What to do in Tucson, Arizona?
The most interesting places to visit
Tucson, Arizona is a vibrant and diverse city with a rich cultural history and a wide range of activities to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s natural beauty, trying new foods, or learning about its history and culture, there’s something for everyone in Tucson. Here are a few ideas of things to do while you’re in town:
City Attractions – Must See list. We carefully prepared a list of the most amazing places to see while you visit to Tucson, the authentic city full of Native American and Mexican culture. There are no analogue places to feel, taste and experience the southwest culture. More information about the Tucson Gem Show.
Gem & Jam
Gem & Jam is a festival focused around music and art for gem enthusiasts and festival-goers of all kinds. While, for many, music remains the main attraction, the Gem and Jam Festival also features artists of all mediums: visual performers, live artists, arts and crafts along with workshops and lectures, food vendors and high-end art galleries. gemandjamfestival.com
The JOGS team has visited the Gem & Jam festival many times and has enjoyed it every year. The festival has multiple stages, beautiful live performances, art installations, and a chill party atmosphere.
Biosphere 2 – is an incredible architectural building, but not only, the main purpose was to create Earth systems for science research. Its mission is to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching, and lifelong learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe. The building and territory is a 3.14-acre (1.27-hectare) structure originally built to be an artificial, materially closed ecological system, or vivarium. Even still, It remains the largest closed system ever created.
32540 South Biosphere Road, Mile marker 96.5, Oracle, AZ 85623
800 828 2462, 520 825 1289
You can buy tickets here
Mission San Xavier del Bac
Mission San Xavier del Bac – A historic monument and architectural masterpiece, the Mission San Xavier was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. This is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona, and the church’s interior is filled with marvelous original statuary and mural paintings. There are not many authentic ancient religious institutions around the US and it is a place where visitors can “dive” into the history, religion or just enjoy the beauty of 18th century mission. There is no admission charge.
The JOGS team visits the Mission San Xavier almost every year, and finds it to be a relaxing and spiritually rejuvenating visit. The artistry that went into the mission is one-of-a-kind, including the carvings, murals and objects of devotion. It is about a 20 minute drive from the JOGS Show.
Sonora Desert Museum
Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum – the 98 acre Desert Museum is a life time experience: zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium.
- 21 interpreted acres with two miles of walking paths through various desert habitats
- 230 animal species
- 1,200 types of plants — 56,000 individual specimens
- One of the world’s most comprehensive regional mineral collections
- Interesting and educational for all ages
Titan Missile Museum
Titan Missile Silo – The Titan Missile Museum is literally a one of a kind attraction. The silo is the only remaining Titan site of the 54 that existed during the Cold War and is an amazing glimpse back in time. Tour the inside of the Titan missile silo and learn about the fail safes and history of the Cold War during a 1-hour tour.
The JOGS tech team visited the Missile Museum as part of an interest in history and technology, and really liked their visit. The tour will take you through the missile’s history, from above ground to below. A great way to jump into a history of the Cold War or to see one of the few remaining missile silos in the USA. The Missile Silo is about a 30 minutes drive from the JOGS Show. Tour tickets are only around $10 per person.
Kitt Peak National Observatory
Kitt Peak National Observatory – National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), supports the most diverse collection of astronomical observatories on Earth for nighttime optical and infrared astronomy and daytime study of the Sun.
You can read about tours, admissions, gift shop, etc., here
Highway 86 to 386 for 12 miles, Sells, AZ85634
520 318 8726
Tucson Botanical Gardens
Tucson Botanical Gardens – Tucson Botanical Gardens is the BEST Secret Garden in America. It has one of the greatest plants collections, especially the ones that grow in the desert, and it shows an example how to use desert plants to save water and keep the environment beautiful, what is especially helpful now, the time of draught. Beside enormous plants collection, they have butterfly house, classes, tours, café and resting area.
Hours and admission – here
2150 North Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85712
520 326 9686
B&B Cactus Farm
B & B Cactus Farm – this is 2 acres of the widest collection of cacti, with many greenhouses and outside areas filled with cacti and succulents of all types for garden lovers and landscape designers. They also have a great collection of pottery for sale. Including Saguaro cacti, tree-like enormous cactus specie.
