There are so many things to do in Tucson with kids that we had a difficult time narrowing it down. From the family friendly attractions, the hiking and outdoor activities, to the amazing food there is something for every family in Tucson, Arizona.
Our visit to Tucson was part of our big Southwest road trip that took us from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Carlsbad, California. We knew this would be a big trip and we only had 9 days to complete it, including travel. As we planned the trip Tucson, Arizona was added to the list.
We decided on Tucson because it’s location was perfect for our road trip, and there are so many attractions in Tucson for kids. It was an added bonus that the weather was perfect and a nice escape from the New York winter.
Tucson is located in Southeast Arizona. You know you have arrived as soon as the Saguaro Cactus start popping up. Now I knew that we would see cactus, but I didn’t realize it is part of the landscape everywhere you go! I thought you had to visit the national park but we saw them everywhere!
It was exciting to see the different ones and to experience this as a family for the first time. The cactus may be the everyday scenery for the locals, but for us it was mesmerizing.
We drove from New Mexico into Arizona and had 24 hours to enjoy the best of Tucson activities for families. There are so many fun things to do in Tucson, Arizona and we had to pick from an awesome list of attractions.
We partnered with Visit Tucson to visit the attractions in this article. All opinions are are own.
What to Do in Tucson Arizona
We started with this list of family attractions in Tucson and adjusted it to fit our itinerary, time in Tucson, and interests for this trip.
- Saguaro National Park
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
- Colossal Cave Mountain Park
- Old Tucson
- Children’s Museum Tucson
- Reid Park Zoo
- Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch
- Tucson Botanical Gardens
- Biosphere 2
- Pima Air & Space Museum
I wish we had more time in Tucson because there were so many places I wanted to visit that we didn’t have a chance to. Our visit was a taste of what Tucson has to offer and if we had more time we would have included more attractions.
Our Tucson Itinerary
Day 1 in Tucson
- Arrive at Old Tucson Arizona around 11:30 am.
- Lunch at Old Tucson
- Check into Hotel-Comfort Suites Tucson
- Dinner at Hub
Day 2 in Tucson
- Breakfast at Hotel/Check Out
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
- Leave for drive to Yuma Arizona
Destination 1: Old Tucson
You won’t find many amusement parks in Tucson but you will find Old Tucson. Old Tucson is a working movie studio that continues to film movies to this day! You can also find the sets from some of your favorite western films. Old Tucson takes you back to the Wild West and has entertaining shows, exhibits to explore, and a few family friendly rides to enjoy.
We arrived at Old Tucson at lunch time and headed over to Big Jake’s restaurant where we enjoyed BBQ and planned out our day.
Old Tucson has a daily schedule that gives you the shows and entertainment for the day. They have a gun fighting show, wild west movie tour, and a dancing show in the Saloon.
My kids enjoyed the tours and it helped that I showed them a few scenes from movies that were filmed there during our drive. We watched a clip of the Three Amigos and then they found the pictures and movie set during our visit. This made it easier to relate. I also was really impressed with the staff at Old Tucson.
During the Old Tucson historic tour the tour guide was very kid friendly and understanding. It is a walking tour and can get hot and tiring for the kids, he was very kind and told us it was okay if the kids needed a break or to sneak away. It is always reassuring as a parent to feel that the place you are visiting is family friendly.
We watched the gun fight show which is a reenactment of The Hanged Man. Again the staff at Old Tucson were great and did an awesome job. A word of caution-the show is based on the story of The Hanged Man and it involves a hanging that can be a bit intense for small children. We reminded the kids during the show that it was all pretend but it could be a bit scary for younger ones. Prepare the kids before you see it.
After the show we headed over to the ride area. Old Tucson has a train ride, antique cars, and a carousel that are included with your admission price. My favorite was the train ride. It takes guests on a ride around the grounds of Old Tucson and was a lot of fun. My kids also liked the antique cars because they got to drive!
Old Tucson is a great place to experience a bit of the Wild West and to see what life was like. Its a great educational experience for the kids and a fun place for all ages.
Destination 2: Comfort Suites Tucson
Deciding where to stay in Tucson was a bit complicated for us because it is their busy season and many rooms were sold out or out of our budget. We only needed a room for the night and wanted something budget friendly, clean, and close to the attractions we were visiting.
We decided to stay at the Comfort Suites in Tucson because it met our criteria. It was a budget friendly hotel without many extras, but it offered a morning breakfast and worked for our short stay. If you are planning a longer visit I would look into some of the beautiful resorts and places to stay in Tucson.
Destination 3: HUB Tucson for Dinner and Dessert
One of my favorite ways to experience a city is to eat at local restaurants. I love learning more about the food culture and often we find delicious meals that you can’t enjoy anywhere else.
HUB restaurant and ice creamery gave us a delicious meal, family friendly space, and amazing dessert.
The HUB restaurant Tucson is amazing. Honestly as I write this I want to go back because the meal was so good. They have a kids menu that offers meals ranging from $4-$7 and the adult meals were reasonably priced as well. Everyone was really happy with their meal.
I was impressed with all the families around, and how kid friendly the HUB is. It is the best when you can find good food and a family friendly restaurant during vacation.
After dinner we were completely stuffed, but we headed across the street to the HUB Ice Cream Factory to try the delicious home made options. With flavors like Oatmeal Cookie Dough, Mexican Wedding Cookie, and Coffee Swiss Almond you know it will not disappoint!
It did not! All of our ice cream was incredible and it was a great end to our first day in Tucson.
Destination 4: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
We woke up early, had breakfast at the hotel, checked-out and headed to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. I was really excited for this place because it is part botanical garden, part zoo, art museum, and aquarium. I couldn’t wait to explore it.
The museum grounds open early but all the exhibits open a bit later. Take this into consideration when planning your visit. There are many museums in Tucson but this museum is outstanding because there is something for everyone.
As soon as we arrived we were welcomed by the staff and explained a bit about the museum. We knew our time was limited to the morning so we decided to take the outer loop around the museum and experience what was there.
We met with a zoo keeper who taught us more about snakes, and we each touched it! We saw animals and cactus, and really appreciated the moment of being there. The kids were excited to see a road runner and I loved exploring the cactus garden. There is even a hummingbird area and a small aquarium to explore.
Our plans only allowed a few hours at the Arizona-Sonora Desert museum and if time allowed I would plan a full day. There is so much to do there and so much to see. Next time we would plan more time to explore and play with all the interactive exhibits.
Watch our Family Travel Vlog 33: 24 Hours in Tucson
The city of Tucson is family friendly and a wonderful place to spend a family vacation. With so many things to do in Tucson for families it is a great location for your next family vacation. We loved visiting and can’t wait to return to explore more of Tucson, Arizona.