Planning a vacation to Tucson, Arizona with kids? Find out the best things to do in Tucson for families.
Best Things to Do in Tucson With Kids
Located in Southern Arizona, Tucson offers beautiful and unique scenery and numerous family friendly attractions. I recently visited Tucson with my kids (age 5 and 7) and they loved it. Here are the top family attractions in Tucson.
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Visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Nestled in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a living museum which combines a zoo, botanical garden, and natural history museum in one. Kids can marvel at the diverse desert flora and fauna while engaging in interactive exhibits that make learning about the desert ecosystem a fun and memorable experience. You can purchase tickets in advance here.
Keep in mind that 85% of the Desert Museum is outdoors and primarily a walking experience. (There is free sunscreen in the restrooms in case you forget.)
You will need approximately 2-3 hours to see the museum.
Explore Saguaro National Park
See the iconic saguaro cacti at Saguaro National Park, where the beauty of the Sonoran Desert unfolds. Family-friendly trails allow kids to discover the unique flora and fauna of the region and the park’s scenic vistas offer a picturesque backdrop for family hikes and picnics.
Saguaro National Park is divided into two districts geographically separated by the city of Tucson. The Rincon Mountain District (RMD) is often referred to as Saguaro East, while the Tucson Mountain District (TMD) is often referred to as Saguaro West. The two districts are about an hour drive apart so you might want to visit them on separate days.
These easy hiking trails are perfect for families with toddlers, preschoolers and younger kids:
Rincon Mountain District (East):
• Desert Ecology Trail Desert Ecology Trail – 0.3-mile paved loop trail
Tucson Mountain District (West):
• Desert Discovery Nature Trail – an easy, paved, accessible, 0.5 mile (0.8 km) interpretive trail. This is a great introduction to Saguaro National Park with interpretive signage along the trail providing an introduction to the ecology and habitats of the Sonoran Desert.
• Cactus Garden Trail – A short paved accessible loop trail (about 300-feet) located right next to the Red Hills Visitor Center featuring signs identifying all of the different types of cacti.
Visit the Pima Air & Space Museum
The Pima Air & Space Museum is a great place to visit for young aviation enthusiasts. See their large collection of planes and helicopters on display both indoor and outdoors. They have over 400 aircraft from a Wright Flyer to a 787 Dreamliner) on display on 6 hangars and 80 acre airfield .
There are a lot of planes to see both indoors and outdoors so prepare to spend more than 3 hours.
I recommend timing your visit to take The Tram Tour ($8 per person), a 45 minute narrated tour of more than 150 planes located in the outdoor display area.
Explore Sabino Canyon
Located in the Catalina Mountains and part of the Coronado National Forest, this beautiful canyon was carved out by Sabino Creek which flows with water intermittently during the year.
Sabino Canyon is closed to private vehicles so the best way for families to explore is the area is to take a 7.4 mile narrated tram ride up Sabino Canyon. The hop on hop off tram is 1-hour round trip with nine shuttle stops. Make sure you purchase tickets online in advance here.
Plan to spend at least two hours total at Sabino Canyon for the tram ride and photo stops.
If you have more time, Sabino Canyon offers 30 miles of hiking and biking trails and a dozen picnic areas.
More Tucson Family Attractions
Below are more kid friendly attractions in Tucson that we did not get a chance to visit.
Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is an educational & interactive museum of miniatures including over 500 antique and contemporary dollhouses and roomboxes.
Children’s Museum Tucson
Designed to ignite curiosity and creativity, the Children’s Museum Tucson is geared toward kids up to 10 years old and offers play-based, interactive learning for children and families with 11 indoor exhibits as well as a an outdoor courtyard with an additional three exhibits and lots of space for kids to play and imagine.
International Wildlife Museum
The International Wildlife Museum is a natural history museum showcasing over 400 species from around the world.
Kartchner Caverns State Park
Venture underground to explore the Kartchner Caverns, a living cave system filled with unusual formations including one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites. Guided tours cater to various age groups, providing an educational journey through these ancient limestone caves. They are located about an hour outside of Tucson.
Where to Stay in Tucson
We stayed at JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa but we also considered a few other family friendly hotels in Tucson.
• JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa –JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa is luxury resort with 3 outdoor swimming pools including a multi-level pool and lazy river, three desert golf courses courses, multiple restaurants and an extensive spa. it is located about 6 miles from central Tucson with hiking and biking trails next to the resort. Click here to read reviews and here to see latest prices.
• The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain – The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is a luxury resort near Tucson in Marana, AZ nestled in the high Sonoran Desert against the Tortolita Mountains in a striking canyon setting. Guests can enjoy three swimming pools, a 235-foot water slide, Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf, a world-class spa, and five indoor and outdoor dining options. Although a bit far from downtown Tucson (about half an hour drive), there are hiking, biking, and geocaching trails right next to the resort. Click here to read reviews and here to see latest prices.
• Best Western Royal Sun Inn & Suites – Best Western Royal Sun Inn & Suites in central Tucson is a good budget-friendly option for families. Amenities include an outdoor pool, free breakfast, parking, high speed internet as well as an outdoor pool. Tooms also have a refrigerator. Click here to read reviews and here to see latest prices.