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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.

Tohono Chul Park

Tohono Chul Park, located on Tucson's northwest side, is a very picturesque piece of the Sonoran desert. This park features a wide variety of desert plants around pleasant trails, which lead visitors to a gift shop and a shaded tea room serving delicious scones for tea time. Regular "Walk in the Park" tours provide an educational experience about the park's flora. Be sure to bring your sunblock to protect yourself from the sun.

Reid Park Zoo

The Reid Park Zoo is 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. In their natural habitats, the wild animals make for a fascinating sight. From giraffes, tigers to peacocks, rhinos, elephants and bears, Reid Park Zoo has them all and many more.

Tucson Botanical Gardens

Tucson Botanical Gardens is a major tourist attraction in the city that's not meant just for plant lovers. Apart from a rich collection of cacti 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.

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