Exploring Tucson: Events
All it takes is a quick click on Exploring Tucson – November 2023 or Exploring Tucson – December 2023 and you will find a wide variety of events to enjoy each month. Would you like Exploring Arizona, our compact newsletter of Phoenix and Tucson events, emailed directly to you each month? Please let Chris Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org know, and it will happen.
Exploring Tucson: Places
The Tucson area has so many places to explore throughout the year. Museums, gardens, farmers markets and even a miniatures museum are just a few of the places you will discover while exploring.
Arizona State Museum: Discover the many opportunities to experience the ancient and enduring Native cultures of the region through content-rich exhibits, dynamic docent tours, engaging programs, exciting travel tours, hands-on workshops, a research library, and an educational museum store. Tuesday- Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday, federal and state holidays. University of Arizona, 1013 E University Blvd., (just inside the Main Gate at Park Ave. and University Blvd.) Tucson, AZ 85721, (520) 621-6302, www.statemuseum.arizona.edu.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: World-renowned zoo, natural history museum, and botanical garden. The museum is dedicated to providing a naturalistic and enriching sanctuary for the animals and plants, and a clean, friendly, entertaining and educational experience for guests. Their goal is to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the Sonoran Desert. October-May 8:30 a.m.-5p.m., June-September 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson, AZ 85743, (520) 883-2702, www.desertmuseum.org.
Biosphere 2: The Biosphere 2 facility serves as a laboratory for controlled scientific studies, an arena for scientific discovery and discussion, and a far-reaching provider of public education. Its mission is to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching and life-long learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe; to catalyze interdisciplinary thinking and understanding about Earth and its future; to be an adaptive tool for Earth education and outreach to industry, government, and the public; and to distill issues related to Earth systems planning and management for use by policymakers, students and the public. Tours daily. 32540 S. Biosphere Rd., Oracle, AZ 85623, (520) 838-6200, www.b2science.org.
Children’s Museum Tucson & Oro Valley: Play is the primary component in the Museums’ interactive exhibits. Focusing on learning by doing encourages fun educational experiences between children and their parents/caregivers. Tucson Location: Monday-Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Discovery Nights every Thursday 5-7 p.m., 200 S. 6th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701, (520) 792-9985. Oro Valley Location: Tuesday-Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m., 11015 N. Oracle Rd., Oro Valley, AZ 85737, (520) 297-8004, www.childrensmuseumtucson.org.
Flandrau Science Center Planetarium: Explore the universe from earth to space and everything in-between, bringing science alive for young and life-long learners alike. Changing exhibits throughout the year focus on biology, energy, optics and more, weaving in ground-breaking UA research and revealing the world of science careers for budding scientists. Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., The University of Arizona, 1601 E University Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85721, (520) 621-4516, www.flandrau.org.
Fort Lowell Museum: You will find reproduced an adobe officer quarters from the 1880s, in addition to ruins from original structures (along with plenty of other typical park amenities) Learn about army life during this era. Admission is free, donations welcome. Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., but is temporarily closed. 2900 N. Craycroft Road, Tucson, AZ 85712, (520) 885-3832, arizonahistoricalsociety.org/museum/fort-lowell-museum/.
The Franklin Auto Museum: The museum is a means to continue Thomas Hubbard’s collection of classic Franklin automobiles, and to provide an opportunity to develop a comprehensive Franklin Museum covering all years of the company’s production. Open Mid October to Memorial Day, Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 1405 E. Kleindale Rd., Tucson, AZ 85719, (520) 326-8038, www.franklinmuseum.org.
The Gaslight Theatre: Enjoy musical comedy melodramas 6 nights a week, and 5 different shows per year. Westerns, sci-fi spoofs, our famous Christmas Shows, and everything in between- you can find it all here at The Gaslight! 7010 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85710, (520) 886-9428, www.thegaslighttheatre.com.
Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum: A train-lover’s dream, this place has toy trains crisscrossing mini mountains, towns and rail stations, all at table-top level – so you can see it! There’s also a real caboose outside and a railroad kids can ride. Open every Sunday 1-4 p.m. September-May. Admission is free. 3975 N. Miller Avenue, Tucson AZ 85705, 520-888-2222, www.gpdtoytrainmuseum.com.
Kartchner Caverns State Park: This cave system is an underground nature preserve. There are spectacular sights everywhere, including a 58 foot tall stone column called “Kubla Khan”. Currently open Monday-Sunday 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Reservations are recommended. 2980 Arizona 90, Benson, AZ 85602, (520) 586-2283, www.azstateparks.com.
