52 Cool Things to Do in Tucson

These “52 Cool Things to Do” are listed in no particular order. You may want to phone for confirmation prior to visiting these attractions.

Lindy’s on 4th

Messy burgers, cold beer, 4th Avenue. Three of our favorite things. Metromix honored Lindy’s with the title of best burgers in Tucson. The Food Network’s Meat & Potatoes stopped in to try a burger sandwiched between, well, two grilled-cheese sandwiches. And that’s just for starters. Try a burger with peanut butter and bacon, maybe one topped with a fried egg, or test your mettle with a fierce combo of green chiles, jalapeños, habaneros, and pepper jack cheese on the same burger. Fries up the ante, too. Order them 7 different ways, or opt for the crispy tots—a real crowd pleaser. When Adam Richman brought the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food to town, he took a shot at the OMFG challenge. Devour 9 patties and 3 pounds of beef in under 20 minutes and it’s free. Do it in under 30 (like Adam) and join the ranks of the country’s best competitive eaters. Immortality, either way. 431 N. 4th Ave., 520-207-6970, www.lo4th.com

Got All Your Marbles—Interchangeable Jewelry

Original patented designs handmade in our Tucson studio. Sterling silver,14K gold special order. Semiprecious stones also available. Pendants, earrings, rings, bracelets, key chains. Each piece comes beautifully packaged with a bag of interchangeable marbles. Call for hours. 220 E. Congress St., 520-628-1433, www.gotallyourmarbles.com

Santa Theresa Tile Works

Wander through Tucson’s Historic Warehouse Arts District and let Santa Theresa Tile Works’ colorful, handmade tile inspire the creativity in you! Whether you craft a mosaic plaque, table, or backsplash in our cozy showroom, take one of our many workshops, or learn to make tile from scratch—you will amaze yourself! Prefer to keep your hands clean? Collaborate with one of our experienced and talented tile artists and design a custom-made piece for your home or business. Any way you tile it, it’s sure to be fun, memorable, and amazing! A truly authentic Tucson arts experience! 440 N. 6th Ave., 520-623-1856, www.santatheresatileworks.com

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. Visitors can enjoy the results of a major restoration, 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 520-294-2624 or see www.sanxaviermission.org for more information and a mass schedule.

Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch

Voted one of the best roadside attractions in America. Feed the ostrich, deer, miniature donkeys, goats, and lorikeets. On weekends, Monster Truck Tours show you ostrich, the desert, 4-wheelin’ adventures, and ostrich fishin’. Affordable fun for all ages! Located on I-10 and exit 219 at Picacho Peak. Visit us online for hoursat www.roostercogburn.com or call 520-466-3658.

Mirror, Mirror

A state-of-the-art facility of astronomical proportions—pun intended—lies below The University of Arizona football stadium. Tours of the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, the only place in the world where giant spin-cast mirrors for high-powered telescopes are produced, take place Mon.–Fri. afternoons for those 7 and older. Reservations are required. $15/adult; $8/student. 520-626-8792, mirrorlab.as.arizona.edu

2nd Saturdays Downtown

It’s a shopping trip, an art walk, and a night of entertainment that celebrates the vibrancy and quirkiness of Tucson. Stores, galleries, theaters, and restaurants stay open late; and street vendors, artisans, performers, and musicians pop up on almost every corner on the 2nd Sat. of each month. Phone 520-225-9019 or see www.2ndsaturdaysdowntown.com.

Superstition Mountain Museum

At the foot of the beautiful Superstition Mountains; home of the famous Lost Dutchman Gold Mine; and first attraction on the Apache Trail. Enjoy the 12-acre site’s buildings and outdoor exhibits. The museum focuses on the legends, lore, fact, and fiction of the mountains and surrounding area. Open 9 a.m.–4 p.m. daily. 480-983-4888, Apache Junction, www.superstitionmountainmuseum.org

Western Boots

Tucson probably offers more leather goods than any place you’ve visited. Belts, billfolds, purses, cowboy hats, and—most of all—boots. Tucson is the place to find it all!


