Thinking about a visit to the Desert Southwest this summer to take in the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, experience a spectacular sunset, eat some of the world’s best Mexican food, see the desert come to life after dark, and of course, take advantage of some great summer deals? Well, here are a few hot takes on cool things to do in Tucson in the summer to beat the heat.
Cool Summer Nights at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
The Desert Museum is lovely during the day, but it’s even cooler after dark. Join them on a Saturday night to beat the heat while learning something neat! The desert comes alive at night as nocturnal animals awake. Bats perform aerial acrobatics in pursuit of dinner, beavers splash around in their pond, and scorpions glow blue-green under black light. Bring a flashlight and explore, grab a local beer and wander.
UA Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium
Located at the heart of the UArizona campus, Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium explores our universe from earth to space and everything in-between. Changing exhibits throughout the year focus on biology, energy, optics and more, weaving in ground-breaking UA research. Sit back, relax and experience an amazing immersive science journey in the EOS Planetarium Theater – Southern Arizona’s only planetarium. Recently renovated with state-of-the-art projection technology, sound system, and seating, the Flandrau observatory features a 16-inch telescope with free viewing where volunteer astronomers can show you Saturn’s rings, the cloud belts of Jupiter, the Andromeda galaxy and other stunning and beautiful images that will forever transform the way you see our own world.
UArizona College of Science Laboratory of Tree Ring Research
Learn the insightful stories trees can tell, including fire history, climate conditions, and even public health at the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research. “Tree rings are a terrific way to learn about time, history and our world. From tree rings we learn about great natural and cultural events, such as droughts, forest fires, volcanic eruptions and the rise and fall of civilizations. You can actually see and touch centuries and millennia of history, all exactly ordered in the sequences of rings.” – Thomas W. Swetnam, LTRR Laboratory Director and Regents’ Professor of Dendrochronology.
Discover your world inside Biosphere 2, the world’s largest Earth science experiment and explore living, breathing scientific research. Biosphere 2 is the world’s largest controlled environment dedicated to understanding the impacts of climate change. Discover the world in a 3.14-acre laboratory with active research systems spanning from ocean to desert environments and so much more. Explore the facility at your own pace with the Biosphere 2 tour app. Get access to rich history, never-before-seen photos, and a deep understanding of current research initiatives and their potential impact.
The Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum
The UA Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum is housed in the south wing of the Historic Pima County Courthouse and features a 12,000 square foot exhibition hall showcasing an array of magnificent gems and outstanding mineral specimens. Each gallery takes the visitor on a different tour, covering the evolution of minerals on earth, regional minerals and mining, technological uses of minerals, and large show-stopping specimens to tiny, intricate precious gems. The facility displays pieces such as: a 400-pound malachite specimen from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a 410-pound silver nugget found outside Globe; a 210-pound Azurite specimen from the late 1880s; the Wells Fargo Arizona Gold Collection; and a display of gem and mineral art pieces created by local artist Nicolai Medvedev.
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley
Where the earth meets the sky, Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is 30 miles from Tucson & 30 degrees cooler. Experience one of the many beautiful hiking trails or visit the awesome sky ride which takes you to 9,100 feet through Ponderosa Pine, ancient Douglas Fir and Quaking Aspen. Return to base for the Motherlode’s unique shopping, great homemade fudge and the Lost Mine with the Iron Door Restaurant’s famous chili and homemade corn bread and pies. Visit the charming town of Summerhaven and its quaint shops like Living Rainbow Gift Shop and the Mt. Lemmon General Store and Gift shop. Other restaurants include the Sawmill Run or try the classic Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin for pizza and giant, plate-sized cookies.
UA Center for Creative Photography
Experience this one-of-a-kind museum and research center dedicated to photography as an art form and cultural record. Rotating exhibits feature collections from Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Garry Winogrand, Harry Callahan, and other great 20th century photographers. Experience one of Tucson’s best kept secrets, the Center of Creative Photography.
Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block
Take a journey through art, history, and culture. The Museum features changing exhibitions of Art of the American West, Latin America, and Modern and Contemporary art forms, with a permanent collection of more than 9,000 objects. The Tucson Museum of Art offers ongoing educational programs for children, families, and adults through summer arts programs, lectures, and art making activities. The Museum campus includes four historic adobe properties and a restored Craftsman home. Spend an afternoon viewing exhibitions, browsing the Museum’s one-of-a-kind store, and enjoying the award-winning Café a la C’Art.
Colossal Cave Classic Cave Tour
This desert refuge has sheltered people for over a thousand years. It has been home, shrine, hideout, challenging workplace, exciting playground, tranquil retreat. This half-mile long guided cave tour takes about 40 minutes to complete. It’s the perfect family-friendly introduction to the Colossal Cave. You’ll learn about the Cave’s history, its legends (like train robbers and ghosts), and its unique geology. As you descend approximately six stories deep (363 stair steps) you’ll see some amazing cave formations including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, box work, and helictites that were sculpted by millions of years of geological activity. And keep an eye out for the wildlife too!
Stay in the Heart of It All
So as you can see, some of the coolest things to do in Tucson can only be experienced in the summer so go ahead and pack your bags, sunscreen and hat and head on down to the “Old Pueblo”! Our romantic Tucson, Arizona bed and breakfast, located in the heart of downtown, is the perfect spot to make your home base during your explorations. Enjoy cozy guest rooms with comfortable king and queen beds, complimentary breakfast each morning, evening happy hour, fitness center, outdoor fire pit and more. We look forward to welcoming you soon!Book Now