Ignite Sign Art Museum: This unique museum has plenty of historic and neon signs, plus mini mock-ups of iconic Tucson signs. Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 331 S. Olsen, Tucson, AZ 85719, (520) 319-0888, www.ignitemuseum.com.
International Wildlife Museum: Natural history museum with interactive exhibits and films. Dioramas depicting wild animals in their natural settings, videos, interactive computers, and hands-on exhibits promote wildlife appreciation and conservation. Thursday and Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., 4800 W. Gates Pass Rd., Tucson, AZ 85745, (520) 629-0100, www.thewildlifemuseum.org.
Kitt Peak National Observatory: Here you’ll find exhibits, take tours, and see the world’s largest collection of optical telescopes. The observatory is currently closed. State Route 86, Ajo Highway (90 minutes from downtown Tucson), Tohono O’odham Nation, AZ 85719, (520) 318-8726, noirlab.edu/science/programs/kpno.
The Loop: The Loop is a system of paved shared use paths and short segments of buffered bike lanes connecting the Rillito, Santa Cruz, and Pantano River Parks with the Julian Wash and Harrison Road Greenways. More than 110 miles of paved pathways and bike lanes have already been completed with an additional 11 miles planned. The Loop extends through unincorporated Pima County, Marana, Oro Valley, Tucson, and South Tucson. Enjoy The Loop on foot, bikes, skates, and horses. If it doesn’t have an engine, it’s good to go on The Loop. webcms.pima.gov/government/the_loop/.
Mini Time Museum: Tiny renditions of famous abodes headline at this educational & interactive museum of miniatures. Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 4455 E. Camp Lowell Dr., Tucson, AZ 85712, (520) 881-0606, www.theminitimemachine.org.
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley: Sky rides with panoramic views of forest, rocky cliffs, desert floor and distant mountain ranges. There’s skiing in the winter. Monday, Thursday and Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday and Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 10300 Ski Run Rd., Mt. Lemmon, AZ 85619, (520) 576-1321, www.skithelemmon.com.
National Parks Store: The Western National Park Association (WNPA) is a nonprofit education partner of the National Park Service. WNPA supports more than 70 parks across the West, developing products, services, and programs that enrich the visitor experience. In partnership with the National Park Service since 1938, WNPA advances education, interpretation, research, and community engagement to ensure national parks are increasingly valued by all. Open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 12880 N. Vistoso Village Dr., Tucson, AZ, 85755, (520) 622-6014, www.wnpa.org.
Pima Air and Space Museum: One of the largest collections of historic aircraft in the United States is here. Its Space Gallery offers a look at space travel, and several hangers house airplanes, exhibits, and memorabilia. You’ll see more than 275 aircraft on display. October-May 9 a.m.-5 p.m., June-September 9 a.m.-3 p.m., 6000 E. Valencia Rd., Tucson, AZ 85756, (520) 574-0462, www.pimaair.org.
Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum: Visit a re-creation of the Tucson Presidio built in 1775. Visitors travel back in time to learn about life as early Tucsonans would have lived it. See the archaeological remains of a pit house, walk along the original Presidio wall and experience a 150 year old classic Sonoran Row house. Admission: Adults $5, Children 6-14 $1, 5 and younger are free. Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Closed in July. 196 N. Court Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701, (520) 622-0594, www.tucsonpresidio.com.
Postal History Foundation: The museum was founded not only to preserve postal history, but to also encourage young people interested in philately (the study of stamps). Check out the old-fashioned post office at the museum. Admission is free. Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Museum is currently closed. 920 N. 1st Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719, (520) 623-6652, www.postalhistoryfoundation.org.
Reid Park Zoo: The zoo has created natural habitats and multi-species exhibits. It’s a great setting for animals and visitors alike. Open 7 days a week October-May 9 a.m.-4 p.m., June-September 8 a.m.-2 p.m., 3400 Zoo Court, Tucson, AZ 85716, (520) 791-3204, www.reidparkzoo.org.
Reffkin Tennis Center: With more instructional programs and events offered for all ages than any facility in Tucson, public or private, Reffkin plays a major role in the future of tennis. Home to the Smith-Perry Tennis Academy (SPTA) one of the largest junior tennis development programs in the Southwest, and consistently produces regionally and nationally ranked junior players, most continuing on to play at the collegiate level. 50 S. Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85711, (520) 791-4896, reffkintenniscenter.com.
Southern Arizona Transportation Museum: Your kids (or you) can climb into Steam Locomotive #1673’s engine cab. The museum itself offers an overview of transportation in our region and is right by the Amtrak station so odds are decent that you’ll see a real-life train chugging along. Admission is free. Tuesday-Thursday, Sunday 11a.m.-3 p.m., Friday, Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 414 N. Toole Ave. Tucson, AZ 85701, (520) 623-2223, www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org.