Situated 45 miles south of Tucson, Tubac was once the site of a Spanish presidio. Today it offers golf, restaurants, lodging, art galleries, and more. 520-398-2704, www.tubacaz.com

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun

The spirit of Arizona artist Ted DeGrazia is captured in a special collection of more than 50 portraits by dozens of artists in a yearlong exhibition titled Portraits of DeGrazia. DeGrazia’s personal connection with many of his fellow artists inspired these vibrant and wistful depictions that range from oil paintings and watercolors to sculpture and photography. Twelve of DeGrazia’s self-portraits are also included in the exhibition. The 10-acre site includes the Mission in the Sun and the gift shop with popular DeGrazia reproductions. Open daily 10 a.m.–4 p.m. with free admission. 6300 N. Swan Rd., 520-299-9191, www.degrazia.org

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Experience the magic of the Sonoran Desert at night through the museum’s special Summer Saturday Evenings events in June, July and Aug. A variety of signature, nighttime-only activities are in store for visitors, like exploring exhibits featuring nocturnal plants and wildlife, viewing the night sky through telescopes with astronomy experts, and spotting fluorescent minerals and insects under black lights—just to name a few! Visitors can relax and enjoy the cooler evening temperatures by dining alfresco under the stars at the Ocotillo Café or Ironwood Grill. Special admission rates apply after 4 p.m. Please see our website for more information. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned living museum—part zoo, part botanical garden, and part natural history museum. Exhibits recreate the natural landscape of the Sonoran Desert region so realistically that you find yourself eye-to-eye with mountain lions, prairie dogs, Gila monsters, and more. More than 230 animal and 1,200 plant species are contained within the almost 2 miles of paths traversing 21 acres of breathtaking desert landscape. 2021 N. Kinney Rd., 520-883-2702, www.desertmuseum.org

Old Town Artisans

History, shopping, dining and live entertainment at the city block of Old Town Artisans, located in the downtown historic district, between the Art Museum and Presidio. Dine in the cantina or courtyard, and stroll through the unique shops housed in a historic 150-year-old adobe building. Old Town Artisans, the True Historic Tucson Experience. 201 N. Court Ave., 520-622-0351, www.oldtownartisans.com

Mexican Food

Carne asada, tortillas, chiles rellenos—the tastes are as good as the names, some with spicy, tears-to-your-eyes flavor. There are literally dozens of places to find authentic eats.

Wet ‘n’ Wild

The free Splash Park at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park (3482 E. River Rd.) features a large concrete pad with water buckets, hoses, fountains, and other water features to beat the heat.

Sue & Jerry’s Trading Post

An amazing art, antique, and consignment shop. “Oracle’s Most Unique Shopping Experience” features larger-than-life metal sculptures by owner, Jerry Parra, as well as antiques, Western collectibles, and “glorious junk!” Located 30 miles north of Tucson in Oracle. Tues.–Sun., 11 a.m.–4 p.m. 1015 W. American Ave., 520-896-9200, www.jerryparra.com. Follow them on Facebook.

Jane Hamilton Fine Art

One advantage to the “dog days of summer” is to go meandering inside a cool art gallery. Jane Hamilton Fine Art, located next to the “copper dome” at the southwest corner of Skyline Drive and Campbell Avenue, features a variety of fine artists in styles ranging from traditional, contemporary and southwestern to abstract. Utah artist Sean Wallis captures the quiet beauty of a courtyard interior in the lovely oil painting Pillar Surrounded. Jane Hamilton Fine Art…a cooler place to be this summer. 2890 E. Skyline Dr., Ste. 180, 520-529-4886, www.janehamiltonfineart.com

Cool Art in a Cool Environment

Head downtown to spend the day in the air-conditioned galleries of the Tucson Museum of Art, and enjoy some incredible works of Western, Latin, and Contemporary art. Opening June 16 is 100 Years, 100 Ranchers: Photographs by Scott T. Baxter. The artist documented Arizona ranchers whose families have continued the ranching tradition in our state since 1912. Also on view is Tucson Collects: Spirit of the West. This exhibition exemplifies the quintessential and epic stories of the American West through art, photography, saddles, and other objects unique to this region. The museum is located in the historic district downtown at 140 N. Main Ave. For a complete exhibition schedule and museum hours, visit www.TucsonMuseumofArt.org.

