This world-famous museum is also a zoo that displays the creatures of the surrounding desert in their natural habitats. Located in the middle of the Sonoran desert about a half an hour drive from Tucson's city center, it also provides breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain ranges. The gift shop has an excellent selection of Sonoran desert souvenirs. This is a must for any visitor staying in Tucson for more than just one day.
This institution is totally dedicated to the preservation of the history of flight, be it commercial, military, or even interplanetary. The museum opened in 1976 with just 75 aircraft and has now grown to have more than 250 on display. A recent addition is the Northrop F-5B "Freedom Fighter." Be prepared to spend the entire day if you, or someone in your party, is a aircraft buff. The exhibits on the floor here rotate, and special events and conferences are scheduled regularly.
Of all the natural attractions in and around Tucson, Sabino Canyon is certainly the most popular. This large chasm in the Santa Catalina Mountains is where ancient Hohokam people built irrigation dams while mammoths roamed the ground. Access is free, but there is a charge for parking. Highlights are swimming (conditions allowing) in clear pools after a six-mile hike to Seven Falls and summer evening shuttle rides (paid for by pre-paid reservations). Sabino tram and bear shuttles rides are available.
Here's a museum south of Tucson that must surely be considered unique and a chilly reminder of the Cold War. Go underground and see one of the old Titan ballistic missiles, watch the roll-back silo door open, follow operations at the launch control center, and watch demonstrations of countdown procedures. Tours begin every half hour. To reach Titan Missile Museum, go south on Interstate 19 and take exit 69 to the Duval Mine Road and follow the signs.
While not being a world famous zoo, the Reid Park Zoo is still one of the major attractions in the city. Due to its relatively small size, the zoo can be explored at a leisurely pace in less than two hours. The animals are on display in pleasant natural settings. Chances are you will envy the two polar bear cubs as they happily float in ice-cold water while you're struggling in the Tucson summer heat. Luckily there are plenty of shade and cooling stations available.
Tucson Botanical Gardens is a major Tucson tourist attraction, and not just for plant lovers. Apart from a rich collection of cactus and desert wildflowers, the gardens offer an educational walk around the history of the native Tohono O'odham Indians and the efforts of local scientists to preserve native seeds. Don't miss the wonderful Nuestro Jardin, the traditional Mexican-American neighborhood garden, or the shaded restaurant patio.
In the heart of the American Southwest, Tucson is a vibrant city known for its young, urban crowd fueled by the University of Arizona. The second largest city in the state, the city has a rich past that's reflected in everything from its historic architecture to its eclectic cultural milieu. Ringed by the rugged peaks of the Santa Rita, Tortolita, Rincon, Tucson and Sierrita Mountains, the city lies in a valley filled with flowering desert cacti that change to pine-trees as the altitude rises. At Sentinel Peak, excavations have revealed signs of settlement as far back as 4,000 years. Hiking and biking are popular activities and draw visitors looking to explore Arizona's natural beauty while enjoying the city's lively vibe.
Ethnographic art from all over the world is what this gallery upstairs at Broadway Village specializes in, including an impressive display of Southwestern ceramics. The collection of Huichol Indian beadwork is worth the visit at Primitive Arts Gallery. Collectors of African and Polynesian spirit masks and statues will find several objects of their desires here. A must-see for lovers of the exotic, and a perfect fit for the pleasant shaded Mexican-style courtyard downstairs.
This place probably has the best selection of Caribbean and Latin American Art in all of Tucson. Showcasing both internationally established artists and emerging ones, the owners of this Haiti Arts gallery will search the Americas and the rest of the world looking for that particular collectors item you've been looking for, while offering affordable prices. The shop contains all original paintings and prints. Commissions are available.
Take your funny bone out on the town at Laffs Comedy Caffe. This popular comedy club hosts a number of comedians who tour nationwide, as well as a variety of local acts and new talent. A full bar and restaurant menu is available to customers. Since the club is reasonably sized, virtually every seat in the house affords a comfortable dining experience and a great view of the action on stage. Reservations are strongly recommended.
The focus here is on glass, specifically the art of glass in all its variations; pierced, carved, hand blown. There are exquisitely crafted pierced spheres as well as beautiful, tall-necked vases and glass sculptures from which to choose. Apart from its glass section, the gallery features contemporary ceramics, jewelry, metal furniture and fibers, and it's all unique. You just might be tempted to buy your souvenir from Tucson right here.
Combine shopping and entertainment at El Con Mall. The huge 20-plex Century movie theater is one of the most popular entertainment venues in town, especially in the hot summer months when everyone in Tucson just wants get into an air-conditioned environment as fast as possible. The theater shows general release Hollywood movies exclusively. Concession stands are provided inside. For film times, ticket prices and further information please call or see their website.