Titan Missile Museum: At the museum, you can tour a preserved, underground Titan II missile site, where a missile was kept at the ready during the Cold War. October-May 9:45 a.m.-5 p.m. 7 days a week, June-September 9:45 a.m-5 p.m. Thursday-Monday, 1580 W. Duval Mine Road, Sahuarita, AZ, www.titanmissilemuseum.org.
Tohono Chul Park: Deemed “One of the World’s Ten Best Botanical Gardens” by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Set on 49 acres of lush desert, the vibrant offerings at Tohono Chul awaken your senses. Stroll along winding paths past soaring Saguaros, through themed botanical gardens and marvel at a chance encounter with a resident hummingbird. Enjoy quiet retreat in the artfully designed relaxation spots sprinkled throughout the lush grounds. Various art and garden exhibits reveal the unique qualities of the Sonoran region and renew a deep appreciation for the treasures of the desert. Open 7 days a week 7 a.m.-5 p.m., 7366 N. Paseo del Norte, Tucson, AZ 85704, (520) 742-6455, www.tohonochulpark.org.
Tucson Botanical Gardens: The Tucson Botanical Gardens promotes responsible and appropriate use of plants and water in a desert environment through education and demonstration and provides a place of beauty and tranquility for Tucson residents and visitors. Open 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. everyday. 2150 N. Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85712, (520) 326-9686, www.tucsonbotanical.org.
Tucson Speedway: In 2014, Tucson Speedway re-joined the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The Speedway features Super Late Models, Limited Late Models, Pro-Stocks, Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, Super Trucks, Hornets, Bandoleros and INEX Legends. Races are almost always held on Saturday nights, with practice sessions held on Friday. Thanks to the warm climate in Tucson, the track is able to remain open from February to November, only closing on weekends when there is a Sprint Cup race at Phoenix. 11955 S. Harrison Rd., Tucson, AZ 85747, (520) 762-1600, tucsonspeedway.com/.
Tucson Museum of Art: Permanent collection of more than 6,500 works of art, art school, library, café, gift shop, tours, and sculpture gardens. Tuesday-Sunday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., First Thursday of the month: 10 a.m.-8 p.m., 140 N. Main Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701, (520) 624-2333, www.tucsonmuseumofart.org.
The University of Arizona Libraries: The University of Arizona Libraries hosts a number of exhibits and events throughout the year. Our webpage connects you to a calendar, email newsletter and stories covered by campus, local, national and industry media outlets. Find something unique at the University of Arizona Libraries. Check website for daily hours of all campus libraries. 1510 E. University Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85721, (520) 621-6442, new.library.arizona.edu/.
The University of Arizona Museum of Art: UAMA is a premier showcase for world-class art. Throughout the year UAMA presents changing exhibitions of paintings, prints and sculptures from its permanent collection, as well as traveling exhibits. It collects and exhibits artworks representing many of the principal cultures and periods of world art history. The largest portion of the more than 6,000 artworks in the permanent collection comprises European and American artworks from the 14th century through the present day. Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Closed University holidays. 1031 N. Olive Rd., Tucson, AZ 85721, (520) 621-7567, www.artmuseum.arizona.edu.
Yume Japanese Gardens: Be transported to a place of tranquility, with gardens carefully designed to promote meditation. There is also a small museum and art gallery focused on Japanese culture. Confirm hours before you visit, as they may change depending on weather. Gardens are closed until October. Sunday: noon-5 p.m., Thursday-Saturday: 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., 2130 N. Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85712, (520) 272-3200, www.yumegardens.org.
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Fresh-food lovers can find everything from apples to zucchini at farmers’ markets in Tucson and Southern Arizona. This region boasts a great assortment of direct-sales farms offering a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, honey, salsa, jellies, baked goods, and even cactus fruit. Check these out—
Heirloom Farmers Markets: Since 1998, they been dedicated to promoting local food, improving farm viability, and engaging in the food system. They are helping to build a food system that honors producers, values good local food and enhances quality of life for Tucson and beyond. www.heirloomfm.org.
Udall Farmers’ Market: With 20+ vendors offering local and organic produce, farm-fresh eggs, Arizona grass-fed beef, local honey, freshly and locally roasted coffee, baked goods, salsa, tortillas, freshly roasted vegetables, pet products, soaps and more, this market brings the best of local food to Tucson’s east side. Fridays: October-March 9 a.m.-1 p.m., April-September 8-noon. Morris K Udall Park, 7202 E. Tanque Verde Rd., Tucson, AZ 85713.