Sabino Canyon

Enjoy narrated tours through the place where mammoths roamed, ancient Hohokam people made irrigation dams, and the Civilian Conservation Corps built bridges and cut hiking trails. Trams run daily, with multiple stops, including one at the trailhead of a hike to Seven Falls. Located on N. Sabino Canyon Rd. 520-749-2861

Garden Grub

If you enjoy fresh food, fresh air, and friendly faces, a local farmers market be just the place for you. Check out www.visittucson.org/visitor/culinary/farmersmarkets.

Gold Panning

Do it just like the original gold diggers—dry washing, kneeling in running streambeds, or digging with a pick and shovel. For organized outings, see www.desert-gold-diggers.org.

Some Like it Hot

For authentic Mexican food, beautiful scenery, and the hottest salsa, follow the fiery flavors of Arizona’s Salsa Trail. The trail stops at restaurants, a chile company, and a tortilla factory. Think you can handle the heat? See www.salsatrail.com for a map and directions, or call 888-837-1841 before heading out.

Discover the only sea turtle in Arizona

Sea Life Arizona Aquarium’s 161,000-gallon ocean tank welcomed home a new creature this year with the arrival of a rescued sea turtle…transforming the amazing display into a turtle reef, a shimmering kaleidoscope of ocean wonders patrolled by one of the marine world’s most ancient and magical creatures. Featuring an amazing 360° ocean tunnel, 30 displays, and more than 5,000 sea creatures, including sharks, rays, seahorses, and more, the aquarium is the perfect stop for family fun! 5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Ste. 145, 480-478-7600, www.sealifeus.com

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, including the Arizona History Museum, Sahuarita’s ASARCO Mineral Discovery Center, The Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, the Lavender Pit Mine, and the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum in Phoenix.

St. Augustine

Built in 1896, the cathedral is reminiscent of European church architecture. Every Sun. the clergy conduct mass accompanied by live mariachi music. 192 S. Stone Ave.

“A” Mountain

Tucson’s most easily noted landmark is “A” Mountain. U of A freshmen have made a yearly tradition of painting the letter “A.” Drive to the top of the peak to enjoy a view of the city.

Geotour Tucson

Explore the scientific wonders found only in Southern Arizona. From viewing native plants and animals at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, to stargazing with The University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, this region offers a wealth of scientific discoveries. Don’t miss cave exploration at Kartchner Caverns, too, and Biosphere 2’s climate zones beneath the dome. www.scitucson.org

Kitt Peak

Close to 7,000 feet in elevation, Kitt Peak offers a cool summer getaway. Open daily 9 a.m.–4 p.m., the observatory is the world’s largest. Daily telescope tours; visitor center with exhibits and gift shop. 15–20° cooler temps await you. Stargazing programs run nightly but are closed July 15–Aug. 31 due to monsoons. www.noao.edu, 520-318-8726

Flam Chen

Balinese fire chains, flaming swords, fire eating, and a flying trapeze—just another performance for Flam Chen, the pyrotechnic theater troupe based in Tucson. This amazing group combines fine arts, circus skills, modern dance, martial arts, and traditional and environmental theater. Call 520-272-9041 or visit www.flamchen.com for upcoming dates and performance locations.

Catalina State Park

Just north of Tucson, it offers close-up views of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Walk to the archaeological site of an ancient Hohokam village. Phone 520-628-5798.


Late-summer rainstorms are glorious. Cloud-gaze throughout the day, then relish their power as they dump buckets of rain—cooling the air and creating spectacular sunsets.

