Tucson, Arizona, is not only breathtaking and beautiful to visit but also a wonderful family-friendly travel destination. Temperatures are hot, but there are tons of kid-friendly activities and attractions to keep the whole family busy and entertained. We have all the recommendations you need for a great family trip, including best attractions in Tucson, best hotels, best restaurants and more. Here are our suggestions for favorite things to do in Tucson with kids.
Table of Contents
Things to Do in Tucson With Kids Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Presidio San Augustin Museum Silverbell Lake Hi Corbett Field Reid Park Toxic Airsoft Tombstone Reddington Pass Sabino Canyon Mt. Lemmon Ben’s Bells Best Restaurants in Tucson for Kids Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse Eegee’s Food Truck Roundup Tucson Tamale Company
Things to Do in Tucson With Kids
This awesome museum lets kids explore indigenous creatures and plants that naturally make a home in one Arizona desert. This isn’t your average zoo — a visit to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum involves walking through a multitude of desert-type exhibits where the whole family will learn about the Sonoran Desert and local wildlife. While the museum is not particularly large, seeing all exhibits will take about two hours, so make sure you arrive before 4 p.m. to be able to experience it all before the museum closes.
Additionally, the museum offers Cool Summer Nights, a special extended hours summertime event event, every Saturday from late May through early September. This is best for the days when your little ones (or you) simply can’t bear the heat long enough to explore all that the museum has to offer.
For the history buff in the family, the Presidio San Agustin Museum in Tucson is a great place to go to learn about the history of the local culture. The museum is a re-creation of the Tucson Presidio, complete with the archaeological remains of the pit house. Visitors can take a tour of the building, walking along the original Presidio wall and inside a 150-year-old Sonoran row house. As if walking around some old ruins isn’t enough, all throughout the week there are special demonstrations on Old and New World food-making, Cochineal dyes and more. There are also Living History Days the second Saturday of each month where kids can experience the lives of soldiers who lived in the Presidio in the late 1700s.
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.”
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!
Reid Park’s 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!
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!
While it’s about an hour south of Tucson, this old western town is a fun experience for everyone in the family, with actors who dress up, restaurants and shops that all have a real authentic feel.
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.
Sabino Canyon is one of the most popular hiking destinations near northeast Tucson. The park is only open until dusk and there’s a tram for your family’s enjoyment as well!
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!
In 2002, a mother lost her three-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 the city 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.
Best Restaurants in Tucson for Kids
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!
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.
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!
Though they don’t only serve tamales, tamales are the Tucson Tamale Company’s forte (they even sell tamales by the bag you can bring home). Locals and visitors alike rave about the food, and the restaurant is adorable and perfect to sit down for a meal in.
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