Rillito Farmers’ Market: Tucson’s largest year-round farmers covered market is located along the bike trail known as The Loop and nestled in the Southeast corner of Rillito Park. The market hosts farmers, ranchers and artisan food purveyors featuring local produce and fresh cuisine. Sundays: October-February 20th 9 a.m.-1 p.m., April-September 8 a.m.-noon, Rillito Park Food Pavilion, 4502 N 1st Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719.
Oro Valley Farmers’ Market: This market offers the seasonal bounty from the surrounding farming communities as well as supporting special events at the Ranch including Second Saturdays at Steam Pump Ranch and its’ fun-filled activities. Visitors will find local fruits and vegetables as well as ranch-fed beef, pork and farm fresh eggs carrying on the ranch’s agricultural traditions. Saturdays: October-April 2nd 9 a.m.-1 p.m., April-September 8 a.m.-noon, Steam Pump Ranch, 10901 N Oracle Rd., Oro Valley, AZ 85737.
Green Valley Village Farmers & Artisans Market: The morning comes alive with a variety of artisans and small, local food businesses at the Green Valley Village. Stroll through the market to find artisan goods, jewelry, and southwest flavor for your home and taste buds! The food court offers fresh ingredients and local flavor with Sonoran Hot Dogs, a fire-breathing pizza dragon and authentic German cuisine. Wednesdays: October-April 9 a.m.-1 p.m., May-September 8-noon, Green Valley Village, 101 South La Cañada Dr., Green Valley, AZ 85614.
Rincon Farmers’ Market: This market offers locally grown food, handmade goods and plenty of family fun to the area. Find everything from locally grown produce, freshly roasted coffee, baked goods, tortillas, salsas, ready-to-eat food and a variety of handmade artisan goods. Saturdays: October-April 2 9 a.m.-1 p.m., April 9-September 8 a.m.-noon, 12500 East Old Spanish Trail, Tucson, AZ 85747.
Food in Root Farmers’ Markets: Take the time to talk to the wonderful vendors as they all have a story to tell. Relax over a cup of warm coffee in the colder months or a refreshing piña or horchata during the hot summers. The Food in Root Farmers’ Markets are filled with local gems: artisan soaps, handmade toys, metalsmiths and wood turners, sustainable ranchers, locally-harvested organic produce, spiritually inspired jewelry, artisan food producers with unique family recipes, locally roasted coffee, beekeepers, and so much more. As a community-driven endeavor, there is something for everyone. www.foodinroot.com.
St. Philip’s Artisan and Classic Farmers’ Markets: The vendors at St. Philip’s Plaza’s two farmers’ markets bring great veggies, fruit, honey, eggs, meat and more, all while supporting local businesses. Besides edibles, there are soaps, lotions, oils and moisturizers made from natural products. Check website for list venders for each day. The Artisan Farmers’ Market is on Saturdays and the Classic Farmers’ Market is on Sundays. May-September 8 a.m.-noon, October-April 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Philip’s Plaza, 4280 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson, AZ 85718.
UA Main Campus: Vendors offer fresh baked goods, produce, pasta, herbs, honey, jams, drinks, coffee, oils, soaps and much more. Varying Wednesdays: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., UA Mall, 1303 E University Blvd., Tucson, AZ.
Banner UMC: Bringing the freshest produce and other local food products to the faculty, staff, patients, and students at the UMC College of Medicine seemed like it would be a great benefit to everyone. With more than 20 vendors, there is sure to be something for everyone. The market is open to the public. Fridays: 10 a.m-2 p.m. Banner UMC, 1501 N Campbell Ave. Tucson, AZ 85724.
Community Food Bank Farmers’ Markets: The Community Foods Consignment program is where small farmers and home gardeners sell their produce at the markets on consignment. Shop Local and Support the Community Food Bank! Find fresh, sustainably grown foods while supporting local farmers and producers. The market offers Arizona fruits and vegetables, plants, flowers, eggs, honey, free-range meat, baked goods, bath and body products and more! All markets are open to the public. The Farmers’ Market Stand accepts cash, EBT (food stamps), AZFMNP and WIC vouchers as well as credit and debit cards. www.communityfoodbank.org.
Community Food Bank Farm Stand: Closed January-early spring. Tuesday 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Community Food Bank Main Branch, 3003 S Country Club Rd., Tucson, AZ 85713.
Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market: Thursdays, May-September, 4-7 p.m., October-April 3-6 p.m., Mercado San Agustin, 100 S. Avenida del Convento, Tucson, AZ 85745.