Sir Veza’s Taco Garage

Sir Veza’s revs up Tucson Mall with tasty tacos and daily “garage sales.” Nearly 2 years after opening one of Tucson’s first gastropubs at Speedway and Swan, Sir Veza’s opened its 2nd set of (garage) doors at the Tucson Mall, 220 W. Wetmore Rd. The 6,000-square-foot space has built-in charm with glass garage door windows that open up between the indoor/outdoor bar, and a full garage door window that opens the restaurant up to the street-side patio. And don’t forget the 27 high-definition flat-screen televisions and art hand-painted by Johnny Vegas. From the popular SIRnoran hot dog to the tricked-out tacos, Sir Veza’s menu has a mix of traditional and unique flavors that rev every engine. Diners watch as fresh ceviche and guacamole are made at the “chopper bar,” in the center of the restaurant. The indoor/outdoor bar has 30 beers on draft, including local brews from Nimbus and Barrio, as well as unique cocktails—making Sir Veza’s the unofficial “Day Drinking Headquarters.” Daily “garage sale” half-off happy hours are 3–6 p.m. and 9 p.m.–close, 7 days a week, with brunch Sat. and Sun. Hours: Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–close; Sat.–Sun. 10 a.m.–close. 520-888-TACO, www.sirvezas.com

Etherton Gallery

Downtown’s historic Odd Fellows Hall, where the social club used to meet behind its brick façade and large bay windows, houses this contemporary fine-art gallery most noted for its stunning photography—although paintings, prints, sculpture, and mixed-media works make appearances, too. This summer Etherton Gallery exhibits Beyond the Swift Moment: Photographs from the estate of Julian T. Baker Jr. (1939–2011), from June 12 through Aug. 31. The gallery is open Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–5 p.m., at 135 S. 6th Ave. Phone 520-624-7370 or see www.ethertongallery.com.

Tee it up

Tucson and Southern Arizona boast a wealth of fine golf courses. See www.azgolfguides.com for a free copy of the Tucson Golf Guide, which includes a comprehensive listing of courses.


Arizona’s lakes are warm-weather retreats. Go sailing at Roosevelt Lake and at Canyon or Apache Lakes near Phoenix, or try speedboating at Patagonia Lake State Park near Nogales.

Chocolate Iguana on 4th

Come visit Tucson’s most unique family owned café, Chocolate Iguana on 4th (500 N. 4th Ave., 520-798-1211). You’ll love our gourmet salads and sandwiches, made-from-scratch scones and pastries, sinfully delicious desserts, and jars of candy from around the world.

School House Inn

School days are fun at this huge remodeled 1918 school building now a roomy bed & breakfast which comes complete with a history tour, a comfortable night’s sleep, perhaps in the “Principal’s Office,” and a healthy, hearty home-cooked breakfast. 818 Tombstone Canyon, in Bisbee, 800-537-4333, www.schoolhouseinnbb.com.

It’s Cool Underground

Explore the depths of Bisbee’s famous Queen Mine. Don mining hats, slickers, and lanterns worn by miners…ride the mine train deep into the mine…marvel at remaining copper minerals…experience the life of miners as they toiled in the subterranean tunnels. Open daily. Tour times: 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. Tours leave from the Queen Mine Tour building located within walking distance of historic Bisbee. The mine is a cool 47°. Dress accordingly. Tours last approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Reservations suggested. Call 866-432-2071 or visit www.queenminetour.com. Stop by the Queen Mine Store for gem and mineral specimens, jewelry, and other unique items. Visit www.discoverbisbee.com for official visitor information. Ninety miles south of Tucson, Bisbee offers Old World charm and new-world charisma.

Jim Click Hall of Champions

Find tributes to all University of Arizona Wildcat athletic teams, including the 1997 national champion men’s basketball team. Phone 520-621-2331.

Cheap Thrills

Calling all bargain hunters! Two local “thrift-anistas” are on the lookout for daily deals, free or low-cost activities, dining discounts, and more. Log on to www.tucsononthecheap.com.

