painted. The garden is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with an admissions fee of $15 (adults) and $8 (children 4-17 years).

5. Reid Park Zoo 

From riding the Cox Wildlife Carousel to feeding giraffes, the Reid Park Zoo offers much more to its guests than just their animal exhibits. While visiting the zoo, there are daily activities for kids such as training demonstrations and keeper chats. Guests can ride the Zoo Train around the park. Majority of the zoo can be seen within a two-hour time span. The park is open everyday in October from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admissions rate for adults is $10.50 and children (2-14 years) $6.50.

The zoo puts on “Boo at the Zoo” Oct. 26, 27 and 28 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This event allows guests to walk through the zoo, stopping to play old-fashioned games and activities at a Pumpkin Patch and Scarecrow Alley. For a monstrous thrill, guests 12 years and older can visit the Crandall Glass Scary Loop. Admissions for this event are $10 for non-members, children 2 years and under are free.