One of the four original counties in Arizona, and Tucson is proud to call it home.
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Tucson, the governmental center of Pima County, invites a sense of freedom among all who visit. So don’t expect a ‘seated’ approach to exploring our region.
Metro Tucson and a large portion of southern Arizona are situated within Pima County, which covers 9,200 square miles and has nearly one million residents.
Visitors to Pima County are often astounded at the number of world-class attractions found throughout metro Tucson.
• Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: This combination zoo, botanical garden, natural history museum, and the aquarium are TripAdvisor’s #1 Tucson attraction. It attracts thousands of visitors annually from throughout the world.
• Biosphere 2: Another popular attraction for U.S. and international visitors is the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, 20 miles north of Tucson. It is Earth’s largest living science center dedicated to studying the environment. It’s a must-see attraction for anyone interested in science and the future of Earth’s environment.
• Children’s Museum Tucson: Children’s Museum Tucson offers hands-on fun and entertainment for kids of all ages. Located in downtown Tucson, the exhibits are educational and it has become one of Tucson’s top attractions.
• Colossal Cave Mountain Park: Colossal Cave is on the National Register of Historic Places and had been used for centuries by prehistoric people before rediscovered in 1879. Cave tours are available and visitors enjoy the beauty of the surrounding mountain park. Click Here to watch the Wild Cave video.
• Old Tucson: Many know Old Tucson as the site where many famous western movies were shot, including Rio Bravo, McLintock!, and El Dorado. While films are still shot at Old Tucson it remains open as a western theme park. Don’t miss the scary Halloween “Nightfall” event held annually at Old Tucson.
• Pima Air & Space Museum: Visitors from throughout the world enjoy more than 300 commercials, private and military aircraft on 80 acres of land. Admission includes the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame and the standalone 390th Memorial World War II Museum.
• Titan II Missile Museum: If you enjoy military and/or Cold War history, do yourself a favor and make the short trip south to Green Valley enjoy the nation’s only publicly accessible Titan II missile site.
For information on many more attractions throughout the region, visit the Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance and consider buying the Tucson Attractions Passport—The Book of Fun. It contains two-for-one ticket deals and many other values.
You can also stop by our Tucson Visitor Center at the University of Arizona for the inside scoop from local experts, souvenirs and more.
Please note that a new visitor center is coming mid-January 2020. The Southern Arizona Heritage & Visitor Center is expected to open at the Historic Pima County Courthouse downtown, replacing our Tucson Visitor Center at the University of Arizona. Check out VisitSouthernArizona.com for updates on the opening date, directions, and hours.
The Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival, held every August, provides a great opportunity for bird enthusiasts to participate in guided hikes, lectures and more. For a comprehensive list of Tucson and Southern Arizona birding locations, visit our bird watching page.
With more than 500 miles of dedicated bike lanes and Gold status as a cycling-friendly community, Tucson is one of the world’s top cycling destinations and rides throughout Pima County are among the most popular in the country. Click here to find out more about our cycling scene or visit our Winter Training Capital page to learn why professional and top amateur cyclists train in Tucson in the winter.
The Loop Trail: Kudos to Pima County for developing The Loop, which offers more than 100 miles of shared-use paths that wind through Tucson, Oro Valley, Marana, South Tucson, and unincorporated Pima County. Residents and visitors on bicycles, skates, horseback and on foot are welcome.
In Pima County, golfing is a driving force dating back to 1945 when the first of many pro tournaments were staged here. Warm winters continue to attract pro and amateur players to a variety of municipal and resort courses that are both scenic and challenging. If you're serious about golf, follow the sun to a winter playground in Pima County. Browse our golf courses here.
Pima County features dozens of public trailheads that offer incredible views and varying degrees of difficulty. Visit Trailheads & Trails to find trails of interest to you. Incredible hiking experiences can also be found at:
Madera Canyon: This canyon is located in the Santa Rita Mountains 25 miles southeast of Tucson. It offers many miles of hiking trails, along with picnicking and camping sites. It is also one of the best birding sites in southern Arizona.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument: This site, near Ajo—130 miles west of Tucson—covers more than 330,000 acres in southern Arizona and is operated by the National Park Service. There are numerous hiking trails of varying difficulty throughout the park. Route information is available at the park’s visitor center.
Sabino Canyon: Located in northeastern metro Tucson, Sabino Canyon is a popular site for Tucsonans and visitors to hike, horseback ride, picnic, and more. If you would prefer a driving tour, Sabino Canyon Tours offer a narrated, educational, 45-minute tram ride into the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Saguaro National Park: There are two separate districts on metro Tucson’s eastern and western boundaries that make up this park. The eastern Rincon district has varying elevations up to 8,000 feet and more than 128 miles of trails. The western Tucson Mountain District has lower elevations and a more dense forest of saguaro cactus.
What would the Old West be without horseback riding? Metro Tucson offers horseback riding at a variety of guest ranches, including White Stallion Ranch, Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch, and Tanque Verde Ranch and at numerous stables throughout the region.
If mountain biking is of interest, you’ll find many fun and challenging rides in the mountains surrounding Tucson and throughout Pima County. Mountain Bikers from around the world come to ride in Pima County for it's well maintained, yet rugged trails, beautiful scenery, and perfect weather. Find out more about Mountain Biking in the Tucson area here.
Mt. Lemmon, 29 miles north of Tucson, offers more than 1,200 climbing routes. Visit our rock climbing page for information about local climbing, including companies leading rock climbing excursions on Mt. Lemmon and in the Coronado National Forest, bouldering opportunities and more.
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is small but beautiful and offers expert, intermediate and beginners run. Ski and snowboard rentals are available as is instruction for adults and children. Ski season typically runs from mid-December through March. Mt. Lemmon’s summit gets about 180 inches of snow annually and is just a short drive from Tucson.
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