Ices & Creams

Tucson summers demand the occasional relief of a frozen confection. Sample sherbets, gelato, snow cones, frozen yogurts, and milkshakes at the many malls, shops, and restaurants in the area, and don’t forget the shaved-ice cones, called raspados, in dozens of flavors from roadside vendors in Tucson’s barrios.

Bisbee After 5

Every 2nd Sat. of the month spend a day shopping and exploring cool, mile-high Bisbee. More than 30 shops and galleries feature refreshments, live entertainment, artist receptions, and some very special sales. Phone 866-2BISBEE or visit www.discoverbisbee.com.

101 Photo Opportunities

When shutterbugs imagine heaven, it has the same light and the same photo opportunities as Arizona. From Ramsey Canyon hummingbirds and the Pima Air & Space Museum to old homes in the barrios and the Tucson Arts District, Southern Arizona invites camera buffs. Capture nature at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Tohono Chul Park.

Titan Missile Museum’s Moonlight MADness

This special event is only offered for 4 nights. Moonlight MADness features a number of fun, exciting, and educational activities, as well as outstanding excitement for adults. This is truly a wonderful family event. Everyone will enjoy seeing the museum’s missile light up after dark Due to space limitations, reservations are recommended. Admission price: $7 for adults and free for members and children under 12. For reservations, call 520-625-7736 or e-mail [email protected]. Pima Air & Space Museum’s Night WingsThis is a very special event, and it is only offered 3 nights this summer: June 23, July 28, and Aug. 25. You’ll want to take advantage of this rare opportunity to explore the museum at night (hours are 5–9 p.m., with last admission at 8 p.m.), participate in fun science and aviation activities, and be a part of several special presentations. Great food will be available in The Flight Grill. Admission is $10 for adults and free for members and children under 12. For more information, call 520-574-0462 or e-mail [email protected].

Muleshoe Ranch

Join the ranks of outlaws, settlers, ranchers, ecologists, coatimundi, javelina, mule deer, hummingbirds, herons, and hawks. Part of the Coronado National Forest east of Tucson, the ranch affords its visitors rich riparian and backcountry wilderness areas, plus a visitors center, overnight casitas with natural hot springs, birdwatching, hiking, and knowledgeable staff. Phone 520-212-4295 or visit www.nature.org/arizona.

Gates Pass

Winding uphill drive west on Speedway Blvd. brings you, at its apex, to Gates Pass—and panoramic views of Tucson to the east and Saguaro National Park to the west.

Sunday Brunch

Indulge at a world-class resort or fine restaurant, with fresh-squeezed juice, smoked salmon, make-your-own omelets, Belgian waffles, decadent desserts, and more.


This little village’s claim to fame is revealed by its name. Just below the summit of 9,157-ft. Mt. Lemmon, Summerhaven offers cool mountain air, mountain streams, views, and the sound of gently rustling leaves. Picnic, hike, bike, ride the ski lift, eat homemade fudge, or savor delicious desserts at the Cookie Cabin. Follow Catalina Hwy. north through Coronado National Forest.

Prickly Pear Park

Observe nature’s beauty in a 9.4-acre park that includes prickly pear, saguaro, and crested barrel cacti. Get tips from the demonstration garden, purchase items from the nursery, and test your fears in the cholla maze. Admission is free and visitors are welcome from dawn till dusk at 3500 W. River Rd.

Visit Tucson

Chart your course as you explore the Real Southwest. Utilize our mobile website, optimized for iPhone and Android smartphones, by scanning this QR code or typing visitTucson.org in your smartphone browser. Access a variety of accommodations—the natural surroundings of our luxury resorts, the real elegance of our historic hotels, and our real, rich and rugged ranches. You’ll find deals, dining, and one-of-a-kind attractions and events in Tucson and Southern Arizona. Plus, Google mapping and driving directions—all at your fingertips! A Spanish language version is also available.

Cochise County

520-432-9215, www.explorecochise.com


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