Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

#1 in Best Things To Do in Tucson
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum picture1 of 3
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum2 of 3
Jerry Rosen/Courtesy Visit Tucson

Key Info

2021 N Kinney Rd.

Details

Museums, Zoos and Aquariums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.6

scorecard

  • 4.5Value
  • 4.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Although it's called a museum, this facility – about 15 miles west of downtown Tucson – is more of a zoo. In fact, 85 percent of what you'll experience is outdoors (so dress accordingly). The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's 98 acres host 230 animal species  including prairie dogs, coyotes and a mountain lion  and 1,200 local plant species (totaling 56,000 individual plants). Walking through the museum's trails, visitors get acquainted with desert life. And if you feel hungry after your leisurely hike, you can enjoy a meal at one of the museum's four eateries, all of which have great views of the surrounding desert.

Recent visitors enjoyed their time at the museum and highly recommended future travelers set aside a few hours to explore the attraction's grounds and educational exhibits. Just make sure you come prepared: wear appropriate walking shoes, sun protection and sunscreen (though, if you forget your sunscreen, there are dispensers in the on-site bathrooms). Reviewers also advised stopping by in the morning or near closing as that's when the animals are most active. Aside from the flora and fauna, visitors also praised the knowledgeable docents.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is open every day, although hours vary depending on the season. Entry costs $21.95 for adults ages 13 to 64, $8.95 for kids ages 3 to 12 and is free for children 2 and younger. (Additional discounts are available for Arizona residents, seniors and military.) Visitors with a Tucson Attractions Passport get two-for-one admission. Opening hours vary by season, but generally the museum is open from 7:30 or 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. or 10 p.m. You can learn more about the museum by visiting its official website.

See all Hotels in Tucson »

More Best Things To Do in Tucson

Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway1 of 13
Saguaro National Park2 of 13
Type
Time to Spend
#2 Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway

Regarded as one of the most scenic drives in southeast Arizona, the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway takes travelers to the upper reaches of Mount Lemmon and the Santa Catalina Range. Aside from the arresting canyon and mountain views, the nearly 60-mile round-trip byway offers visitors the biological equivalent of driving from the deserts of Mexico to the forests of Canada (the road begins in the lower Sonoran vegetative life zone and ascends to the high forests in the Canadian zone).

Recent visitors highly recommended making the drive, which many described as "spectacular" and a "must-do" when in Tucson. Along with the stunning vantage point, the ride up also provides a reprieve from the desert heat; travelers said the temperature drops as you climb higher along the byway. Take advantage of the scenic overlooks and rest areas by bringing along a picnic  another recommendation from past visitors.

Read more
Courtesy Visit Tucson
See full list of Best Things To Do in Tucson »

Explore More of Tucson

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

The 50 Most Beautiful Places in the World

Let these gorgeous destinations inspire you to travel more.

Holly JohnsonJanuary 16, 2020

50 Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

From relaxing weekend getaways to epic adventures, these honeymoon trips will help couples create memories to last a lifetime.

Kyle McCarthyJanuary 8, 2020

The Cheapest Days to Fly: A Guide to the Best (and Worst) Times to Travel

Use these tips and tricks to get the best deal on your next flight.

Lyn MettlerDecember 23, 2019

30 Top Florida Weekend Getaways

Spend sun-filled days exploring Florida's beautiful beaches, cities, parks and small towns.

Gwen PratesiDecember 9, 2019

The Best Travel Backpacks for 2020

U.S. News rated the best travel backpacks using recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerNovember 25, 2019

30 Top Wellness Retreats

Rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit at one of these relaxation-focused properties.

Kyle McCarthyNovember 21, 2019

30 Fun All-Inclusive Family Vacations

Book one of these all-inclusive trips that cover food, accommodations and activities galore.

Holly JohnsonNovember 14, 2019

5 Ways Cruise Lines Are Becoming More Environmentally Friendly

Industry considers impact as it looks to the future.

Gwen PratesiNovember 12, 2019

11 Unique and Quirky Cruise Destinations

Venture off the beaten path for an authentic cruising experience.

Christine SmithNovember 12, 2019

The 2020 Best Cruise Lines for Families

Gather up the gang and head out to sea with one of these six kid-friendly cruise lines.

Nicola WoodNovember 12, 2019