Tucson. Also known as The Old Pueblo or America’s Biggest Small Town.
Founded in 1775, Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona and is among the largest cities in the United States. Its rich history, beautiful landscape, and mouth-watering Mexican cuisine make the city popular among tourists, attracting millions of visitors every year.
If you plan to visit the city or are already there and thinking about exploring it, here are some of the best places to visit in Tucson.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is just amazing, with a ton of different things to see and enjoy.
Spread across 98 acres of natural desert landscape, the museum comprises a zoo (including two aviaries), an extensive botanical garden, two art galleries, and a natural history museum.
The wildlife found at the museum includes animals such as coyotes, javelinas, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep.
The museum also helps visitors learn about flora and fauna in this desert region through its exhibitions such as Rivers to the Sea, Life on the Rocks, and Cat Canyon.
Saguaro National Park
Situated near Tucson, this fascinating national park spans over 90,000 acres and includes two separate regions — the Tucson Mountain District, located about 10 miles west of Tucson, and the Rincon Mountain District, which is around the same distance but to the east.
The landscapes, volcanic rocks, flora, and fauna found in the two regions differ significantly from one another. The Tucson Mountain District is home to volcanic rocks that have been there for more than 30 million years. Some of these rocks were displaced and landed up in the Rincon Mountain District, where they are differently shaped and more eroded.
The ‘Saguaro’ that the park is named after is actually a towering indigenous cactus that grows in both regions.
Visitors can go hiking — there are numerous trails — or they can travel by car along Cactus Forest Scenic Loop Drive. The sunsets in the Tucson Mountain District are spectacular and a highlight for those visiting the park.
Pima Air & Space Museum
If you have any interest in space and flight and its history, you must visit this museum.
The Pima Air & Space Museum, one of the world’s largest non-government funded aerospace museums, houses over 400 aircraft, most of which are displayed outside. Some of the most prominent aircraft featured at the museum are Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, Boeing B-29 Superfortress, Convair B-36 Peacemaker, and Martin PBM Mariner.
Among the museum’s greatest attractions is their flight simulator Boeing 720 cockpit.
The museum also offers a tour of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (309th AMARG), often called The Boneyard, which takes care of over 4000 aircraft and is the largest aircraft storage and preservation facility in the world.
Tucson Botanical Gardens
Comprising sixteen magnificent urban gardens, with walking paths connecting them, the Tucson Botanical Gardens is a delightful place.
Take a stroll and explore the Prehistoric Garden, the Zen Garden, a Barrio Garden, Butterfly Garden, Children’s Garden, and 11 other beautiful gardens spread over five acres.
One of the most visited sections is the Cactus and Succulent Garden, home to numerous cacti and plants that thrive in the arid environment.
Another highlight is the Cox Butterfly & Orchid Pavilion with hundreds of magnificent orchids and other plants and flowers as well as exquisite tropical butterflies from five different continents.
There’s also a gallery with rotating exhibits focusing on the different varieties of plants found in Arizona.
So these were some of the places you must visit if you’re in Tucson. I must add that due to the pandemic, some sections might not be open, or there could be certain restrictions. So make sure you do the necessary research before visiting.
Also, please follow the guideline. Have fun but stay safe.