11550 East Speedway Boulevard, Tucson, AZ85748
520 721 4687
Old Western Tucson
Old Western Tucson – if you are a fan or fancier of western/cowboy movies then this is the place for you. Walking the main street will make you recognize many of the storefronts and buildings you have seen in many, many western movies. And even if you are not a huge fan of old western movies, this is still a really neat place to visit!
You can buy tickets here
201 South Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85735
520 883 0100
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
For art lovers: astonishing galleries and studios to enjoy and buy unique art fulfilled with history, juicy colors, desert landscapes for moderate local prices
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun – a wonderful place to visit and enjoy the art with the possibility to buy. There are over 15,000 works of art here by the renowned painter, sculptor and ceramicist Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia; there is Permanent collection, Rotating collection and Little gallery.
6300 N. Swan Road, Tucson, AZ 85718
520 299 9191
Admission fees here
Philabaum Glass Gallery &
Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio – if you love glass in all its myriad forms or an art lover period this place is for you. Stunning glass art, most of it for sale at reasonable prices. And if you are lucky to catch glass masters, who usually works right there, you can witness the masterpiece creation.
711 South 6th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701
520 8847 404
Etherton Gallery – is an amazing Tucson treasure! Etherton Gallery specializes in vintage and contemporary fine art photography, paintings, prints, sculpture, and mixed-media works by local and regional artists.
135 South 6th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701
520 624 7370
Madaras Gallery – this is a privately owned art gallery, that differs in its own way from listed above. The art works are unique, fresh and simply beautiful. You can order/buy right away what is displayed in the gallery, art works presented in different sizes and it can be either canvas or high quality print
3001 E. Skyline, Tucson, AZ
520 615 3001
Arte de la Vida
Arte de la Vida – authentic amazing vintage of Mexican Folk Art.
37 N. Tucson Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85716
520 398 6720
H.F. Coors Pottery
H.F. Coors – handmade/painted pottery. High restaurant quality dishes and they don’t sell in stores, only make restaurant ware and over the internet, so if you want some pieces, this is the place to g
1600 S Cherrybell Stra, Tucson, AZ 85713
520 903 1010
Fox Tucson Theatre
Fox Tucson Theater – theater was brought back to live in late 90s with the mission to bring back cultural theater experience into the community. Nowadays it offers high quality performing arts, cultural activities and films in order to inspire, excite, entertain, engage and educate guests from all over Southern Arizona. You can check events schedule here
17 W Congress St, Tucson, AZ 85701
520 547 3040
Where should I go if I love outdoor activities, work outs with fun and pleasure?
Outside City Attractions – Outdoor Activities for any preferences and ages.
Want to see the beautiful Saguaro cactus without having to hike? The route to the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa to the west of Tucson is an easy way to see and take photos of Tucson’s famous cactus. In the hills directly beside the road closer to the resort you’ll see thousands of these prickly giants, and there is plenty of places along the way to pull off and take photos.
The JOGS team brings all new staff members to Starr Pass to experience the beauty of Tucson in the morning before the show starts. The Starr Pass Resort is breathtaking if you are looking for somewhere to get away from the city. The cactus hills are about a 20 minute drive from the JOGS Show, depending on where you decide to stop.
Ventana Canyon Hiking Trail
Ventana Canyon Hiking Trail – very picturesque hike for hikers of all levels. You can choose any difficulty you prefer and enjoy desert wildlife. And do not forget your hiking shoes.
Tips: starting at the intersection of Speedway and Wilmot, follow Wilmot North. Wilmot Road turns into Tanque Verde at Pima Road. Follow Tanque Verde to Sabino Canyon Road. Turn left on Sabino Canyon Road and follow for 3.7 miles to Kolb Road. Turn left on Kolb and follow until you reach the Lowe’s Ventana Canyon Resort. Enter the resort and look for the employee parking lot and a sign for the trailhead. There is a small parking lot near the trailhead.
Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway – It is one of the most scenic drives in southeast Arizona. It provides access to a fascinating land of great vistas, outlandish rockscapes, cool mountain forests and deep canyons spilling out onto broad deserts. For your convenience, there are turnouts at scenic overlooks and several campgrounds and picnic areas. Dozens of hiking trails offer access to the mountain’s backcountry canyons and ridges.
