Looking For Things To Do In Tucson, Arizona?
Voyager Resort has so many activities, (over 300 scheduled activities) that you could spend your entire time within the Voyager and not be wanting for things to do. However, the Tucson and the Southeastern area of Arizona is so rich in natural and historical sites that your visit is not complete without getting out and seeing some of these. The following is a short list of things to do. A good web site to visit for more information on what is going on is tucson guidemagazine.com.
FORT LOWELL MUSEUM
Take a step back into the military heyday of the Old Pueblo at the Fort Lowell Museum (in Fort Lowell Park, 2900 N. Craycroft Rd., 885-3832, www.oflna.org). Located in an adobe reproduction of an officer’s quarters, this museum features exhibits about life on the Arizona frontier. The outpost, established in 1873, housed several Army regiments, provided protection to settlers, and served as a supply base. The museum now hosts walking tours, lectures, and special events, including Fort Lowell Celebration Day held every February.
The Museum is open:
Friday and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
On the first Saturday of each month the museum is free
AIR, SPACE & DEFENSE MUSEUMS
One of the largest collections of historic aircraft in the US is at the Pima Air & Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Rd. Its Space Gallery offers a historical look at space travel, while several hangars house memorabilia, airplanes, and exhibits. More than 250 aircraft are on display, inside and out, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission fee. Phone 574-0462. While you’re there, stop by the Challenger Learning Center of the Southwest, where you’ll find a mission-briefing room, transportation room, mission-control area, and space station. Another sure bet is the partly underground tour at the Titan Missile Museum. You can see the massive 760-ton rollback silo door, visit the launch-control center, and experience a simulated launch. In Sahuarita (take Duval Mine Rd. west, exit 69, off I-19). Phone 625-7736. Take a jaunt into southeastern Arizona for Fort Huachuca’s Main, Annex, and US Army Intelligence Museums (520-533-5736). The Main and Annex Museums explore our military past from 1877 to the present, and the Intelligence Museum records Fort Huachuca’s place in the history of US Army intelligence. Open weekdays 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and weekends 1-4 p.m. Free admission; donations accepted.
Toy-train aficionados will want to make a stop at the Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum (888-2222), with more than 6,000 square feet of displays and detailed scenic tracks. Located at 3975 N. Miller Ave. near N. Romero and W. Roger Rds., it’s a little hard to find but well worth the effort. Attractions include videos about train history, old telegraph equipment, and other historic memorabilia including hundreds of toy trains that date back to the 1940s. Call ahead for days and hours of operation. Next stop-fun!
The Amerind Foundation Museum (Amerind is short for American Indian) contains a fine collection of archaeological and ethnographic materials. The Amerind Art Gallery features works by Native American and Anglo-American artists. Visit the museum store and enjoy the scenic picnic area. Located east of Benson, an hour from Tucson, in the spectacular rock formations of Texas Canyon. Take I-10 east to exit 318 (Dragoon Rd.). Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.-S un. Admission fee, free for children 12 and younger. Phone 520-586-3666 or visit http://www.amerind.org./
ARIZONA SONORA DESERT MUSEUM
Wandering through this living museum is like taking an enchanted walk through the desert-with no fear of snakes or critters. There’s lots of information, plenty of shade and water, and close-up views of bobcats, prairie dogs, coyotes, hawks, Mexican gray wolves, scorpions, rattlesnakes, roadrunners, quail, and more. Aviaries offer a birder’s haven. Trees and cacti are identified for you as well. The internationally famous museum has seasonal fine dining and year-round casual dining. Trained museum docents give live-animal demonstrations and seasonal guided tours. Admission fee. Open daily 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct.-Fe b. and 7:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. Ma r.-Sept. 2021 N. Kinney Rd. Phone 883-2702 or visit http://www.desertmuseum.org/
Just northeast of the Main Gate of the U of A campus, the Arizona State Museum exhibits pottery, artifacts, and contemporary objects while presenting important facts about the ways of life, including trading and commerce, of prehistoric and modern Native Americans. Don’t miss the museum’s permanent exhibit Paths of Life: American Indians of the Southwest. Phone 621-6302. The nearby Arizona Historical Society, established when Arizona was a territory, features period rooms, the Mining Hall mine-shaft replica, photo exhibits, self-guided tours, and hands-on exhibits for all ages. At 949 E. 2nd St. Phone 628-5774. Free for kids 11 and younger.
INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE MUSEUM
This natural history museum features more than 400 displays of mammals, birds, and insects from around the world. Interactive computer programs and hands-on exhibits provide educational entertainment. View hourly nature films in the Wildlife Theater and enjoy lunch at the Oasis Grille. Open Mon.-F ri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Located at 4800 W. Gates Pass Rd. (the west end of Speedway Blvd.), 5 miles west of I-10. Visit http://www.thewildlifemuseum.org or call 617-1439.
IN A MINER’S SHOES
Walk in the footsteps of a miner by touring a simulated mine, or meander through the many exhibits at Arizona’s mining and mineral museums. The University of Arizona Mineral Museum (on the lower level of Flandrau: The University of Arizona Science Center, 621-4227) houses one of the largest mineral collections in Southern Arizona, with approximately 2,200 minerals, gemstones, and meteorites on display from its permanent collection of more than 27,000. The Arizona Historical Society (628- 5774) features a mine-shaft replica, and the Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum’s Earth Sciences Center (883- 1380) has an extensive trove of minerals and exhibits. Travel south to Sahuarita and tour the Asarco Mineral Discovery Center (625-7513). A little farther southeast is The Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum (520-432- 7071), with stunning mineral collections from prominent pioneer families dating back to the turn of the last century. Also in Bisbee, you can check out the Lavender Pit Mine or take an underground tour with Queen Mine Tours (520-432-2071). If that’s not enough, you can explore the enormous collection of minerals at the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum (602-771-1611) in Phoenix.
MUSEUMS OF FINE ART
The permanent collection of The University of Arizona Museum of Art includes Spanish medieval and Renaissance art, as well as 19th-century American, contemporary, and modernist works. It’s on the U of A campus just south of Speedway Blvd. and east of Park Ave. near the pedestrian underpass. Phone 621-7567. Since the completion of a $2.7-million renovation, the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block (downtown at the corner of N. Main Ave. and Alameda St.) has been able to display more of its fine collection and attract larger traveling exhibits. The museum renovated the historic Hiram Stevens House into the Palice Pavilion for its permanent collection of pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial, and Latin American folk art. You can also visit the John K. Goodman Pavilion of Western Art, Corbett House (a local model for the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century), and La Casa Cordova, with its early- to mid-19th-century period rooms. Phone 624-2333. And don’t miss Café la C’Art (628-8533) for a little something to snack on.
Perhaps Tucson’s most notable, or should we say most easily noted, landmark is “A” Mountain. Rising above downtown, the peak has witnessed the history and growth of the city. Stjukson, meaning “spring at the foot of the black mountain,” was the name of the original Native American settlement in the shelter of the peak. The US Army named the mountain Sentinel Peak for its strategic importance. Since 1916, U of A freshmen have made a yearly tradition of painting the now namesake letter “A.” You can drive to the top of the peak to enjoy a panoramic view of the city Mon.-S at. 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. and Sun. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Phone the City of Tucson Parks & Recreation Department, 791-5909.
A winding uphill drive west on Speedway Blvd. (which becomes Gates Pass Rd.) brings you, at its apex, to Gates Pass-and panoramic views of Tucson to the east and Saguaro National Park to the west. It’s a perfect setting for inspiring sunrises, midday contemplation, and romantic sunsets. (It’s a favorite ride for bicyclists, too-be aware!)
CATALINA STATE PARK
Just 12 miles north of Tucson on Oracle Rd. (AZ Hwy. 77), this park offers the best views of the canyons, cliffs, domes, and spires on the north side of the Santa Catalina Mountains. White-tailed deer abound. Walk the Romero Ruin Interpretive Trail to the archaeological site of an ancient Hohokam village that was later a Spanish hacienda. Picnicking, camping, biking, and hiking are available. A day pass is $3 per vehicle. Phone 628-5798.
