Tucson, one of Arizona’s oldest cities, is a popular travel destination thanks to its warm weather and relaxed desert energy. It’s also home to an array of family friendly attractions, from historic Old West architecture and theme parks to zoos and museums that are specially designed for children. If you’ve secured a vacation rental in Tucson and are planning to take the kids along for a holiday getaway, these top kid-centric activities are sure to keep everyone in the family happy and occupied.
1. Visit the Reid Park Zoo
Many unique creatures call the Reid Park Zoo home, making it a must-see attraction for kids and adults alike. Stop by and check out the meerkats, lemurs, anteaters, tigers, and poison dart frogs, then head over to the lion enclosure to visit Shombay, a 450-pound lion who was nursed back to health by caring staff members after suffering an infection. Shombay’s doing great now and calls the zoo his forever home. He’s one of the most popular draws at the zoo, and he has so many fans that he even has his own Twitter page.
2. Have a Little Fun at Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
For a unique and memorable day, stop by the Mini Time Museum of Miniatures. Upon entering the building, you’re transported to a land of everything miniature, and your kids won’t believe their eyes. Explore over 400 dollhouses, miniature towns, room boxes, and more, and make sure to bring your camera to take some magical photos.
3. Visit the Children’s Museum
The Children’s Museum of Tucson and Oro Valley is a great place to take the kids for a day of learning and educational fun. Exhibits feature sculptures and artwork created by children, and the museum also offers interactive classes and science-based activities, including “The Art of Color” class, where children learn how color affects moods and behavior with a little help from Dr. Seuss.
4. Go Back in Time at Old Tucson Studios
Old Tucson Studios came to be in 1939 when Columbia Pictures built an entire Old West town to film the classic western movie “Arizona,” after which over 300 movies were filmed at the site. Today, this well-preserved “town” serves as one of Tucson’s most popular attractions for tourists of all ages. Visit Old Tucson and enjoy an authentic Wild West show, then stop by the Grand Palace Hotel and Saloon for a tasty snack.
5. Have a Pinball Showdown at D & D Pinball
Show your kids what gaming was like back in the day with a trip to D & D Pinball. This fun arcade is located in Tucson’s historic district and boasts over 30 new and classic pinball machines. Team up with your family members for an old-school showdown on the classic flipper machines, then grab some lunch at Diablo Burger, a popular restaurant in the historic district that serves burgers with “DB” grilled onto the buns, and features a menu filled with uniquely named hamburgers. Order the Marilyn if you’re craving cheese on your burger, or let your kids order the Ziggy Stardust and build their own burgers from the bun up.
6. View the Butterflies at Tucson Botanical Gardens
For a fun day in nature, visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Known for its butterfly garden, this beautiful attraction is a definite must for your holiday itinerary. Stroll the grounds and take in all the amazing desert plants and flowers, then venture over to the Butterfly Magic exhibit to meet an abundance of butterflies ready and waiting to show you some love.
7. Look Out Into the Great Beyond at Kitt Peak National Observatory
There is nothing quite as beautiful as the desert sky, especially as the sun goes down. After an afternoon of sightseeing, finish off the day with a visit to the Kitt Peak National Observatory for dinner and a sunset viewing program. Each guest receives a pair of binoculars to view the night sky as the sun sets, and the evening ends with a high-powered telescope demonstration that treats guests to a view of the constellations and planets in the great beyond.
8. Have a Fantastic Time at Funtasticks Family Fun Park
For an all-around fun family day, wake up early and head over to Funtasticks Family Fun Park. Ride the bumper boats and go-karts, then spend some time in the arcade. If you have small children, be sure to check out Kiddie Land, a special section of the park with rides that are just the right size for little ones. The park also offers laser tag, mini-golf, batting cages, and a delicious concession stand where you can fuel up between rides.
9. Go on Safari at the International Wildlife Museum
The International Wildlife Museum is a Tucson favorite that every visitor must experience. The building resembles an old fort, and the museum houses over 400 taxidermied animals and insects, ranging from tiny moths to life-like lions and tigers that are staged like they are ready to pounce. Stroll through each room to check out the fossils, polar bears, elephant tusks, and deer, then take a peek at the Antilocaprids exhibit for an up close and personal view of different types of horns. When safari time is over, stop by the gift shop for a few souvenirs and a sandwich.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Tucson vacation rentals on Tripping.com.