Looking for things to don in Tucson with kids? The Scary Mommy Travel Guide was created because there is nobody better to help you survive traveling to a unfamiliar destination than a mom who lives there. Read the ever growing guide here, or submit your own hometown!
1. In 2002, a mother lost her 3 year-old son to croup and vowed to repay the kindness shown to her by strangers in that difficult time. She went on to open Ben’s Bells, a non-profit organization that celebrates kindness. Take your kids to one of the two Ben’s Bells locations in Tucson and spend time painting pieces of the ceramic “bells” that are hung throughout Tucson with a note attached reminding citizens to be kind. It is said that each time a bell is completed, at least ten people have contributed to making it.
2. Tucson is full of “urban lakes” that are routinely stocked by the Arizona Game and Fish department. Ages 14 and older need a license to fish, which can be purchased at most local sporting goods stores. Silverbell, Kennedy, Lakeside, and Sahuarita lakes are stocked every other week throughout most of the year with several varieties of fish. The thought behind the program is, “if people can’t get out of town to fish, we will bring fish into town for the people.”
3. Tucson is the proud home to the University of Arizona Wildcats. Game days for all sports bring out Wildcat pride all over the city. Catch a family-friendly basketball game at McKale Center, a football game at Arizona Stadium, or baseball game at Hi Corbett Field. Make sure to wear your Cardinal and Navy to the game, and look for Wilbur Wildcat, the school mascot!
4. Reid Park 24-acre zoo is a hidden gem in the middle of Tucson! With two entirely separate loops to explore, the Reid Park Zoo is almost set up as two mini-zoos! After entering, the more traditional animals (lions, tigers, and bears–oh my!) are on the loop to the left while more unique animals (capybara, llamas, and jaguars to name a few) will be on the right. The left loop is also home to a splash pad and an indoor learning center that’s great for cooling off and interacting with some animals up close. Right outside the zoo you’ll find a kid’s train and a lake with ducks to feed, so bring some bread with you!
5. Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse is located inside of Traildust Town, an old-west style park where you’ll meet costumed cowboys who perform in nightly (hilarious) stunt-shows. Hop on a train ride around the property while you’re waiting for your table at the steakhouse. When your table is ready, make sure you don’t wear a tie into dinner! Balloon bending cowboys walk around the restaurant to keep kids entertained while they’re waiting for their meals, which are brought by servers who bend over backwards to make them smile. Don’t worry about spending a fortune for dinner or scouring the menu for something your kids will eat–Pinnacle Peak has you covered!
6. Found only in Tucson, Eegee’s is a must-eat when visiting Tucson! The sub sandwiches and ranch fries are yummy, but the real reason for visiting is to order an Eegee – Eegee’s version of a fruit slushie. You’ll find their trademark flavors strawberry, lemon and pina colada every day, but our family favorites are the flavors of the month.
7. If you have tween/teenage kids, they will love Toxic Airsoft, a unique airsoft course that’s set up like an abandoned town. Plywood housing structures, old abandoned cars and even a helicopter make this one of the best courses in the state. Rent airsoft guns on site and play war for hours! During the summer months it’s cooler to play at night and the overhead lights on the course make for a unique experience!
8. The city of Tucson is surrounded by mountains! Use this to your advantage by hiking Reddington Pass on the east side in central Tucson or Sycamore and Madera Canyons just south of Tucson. Bring plenty of water, a camera to capture the amazing views, and sneakers or boots for your feet–cactus prickers are relentless in the desert.
9. Our desert oasis! Mt. Lemmon is, on average, 20 degrees cooler than Tucson. During the winter, this means sledding atop the mountain and skiing at Ski Valley, the local ski resort. During the summer, head up to Summerhaven (the town at the top of Mt. Lemmon) to cool off and go hiking. A huge yearly event at Ski Valley is Oktoberfest, a great family outing held in September and October with live music, ski-lift rides and a German feast!
10. Visit the Food Truck Round Up website for up to date location and truck information for these meet–ups. Between 10-20 unique food trucks come together (in a big circle, of course!) to bring you the best mobile meals in Tucson. Trucks with burgers, Mexican, Asian, Italian food and even desserts join forces to bring you your perfect meal. Sometimes truck-spotting these amazing and fun vehicles is even more fun than eating at them–you’ll never look at a food truck the same way again!
Got some favorite spots in Tucson? Share them in the comments!