When I told people that I was heading to Tucson, Arizona, I got many a blank stare. It was often followed up with a comment about how I should go to Phoenix or Scottsdale instead. The main reason we were headed to Tucson over spring break was to visit with my grandparents. Living in Denver has put us a little bit closer to them (though it is still a 12 hours drive) and a visit was overdue.
We spent much of our time with my grandparents but we were able to do some exploring. This three day itinerary is a laid back version of what we would have done had the main reason for the visit not been about family. At the end, I am going to include some more attraction ideas to get you started on your own itinerary. We are looking forward to returning to Tucson to do some more exploring.
Day One – Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Mineral Collecting
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is more zoo and botanical garden than it is museum. You could easily spend all day wandering around the museum. We spent a few hours before we were run off by the lightening and threatening skies. Our favorite spot here was the Earth Sciences Center with the minerals gallery. We also really enjoyed the Hummingbird Aviary.
After the Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum, be sure to stop at the Tucson Mineral and Gem World. It is a small building that doesn’t look like much from the front but it is packed to the brim with all kinds of gems and minerals from the local area and across the oceans. We had a lot of fun looking at the turquoise, different types of quartz and more. My son spent much of his vacation money here.
Day Two – Saguaro National Park
On our second day, we visited Saguaro National Park. This is another spot that you can spend all day in but you can also make a quick trip if necessary. We entered the East section of the park, also known as the Rincon Mountain District.
The Cactus Forest Loop Drive is a perfect way to see this part of the park. There are pull-offs for your car and short hiking trails throughout. It was amazing to see the gigantic Saguaro cacti popping up from the land.
Day Three – Day Trip South
While a drive into Mexico wasn’t on the agenda (though I wish it had been!), my grandparents took us on a little day trip south to show us a few of the small towns and sites near Tucson. Our first stop was at San Xavier del Bac Mission, also known as the White Dove of the Desert. Construction of the church was finished in 1797. We wandered through the small museum and spoke to the gal working the counter. Unfortunately, we couldn’t view the inside of the building because there was a service in session.
From there, we headed to Tubac, Arizona, where we wandered in and out of the little shops. We saw beautiful pottery, jewelry, clothing and more. After that, we headed even farther south to Tumacacori, Arizona where we stopped at this little spice shop and picked up tasty spices and salsas.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do half of what we had researched for this trip so we are just going to have to make a trip back. Some of the activities still on our list include the Pima Air and Space Museum and the plane boneyard, Bookman’s (a huge used bookstore), the Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tombstone, and more.
What is your favorite activity in Tucson, Arizona?