Tucson has been a worthy destination since Spanish conquistadors roamed the region, looking for gold and other riches. Today, this diverse city holds a different kind of treasure for modern-day explorers, as they search for things to do, the Old Pueblo’s lesser-known locales for a glimpse of the city’s history, science, art, and one-of-a-kind culture.
Tohono Chul Park
Spread across 49 acres, Tohono Chul Park finds inspiration in its Sonoran Desert surroundings. Visitors stroll through multiple botanical gardens where hummingbirds and butterflies flit and flutter near the paths. The art gallery features colorful exhibitions influenced by Spanish, Native American, Mexican, and American cowboy stories and tradition. Take a break to indulge in a chicken, blue corn, and green chile waffle and a prickly pear margarita, on the Garden Bistro’s expansive patio.
Mount Lemmon SkyCenter
Watch the moon hiding in the desert sky at this observatory atop Mount Lemmon. The SkyCenter is located 27 miles from Tucson on Catalina Highway at an altitude of more than 9,157 feet, the highest point in the Catalina mountain range. The observatory’s after-dark program brings the heavens up close and personal through Arizona's largest public-viewing telescopes—a 32-inch Schulman and 24-inch Phillips. Visitors can observe the cosmos' brightest stars and constellations, the moon and planets, and atmospheric phenomena, as well as galaxies and nebulae. Reservations are required, and be sure to dress warmly—even in the summer months.
Pima Air & Space Museum
The Pima Air & Space Museum is home to more than 300 aircraft, which are displayed alongside other exhibits throughout the museum, including Women in Flight, Sea Planes and Amphibians, WWII, Vietnam War, and a space gallery. You can also reserve a spot to tour the “Boneyard,” or as it’s officially known, the Air Force 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, where nearly 4,000 U.S. military aircraft headed for scrap, storage, or potential rebirth, are parked on 2,600 acres of desert landscape.