CAVES & CAVERNS
Cave explorers of all ages and abilities can have a field day in Arizona. Kartchner Caverns State Park, near Benson, has been described as an underground nature preserve. Providing spectacular sights in a football field-sized room, this living cave also features a 51.5-foottall stone column dubbed “Kubla Khan.” Reservations are recommended (520-586-CAVE). Colossal Cave Mountain Park, 17 miles east of Tucson on Old Spanish Trail (647-7275), is a cave that has earned its name-it’s one of the largest “dry,” or dormant, caves in the country. In the 1880s, outlaws sought refuge in the passageways and secret exits, and rumor has it there is hidden treasure within. Coronado Cave, near the Mexican border and part of Coronado National Memorial (520-366-5515), is a more primitive cave, but it’s worth the effort to enjoy the cool temperature and calcite formations. Obtain a free permit at the visitors center. At least 2 flashlights per person are required for exploring the cave. All caves except Coronado Cave charge admission fees. http://www.azstateparks.com/
About 40 miles south of Tucson, the Santa Rita Mountains are home to Madera Canyon, one of the prettiest spots around. There are trails for hikers, tables for picnickers, a clear stream, and a variety of trees for all. In the cooler months, you should take a coat or a jacket. Take I-19 south of Tucson to the clearly marked turnoff near Continental, just south of Green Valley.
You can bet Tucson has its share of casinos. Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel, owned and operated by the Tohono O’odham Nation (7350 S. Nogales Hwy., 294-7777), deals up live blackjack, slots, bingo, and poker, among other games. Or check out its 2nd area location in Sahuarita at I-19 and Pima Mine Rd. (294-7777). Also, Casino of the Sun, owned and operated by the Pascua Yaqui Nation (7406 S. Camino de Oeste, with a 2nd location, Casino del Sol, at 5655 W. Valencia Rd., 800-344-9435, www.casinodelsol.com), brings a little piece of Vegas to the Old Pueblo. Both locations offer live blackjack, video poker, slot machines, bingo, and more. If you’re not having any luck with the one-armed bandit, grab something to eat-from Mexican food to prime rib-or catch a show; most casinos offer big-name entertainment. You must be 21 or older to enter any of the casinos.
Many works by one of Tucson’s most famous artists, Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia, are housed in DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, a group of low-slung adobes set amid the modern structures of the Swan and Sunrise area. Built by the artist with the help of close friends, the compound (constructed of materials from the surrounding desert) at one time served as his home and studio. The permanent collection includes works by DeGrazia on subjects such as Padre Kino, Cabeza de Vaca, and Tohono O’odham legends. Rotating exhibits and a gift shop round out the mix. The 10-acre site, which was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, is located at 6300 N. Swan Rd. Phone 299-9191 or visit http://www.degrazia.org
EXPLORING BIOSHERE 2
The University of Arizona Biosphere 2 currently serves as a laboratory for controlled scientific studies that monitor global environmental change. This 3.1-acre glass and- steel complex-originally designed as a prototype for space colonization-contains a million-gallon ocean and living coral reef, rain forest, savannah, marsh, and desert. Visitors can explore various parts of the attraction and go on an “under the glass” tour of Biosphere 2 itself. The facility also offers a visitors center that includes a movie on Bio2, a snack bar, and gift shops. Visit from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; tours offered daily. On AZ Hwy. 77 at mile marker 96.5, about 20 minutes north of Tucson. Admission for adults is $20; $18 for seniors, military, and AAA members; $13 for kids ages 6-12; ages 5 and under free. Phone 838-6200 or visit http://www.b2science.org
MISSION SAN XAVIER DEL BAC
Called “the White Dove of the Desert,” the San Xavier del Bac mission was founded by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino in the late 1600s. The church, built by the Franciscans in the 1700s, is one of the finest examples of Spanish mission architecture in the US. The church also houses a museum devoted to the native people of Wa:k, mission architecture, and numerous religious artifacts. Visitors can enjoy the results of a major restoration of the mission, portions of it by experts who restored the Sistine Chapel. Take I-19 to exit 92, then watch for signs once you get onto the Tohono O’odham reservation. Phone 294-2624 or see http://www.sanxaviermission.org for more information and for a mass schedule.
REID PARK ZOO
If you see a young giraffe learning to run across an open field; a polar bear taking a plunge; or ostriches, cranes, and other birds sharing an African grassland with antelope, you must be at Reid Park Zoo. The zoo has carefully created natural habitats and multi species exhibits-a pleasant setting for animals and visitors alike. The South American exhibit has jaguars, bears, and capybaras. Don’t miss the rhinos, elephants, tigers, and lions, too. In Reid Park off 22nd St., between Alvernon Way and Country Club Rd. Open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission fee. Phone 791-3204 or visit http://www.tucsonzoo.org
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