About 15 miles northeast of Tucson in the Catalina Mountains
520 576 9147
Madera Canyon – if you are a rare species bird fan, Madera Canyon is a must see destination. Located just north of the US-Mexico border, many Mexican species can be found nowhere else in the US.
Exit 63 Off Interstate 19, 303 Old Tucson (Nogales Ranger Station), Tucson, AZ 85747
520 281 2296
Catalina State Park
Catalina State Park – this is an amazing park not only for hiking, but also for camping. Even for people who limit themselves from the joy of camping, because of lack of the comfort, there are plenty of nicely organized bathrooms and showers. Besides being very well taken care park with rich wildlife, you can also finally enjoy camping.
11570 N Oracle Rd, Tucson, AZ 85737-9589
520 628 5798
Sabino Canyon – is a must see and very close to the town. The scenery is spectacular. The Canyon is a popular recreation area for residents and visitors of Southern Arizona, providing a place to walk, hike or ride. Minutes away from the desert are large waterfalls along Sabino Creek with minor bridges constructed over them. Wildlife in the canyon includes deer, javelina, skunks, tortoises, rattlesnakes and mountain lions. You can even take a shuttle to the top and catch another shuttle back down.
5900 North Sabino Canyon Road, Tucson, AZ85750
520 749 2861
White Stallion Ranch
White Stallion Ranch – the White Stallion Ranch is located a short 15 miles from Tucson AZ, near the Saguaro National Park. The ranch excels at horse activities, offering everything from mountain rides, wine & cheese rides, and even all day ride excursions. Private lessons are also available for groups or individuals. They will make sure you have decent experience.
You can find price rates here. 9251 W. Twin Peaks Rd., Tucson, AZ 85743 – 520 744 2786
The JOGS team has taken a desert horse ride with White Stallion Ranch and it was a lot of fun to explore the arid hills and fields of Tucson. We recommend you go early to beat the heat, before the show starts in the morning. The ranch is a bit difficult to find on the back roads, so make sure to get clear instructions before you go. White Stallion Ranch is about 30 minutes away from the JOGS Show.
Rockin Star Ranch
Rockin Star Ranch – the Rockin Star Ranch is another ranch to contact if you want to go horse back riding in the beauty of Tucson’s nature on a trail ride. Rockin Star Ranch offers morning, mid-day and evening trail rides. Come enjoy a leisurely guided Western trail ride through scenic Rocking K Ranch. Starting from the site of the historic Mountain Springs Hotel and Stage Station, you’ll leave behind the modern world as you lose yourself along the old National Mail Stagecoach Route.
You can find price rates and book online here. 520-409-6700
The JOGS team hasgone on a trail ride with Rockin Star Ranch and we really appreciated that they offered early morning rides before the Tucson Gem Show starts. Rather than going on the Rockin Star Ranch itself in the desert mountains, we were lead on a trail through the Isabella Lee Natural Preserve, along the Agua Caliente dry river wash, another unique sandy climate in Tucson. The trailhead and the Rockin Star Ranch are both about 30 minutes away from the JOGS Show.
Houston’s Horseback Riding
Houston’s Horseback Riding – lovely family business that will make sure you have greatest experience riding around attractive mysterious desert nature. They provide different routes, and one of them also includes steak dinner, how cool is that?
12801 E. Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85748
520 298 7450
Tucson Bike Tours
Tucson Bike Tours – this is a very nice service that helps you to explore the city and the area in general using bikes. Tours are guided too. And they offer different schedules that can work out for everybody – day tour, night tour, sunrise tour and road & mountain tour. You can find schedules at the main page and book certain dates.
