You’ve made your way to Tucson, it’s time to convince the kids to put away the phones for a bit and experience what’s around them. Here’s a list of some potential options to give the younger set what they want for a bit - something new, something interactive and something fun. If this doesn’t work, there’s always ice cream. Kids always love ice cream, right?
4455 E. Camp Lowell Dr.
It’s a museum full of tiny houses and cities. It’s a museum with a giant tree inside. There’s a “find the fairy” game. There is likely someone in your family who will find this exciting and when they get to the Mini Time Machine, that initial excitement will be multiplied by thousands.
1601 E. University Blvd.
As you might have heard - or merely noticed by looking up to the star-filled night sky - Tucson is a great city for astronomy. Heading out to Kitt Peak or up Mt. Lemmon to the SkyCenter are great activities, but if you have less time (or just want to stay closer to town), Flandrau is in the center of the University of Arizona campus and full of science-related activities for the whole family. Plus, the state-of-the-art planetarium provides fully-immersive science programming (or laser shows...and who doesn’t love laser shows?).
2021 N. Kinney Rd.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is one of the best zoos in the country and a spectacular opportunity to explore and experience the Sonoran Desert, plant life, minerals, animals and all. Honestly, this is a must-see attraction for anyone, but it’s definitely perfect for families.
6000 E. Valencia Rd.
If anyone in your family loves planes or space, you cannot miss this museum, generally considered one of the world’s largest aviation collections. Where else can you stand next to bombers from World War II, the fastest planes ever made and a giant 787? If it has wings and is made of metal, it’s likely somewhere among Pima Air & Space’s over 300 historical aircraft.
200 S. 6th Ave.
11015 N. Oracle Rd.
It doesn’t take long to realize how kid-oriented the Children’s Museum Tucson, conveniently located in the heart of downtown, actually is. Sure, the name should have tipped you off, but once you see a giant nose on the wall in the Bodyology exhibit, ready to be “picked,” it’s apparent that someone who really knows kids designed this place. With areas for the junior artist, architect, farmer, scientist and more, the Children’s Museum Tucson (or its Oro Valley satellite location) is a perfect spot to let kids explore the world around them.
It takes less than an hour and a half (from most parts of Tucson) to drive up Mt. Lemmon to Summerhaven, a tiny village of cottages and cabins, but in those 90 minutes, you’ll feel transported to another world far away from the floor of the Sonoran Desert. You can ride the ski lift to get an amazing view of the valley below, you can go for a hike or you can enjoy a giant cookie and vastly cooler temperatures. Mt. Lemmon is Tucson’s escape from the heat or opportunity to experience snow based on the season...why not take advantage of the same opportunity as a visitor?
201 S. Kinney Rd.
There’s always going to be a connection between Tucson and the idea of the Old West, and that cowboy culture still lives at Old Tucson, complete with faux-gunfights, saloon girls, panning for gold and rides on a steam train. Film history was made here at Old Tucson and it’s a great opportunity to go back in time today.
3400 E. Zoo Ct.
Tucson’s zoo in the center of town, the 24 acres of the Reid Park Zoo offer an opportunity to see a bit of the world’s animal kingdom, from the most adorable hedgehog to the sort-of-weird-looking-but-still-special tapir. Feed a giraffe! Hang out in Expedition Tanzania with the elephants, including Nandi, the two-year-old super adorable pachyderm. Plus, there’s a great park surrounding the zoo, so it makes for a great day all around.
2930 E. Broadway Blvd.
These days, if you’re going to get a toy, odds are you hit one of the big box stores, browsing aisles of items advertised on all the TV shows and adapted from hit movies. That’s fine, sometimes you just want an action figure, but for a retro-toy-buying experience and the option to get a little weird, Yikes is your spot. Your kids might end up with the Sea Monkey kit your parents wouldn’t buy you from the back of the comic books or a guide to Arizona beetles. If you don’t light up with a smile at Yikes, you might want to get your heart checked.
331 N. 7th St.
Right off Fourth Avenue and its quirky collection of shops and restaurants, D&D Pinball is exactly as advertised. They’ve got lots of pinball machines, brand new ones (if they have the AC/DC game, play it), classics (Addams Family, Terminator 2) and some strange ones (remember the Keanu Reeves film Johnny Mnemonic? Neither do we, but there’s a pinball version here). In the Playstation and Xbox age, the mechanical nature of pinball is almost a shock to the system that your family will love.