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Top Rated Attractions in Tucson

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Pima Air & Space Museum

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 aircrafts 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.

Mission San Xavier del Bac

The Mission San Xavier del Bac is perhaps Tucson's best-known historic landmark. Established in 1692 by the Spanish missionary Father Kino, 16.09 kilometers (10 miles) south of what is now downtown Tucson on the Tohono O'odham Indian reservation, San Xavier del Bac is considered one of the finest examples of Mexican folk baroque architecture. The mission's spotless whitewashed walls are embellished with the contrasting colors of the ornately handcrafted mesquite-wood entrance that adds a tinge of old-world finesse to the structure. The mission that stands today is, in fact, the second mission built between 1783 to 1797, and yet is the oldest European building in the state of Arizona. The parish is still active and holds mass every week.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

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.

Titan Missile Museum

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.

Mount Lemmon

At 9,159 feet (2,792 m), Mount Lemmon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. The mountain is part of the Coronado National Forest, where giant Saguaro cacti tower and a variety of desert vegetation blooms year around. The mountain is also home to the Mount Lemmon Observatory, which is used by the University of Arizona. Crowned by the dainty town of Summerhaven, this mighty mountain is traversed by a tapestry of windblown roads as well as the serpentine Catalina Highway. A hiking and camping wonderland, Mount Lemmon proudly watches over the enchanting desert landscape that unfolds along its lap. The Seven Cataracts and Windy Pointe Vista are some of the best vantage points on Mount Lemmon, offering incredible panoramas of Tucson.

Sabino Canyon

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 (ten kilometer) hike to Seven Falls and summer evening shuttle rides (paid for by pre-paid reservations). Sabino tram and bear shuttles rides are available.

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