215 N Hoff Ave., Suite 101, Tucson, AZ 85705
520 488 4446
Arizona Party Bike
Who likes to work out and drink beer and spirits at the same time? If it’s you, here is a best entertainment for you
Arizona Party Bike – is a perfect fun for the group of people who wants to see the city, stay active, socialize with friends and have some party
They also offer tours to certain beer pubs. Info is here
445 N 3rd Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705
520 369 5544
Fleur de Tucson Hot Air Balloon Rides – Romantic
If you visit Tucson and looking for some romantic unusual way to explore the city from the bird’s eye view, here is an awesome place
Fleur de Tucson Hot Air Balloon Rides – exceptional flights typically take us over the Tucson Mountains and Saguaro National Park West on Tucson’s northwest side. Each journey is unique, combining low level views of the beautiful desert landscape and spectacular panoramas from higher elevations. On most flights numerous wildlife are spotted, including javelin, deer, bobcats, rabbits, foxes and red-tailed hawks. After landing, each flight is celebrated with a delicious continental brunch and premium champagne (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) served in beautiful crystal flutes.
Price rates here
4635 N Caida Place, Tucson, AZ 85718
520 403 8547
Other Parts of Arizona
Far(ish) from the Tucson city, but absolutely mind-blowing and mandatory to visit:
Sedona, Az – Is a an absolute must! This is 100% unique place covered with mystery and positive energy power where you can charge your chakras. 64 percent of the near four million annual visitors to Sedona come in search of a spiritual experience. They say that the place is so-called “vortexes”, believed to be psychic places of power.
Do you enjoy history? Archeology? Or just want to expand your view? Some of the more impressive ruins can be found in the Sedona, Verde Valley area. Within an hour’s drive of Sedona, you’ll find not only numerous small ruin sites, but several larger sites. Just outside the town of Clarkdale, on the Verde River, stands the ruins of Tuzigoot, a Sinagua pueblo that was built atop a hill overlooking the river valley. Today the ruins are preserved as Tuzigoot National Monument, and an interpretive trail winds through the partially restored ruins.
Antelope Canyon – words cannot describe how astonishing this place is. This is a spot from a person’s bucket list. Antelope Canyon also has private tours, and a special highlight of the tour will be the authentic beauty of Native American flute music resonating throughout antelope canyon. Hear the wonderful Native American stories from primary source – Native Americans from Navajo tribe.
Colorado River Rafting
Colorado River Rafting – are you adventurous explorer who likes adrenaline and extreme? Guaranteed you will enjoy rafting along Colorado River. If you have few days you want to spend rafting around Grand Canyon, you might want to check out few days rafting trips – Western River Expedition It is a mixture of risk, fun, adventure and lifetime experience that you will never forget.
Havasupai Falls – AMAZING, breathtaking, ought to be on everyone’s bucket list. The natural beauty of the area is beyond compare
Tips: You must to call in advance to find out about prices, weather and if you want to camp there, you need to call and reserve in advance. Havasupai Tourism Office – (928) 448-2121.
You have to pay an Indian reservation fee or something that’s $8 and a day-hike pass for $40 (UPDATE: NO MORE DAY PASSES, OVERNIGHT ONLY), PLUS additional fees if you take the helicopter (approx. 85$ one way or horses approx. 70$, so bring cash and credit card.) To make a reservation, call here 1-928-448-2111 or 1-928-448-2201 and please, check the weather, because Flash Floods happen all the time and extremely dangerous.
Stop in Seligman or Peach Springs for gas, bathrooms, food, water, etc. before you head up to the trailhead because there’s NOTHING until you get to the actual reservation.
Eat, Drink, Shop and Enjoy in Tucson
What to eat, what to drink and have some fun (restaurants, bars, casinos, shopping)
Shopping – is very diverse as anything else in Tucson. There is shopping for any taste, preference and budget. Tucson provides everything from vintage flea markets to luxurious boutiques. You cannot go wrong here. If you’re all about shopping that promises something fun, funky, and unexpected, check out districts like Tucson’s Lost Barrio – historic warehouse shopping district or the shops along 4th Avenue. You might also find a lot of shopping fun in the Campbell Avenue District, Downtown Tucson, and Main Gate Square along with more than 30 restaurants and plenty places to rest and take some time.
On the other hand, if you prefer chilled fancy shopping, you might want to visit red Spanish plaza La Encantada — a two-level, open-air specialty center with some famous luxurious brands like Tiffany & Co, Crate & Barrel, Apple, and other high-end and destination boutiques.
