Southern Arizona

A Weekend in Tucson Arizona

Heading south on the I-10 from Phoenix you will leave the largest city in Arizona and reach Tucson the second largest city in the Sonoran Desert.

Tucson has more of a desert old west feel to it. You will immediately notice that the landscape is more native looking, more homes reflect the adobe style and the suburbs have more xeriscape.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Tucson, Arizona Overview

Many Phoenix residents head north on their weekend trips. However, a visit to Tucson should not be missed. Tucson offers some of the best Sonoran Desert scenery and there are lots of things to do in Tucson.

Although the metro area is home to more than 700,000 residents, it still retains a small southwestern town feel. Situated in the Sonoran Desert, the views in this city are stunning.

Things to do in Tucson

Sabino Canyon

Sabino Canyon is located within the Santa Catalina mountains, the most prominent mountain range in Tucson. There are many hiking trails located within this area.

The Santa Catalina Mountains, or Catalinas as they are usually referred to, is the most prominent mountain range in Tucson. Sabino Canyon recreation area is one of the most visited area in Tucson. Visitors can take a tram ride to several trail heads.

The Catalinas offers a multitude of hiking trails, seasonal waterfalls, tram rides and much more. Other mountains surrounding Tucson include the Santa Rita Mountains, the Rincon Mountains, the Tucson Mountains, and the Tortolita Mountains.

Sabino canyon waterfall in tucson arizona

Visit the Sonoran Desert Museum

Sonoran Desert Museum is one of the top attractions in Tucson. Not just a zoo, but a botanical garden and a museum as well. This unique attraction gives you incredible opportunity to see the desert, and the animals that reside here in there natural habitat located in just under 100 acres. They have a great hummingbird viewing area too.

Sonoran desert museum

Scenic Drive or Hike through Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park, an impressive forest of the giant symbols of the southwest. This is the spot to visit if you want to experience a stunning display of saguaro’s, especially when they are in bloom usually in late May and early June.

Saguaro national park in Tucson Arizona

Mt. Lemmon

Mt. Lemmon can be reached by driving a winding 25 mile paved byway trail in the rugged Santa Catalina Mountains.  Along the way there are many pull off points where you can stop and take a photograph or just take in the view.

mount lemmon views

Tohono Chul Park

Tucson is home to a secret garden – Tohono Chul Park. Just under 50 acres, the park is home to nine gardens including a hummingbird, butterfly and Penstemon garden. If you’ve ever wanted to see a Crested Saguaro you can view one here. Another unique attraction to Tohono Chul Park is their collection of Queen of the Night. Once a year, usually in June or July, these amazing flowers bloom and you can view them until midnight.

7366 N. Paseo Del Norte in Tucson.

Old Tucson Studios | Old West

Old Tucson Studios was originally created in the late 1930’s as a replica of 1860’s old western town of Tucson for a movie set. In the 1960’s it was restored and reopened as both a film studio and a family friendly tourist attraction. Today you can see old movie memorabilia, buildings from movie sets, and watch the stuntman shows

A visit to Old Tucson Studios was a lot of family fun! It is like going back in time to visit the old west.

old tucson studios

It is located in Tucson Mountain park near the Tucson Mountains. If you like western movies (many were filmed here) or just want to see “the wild west” this is a fun place to go with or without kids. Old Tucson Studios has rides for the kids including a carousel, train rides,wagon rides, petting zoo area.

See live gunfights performed by actors and stuntmen as well as other shows throughout the day. View some famous western movie sets, film memorabilia and authentic items from the old west.

Picacho Peak

One of the best places to see an amazing display of spring wildflowers Picacho Peak is on the way to Tucson from Phoenix. You will reach Picacho Peak about 40 minutes before downtown Tucson.

Picacho peak on the way to tucson arizona

Largest Gem & Rock Show in the USA

The Annual Gem & Rock Show held every winter is attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. If you like geology, this is a terrific event to check out.

If you love gems, minerals, and rocks don’t miss the oldest and largest gem and mineral show in the world held in Tucson, Arizona.

Held annually in late January or early February, the Tucson Gem & Mineral show features hundreds of vendors from around the world. They offer a variety of minerals and jewelry for sale.

tucson arizona gem show

The main show is at the Tucson Convention Center, however, there are more than 40 vendors throughout the city. The entire city welcomes gem and mineral collectors, museum employees, dealers, retailers, researchers, and the public together for a week you won’t forget.

Bring your walking shoes, the convention center has more than 180,000 square feet of exhibits to explore. Thousands of visitors from all over the world, visit this annual show.

Other Popular Tucson Attractions:

Day Trips from Tucson