Also, for your comfort, there are plenty of regular shopping malls with all affordable brands
4500 North Oracle Road, Tucson, AZ 85705
520 293 7330 x4
Tucson Premium Outlets
6401 W. Marana Center Blvd, Tucson, AZ85742
520 385 7726
5870 E. Broadway Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85711
7475 N. La Cholla Blvd., Ste. 133
Tucson, AZ 8574
Tired of shopping? Want to clear your head on the fresh air? Tucson has some high quality golf clubs and golf courses are worth of checking out, grab some drinks and enjoy the area
Omni Tucson National Resort Golf Course
2727 West Club Drive, Tucson, AZ 85742
520 575 7540
Starr Pass Golf Club
3645 W. Starr Pass Blvd., Tucson, AZ
800 503 2898
La Paloma Country Club
3660 E. Sunrise Drive, Tucson, AZ 85718
520 299 1500
Gambling & Casinos
After you done with shopping and golfing, it might be the time to win some cash, and gamble a little.
You can enjoy some local casinos that offer plenty of slot machines, poker rooms, gamble tables, a lot of alcohol and food:
Casino del Sol Resort
5655 W. Valencia Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85757
520 838 6506
Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel
7350 S. Nogales Hwy.
Tucson, AZ 85756
520 294 7777
OR you can go big and travel for few hours to Las Vegas! Yes, it is that close. Does Las Vegas need some introduction? Well, that’s what we thought. Here is a link, where you can find full guide
Craft Beer & Local Breweries
Are you a craft beer connoisseur? Tucson has some local craft breweries that serve fresh delicious beers to satisfy any taste, spiced on top with cozy friendly ambient
Borderlands Brewing Co
119 E. Toole Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701
520 261 8773
Tap & Bottle
Tap & Bottle – A great hang out place with fantastic craft beer selection and wine.
403 N. 6th Avenue Suite 135, Tucson, AZ85705
520 344 8999
Barrio Brewing Co
800 E. 16th Street, Tucson, AZ 85719
520 791 2739
Fun for families with kids
Pima Air & Space Museum
Pima Air & Space Museum – is very educational museum. Kids age 8 and older (with their parents) learn about air pressure, aircraft stability, and the 4 forces of flight through a series of experiments that the kids build and test (and take home).
Rates and hours here
6000 E. Valencia Rd.
Tucson, Arizona 85756
520 574 0462
International Wildlife Museum
International Wildlife Museum – is interesting place if you are planning to increasing knowledge and appreciation of the diverse wildlife of the world
4800 W Gates Pass Road, Tucson, AZ 85745
520 629 0100
Colossal Cave Mountain Park
Colossal Cave Mountain Park – 2400 acre park and ranch feature: guided cave tours, hiking and biking trails, horseback riding, petting zoo, camping, special events, food & spirits And more …
16721 E. Old Spanish Trail
Vail, AZ 85641
520 647 7275
Children’s Museum Tucson
Children’s Museum Tucson – fun, play-based, interactive, hands-on learning experiences for children and their families.
4800 W. Gates Pass Rd., Tucson, AZ 85745
520 629 0100
The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures – a cultural and educational atmosphere for the preservation and display of antique and contemporary miniatures. The artistic, historic, architectural and creative aspects of miniatures
4455 E Camp Lowell Rd, Tucson, AZ 85712
520 881 0606
The Gaslight Theater
The Gaslight Theater – really great! Fun for the entire family and a special night out for couples
7010 E Broadway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85710
520 886 9428
Pinnacle Peak Pistoleros Wild West Stunt Show
Pinnacle Peak Pistoleros Wild West Stunt Show – a lot of old-school fun for the whole family. Stunning entertaining show with some good food – perfect time spending for the whole family, especially kids will quiet enjoy it.
6541 E. Tanque Verde Rd., Tucson, AZ 85715
520 398 5618
Funtasticks Family Fun Park
221 E. Wetmore Rd, Tucson, AZ 85705
520 888 4653
Golf N’ Stuff Family Fun Center
6503 East Tanque Verde Road, Tucson, AZ85715
520 296 2366
Hotels during the Tucson Gem Show
Need somewhere to stay during the Tucson Gem Show? Many hotels offer special rates for Gem Show guests stay for a longer period of time.
Airlines and Flight Discounts
Delta Air Lines is pleased to offer special discounts for JOGS International Exhibits during the Tucson Gem Shows.